Adrenaline continued to surge on the second day of the TCM Classic Film Festival, which just happened to be Friday the 13th. As if on cue, down came a deluge of rain that hit Hollywood and Highland hard throughout the day. But nothing could disappoint me...it was also my birthday and what a way to celebrate. Whether it was being interviewed on air a second time by TCM's other great host, Ben Mankiewicz (above), or doing a little interviewing of my own, the day was spent doing what I love and discovering more of the influence of classic cinema style.
As I mentioned in my first post on the festival, my entire movie schedule was carefully chosen to highlight what I consider Style Essentials--iconic costume design in the movies--for both men and women. Funny Face, Love Story, Vertigo, The Thomas Crown Affair, Dr. No, To Catch a Thief, Charade, The Women, and Annie Hall were my selected companions throughout the festival. All should be seen and appreciated from a standpoint of style. They represent some of the best work of the giants of costume design such as Edith Head, Hubert de Givenchy, Theadora van Runkle, and Adrian. They also include some of the trendsetters who infused their own personal style into the pictures, such as Ali MacGraw and Diane Keaton. Colors, textures, and jewelry jumped off every big screen revealing details I had never seen before. Let's just say that my time was well spent in those darkened theaters.
Movies were not the only thing on the agenda. Friday morning, I sat right in front of Stanley Donen as he spoke with Robert Osborne about directing 1957's Funny Face. Stanley Donen is legendary. Though perhaps best known for his iconic musicals like Singin' in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, he should also be known for bringing Audrey Hepburn to her iconic status. After seeing her in 1953's Roman Holiday, Donen was positively smitten and then cast her in Funny Face with Fred Astaire followed by Charade and Two for the Road. Not surprisingly, what we saw of Audrey onscreen was exactly what she was like in real life, according to Donen. "And she had something special that no one could learn." We can learn from her style, however. With the exception of Two for the Road, which had many modern designers involved, it was Givenchy who created costumes for his muse. And Edith Head designed for everyone else.
From Funny Face, I dashed to listen to Leonard Maltin talk to producer Robert Evans about 1970's Love Story. This is among my top ten of Style Essentials because of the cultural impact of its iconic style. The style was two-fold, too. As you can read about more on GlamAmor, the movie's own style set a standard for East Coast preppy chic that continues to be inspiration for today's fashion designers, such as Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger. But Ali MacGraw's offscreen personal style made just as much of an impact. The famous knit cap in the film was from her own closet, for example, and copies sold out in department stores soon afterward. I would say that she is the origin of today's Boho Chic, too, which is practically the uniform now for girls in Los Angeles. The year of Love Story, Evans said, Ali was the biggest star in the world and admired as much as Jackie Kennedy for her style.
After the introduction, Leonard was sweet enough to speak with me in the greenroom on his own style influences. William Holden was first on his list. "He was my idea of what a man was supposed to be," he remembered. "Virile without being obnoxiously macho. It seemed effortless." He had praise for the dancers in classic cinema as well. "Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were beautiful in their suits, and both had such individual personal style. Fred would use a necktie as a belt." Today Leonard is more interested in style than ever before and dressed by his darling daughter Jessie, who was raised on the images of classic cinema. Cut is something that they both pay close attention to when choosing his tailored suits (preferably from Italy), and color is the way he likes to make a statement such as with a bright pink or sateen blue shirt. I couldn't agree more with the importance and impact of both.
On my way out, I was introduced to Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller before his presentation with Rose McGowan on the "Ultimate Film Noir" at Club TCM. Composed of Crime-Thrillers and Murder-Dramas, film noir is perhaps my favorite genre and was one of my earliest exposures to classic film. Murder-Dramas had amateurs as the killers and had all the best women--such as Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity and Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce. For fun, Muller and McGowan pretended it was 1948 and they were RKO producers Dore Schary and Joan Harrison casting the perfect film noir. In their discussion, they chose everything from screenwriter to composer to cinematographer to all the acting roles. Lead Actor was chosen last, and not surprisingly Humphrey Bogart was a favorite of both Muller and the audience.
After the presentation, Eddie sat down with me to talk further about film noir style and his own influences. "Bogart legitimized film noir and made it more mainstream" than the B movies that dominated the genre, he said. "Bogart's style and attitude sold film noir as a phenomenon." Another favorite and McGowan's choice for Lead Actor, Robert Mitchum, also met with his approval. "Bogart took the masculine image from the 40s to the 50s, and Mitchum took the masculine image from the 50s to the 60s." And when I mentioned that Robert Osborne had admired the style of Alan Ladd, Muller enthusiastically agreed, "He could really wear a suit." He should know...Muller's own NOIR CITY Film Festival in Los Angeles kicked off with a double feature of Alan Ladd at the Egyptian--The Great Gatsby and This Gun for Hire. And both, it is important to note, had costumes designed by my hero, Edith Head.
"Is it seductive and is it sinister?" This was how Muller articulated his prime criteria for noir and also seemed to be the perfect description for the festival's Friday night premiere--Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. The evening was truly exceptional due to the fact that Kim Novak was there to talk about her experience with Hitchcock before the screening. Movies like Vertigo and Rear Window, as it turns out, reveal much about the character of Hitchcock himself. "He never watched you directly," Kim said, "he always watched from behind the camera....like a voyeur." He also was particular about the costumes, knowing exactly what he wanted and worked with Edith Head to get them just so. The iconic grey suit felt like a "straightjacket" to Kim since it was so tailored, and she vehemently objected to it and other details at first. Later she knew she could make it work for her. "That discomfort was so good for the character [of Madeline]," she recalled, "and helped me to play that part." Shockingly, Vertigo was not well received during its original release. Today it's considered Hitchcock's greatest work, and Kim felt quite "redeemed" when it was rediscovered and declared a classic.
Vertigo seemed such an appropriate title to show since most of us were feeling vertigo of our own from the bliss of the festival and lack of food and sleep. Still...two more days to go, starting with Kim Novak getting her hand and footprints immortalized at Grauman's Chinese Theater the next morning. And I, my friends, had a ringside seat. Stay tuned!
Smilin' in the Rain: 1960s leopard coat, 1980s black wool longsleeve sheath,
1960s red leather handbag, Guess red patent leather peeptoe pumps,
vintage pearl drop earrings, and vintage pearl necklace (doubling as a bracelet)
Thanks to Mark Hill for the photo!
One of several costumes exhibited in the lobby of Grauman's Chinese Theater,
this is Edith Head's iconic gown for Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun
For classic cinema fans, Grauman's Chinese Theater is hallowed ground
Robert Osborne and director Stanley Donen discuss Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Paris
as being both the delights and challenges of making Funny Face
Stanley blowing out the candles on his 88th birthday cake
before standing next to Robert in the back of the theater as they watch the opening to Funny Face
Then off to listen to Leonard Maltin talk to Robert Evans about the making of Love Story
In the Chinese Theater's greenroom to talk to Leonard Maltin (and his amazing daughter Jessie)
about his own influences from style in the movies
Two of Leonard's style statements include hundreds of movie related suiting pins (such as clapboards)
along with his prized Lone Ranger ring
Grabbing one of my own favorite accessories--a 1960s red leather handbag--
as I leave the Chinese Theater for some time back at the Roosevelt
Back at the Roosevelt Hotel, I am once again invited to be interviewed again on air...
this time by TCM's weekend host Ben Mankiewicz (video coming soon!)
Thanks to Adam Rose for the photo!
Club TCM presentation by Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller and Rose McGowan
where they cast their ultimate film noir movies along with the audience
Eddie fighting for Humphrey Bogart as lead actor in his ideal film noir
while Rose longed for Robert Mitchum (looking a lot like his Out of the Past co-star Jane Greer)
Friday night ended at Grauman's Chinese Theater as Vertigo star Kim Novak entranced us with
stories of her and Hitchcock and their battles over her wardrobe before the movie
Next on my TCM Classic Film Festival coverage--
Kim Novak's handprint ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theater!