Saturday, December 4, 2010


Maria Bello in an undone tux look.

While I was unemployed I ran through the entire American Film Institute's Top 100 Movie list.  It was quite the UN-accomplishment.  Although, it felt good to finally see, in their entirety, those films that have become part of cultural zeitgeist and hear famous quotes as part of a greater dialogue.  I never knew what "Plastics" meant until I finally saw The Graduate.  And now, I can appreciate "the beginning of a beautiful friendship" in the full flower of it's context.

Casablanca  (1942) is so perspicuously beautiful, the moody film noir lighting especially (see above).  The costumes are simple and elegant, invoking the reality of unoccupied Africa without losing that Hollywood gleam.  Costumer Orry-Kelly won three Oscars for other films (Les Girls, Some Like It Hot, An American in Paris) and worked on countless other films over a thirty-year careerWhen you watch classics like Irma La Deuce, The Maltese Falcon, 42nd Street, or Arsenic and Old Lace think of Orry-Kelly.

Orry-Kelly's official screen credit was often that of "Gowns", but he managed to make male leads like
Bogart, Stewart, and Grant look just as devastating as their female counterparts.
Then there was the time he had to make the male leads devastating AS females...

Orry-Kelly and Tony Curtis on the set of Some Like It Hot

Casablanca was based on a play, Everybody Comes to Rick's.  Several sell-traveled tales of the script sale involve it's comparison to the very successful film Algiers from a few years earlier.  It's often both ridiculed and lauded for the same reason - it is broad and easy to love.  The storyline and dialogue are corny (even by 1940's standards), the characters drawn and acted with wide strokes, and there is just enough tension to keep audiences entertained but not so much as to alienate anyone. 
It is romantic and appealing.
Hokum, but appealing.

This is why Casablanca lives on more Top Movies lists than any other title.  Yes, Citizen Kane (AFI's #1) is in many ways a superior effort, but it is far less lovable a film.  I quite like the Umberto Eco quote: "Two cliches make us laugh.  A hundred cliches move us"Casablanca is such a series of stereotypes, made more powerful through simplicity. 

Casablanca.  Simple.  It epitomizes that Golden Hollywood era, all the sweeter for having passed.

 Pencey blazer ($498)

Vintage sewing patterns: sweetheart necklines, flounced peplums, bishop sleeves, etc...

Eugenia Kim fedora, almost as good as the real thing.

Vintage Yves Saint Laurent pencil skirt.  eBay seller: mintmallstore

Abaete 'Lilian' blazer ($298)

Vintage garbadine suit ($158) ebay seller: Violetville Vintage

Vintage 40s suit eBay seller: Mill Street Vintage

Vintage 40's dance pumps in navy satin and gold velvet.

For leather gloves with a vintage vibe, try: Portolano

The classic Burberry trench.

1 comment:

  1. I like your fashion rendition of the movies. It's interesting information. I hope you'll do more of these.