Saturday, June 24, 2017

Cinema Wedding Gowns: How To Marry a Millionaire (1953)


Today's wedding dress is probably on of the better known ones in cinema. It is the lace dress worn by Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).


Crafted of embroidered ecru lace in a floral pattern with iridescent sequins and a heavy satin lining, this exquisite mermaid style, off the shoulder gown was designed by Travilla.


The dress is fitted to just below the hip where a semi-circle piece is added to make it floor length and giving the dress movement. Three-quarter length sleeves and lace trim along the top complete the gown.


Rather than a veil, the dress is paired with a hat crafted of white sinamay and with piping swirled on the crown and hanging down the back. A small pearl necklace and bracelet are the perfect accessories.

 
The dress was later modified with the sleeves and ruffle across the front removed and straps added. It sold at Debbie Reynold's auction in 2011 for $8000, which was the start price. On another site it said that the modified dress was worn in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) but, while the design is nearly identical, the lace is different.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rio Bravo (1959)

 
Wednesday, June 7th, was the 100th birthday of the legendary crooner Dean Martin. Rio Bravo (1959), starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan, was one of Martin's first films after his split with long-time film partner Jerry Lewis (they began appearing in nightclub acts together in 1946 and made 16 movies between 1949 and 1956). And it is also one of my favorite of his roles.
 
In 2005 my uncle brought some recorded VHS tapes to give us when he came to visit. One had Rio Bravo and North to Alaska on it. My brothers and I watched those two films on a loop for over a month, whenever we had a moment (aka mom was gone and we were left to our own devices). They may not be Oscar-worthy films, but they are pure entertainment.
 
Rio Bravo, the film I am reviewing today, was based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell of the same name. Howard Hawks, who had been on a four year break from directing after a flop, took on this film supposedly as a response to High Noon (1952), which portrayed a sheriff who goes around the town asking for help against a gang of killers. In Rio Bravo, the sheriff, played by the one and only John Wayne, goes up against Nathan Burdette (John Russell), a man who pays others to do his dirty work, with just a drunk and an old man.
 
Are you calling me a drunk?
 
John Wayne plays John T. Chance (the "T." stands for Trouble). Dean Martin plays Dude, his drunk deputy who used to be good... real good. Now he's a town joke called Boroch√≥n, which means "drunk" in Spanish. Walter Brennan is the lovable Stumpy who walks with a limp. Other characters include Ward Bond as Pat Wheeler, who offers to help Chance and is killed for it, Ricky Nelson as Colorado, a young gunslinger who was in Wheeler's employ and now wants to get the man who shot his boss, and Angie Dickinson as Feathers, a woman who fits a lot of descriptions of a known card cheater's girlfriend. And of course the film wouldn't be complete without Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, who plays Carlos. He owns the hotel/bar and is another loyal friend to Chance.
Mr. Martin, who combines a lethargic and casual manner to perfection, and Mr. Brennan, who can do more with a cackle or a horse laugh than most, give "Rio Bravo" the added notches that raise it above the average Western.
 
When you really, really want that iced coffee, I mean... beer ;)
 
After arresting Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) for murder, Chance has to hole up at the jail to wait for the Marshall to arrive. Nathan Burdette, Joe's brother, is a powerful man who will do anything to get him out of jail.
You're a rich man, Burdette... big ranch, pay a lot of people to do what you want 'em to do. And you got a brother. He's no good but he's your brother. He committed twenty murders you'd try and see he didn't hang for 'em.
Let's get this straight. I don't like a lot of things. I don't like your men sittin' on the road bottling up this town. I don't like your men watching us, trying to catch us with our backs turned. And I don't like it when a friend of mine offers to help and twenty minutes later he's dead! And I don't like you, Burdette, because you set it up.
 
While their holed up, Dude decides to give up drinking. Chance gives him his old duds and pearl-handled pistols he bought after Dude had pawned them for liquor money.

There is a brief period of quiet before the action goes down and, since a Dean Martin movie wouldn't be complete without him singing a song AND you have Ricky Nelson in the cast, what better time for a duet?


If the tune sounds familiar, that's because it's the theme from Red River (1948) also starring John Wayne and directed by Howard Hawks. You can here the original theme here. The lyrics are in the comments.

Dean Martin also recorded another song titled "Rio Bravo" that, except for the last two lines, is not sung in the film. It was released as a single at the same time as the movie.

By the memory of a song,
While the river Rio Bravo rolls along.

Only the last two lines of the song are sung in the movie as Dude and Stumpy walk "into the sunset" at the end.

Before the end of the movie however, there is a rousing gunfight involving explosives and fist fights. And throughout the film Chance and Feathers argue and make up, ending with him finally saying he loves her.

Angie Dickinson on set with director Howard Hawks.

Here's a great TCM article on the film and how Dean Martin prepared for the role.

Fun Facts from IMDb:
This was the last film that John Wayne wore his hat from Stagecoach (1939). It was also his last of 22 films with Ward Bond and Bond's last feature film. Wayne also wore his belt buckle from Red River (1948).
There are only five close-ups in the movie: Joe firing his gun, Dude's hands trying to roll a cigarette, Dude pouring a shot of whiskey back into the bottle and a beer glass where a drop of blood falls in, and Chance's boots tapping together in Sheriff's office as he's sitting in a chair.
Feathers's dialogue was occasionally inspired by the character of "Slim" To Have and Have Not (1944), as when, after the first kiss, she says: "...it's better when two people do it," recalling the phrase "it's even better when you help;" and again later when she says, "I'm hard to get - you're going to have to say you want me," recalling Slim's "I'm hard to get, Steve - all you have to do is ask me."
Angie Dickinson was only 26 at the time of filming. John Wayne was 51.
There are a ton of behind-the-scenes photos from this film. I shared a bunch of them during the 2015 Summer Under the Stars, which you can view here.

Rio Bravo will be airing on TCM on August 12 at 12:45am ET.
 
 
This post is part of The Dean Martin Centenary Blogathon hosted by Musings of a Classic Film Addict. Be sure to check out the other posts celebrating the life and career of this legendary crooner!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Cinema Wedding Gowns: Honeymoon (1947)

 
Honeymoon (1947), starring Franchot Tone, Shirley Temple, and Guy Madison, is a movie about a soldier on leave and his girl who have planned to meet in Mexico City to marry and spend their two day honeymoon there. As usual, nothing happens the way it's supposed to, with the groom's flight being cancelled and neither having a way to contact the other. That's were Franchot Tone comes in, as the American Consul who tries to get them married before Madison's leave is over, or rather, as the poor guy Temple keeps coming to with her problems and creating problems for him in return.
 
 
The couple never is actually seen on their honeymoon, as the film ends with them finally getting married in the back yard of Tone's fiancé's house. The entire gown is never shown either. The only "full" glimpse is what is featured on the posters for the film. I did however find this photo that someone uploaded on Pinterest, saying it was their grandmother wearing the "Shirley Temple dress from Honeymoon." My guess is the dress was either sold in stores or perhaps even released as a pattern.
 
 
As you can see, the dress is crafted entirely of lace, with a sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice, long tapered sleeves that are gathered at the shoulder, and a full gathered skirt with peplum. The promotional photos below show the dress on Temple.
 
 
The fingertip length veil is scalloped tulle with appliqued flowers and leaves attached to a head piece covered in small flowers. The bouquet is comprised of small flowers and roses with ribbons hanging from it.
 
A good look at the sleeves.
 
Here are some screenshots from the actual movie:






As you can see, Franchot Tone is very happy that they are finally married.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Movies I Watched in May

I love the packaging of this set (except for the fact that there's a picture of Carole and Clark Gable on the back and on the menu for Hands Across the Table when it's supposed to be Fred MacMurray).

This month I finally pulled out my Carole Lombard Glamour Collection dvd set and watched the four films on it that I hadn't yet seen. I've had it for over two years but kept putting off watching any of the films because I felt that if I did I would have to write a blog post on it. Believe me, I put off watching movies I really want to see for this reason all the time. But I was in the mood for some Carole so I just went ahead and watched it.

I also caught quite a bit of Clark Gable, who is TCM's Star of the Month, as well as his frequent co-star Joan Crawford. I definitely got a little misty eyed watching the documentary Clark Gable: Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

Another thing I accomplished was to finally watch the entire Back to the Future trilogy. Before this month I had only seen the end of the first one and the entire third one (three times). I am now working my way through the hours of special features included on the 40th anniversary Blu-ray set.
  1. Laughing Sinners (1931) - Clark Gable & Joan Crawford
  2. Possessed (1931) - Clark Gable & Joan Crawford
  3. Chained (1934) - Clark Gable & Joan Crawford
  4. We're Not Dressing (1934) - Carole Lombard & Bing Crosby, George Burns & Gracie Allen
  5. Hands Across the Table (1935) - Carole Lombard & Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy
  6. After Office Hours (1935) - Clark Gable & Constance Bennett, Billie Burke
  7. The Girl from 10th Avenue (1935) - Bette Davis & Ian Hunter
  8. The Golden Arrow (1936) - Bette Davis & George Brent
  9. The Princess Comes Across (1936) - Carole Lombard & Fred MacMurray, William Frawley 
  10. Love Before Breakfast (1936) - Carole Lombard, Cesar Romero
  11. And So They Were Married (1936) - Melvyn Douglas & Mary Astor
  12. Cain and Mabel (1936) - Clark Gable & Marion Davies (my first of her films)
  13. Varsity Show (1937) - Dick Powell, Priscilla & Rosemary Lane
  14. Lucky Night (1939) - Myrna Loy & Robert Taylor
  15. Strange Cargo (1940) - Clark Gable & Joan Crawford, Ian Hunter, Peter Lorre
  16. Happy Land (1943) - Don Ameche, Harry Carey, Frances Dee
  17. Adventure (1945) - Clark Gable & Greer Garson, Thomas Mitchell, Joan Blondell
  18. Miranda (1948) - Glynis Johns, Margaret Rutherford
  19. Pinky (1949) - Jeanne Crain, Ethel Waters, Ethel Barrymore 
  20. Above and Beyond (1952) - Robert Taylor & Eleanor Parker
  21. Mad About Men (1954) - Glynis Johns, Margaret Rutherford
  22. *Smokey and the Bandit (1977) - Burt Reynolds & Sally Fields, Jackie Gleason (in theaters!!)
  23. Back to the Future (1985) - Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd
  24. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) - Rick Moranis
  25. Back to the Future Part II (1989) - Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd
  26. *Back to the Future Part III (1990) - Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd
  27. *Sleepless in Seattle (1993) - Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell
  28. Ransom (1996) - Mel Gibson, Gary Sinise
  29. Just My Luck (2006) - Lindsey Lohan & Chris Pine
  30. *This Means War (2012) - Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy 
  31. Hell or High Water (2016) - Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster
Favorite Film of the month: I watched a lot of great films this month but I have to say seeing Smokey and the Bandit on the big screen was a blast. I also really enjoyed Hands Across the Table.

Least favorite film: Although I love Carole Lombard, I'm going to have to say Love Before Breakfast. The Carole I know would not have put up with Preston Foster, whose character in the movie is a huge jerk. I'm pretty sure I had a look of disgust on my face whenever he showed up. Carole is gorgeous though and the Pekinese he gives her is absolutely the cutest thing ever (according to Carole and Co. it was Carole's best-known pet, Pushface).