Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {What's New Pussycat}

To finish off the month of Sex Comedies we have 1965's What's New Pussycat, clearly not a studio system film. From it's nonconformist plot and it's swinging gets stuck in your head soundtrack by Burt Bacharach, it shows the birth of the Sixties, right in between the growing independence and youth culture but before the rise of the counterculture. It's also a great family picture, but I might think that because I saw it when I was seven.
The gorgeous Peter O'Toole in a rare comedy (seriously, why didn't he do more Sixties comedies?) plays Michael, a fashion editor and playboy who wants to get married but has trouble giving up the thrill of the chase. So he consults Peter Sellers, a crazy psychoanalyst in a way cool Mod velvet suit.
All of Michael's flashbacks are in black and white settings.
He also has trouble sleeping because he keeps dreaming that he's Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2
Fritz is a very devoted analyst, he even follows Michael to the Crazy Horse in order to better understand Michael's problem, which he wishes was his problem.
He also has some unorthodox therapy methods, such as thrashing a patient with flowers while singing and locking patients in dark closets.
He also hates his wife and is in love and obsessed with one of his patients.
But he does live in this seriously awesome house.
Michael wants to marry his downstairs neighbour/girlfriend Carole (Romy Schneider) but he just isn't ready yet. Three years ago, Doris Day broke out into a rash at the thought of sharing the same hotel suite with Cary Grant and now a couple can share a shower as long as one is fully clothed.
I'm really starting to like the Sixties trend of wearing a beaded top over a plain shift dress and it saves money too, instead of buying a new dress, you could just buy a new top.
But nothing beats the LBD, especially with cute butterfly brooch.
Capucine plays a confused, married playgirl who likes fighting off Fritz's advances.
Very few people can pull off wearing a silk suit with pearls and a hair bow.
I think I now want a tweed cap like that for the fall. And just look at her stunning, timeless makeup.
Then there's Paula Prentiss who is truly wonderful at playing the stripper who writes absolutely terrible poetry and likes taking an overdose of pills at every opportunity.
She also wears some wonderful examples of post-Mod Sixties fashions and granny shawls.
Plus a matching top and pants combo that looks like it was made out of some curtains.
Woody Allen wrote the script, or at least the parts that weren't ad-libbed by the cast. He plays Michael's best friend Victor and is working on transitioning his Woody Allen character from stand up to movies.
Victor is in love with Carole, but neither can act without feeling guilty about Michael. It's a good thing that double-breasted corduroy suits never caught on.
There's not much of a plot in the traditional sense, just a series of very funny sketches. One of my favourites is where Richard Burton shows up and asks Peter O'Toole "Haven't you seen me some place before?"
I love how Michael gives Carole potted flowers instead of a bouquet, since the pot does last longer.
Not a lot of attention is paid to showing off the settings, which are a combination of shabbiness and modernity. But Michael's apartment is great, especially with it's splashes of red.

Eventually Michael decides that he wants to get married.
He goes away for the weekend in order to write an article about a hotel. Along the road he picks up a hitchhiker who just happens to drop in. However, she is a personal friend of James Bond.
Isn't that a beautiful hotel? It reminds me of Madeline's school but without the vines.
I also love how the rooms are all unique and decorated differently, like with the wallpaper and the paintings, which is a combination that shouldn't go well together, but does.
Capucine in a fabulous pink dress and matching turban also comes for the weekend.
And Paula Prentiss also shows up, but she is a bit weird after all.
I like Capucine's room best because of the wallpaper and the white furniture. Wasn't it lovely when hotels didn't decorate their rooms identically?
Fritz and his wife also arrive and Fritz joins Michael in trying to avoid the increasing crowd of hotel guests.
And then Carole shows up, wanting to know why there is a crowd in his room. Love the green shirtwaist.

And then the cops show up and ruin all the fun.
Naturally, the only way to escape involves a go kart chase scene and the fruit stand being knocked over.
I love the purple suit with the frilly blouse, only it's hard to find a purple velvet suit or really any velvet suit in a colour other than black.
This suit with the matching mink cuffs and hat is fabulous too.

Just to show how hard it was to advertise this new kind of movie, here is the original trailer:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Classic Television {He and She}

He and She is my new favourite sitcom. It ran for only 26 episodes in 1967-68 before it was cancelled despite critical acclaim and winning an Emmy. Why was it cancelled? Simply because it was ahead of it's time. It made the leap from Dick Van Dyke to Mad About You and people just weren't ready for that yet. However, it is still fresh, modern and very witty today and very influential to those who watched it during it's initial run and became television writers when they grew up.

Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss (who've been married for almost 50 years) played Dick and Paula Hollister, a sophisticated New York couple. They live in an apartment across from a firehouse and are friends with some of the firemen, who are always visiting by climbing through the connecting window. Also in their building is Andrew the handyman who can't fix anything, which naturally leads to hilarity, especially when doors don't open. Paula is a social worker with Tourist Aid and she tends to get very involved in her cases and sometimes brings her work home with her. She also is very mod and wears shift dresses with pockets and colourful tights however, her clothes never look "fashion-y" but like everyday outfits and she sometimes repeats a look, which is rare on shows.
Dick is a successful cartoonist and the creator of Jetman, which has been turned into a live action TV show starring Oscar North, an egocentric actor who is convinced that he is a big big star. Oscar is always bothering Dick in order to fight with him over how to portray Jetman. He also spends a lot of time with the Hollisters because they are the only ones who will put up with him.

He and She is still hip enough to be on the verge of becoming a cult, if only more episodes were available. I have only seen the five episodes that are up on YouTube at the moment, but I want to see more! It's very funny and well written and doesn't drag at all. And it has the cutest intro montage ever. I doubt if it will ever be officially released on DVD, even though it should be since it only lasted a season and will definitely win over a new generation of fans. There are a couple of home made DVD sets floating around, but I haven't bought one yet, so I don't know how good they are. Other than that, I can't find any other sources of it. So, if you get a chance, then watch the few episodes on YouTube and tell me what you think of it.

This is the pilot episode:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Daily Outfit

Okay, so my blog has been a bit boring of late and it has been a month since I last posted an outfit photo. I just haven't on my computer much lately and I haven't been inspired to write much or search for photos to share. What I have been doing is embroidering like crazy since I had been saving up so many ideas for new projects and I finally had a chance to work on them and I've now made enough stuff so that I can add at least one new item a day to my shop for the rest of the summer. I've also been thrifting and have found some new skirts in order to expand my summer wardrobe and I've also found a new dress for the fall which has an incredible story behind it.
I have also been watching a lot of television lately and since classic television seems to be underrepresented in blog land, I'm going to share some of my favourites over the summer, since there aren't any new episodes to watch until September and DVDs and YouTube have made so many great shows available and newly restored. Plus the great thing about TV rather than movies is that there is a greater variety of outfits to drool over.

Cardigan: thrifted
Shirt: thrifted
Skirt: vintage machine embroidered wrap skirt from the '70's
Belt: Jacob
Scarf: vintage
Sandals: thrifted SAS

My dad watches a lot of golf. We even got digital cable in order to have access to the Golf Channel. I am largely indifferent to sports, however, I would be interested in golf if they were to adopt the course suggested in this 1971 sketch by Wayne and Shuster, because it does look to be more challenging than avoiding a few sand traps.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vintage Novels {A Free Soul}

Before beginning, I should point out that although A Free Soul was a best-seller in 1928, it is now dashed hard to obtain a copy of it. I requested a copy from the library and after several weeks, it finally arrived, from a university library in Utah no less. When I got it I thought "funny, why would the Mormons own a copy of this". After all, the movie is one of the most Pre Code of all Pre Code movies. Norma Shearer has a wild affair with Clark Gable, a violent gambler and Leslie Howard then kills Clark Gable in order to protect Norma Shearer and then he gets away with it. And then I started reading it and I realized that with the exception of Lionel Barrymore's character, the book is wholly different from the movie.

A Free Soul follows the life of Jan Ashe, raised by her father to be a free spirit and to always be honest and independent. Stephen Ashe is a famous criminal lawyer who always takes his daughter with him, whether it be to court or the seedy parts of San Francisco. Stephen is also an alcoholic and racked with guilt because of his reputation of always winning his case, even if he knew that his client was guilty of murder. As a result of caring for her father and hiding his illness, Jan grows up to be a teetotaler. She is also highly intelligent and doesn't care what people think of her frankness or her tomboy wardrobe. She has also known the gambler Ace all of her life and marries him. Ace is not so much of a gambler, rather a very honest man who looks after his family and friends and runs an illegal casino and insists that all of his employees are honest and never act like criminals. Ace is also not violent, preferring to treat those who wrong him with a cold shoulder and cutting off communication, and he is also a teetotaler who refuses to have anything to do with bootlegging. And that is a very brief plot summary since the novel taked place over a number of decades leading up to a sensational trial.

In telling the story of Stephen and Jan, the book could have easily turned into an unreadable melodrama. However, Mrs. St Johns' skills as a writer and keen observer of the human condition make the book not only readable, but also exciting, thrilling and a real page-turner!
She also provides an honest outlook into how people's attitudes changed during the first few decades of the Twentieth Century and how they are divided by class. Mrs. St Johns also uses descriptions of clothing in order define her characters and how they are judged based on their wardrobe. Left out of the film is Jan's preference of wearing shiny brogues. Her shoes are mentioned numerous times, especially during significant events and her brogues symbolize Jan's need for independence and not caring what people think about her. Mrs. St Johns also goes into great detail about Stephen Ashe's growing reliance on alcohol and how it ruined his career and she also shows how much damage his alcoholism does to Jan, who worships her father. If you can find a copy of it, then do read A Free Soul as it provides a greater understanding of urban life during Prohibition from the perspective of a young woman.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {That Touch of Mink}

So, I couldn't do Sex Comedies month without doing at least one Doris Day movie. I've never really liked Doris Day, she's just too perfect, perky and wholesome, like an Ivory soap ad. But I did like her in The Thrill of It All.
The obvious choice would have been to pick one of the ones she did with Rock Hudson, except I've never understood why she never went with Tony Randall who actually had a developed a personality.
Instead I picked That Touch of Mink, which has Cary Grant playing Cary Grant as an important businessman. One morning his car splashes Doris Day who plays an unemployed computer operator. She keeps quitting or getting fired from jobs because she doesn't like running around a desk.
There's also John Astin, just before becoming Gomez Addams, playing this really slimy welfare agent who keeps trying to get Doris Day up to his place.
Audrey Meadows plays the best friend/room mate who works in an automat with a nice uniform.
Their apartment is done up in pastels with an occasional piece of bright blue furniture and is larger than it should be, considering their combined salaries.
Plus, you also get to see Audrey Meadows set her hair at night without using a mirror!
Then there's Gig Young (not once wearing his red vest) playing Cary Grant's financial advisor. He's depressed and resents Cary Grant for luring him away from an academic career and giving him a raise when ever he threatens to quit and regain his dignity.
Gig Young is the funniest part of the movie, especially when he's talking to his analyst, who has misheard his patient and thinks that everything that Cary Grant is offering to Doris Day is happening to Gig Young, which is quite daring for 1962.
Anyway, Cary Grant sees Doris Day going into the automat and sends Gig Young to give her some money. Doris Day then says that she'd rather throw the money in his face, which makes Gig Young very happy.
He takes Doris Day back to the office to give his boss what for.
Then Doris Day sees that it's Cary Grant and starts apologizing for throwing herself in front of his car. How could you be mad at Cary Grant? He wears a cardigan at the office. But it does depress Gig Young.
Cary Grant likes Doris Day's small town wisdom and so drags her around to his meetings in Washington, Philadelphia and the UN in his private plane.
Then he takes her to a baseball game.

Then he takes her to an apartment building he's building and offers her a trip around the world and a penthouse.
Doris Day calls him the next day to turn down his offer and Cary Grant intends to take back his offer after realizing that she is too sweet to live in a penthouse. Then they both end up taking each other into it and he says that he'll meet her in Bermuda that afternoon. All this sets Gig Young back years in his therapy.
Then there's the fashion show Doris Day is sent to to select a new wardrobe. Look, capes!
And a mink coat with changeable outer shells! I want one!
Doris Day, in her traditional working girl uniform of black dress and white cuffs and collar, seems to be fine with going away with a strange man.
She even reassures Audrey Meadows that she'll be fine and it's a great opportunity.
But once in Bermuda, Doris Day becomes paranoid and thinks that everyone knows what they are doing and that they aren't married and they are silently condemning her.
Things get even worse that night.
Doris Day breaks out in a rash and makes Cary Grant sleep on the couch because she's gone crazy. No, scratch that. She breaks out in a rash because she doesn't have a ring on her finger and Doris Day has a screen image to maintain.
Once back in New York, Doris Day is humiliated and worries that Cary Grant doesn't consider her to be a woman.

So she flies back to Bermuda and invites Cary Grant to join her. I don't see why she's making that offer while wearing a vest that's strangling her.
By the time Cary Grant arrives, Doris Day has drunk a bottle of scotch and passes out. It's amazing how in every Hollywood picture, no matter how much alcohol is consumed, everyone is still able to put on their pyjamas and correctly button them.
When Doris Day returns to New York, she finds that she has been offered a job operating computers for a credit card company. Then she learns that the only reason why she got a job was because Cary Grant owns the company.
She gets very annoyed that she was not hired for her abilities and quits by pushing buttons and making all of the computer cards spill onto the floor. Cary Grant then decides that since she can't hold a job the only way he can get rid of her without feeling guilty is to have Gig Young find her a husband and farm her out to the suburbs. When he rejects the list of bachelors, Gig Young gets excited because he realizes who the perfect husband is for Cary Grant.
He and Audrey Meadows then come up with a plan. Have John Astin take Doris Day to a motel in New Jersey and have Cary Grant follow them in order to rescue Doris Day.
When he informs Cary Grant of what Doris Day is doing for the weekend, he gets so angry that he storms out of his club and runs around New York in a towel looking for a cab.
When John Astin takes a girl out, he really goes all out. He even brought two TV dinners and the cheapest bottle of wine that's fit for human consumption. What a guy!