Friday, July 15, 2011

Cinema Style File--More Classic Helen Rose in 1962's COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER

Though mention of Vincente Minnelli's The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1962) was included in my podcast with Turner Classic Movies, unfortunately the discussion on its significance in style was not.  Because the movie really showcases the classic style voice of the great MGM costume designer, Helen Rose, I definitely wanted to take the opportunity to share the wonderful wardrobe with you here on GlamAmor.

The Courtship of Eddie's Father is really a culmination of everything that Helen had played with and practiced at MGM.  First and foremost, the overarching lesson here is definitely COLOR.  In other movies, Helen used it in clever accents such is seen in Mogambo (1953), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Butterfield 8 (1960).  But here her entire movie wardrobe is a cavalcade of color...there are shifts, sheaths, and suits in a rainbow array.  What's interesting is the way that Helen used color and even fabrics to really distinguish between the three leading ladies.  Stella Stevens as Dolly Daily, the vibrant yet naive small town girl in the big city, is in outifts of peaches and cream.  Dina Merrill, as the sophisticated style consultant Rita Behrens, is the only lead seen in black and the other shades she wears are strong and most often primary--red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.  Helen also dresses her frequently in fur to reinforce her character as an independent and strong working woman.  And Shirley Jones, who plays the caring nurse neighbor and eventual love interest Elizabeth Marten, remains in shades of virtuous white.

The women in this movie--both stars and extras alike--are the perfect combination of sophisticated and sexy.  Notice that no one wears anything too revealing, yet there is strong sex appeal that comes from the body conscious shapes throughout.  Helen also makes outfits look interesting both coming and going--many have either buttoned-up backs, deep back necklines, or even completely backless.  I am attracted to details like this in my own wardrobe of vintage dresses and collection for GlamAmor.  Not surprisingly, seeing this movie was highly influential on me...the dresses combine bright uplifting color with conservative classic shapes that make them work for the office and beyond.  There aren't too many outfits in this movie that I wouldn't enthusiastically take as my own.

As you will see, the costume design on this shoot was extensive.  There are many wardrobe changes for each of the three leading ladies, and pay close attention to all the extras wearing Helen's fabulous clothes as well.  From the very beginning of the movie, you will see that everyone looks incredible decked out in classic Helen Rose.

Tom's receptionist in a great green wiggle dress

Tom's secretary in a hot pink silk suit

Norman's (Jerry Van Dyke) radio program is popular with the ladies,
who are all in incredible Helen Rose dresses

Our introductions to the leading ladies...first, Elizabeth (Shirley Jones) in her uniform and apron because of baking

Then the delightful Dolly (Stella Stevens) in a flowing white dress a la Marilyn with black patent accessories

And the ever-elegant Rita (Dina Merrill) in matching tweed hat and coat with mink collar, 
an outift that really sets the stage for the rest of her character's exceptional wardrobe

In a classic black and khaki suit for Rita's first date with Tom

In a sleek black sheath with pearls, leather gloves, and fur hat for dinner with Tom and his son

Rita showing one of Helen's "unusual color combinations," 
yellow and orange for a playdate with Tom and Eddie

The evolution of Tom and Rita's dating told in dancing...first friendly dancing in teal silk...

...then definitely dancing closer in an orange silk top and khaki skirt...

...and finally dancing cheek to cheek in--what else?--a red backless gown 
with sequin straps that seem like they're just about to come undone in Tom's hands

Then there's Dolly in peaches and cream meeting Norman for the first time

More peaches and cream for her first date with Norm, but the color is now a more passionate orange

All dressed up in white lace for New Year's Eve (above) and an orange suit for her engagement... 
with Rita in a fabulous feather hat as well

Wedded bliss in a sweet and conservative suit for Dolly

 Rita stands out in leopard at the reception, 
and though she catches the bouquet she has a feeling her relationship with Tom is not to be

Elizabeth is quite the contrast to the other girls...
her wardrobe speaks to a comfort with Tom when she has discussions with him twice in bathrobes

As I mentioned, the bulk of Elizabeth's wardrobe is in innocent shades of white

Yellow belted brocade adds a slight dash of color to her subdued wardrobe

After the New Year's party with Rita and Dolly, 
Tom finds Elizabeth coming home at the same time and ends their evening with a kiss

Tom and Rita ending their relationship in his white tuxedo
and her light blue chiffon cocktail dress reminiscent of the white chiffon in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Eddie playing matchmaker and telling Elizabeth to answer a phone call...from his father

And they live happily ever after, of course!


Marline said...

Holy smoke!!! I had no idea this movie was so jam-packed with vintage goodies! Thanks a million for your wonderful post and the great screen caps, was such fun to read and it makes me want to emulate Dina's wardrobe. I love that Helen Rose's dresses and outfits are so totally suited to each character--it's what I strive to do in my costuming, but I sure don't have that budget! All in all, wonderfully entertaining. Thanks!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Kay and so glad you enjoyed it! It's funny what an under-appreciated film this is for costume design when it is, as you say, so jam-packed full of goodies. There really is something for everyone to emulate, no matter what your style personality.

Marline said...

Hi, Kimberly...after watching this again more closely, I'm pretty sure Tom's lovely receptionist is Lee Meriwether...what do you think? I love her wonderful green sheath!
Thanks once more for encouraging me to watch this's marvelous!
Kay Movie Star Makeover

Kimberly Truhler said...

HUGE fan of that green sheath and in fact have one of my own...a 1960s lime green sheath dress that has on-seam pockets in front (so you don't even see them). I've got it posted on my FAQs page if you'd like to see it. LOVE 60s style!

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