Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Same Movie Sets


moviejoe79
 Share

Recommended Posts

I don't know if this topic has been discussed before, but I'm sure alot of you have noticed the same sets being used in more than one film.

 

Usually this happened at the same studio, and I'm sure it was done for economical purposes. The studios were rolling in dough, but why not use the same set twice? With some different scenery and set dressing, who would know the difference? - Except us -

 

Two examples I can think of are from Warners films. The living room set from "George Washington Slept Here" is the same one used in "Arsenic and Old Lace." Both films were made in the early '40's, and both sets are radically different in style, but basically the same in structure. In fact, during "Washington," the set goes from dilapidated to renovated, in keeping with the story. Another example is the main corridor of Joan Crawford's house in "Mildred Pierce"(the one she buys after she makes her fortune) - the corridor is the same one in Sydney Greenstreet's house in "Christmas in Connecticut." And once again both of these films were made within two years of each other in the early '40's at Warners. And I have been told that the exterior view of Kane's palace in "Citizen Kane," is the same exterior of the witches palace in "Snow White."

 

Hopefully this topic hasn't been covered, as I think it will be fun to think up some examples of "same sets."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One day a few months ago, I was watching TCM and they were showing a day of films featuring Mickey Rooney. I never would've noticed this if the films weren't back to back, but the dining room set in AH, WILDERNESS! was exactly the same as the dining room in the Hardy house!

 

Sandy K

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Another one I have noticed is the tornado from "The Wizard of Oz." The same footage is used during the ending of "Cabin in the Sky." Both of these films were made at MGM within a four year span.

 

I am surprised that not many people have posted on this topic - I thought it would be fun. Or perhaps is has been covered before, and I failed to notice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

warner bros. studios actually didn't have much money at all in the beginning, which is why so many of the same sets, costumes, props, and even actors were used so frequently. you'll notice when watching movies like 'little caesar' that shots are light pretty dimly and a lot of close-ups were used to disguise these little economic set-backs - most of the sets were cheaply made as well, and didn't look great when all lit up like they did it at MGM, where the philosophy was to SPEND SPEND SPEND!

 

i recently noticed that the cafe set in 'of human bondage' is very similar to the one in '42nd street' and could very well be the same.

 

i can't remember if it was TCM or not, but some channel had a show all about duplicate props and such in classic films. it was very interesting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Moviejoe, I thought that you might be interested in an interesting factoid found in a book called "City of Nets" about the social/artistic atmosphere of LA in the 1940s.

 

It seems that movie sets weren't just re-used by frugal art departments at the studios, but they were also refurbished to meet government regulations. During the Second World War, the government mandated that studios could only spend up to $5,000.00 for sets utilizing new materials. Consequently, alot of the sets tended to be recycled as much as possible. A coat of paint, a little different lighting, and voila--new sets, particularly for B movies. One of the ways that studio art depts. got around this regulation was that careful recycling allowed them to use more than the $5K on A productions if less than that had been spent on other features.

 

If you look at the Paramount feature "Midnight" (1939), you'll see some very elaborate sets that were later repainted for another Claudette Colbert feature "The Palm Beach Story" (1942). The director of both these features, Mitchell Leisen, was a noted designer as well. He went so far to get around the $5k ceiling that he purchased authentic rooms for what was then a song--in his film "To Each His Own", the drugstore where Olivia de Havilland meets John Lund and the de Havilland's character's office later in the film is a mahogany panelled room that Leisen bought, and, (clever fellow), later donated to local museums as a tax writeoff.

 

Such extravagance wasn't always typical, but another example of a beautiful set being recycled may be seen in "Ball of Fire" (1942) from Goldwyn Studios. In this instance, the house where the professors live is used repeatedly in other movies--i.e. "The Bishop's Wife"(1947).

 

This $5,000.00 limit may also have helped to nudge filmmakers to begin filming in actual settings more, leading to more realistic storytelling. It seems that neo-realism as much as economics may have led to the semi-documentary style emerging in the mid 1940s. Despite any technical & logistical problems posed by filming in NYC, for instance, filming the actual city street in such films as "The Lost Weekend", "The Naked City", "Boomerang" and others, could also be cheaper than building new sets. Personally, this was definitely an interesting step forward, but I do love the recreations, cliched and whimsical though they may be, that often emerged from the imagination of set designers and art directors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Moira for the information. I never knew that the government had a hand in telling the studios what they could and could not do. And very appropriate for wartime America. The government should do that to today's Hollywood, and spare us some of the trash that comes pouring out, and force some of those nitwits to use their imaginations.

Regarding "Midnight," and "The Palm Beach Story," I have seen both of those films and enjoy them very much, in fact, "Palm Beach" is a favorite. I never noticed the same sets being used, but now I am going to take a closer look. There's no doubt that recycling took place, especially since both films take place in elegant surroundings. I had also never noticed the similarity of "Ball of Fire," and "The Bishop's Wife," but it clicked with me as soon as I read your post. Thank you again for the info - I love learning new facts about the Golden Age of Hollywood that we know and love.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great topic!

 

I tend to notice the same things, although it's more with props/furniture than sets. A good example is on the bonus material on the Singin' in the Rain DVD. In the section that shows old MGM musical numbers which inspired that movie, two of them - from Hollywood Review of 1929 and Broadway Melody of 1936 - use the same huge, silvery tree!

 

Another time I noticed that Cabin in the Sky and Bathing Beauty (both 40s MGM musicals) used the same unique, round patchwork throw pillow on the set design. Strange, but true.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

I was recently watching a documentary about Universal Studios, and they talked about one of their sets that has been around since the 20's. It is the interior of the Paris Opera House which was built for Lon Chaney's 1925 version of "The Phantom Of the Opera." This set has been used in many films, including the 1943 remake of Phantom starring Claude Rains, as well as "Charade," and many other films that I can't remember right now - but it was an impressive list.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...