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DESIGN FOR LIVING: So where was the three-way?


HoldenIsHere
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In the introduction Robert Osborne made the movie sound very salacious, referring to the relationship between the three main characters in DESIGN FOR LIVING as a ménage à trois, but like Alec Baldwin I didn't see it. (Interestingly enough, Baldwin did use the term three-way during the discussion after the movie.)

Perhaps the original Noel Coward play was more daring in ths respect (I've never read it or seen it produced), but in the movie Miriam Hopkins may have been sexing Gary Cooper and Fredric March, but there was never a threesome, not even the suggestion of one.

Of course the idea of a woman having multiple partners was in and of itself shocking for the time, but today DESIGN FOR LIVING is rated "TV G" (at least that was the rating displayed before its airing on TCM).

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....Of course the idea of a woman having multiple partners was in and of itself shocking for the time, but today DESIGN FOR LIVING is rated "TV G" (at least that was the rating displayed before its airing on TCM).

 

There's a very simple answer to this, Holden.

 

Ya see, considering the EXTREME long shot chances that ANYONE under the age of, say 40, LET ALONE the little tykes out there ever actually WATCHIN' a "salacious" BLACK AND WHITE movie made in 1933..well...do you really THINK it really matters WHAT sort'a rating it gets? I mean, "G" or "M", what difference does it make in this case anyway, RIGHT?!!! ;)

 

(...btw...I liked what Alec said about his being surprised at discovering a whole new aspect to a younger Fredric March in this film) 

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Perhaps the original Noel Coward play was more daring in ths respect (I've never read it or seen it produced), but in the movie Miriam Hopkins may have been sexing Gary Cooper and Fredric March, but there was never a threesome, not even the suggestion of one.

 

 

I haven't seen or read the play either, but I have heard that they completely changed it- retaining, in fact, only one line of the original dialogue: "for the good of our immortal souls."

 

I love Mimsy Hopkins; I like Fredric March very very much; Gary Cooper I'm sort of 50/50 on- but he's no chore to look at in his thirties films; I usually enjoy E.E. Horton; I bow at the altar of Lubitsch- he is, as far as I am concerned, one of the five best filmmakers of the 20th century. 

 

That said: I'm not into Design for Living.

 

It's talky and dull- in spite of the fact that it doesn't hide the fact that sex is happening; it's static and stagey, and the characters just aren't interesting enough to validate the cast being so minimal- I'd say 97% of the action and dialogue is from the four principles....and, I dunno, I feel like March and Cooper have more chemistry with one another than either does with Hopkins, who in other films like Becky Sharp and Trouble in Paradise is believable as a blithe, devil-may-care, sexually free spirit- I feel as if she's a little prim here.

 

Even the overtness of the sex- love how they don't hide anything about the fact that while- oui -there is no actual threesome, Mimsy is quite clearly getting it on with both Cooper and March (insofar as we know separately; but hey- a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste)- can't spark what is (to me) an altogether lifeless affair.

 

I'd recommend the aforementioned Trouble in Paradise as well as Heaven Can Wait, Ninotchka, even some of the Chevalier musicals and (especially) Cluny Brown- a real delight of a film- before I recommend anyone check out Design for Living.

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I haven't seen or read the play either, but I have heard that they completely changed it- retaining, in fact, only one line of the original dialogue: "for the good of our immortal souls."

 

I love Mimsy Hopkins; I like Fredric March very very much; Gary Cooper I'm sort of 50/50 on- but he's no chore to look at in his thirties films; I usually enjoy E.E. Horton; I bow at the altar of Lubitsch- he is, as far as I am concerned, one of the five best filmmakers of the 20th century. 

 

That said: I'm not into Design for Living.

 

It's talky and dull- in spite of the fact that it doesn't hide the fact that sex is happening; it's static and stagey, and the characters just aren't interesting enough to validate the cast being so minimal- I'd say 97% of the action and dialogue is from the four principles....and, I dunno, I feel like March and Cooper have more chemistry with one another than either does with Hopkins, who in other films like Becky Sharp and Trouble in Paradise is believable as a blithe, devil-may-care, sexually free spirit- I feel as if she's a little prim here.

 

Even the overtness of the sex- love how they don't hide anything about the fact that while- oui -there is no actual threesome, Mimsy is quite clearly getting it on with both Cooper and March (insofar as we know separately; but hey- a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste)- can't spark what is (to me) an altogether lifeless affair.

 

I'd recommend the aforementioned Trouble in Paradise as well as Heaven Can Wait, Ninotchka, even some of the Chevalier musicals and (especially) Cluny Brown- a real delight of a film- before I recommend anyone check out Design for Living.

DESIGN FOR LIVING is not considered by most to be one of Lubitsch's best----as are TROUBLE IN PARADISE, NINOTCHKA, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, HEAVEN CAN WAIT, TO BE OR NOT TO BE, etc.

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I haven't seen or read the play either, but I have heard that they completely changed it- retaining, in fact, only one line of the original dialogue: "for the good of our immortal souls."

 

 

Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin in their commentary prior to DESIGN FOR LIVING talked about all the innuendos and double entendres in the movie, but I didn't hear very many. The only ones that really stood out to me were Miriam Hopkins's comparing trying out different lovers to trying on hats.

 

Robert Osborne's comments after the movie about the threesome aspect were actually about Noel Coward's play, particularly its original staging which featured Coward (a gay man) and and his friends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (whose legal union theater insiders presumed was a so-called "white marriage" with Fontanne as Lunt's "beard"). Apparently in the play, sexual involvement between the two men was implied. In the movie, there is no suggestion of it whatsoever. 

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Robert Osborne's comments after the movie about the threesome aspect were actually about Noel Coward's play, particularly its original staging which featured Coward (a gay man) and and his friends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (whose legal union theater insiders presumed was a so-called "white marriage" with Fontanne as Lunt's "beard"). Apparently in the play, sexual involvement between the two men was implied. In the movie, there is no suggestion of it whatsoever. 

 

my sole familiarity with Lynn Fontanne (sp?) is the scene in Thank Your Lucky Stars (or is it Hollywood Canteen ?) where a soldier in a USO Theatrical troupe does a suspiciously good impression of her in drag (well, never having seen her on film; I guess it's a good impression- either way he's into it and really working this gauzy veiled snood thing. 

 

If she was anything close to what this guy puts out in his impression, she seems like she'd be a helliuva lotta fun. Total gay wife material.

 

in re: Bluebeard's Eight Wife. I know, I periodically scan for it on youtube, but it seems to be locked away in the Paramount vault or roasting on a spit next to Beyond the Forest in Right's Issues Hell.

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my sole familiarity with Lynn Fontanne (sp?) is the scene in Thank Your Lucky Stars (or is it Hollywood Canteen ?) where a soldier in a USO Theatrical troupe does a suspiciously good impression of her in drag (well, never having seen her on film; I guess it's a good impression- either way he's into it and really working this gauzy veiled snood thing. 

 

If she was anything close to what this guy puts out in his impression, she seems like she'd be a helliuva lotta fun. Total gay wife material.

 

 

Yeah, Lunt and Fontanne made very film appearances. Their only starring roles in a "talkie" were in THE GUARDSMAN, based on the Broadway play they'd performed in. This movie aired on TCM during the most recent 31 Days of Oscar.

They also did appear as themselves in STAGE DOOR CANTEEN.

 

This quote from Alfred Lunt is quite amusing: 

"Miss Fontanne and I rehearse all the time. Even after we leave the theater, we rehearse. We sleep in the same bed. We have a script on our hands when we go to bed. You can't come and tell us to stop rehearsing after eight hours."

 

alfred_lunt-lynn_fontanne03.jpg

 

Design_for_living.jpg

Lunt and Fontanne with Noel Coward in DESIGN FOR LIVING

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Yes R.O. made a mistake.    He should have said threesome relationship instead of three-way.

 

To me a threesome relationshp is when 1 person is activity and openly having sex with two other people but not at the same time. 

 

Anyhow, whatever the right term for that type of relationship, this was the relationship we see in Design for Living.

 

 

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Yeah, Robert Osborne actually called the relationship a ménage à trois in the commentary before the movie. There was no such relationship in the movie. 

 

I saw that intro.   Funny but the use of the French term implies very racy sexual conduct.    So it does look like R.O. was trying to overplay his hand as it relates to the sexual conduct in this film.    Maybe he had Belle De Jour on his mind.  :lol:

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I saw that intro.   Funny but the use of the French term implies very racy sexual conduct.    So it does look like R.O. was trying to overplay his hand as it relates to the sexual conduct in this film.    Maybe he had Belle De Jour on his mind.  :lol:

 

You may be on to something . . .

 

Belle_de_jour1.jpg

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What the hell is going on with those costumes?

Were they doing a national tour of Little Lord Fauntleroy Meets Ming the Merciless ?

 

ps- even if the costume was for a role, Alfred, there is no excuse for that hair.

 

 

LOL. Dippitty Doo?

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Yeah, Lunt and Fontanne made very film appearances. Their only starring roles in a "talkie" were in THE GUARDSMAN, based on the Broadway play they'd performed in. This movie aired on TCM during the most recent 31 Days of Oscar.

They also did appear as themselves in STAGE DOOR CANTEEN.

 

This quote from Alfred Lunt is quite amusing: 

"Miss Fontanne and I rehearse all the time. Even after we leave the theater, we rehearse. We sleep in the same bed. We have a script on our hands when we go to bed. You can't come and tell us to stop rehearsing after eight hours."

 

alfred_lunt-lynn_fontanne03.jpg

 

Design_for_living.jpg

Lunt and Fontanne with Noel Coward in DESIGN FOR LIVING

In this photographed they seem to be having a gay old time...I read there was recent production of the play in which after the woman exits the two men find comfort in each other ...

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What the hell is going on with those costumes?

Were they doing a national tour of Little Lord Fauntleroy Meets Ming the Merciless ?

 

 

I believe they are in costume for their roles in the 1935 Broadway production of Taming of the Shrew  . . . although I now think someone must write Litttle Lord Fauntleroy Meets Ming the Merciless.

 

Here's part of a story on Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (and their home Ten Chimneys) that aired on television:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcNBNwHpPfE

 

(embedded video not allowed)

 

If anyone is ever in southeastern Wisconsin when Ten Chimneys is open for tours (there are no tours in the winter), I highly recommend a visit to the estate. It's southwest of Milwaukee in Waukesha County.

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If anyone is ever in southeastern Wisconsin when Ten Chimneys is open for tours (there are no tours in the winter), I highly recommend a visit to the estate. It's southwest of Milwaukee in Waukesha County.

 

Yeah Holden, but I wonder if one has a set of snow tires on their 4-wheel-drive SUV and can make it up the hilly driveway to the doorstep of Ten Chimneys in those Wisconsin winters, do ya THINK there's even an OUTSIDE chance they'd open that baby up for a little tour???

 

(...sure doesn't seem fair to this Arizonan here IF I ever happen to be passin' though that area one day...in winter)

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Yeah Holden, but I wonder if one has a set of snow tires on their 4-wheel-drive SUV and can make it up the hilly driveway to the doorstep of Ten Chimneys in those Wisconsin winters, do ya THINK there's even an OUTSIDE chance they'd open that baby up for a little tour???

 

(...sure doesn't seem fair to this Arizonan here IF I ever happen to be passin' though that area one day...in winter)

 

You know, Dargo, I'm not authorized to speak for the Ten Chimneys Foundation in any official capacity, but they might be willing to conduct a special "winter wonderland" tour just for you. And again I am speaking purely speculatively here without the authorization of the Ten Chimneys Foundation.

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You know, Dargo, I'm not authorized to speak for the Ten Chimneys Foundation in any official capacity, but they might be willing to conduct a special "winter wonderland" tour just for you. And again I am speaking purely speculaively here without the authorization of the Ten Chimneys Foundation.

 

LOL

 

Well, I certainly appreciate ANYthing you can find out and report back to me with. ;)

 

(...hey...did I just end that sentence with a preposition???...eeeh...I don't care anymore..."Let those prepositions FLY" will be my new motto from now on!) 

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...so blaming your barber is not a valid excuse?

No. Not at all.

 

Okay, the cut is bad, but unless this was a real busted theater, I'm thinking there was running water somewhere and Alfred could've rinsed some of that thirty-weight out of his hair (probably clogging the drain up something fierce, but I digress), parted it to one side and gone with something a little less like an over-conditioned Moe Howard before it was preserved for the ages on camera.

 

Great hair for playing Richard III though.

 

Personally, I think this photo- costume aside- proved Lunt was straight. No gay man would be photographed with hair like that.

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