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Archive for ‘Films’

You Can’t Wash Shampoo Out Of Your Mind

By , 2 January, 2009, No Comment

I saw this photo and while I don’t know who the pretty lady wearing the fishnets is, she reminds me of Lee Grant (not Lou Grant lol).  I’d be surprised to find it it wasn’t her.

May Be Lee Grant In Fishnet Hose

May Be Lee Grant Wearing Fishnet Hose

Thinking of Lee Grant got me to thinking about Shampoo

A few weeks ago the movie was playing on television and my husband said, “Ooh, let’s watch Shampoo!” I replied that I didn’t know if I felt like watching a sad movie.

“It’s not a ‘sad movie’, it’s funny! See, Beatty is this hairdresser and all the men think he’s gay — meanwhile, he’s banging all their wives and stuff.”

“Have you seen it?” I asked.

No he hadn’t. Which is precisely why he didn’t know that Shampoo is truly a “sex comedy” — and like Stephan Jenkins said, “Sex is funny and love is serious.”

Simply put, while George (Warren Beatty) & Lester (Jack Warden) run around with women, they each miss out on real love. George isn’t faithful to his girlfriend, Jill (Goldie Hawn), and one of his casual sex partners is the wealthy Felicia (Lee Grant), who is married to Lester; Lester has a mistress, Jackie (Julie Christie), who is a former girlfriend of George’s.

A Scene From The Film Shampoo

A Scene From The Film Shampoo

The fact that they all (sometimes unknowingly) make a sexual daisy chain (George has even done the deed with Felicia & Lester’s daughter, played by Carrie Fisher) is the comedic set-up for situational comedy of errors, eventually culminating in George and Jackie being discovered having sex at a party by both Jill and Lester. The result are both funny and heart breaking.

Jill dumps George…

Goldie Hawn In Shampoo

Goldie Hawn In Shampoo

Lester looks like he’s without both wife & mistress…

Lee Grant Won The Oscar For Shampoo

Lee Grant Won The Oscar For Shampoo

And by the time George realizes he loves Jackie, she’s going off with the newly divorced Lester — but he’s not really the winner either, for it doesn’t look like either Lester or Jackie is in love and those old bad habits die hard, you know… It’s very likely that Jackie will be the new Felicia.

And while the future isn’t clear it’s not hard to see that as everyone ages, those not actually alone will still find themselves lonely.

Warren Beatty At The End Of The Movie Shampoo

Warren Beatty At The End Of The Movie Shampoo

That, my friends, isn’t as simple comedy about hedonistic sex in the 70’s.

As far as the fashion & beauty in this film goes, I sum it up in three words: Bobs, Bangs and Backless.

Lee Grant As Felicia In Shampoo

Lee Grant As Felicia In Shampoo

There are lots of miniskirts and even some risque body paint scenes, but once you see Shampoo, you simply cannot get the image of Juli Christie in this deep-V-backed sequin dress out of your mind.

Julie Christie Backless in Shampoo

Julie Christie Backless in Shampoo

PS If you can identify the woman wearing fishnets in the photo, please let me know!

The Knack (And How To Get It) In Romance & Fashion

By , 9 December, 2008, 5 Comments

The Knack… and How to Get It was a British film released in 1965 about the sexual revolution in swinging London-town, complete with a Greek chorus of disapproving members of society’s “older generation”. In the film, bookish teacher Colin (played by Michael Crawford) is frustrated by the womanizing ways of his housemate, Tolen (played by Ray Brooks).

The film opens with a series of mannequin-esque women in tight sweaters and short skirts, robotically waiting in line to get with Tolen.

The Mannequin Women In The Knack... And How To Get It

The Mannequin Women Of The Knack... And How To Get It

Shot in black & white, the mod fashions seem nearly as bland and dingy as an Ugly American imagines London to be. My first thoughts were that we’d shift to color after this initial footage, but the entire film is in black and white. This, along with admittedly few costume changes, leaves little to leap from the screen as far as the fashionista’s attentions go — so why review the film here?

Because in black and white the film is much more of a character study (perhaps this was a calculated move on the part of director Richard Lester, most known for his 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night; I’ll leave that for movie critics to debate), leaving what little eye-candy fashion there is to become iconic & symbolic. At least in this person’s mind.

As I said, the women who visit Tolen are darn-near replicas of one another. Same tight-fitting sweaters and short skirts on the same lithe frames — just their hairstyles set them apart. They become rather unidentifiable and even (surprisingly, for a feminist anyway) unremarkable — you just don’t really care for or about these women. For even as the supposedly sexually satisfied women (we never see a sex act) prepare to leave with their “gifts” from Tolen, they seem without pleasure. When he gives jewelry, there is a cold acceptance. Even when the women given the Green Shield Savings Stamps (the UK version of S&H Green Stamps) lick the stamps to place them in their books, there’s no heat. And you know how sexy women’s mouths and licking are usually made in such films.

Where you might expect the vapid, drugged, zombie state of women in lust writhing and purring over “the man with The Knack”, there is instead the the passionless, mechanical quality of women who all look alike. I can’t help but find parallels to women who blindly follow fashion trends.

In a case of he-doth-protest-too-much, Colin rants angrily about getting a new roommate in his house because he can’t focus with all the goings-on in the house — both the practical issues resulting from the long line of ladies who visit Tolen & the moral & misogynistic improprieties. He puts a sign up, hoping for a monk or a nice quiet girl, but instead, through a series of comical mishaps ends up with Tom (Donal Donnelly), a quirky young man who insists upon painting over everything brown (but really seems compelled to paint everything in sight white), as a new housemate. Just in time too, for Colin is about to go over to the dark side — give up on morals and love — and get lessons in “The Knack” from Tolen.

While the boys are getting things sorted out at home, there’s a sweet, young country girl, Nancy (played by the charming and fetching Rita Tushingham), arriving fresh off the train to London.

Nancy Arrives

Nancy Arrives

She’s completely unlike the other young women we’ve seen. While her clothes are certainly more mod than New Look, she expresses — in fashion and face — a freedom the mod mannequins do not. She’s not just “country” v. “city; she’s alive. This is best shown with her innocent face beneath that plaid newsboy cap.

As fellow passengers voice the societal concerns of the big city ruining the sweet young woman, Nancy enters the London train station and sits down in a photo booth, taking portraits of herself as a hip urbanite. Notice that Nancy has removed her hat — a hat which should be watched as symbolism in the entire film.

Waiting for the photos to come out of the machine, Nancy gets her first rude awakening to what the swinging city has in store. A couple, older man with younger blonde, walk up to the photo booth. The young woman steps inside, draws the curtain closed, and proceeds to rapidly hand her male companion pieces of her clothing — one by one, including bits of lingerie.

Stripping In The Photo Booth

Stripping In The Photo Booth

Until we can obviously understand that she is completely nude in the photo booth; we see bare (or perhaps stocking-covered) legs & her shoes beneath the curtain as she happily poses for the camera.

Nancy, en route to the YWCA, has several other big city lessons in store for herself; including a hilarious scene with a hoodwinking salesman inside a clothing shop. Once she enters she is instantly proffered a dress & pushed into a fitting room by a salesman who says:

I never thought I’d see so much purity of pattern. Absolute rightness. I must please you, and I think I can. Don’t fail me now, because I may never trust myself with a woman again, ever. Try it on. I’m sure, absolutely, I can please you. Show me. Wait for me.

Nancy Approached By Salesman

Nancy Approached By Salesman

The complete pitch is repeated word for word with the next woman who enters the shop — and overheard by Nancy, who mimics him. She still buys the dress — but instead of buying a new hat, keeps her (now) trademark cap.

Undeterred by the slick swinging city & its rude people, Nancy continues on eventually running into Colin and Tom at the junkyard. The young men are there as Colin has deduced his poor luck with the ladies is due to a too-small bed, and Tom has found him the perfect Edwardian iron bed in the junkyard. Tom sees a way to help the naïve and awkward Colin with girls by getting Nancy to come along home with them.

Using the guise of promising to help Nancy find her way to the YWCA if she helps them, the three roll, carry, and float the bed through the city back to the house. (At some point the bed is now white as if Tom had painted it along the way.)

Rolling Bed Through London

Rolling Bed Through London

Floating The Bed Home

Floating The Bed Home

In this part there’s plenty of humor, including when Nancy, perched on the bed as the boys lift it to carry it down significant stairs, says, “I’ve been picked up now, haven’t I?”

This clearly disturbs Colin — but things will only get worse once the three get back to the house and Tolen decides to show-up his housemates by putting the moves on Nancy.

Tolen Putting The Moves On Nancy

Tolen Putting The Moves On Nancy

Tolen believes women must be dominated (that is part of “The Knack”), and his aggression frightens her. Colin seems oblivious, but Tom tries to assist; however Tolen eventually seduces the her into leaving with him on his motorcycle. Tom convinces Colin that the two need to save the poor innocent girl from herself and Tolen and they set off to chase the couple on foot. What ensues includes a Benny Hill/Keystone Cops chase scene.

Tolen and Nancy lose them and duck into a park. There Tolen really puts the moves on Nancy. She nervously says “no”, then demands he leave her alone — mocking Tolen. But she takes things too far when she starts calling him “Mister Tight Pants”, distracting herself. The conflicting desires have her falling to the ground in a faint. This is where the boys come in, assuming the worst, that Nancy is dead.

Park Scene In The Knack

Park Scene In The Knack

As they argue, Nancy sits up and yells, “Rape.” Not once, not twice, but endlessly throughout the town, even once she starts to tell a cop but decided not to. (As a feminist, I have to say I was rather put-off by this at first — but eventually you just have to laugh at the absurdity, especially due to the length of this scene.) Nancy even goes door-to-door. She knocks and when the door is opened says just the one word, “Rape,” to which the housewife says, “Not today, thank you.”

Nancy arrives back at the house before the boys, strips and remains in Tolen’s room, still insisting she’s been raped.

Nancy Nude In Bed

Nancy Nude In Bed

Now Colin takes the lead and confronts her, telling her she’s not been raped. The combination of their individual positions and mutual insistence becomes an elixir or sorts, and now Nancy claims Colin was the one who raped her. This is so laughable to Tolen, that Colin’s ego is affected and he falters for a second. Even Nancy seems to be insulted by Tolen’s reaction, so she starts saying that Colin “raped me marvelous super!” Colin responds by saying that he could, he would — he’d like to but he didn’t. Eventually Nancy & Colin consummate the claims in Colin’s new big bed.

Nancy and Colin, A Couple

Nancy and Colin as a Couple

Everything is settled for the couple now; Nancy will be living there. But Tolen is now upset by such impropriety. He heads off to some sort of pre-scheduled meeting with a fellow womanizer named Rory — one he feels is not as good as he. He gets there and Rory’s women now fill the Albert Hall (“now we know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall”) — not merely preventing Tolen from entering, but even trampling him in their blind (cold) lust.

Tolen Trying To Get Into Albert Hall

Tolen Trying To Get Into Albert Hall

Tolen, a very changed man, now joins the chorus of disapproving society folk, while the rest go on and live happily ever after.

A very unusual and thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy about remaining true to yourself — with lots to think about in the regarding fashion too. It makes me want to go out and get a plaid newsboy cap.

Plaid 1960s Newsboy Cap

Plaid 1960s Newsboy Cap

PS I have to add that my heart was taken by the wonderfully mad, childlike (not childish), painting-everything-white, Tom. I wondered why he didn’t get the girl. At one point Tolen wonders too. Maybe he’s gay. “Are you a homosexual?” he says to Tom. Tom replies, “No. Thanks all the same.”

While it clears up one issue, I’m still wondering why Tom’s left single.

To Have (And Not Have?) Bacall’s Look

By , 19 November, 2008, No Comment
Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart In To Have And Have Not

Lauren Bacall & Humphrey Bogart In To Have And Have Not

One of my favorite films is To Have And Have Not (1944), starring Bogie and Bacall. The film was (loosely) based on Ernest Hemingway’s 1937 novel of the same name, and William Faulkner himself helped write the screen play (with Jules Furthman) in order to keep Hemingway’s sharp dialog.

This was Lauren Bacall’s film debut, at the age of 19. She stunned everyone with her sizzling sexuality and her ability to deliver the stinging dialog. It’s also the film where she and a married Humphrey Bogart met & fell in love. After his divorce from wife number three, the two were married in 1945. She was his forth and last wife.

The film’s plot & construction are much like Casablanca. It’s set in an exotic locale during WWII, with Bogie as an unmarried ex-patriate American (named Captain Morgan — insert giggle over the booze here) who is politically apathetic amidst resistance fighters and the Vichy/Gestapo police captain — until his romantic love (Bacall, of course) interest walks into his regular cafe/bar — complete with resident a piano player (Hoagy Carmichael).

Some say To Have And Have Not is too much like Casablanca — but I adore it for the charming characters (watch it and you can’t forget the ‘being bit by dead bees’ running gag), the clever witty and biting dialog — and for the feisty, sexy Bacall.

This film is most known for two stand-out Bacall moments. The first being the scene where Bacall, with downcast face, using her eyes to sizzling look at him, lights Bogie’s cigarette — earning her the name The Look. The second is the famous, “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together – and blow.”

My favorite scene, however, takes place just before that scene. In it, Bogie as Captain Steve Morgan and Bacall as Marie, nicknamed Slim by Morgan, are in Morgan’s room. Slim puts herself in his lap and kisses him…

Steve: What’d you do that for?
Slim: Been wondering whether I’d like it.
Steve: What’s the decision?
Slim: I don’t know yet.
After a brief pause, she kisses him again. Then she stands & says, “It’s even better when you help.”

She proceeds to exit his room, delivering the classic whistle & blow line.

Hot!

See for yourself!

No wonder she ends up with Bogie in this film (and real life!), while Ingrid Bergman, in Casablanca, does not.

I much prefer the biting, feisty, sizzling chemistry of this couple to the weepy ‘romantic’ couple in Casablanca. In fact, this is why I love To Have And Have Not; and don’t care much for Casablanca. (No, it’s not the ‘happy ending’; it’s the sizzle, I tell you!)

You might not be able to pull off all of Bacall’s moves, but you can emulate her look in fabulous checked suits from the 40s’.

A Scene From To Have And Have Not

A Scene From To Have And Have Not

While from the 1950’s, this black & white checked suit would be worthy of Bacall.

Vintage Black And White Checked Suit

Vintage Black And White Checked Suit

This vintage Jaeger worsted check suit is from the 50’s too, but it still has the look.

Vintage Jaeger Checked Suit

Vintage Jaeger Checked Suit

Finding a suit with a peplum, a collar and in checks won’t be easy… Maybe you can sew one, or hire a seamstress to make you one? If you love the silhouette, it’s worth buying a pattern.

Hollywood Pattern Number 172, Two Piece Suit

Hollywood Pattern Number 172, Two Piece Suit

Seduce Like The Millionairess With An Accessorized Corset

By , 5 November, 2008, 3 Comments

Some films really are only worthy of watching for the fashions.

One such film is The Millionairess (1960), where the scrumptious Sophia Loren, The Millionairess, spends the entire film trying to seduce the poor-but-dedicated Indian doctor, played by Peter Sellers. Difficult to image anyone not batting an eye at Loren batting her lashes, but that’s the role Sellers plays — even when Loren strips down to her lingerie in his office:

I’m not sure wearing black hose with a peach ensemble is recommended; but when the woman is Sophia Loren — and those black stockings are attached to the garters of a black corset — just who is going to complain?

Sophia Loren In "The Millionairess"

Sophia Loren In

The contrast of the sinful black corset and stockings paired with the lady-like white hat, pearl necklace and 6-button white kid gloves is what really drives the seduction by fashion — which is, you know, far more effective than simply being nude.

In this state of (un)dress Loren captures all that is feminine. Playing on the dramatic power of the black corset to demand attention, leaving things carefully covered to add the excitement of mystery, as well as demonstrating the demure “do not touch” attitude of a lady, she fully exploits the virgin-whore complex to unsteady poor lucky Sellers.

And you can too. Well, maybe you can’t knock Peter Sellers off his feet, but you can any other man if you follow Loren’s example.

Rather than dominating in the more typical or caricatured version of a “Domme”, such attire and accessories leaves the average man at a loss as for what to do next. You are in charge — and you can enjoy watching him squirm as he wonders just how — and if! — he should make his move…

Start with a stunning corset, preferably custom fit to your curves. (Real corsets are custom made to your measurements, and therefore require several weeks to create & be delivered; so now is the time to order your corset if you want to wear it for the holidays.) Then add the stockings and other accessories.

Opera gloves are my first choice — running over the elbow, leaving the focus on bare décolletage is enough to make anyone sigh. But there are many other lovely glove options.

Wrap the lusty luster of pearls about your throat, and, if you’re daring, top it all off with a lovely vintage hat. Don’t forget the dress! You have to peel yourself out of it; agonizingly slow, or with such perfunctory practicality that he’s completely puzzled. It’s your choice.

(Remember, you can leave your hat on! *wink* )