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The Devil is in the Details...


pandorainmay
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As a loyal TCM viewer, do you ever find yourself drawn into some old great, good and not-so-hot movies for reasons other than the story and acting?

 

For instance, Gigi(1958) for the Art Nouveau architectural details, a movie such as The Dark Horse(1932) for all the humorous ?inside politics? asides within the script parodying real life pols such as Calvin Coolidge (the wearing of an Indian headdress), and Herbert Hoover (fishing while wearing a three piece suit), or Some Came Running(1958) for that great library/kitchen or The Secret Heart(1946) for Claude Debussy?s "La Que Plus Lente" or The Painted Veil(1934) for those crazy hats that Garbo shows up wearing a couple of scenes?

 

I guess that ideally, the story and acting should carry the day, but I?d love to read about your favorite details in movies.

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I'm a military aviation buff, especially WWII-era aircraft, but really anything that flew before the 1970's. So I consider any film, no matter how bad, that offers a glimpse of the planes (but not some hokey studio mock-up or toy model dangling on a string) to be worthwhile viewing.

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The details I love the most involve the women and their dress of the day:the costumes/accesories.It amazes me to see how elaborately women dressed in their (seemingly!) everyday lives.The hair was perfectly coiffed,the make-up flawless (even after much kissing-how did that work?!),the dresses never wrinkled and many changes during a day,the stockings and shoes,and the wonderful jewelry that even the poorest shopgirl sported! I don't care how "bad" a movie is,I still can enjoy the costumes.

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Most definitely-I love a lot of the early silents in which perhaps the story is less than compelling,or even the film quality is difficult to watch,just so I can feast my eyes on the fashions and manners of that day-it's amazing to realise that a lot of the earlier ones were made during the reign of Edward VII or shortly after. I mean the ones before the "Jazz Age" begins. I love "Why Change Your Wife" and "Male And Female" with Gloria Swanson partly for that reason,although I also like the stories in those.

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Most definitely! My favorite girl Norma Shearer epitomised that streamlined Art Deco look during that period. I've read that F Scott Fitzgerald said that Joan Crawford in her flapper period was the ideal screen flapper,or something like that-it seems strange that such a fastidious man(when it came to women) would have thought that. In a way,she was,but she didn't have the daintiness that I always associate with a Fitzgerald flapper.

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Great insights into the side details, guys. I always get a kick out of the clothes and attempts at miniatures in some movies, (those little planes never quite cut it, do they?). Very early this a.m. I caught a few moments of Four Horseman of the Apocalypse--it dawned on me that most of the actors in this Valentino film were born and in a stylistic sense, came from the century before last!

 

Re: Crawford and Fitzgerald

I think that the very young Crawford was pretty cute in Our Dancing Daughters, but I'd never read that Fitzgerald, (who, like all of us, could contradict himself), thought that Crawford was an ideal flapper--quite the opposite, since he perceived a lack of spontaneity in her acting. In one of his letters, he wrote the following while attempting to carve out a new career as a scriptwriter in Hollywood:

 

"...Writing for [Joan] is difficult. She can't change her emotions in the middle of a scene without going through a sort of Jekyll and Hyde contortion of the face, so that when one wants to indicate that she is going from joy to sorrow, one must cut away and then cut back. Also, you can never give her such a stage direction as 'telling a lie,' because if you did, she would practically give a representation of Benedict Arnold selling West Point to the British...."

 

Interestingly, in Gavin Lambert's bio of Norma Shearer, he mentions that Fitzgerald was genuinely fond of Shearer, (and of course, her husband, since Thalberg was the model for the "The Last Tycoon"). He incorporated Shearer into one of his last, good short stories, "Crazy Sunday" and she came across as a fairly sympathetic character.

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Hello,

 

Any movie having at least one character (female, or male...doesn't matter) with marcelled hair automatically elevates the movie to "worth a view" status. If any character has "marcel extreme"...well, even better--the movie is a must-see. For instance, the character Hattie Loomis (Louise Closser Hale) in "Dinner At Eight" 'sports' such an incredible marcel, I thought (first time I saw the movie), she was wearing a hirsute shower cap.

 

Rusty

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