Sartorial Screenings Brings you The Women!!


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Greetings fellow Frilly Filmies! Today we take on a major cinematic classic- the 1939 classic- George Cukor’s The Women. Get your popcorn, prepare the bathtub and pour out a cupful of Mr Bubbles in honor of this major event. I’m a huge fan of this movie and I think it influenced my opinion on female friendships, divorce, dude ranches and snark- not all of them in a positive way! The play was adapted to meet Code by Anita Loos- of Gentlemen prefer Blondes fame. Oh, I’m excited about this!!!! Ready? We go!

This is Mary Haines. She is a mother, socialite and all around saint. She has perfect hair,  Shoulder pads,  and husband. She is in for a seriously bad week. DO53klmX4AExAPV

This is Sylvia- her bestie and total gossip-beast. Her husband is a lawyer and she’s having an affair while he has one too. So life is perfect.

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She knows the secret to a happy life is a well-maintained figure and a clueless husband. This is their friend Peggy- she’s young and new to the marriage game. She should avoid Sylvia. In 1939 this is all you had to do to fit into bias cut dresses- because MacDonalds won’t open for another 20 years.gym

Sylvia has major gossip from the salon. Her nail tech told her the most interesting things about the perfect Mrs Steven Haines- he’s stepping out on Mary like a dog!! nails

Now what is a good friend to do? what if it’s not true? They should go all Perry Mason and investigate the Case of the Spread-legged Strumpet! What do we know? She’s a shop girl and she’s been peddling her wares looking for a wealthy moron. Steven is perfect! Off they go to Gimbels to scope her out- being all cas as only Sylvia can do! jasmine

Exhibit A: Crystal Allen- the accessory from the accessories department- she is meant for finer things and doesn’t mind taking them out of someone elses home to get them. She’s going to hook Steven and that’s all there is to it! she makes plans to get him to sleepover while Mary and the kid are at a ‘Wealthy Mothers against gluten filled snacks’ fundraiser. shopgirl

Sylvia knows that Mary will be crushed- but Mary is the trusting sort and knows that her marriage is built on a higher plain and that no one could come between the rich, meaningful love her husband and she share. Oh Mary- you’re making me sad. If Drew Barrymoore and Tom Green couldn’t last- what hope do you have? syl mar

Sylvia cannot believe this farce and under the guise of friendly advice, sets Mary up with her own nail tech. Things go poorly. For all of you out there saying they hate when manicurists don’t speak english in front of them- think of Mary. reveal

Mary is very upset. What about their wonderful life together? What about their plans for a Labradoodle Rehab center in the Berkshires??? Oh, this is disillusioning on so many levels. Also, the bitch was hard on Mary’s cuticles and they’re a little tender now.

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Well, when the going gets tough, the well-coiffed get going….on a cruise with their mother. Leaving little Mary home with the dog. She’ll tell Mary right after she changes into another Mr Furley jumpsuit- since it has been 3 hours since she changed last.huh

Little Mary decides to go live with her Sister and her husband C K Dexterhaven Mary takes it like a big girl. Well, Bermuda was lovely, Mary comes back refreshed and eager to renew her faith in Steven, her home and her idyllic marriage. post

She’s going to need new clothes- lots of them! Off she goes to the salon where conveniently everyone is scoping out the new shoulder pads too. Mary is apparently the band leader today. 3484059094_22d8846b56_b

Time for a major and unexplainable technicolor fashion show! Now. The backstory that I have always heard was that Norma Shearer- married to a big studio guy heard rumor that a certain munchkin-filled money pit on another set was getting a ‘color sequence’ and she had to have one too! I don’t know if thats 100% accurate but I like to think it was. Here’s some serious Adrian (also of the munchkin film) couture.14-the-women-1939-film

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Mary, things are not all rosie. Crystal is still clinging to your husband. In fact- she may even be here at the ritzy salon where she is also spending Stevens money! Joan1

Sylvie is bursting to tell Mary that the cat is among the canaries! Like friends who care about you do of course- in a nurturing and solicitous manner. preconfront

Well, Mary is no shrinking society violet- she will go and confront the skank in a most dignified way- telling Crystal that Steven wouldn’t like such ‘obvious’ clothing choices. Crystal fires back that ‘when Steven doesn’t like what she wears- she takes it off!’

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Oh, 1939 burn that we still don’t have enough aloe for! standoff

Ok, that tears it! If Mary learned anything at Miss Porters it was when to make an exit. She tells her mother she is out of here! Ma is a bit old school- like one room old school. She tells Mary to just ignore it. She has the house, the Hummels, the kid, the name. Let him have his skanky fun- like your father did. You’ll outlive him and buy big hats. mary leaving

Mary says screw that- I’m going to RENO. In 1939 Mary couldn’t get a quick Manhattan divorce- so society ladies take the luxury train to Nevada, spa it and establish residency. sport some faux western wear, make new friends,  and boom- you get your divorce. Hijinks ensue. Mary meets The Countess De Lave (seriously) and Miriam -I assume to divorce the husband she’s leaving for Sylvia’s husband- phew! That’s a lot of lawyers!reno train

Sad Peggy from the lady gym has had another fight about burnt toast with her husband and is on the train too. But she has a secret. She doesn’t want a divorce- she just got worked up.pregnant

The divorce dude Ranch is run by the fabulous Marjorie Main- and no one can give sage advice like her!marjorie-main-01 If they weren’t paying her so much- she’s send all these cats packing! She is assisted by a yodeling ranch hand- Buck. He’s all buff no brain. But provides moonlight canoeing/canoodling for the bored pre-divorcees. in reno

They were pretty bored until Sylvia arrived- her lawyer husband is dumping her and oh, surprise- she’s sharing a cabin with his future bunkmate! reaction

Catfight!!!! camp

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An Uneasy truce follows- since they are stuck there! The soon to be x’es keep them up to date on all the Manhattan gossip. reno1

Mary starts to regret her hasty exit and is ready to get back on the train and return to Manhattan with Preggers Peggy and reconnect with Steven- when he calls and tells her he’s married Crystal! Seriously? Really Steven. I’ve never seen you but I just know you look weaselly.

FAST FORWARD- 2 YEARS!

Everyone is back in Manhattan, the Duchess has brought back a souvenir in the form of Buck- who she is planning to turn into the next big Luke Holmes (thats a singer my coworker says is hot- I abstain from Country and or western) since one of her x-husbands lost a lot of radio stations to her.

Our Mary is sharing custody of little Mary who is helping her adjust to being alone and being kind of a joke to her catty friends.mom

How is Crystal adjusting you ask? Steven is boring, and once she finished putting in an olympic regulation sized spa tub and extra private phone line in, she is bored too.

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Seriously, on those House Hunters shows the women go gaa-gaa over the giant spa tub- Crystal must be the patron saint of all things tiling. Crystal is of course a nurturing soul and totally cherishes her time with little Mary, so everything is really great for this new urban family.bath2

But, everyone is starting to notice that Crystal is ignoring Steven and soaking something off her’. Even her new best friend Sylvia- who is in a strange Genie phase between marriages is suspicious. I think that hat comes with a tiny pingpong ball to catch in it.wo1

Oh Crystal what are you up to? Hmmm……bath

This can’t end well! Poor Duchess de Lava Soap! A 6th bad marriage? Gah- it’s like she barely thinks about these things! I’m sure no one has noticed this situation. Except everyone in their circle! Mary is even getting wise to it. Little Mary thinks her father is sad and regretful and drowning under Crystals bath bomb expenditures. yodel

When the Duchess finds out she will yank Bucks yodeller out too!

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Who’s going to tell Steven the sad news? Look kids, its real life Hollywood columnist- Hedda Hopper! In an outfit I believe she stole from Emerald Citys career collection.

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Hedda drops the bomb that Crystal is Bucking around on Steven!  Crystal is unamused and unrepentant. she still thinks she’s got another horse in the race. lastjoan

Mary leaves the party to race home and put on her best shoulder pads and come console Steven! It’s not sloppy seconds if you owned the buffet first! Time to confront the slut with what they know! joan

Crystal is all ‘So? Bucks a star- we’ll live on his money!’ Um- sorry chippie- none of the Duchess’s radio stations will be playing that noise anymore. You’re back to the 5 & dime!

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Mary? Are you sure? Steven misses you, but your pride? What about it? At least wait until you’ve kicked Sylvias ass, right? holla

Mary races out of the lounge that is apparently the same size as the party- cuz why not, right? Ready to embrace Steven and forget the whole thing happened. Little Mary will get a seal for Christmas and it can live in Crystals tub.

credits: little me, Glamourdaze.

Sartorial Screening: Riffraff, or How I left the Cannery and embraced shirtwaist dresses


In a further attempt to educate and inform, as is my sacred calling, today I present to you the first – and if no one burns me in the village square-a  revered standard-

 Sartorial Screenings!!! 

A look at fashion history thru its most accurate lens- the Hollywood system. A truer perspective on American womanhood will never be found- so let’s enjoy a journey thru time to a simpler time when women’s roles and fashion embraced and humped like fiends for our edification.

Today we feature Riffraff- the story of love on the docks.

Gentle folk, I give you our acolyte of subtle living thru bleach- Jean Harlow.  Our Miss Hook and Ladder #7:

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Jean has returned early in the morning from what I’m sure was a church sponsored event where piety and good moral hygiene made her the belle of the ball.

Now she must start her day at the cannery. No euphemism- also no hair net. But first, she and her sister will stop along the lovely docks and listen to a spirited political discussion regarding unions and the lack of laundry detergent available to her poor sister. I believe the take away here kids is that marriage leads to limpness of the soul and frock.

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Even though Jean has the manly Dutch  in her sights, Jean wants better for herself. But the sparks do fly as love talk includes such endearments previously only uttered by Moe, Larry and Curly.

3 Then  he shows his affection in the traditional way of 4th graders and future defendants by literally giving her a shove off.

4  Not cool Dutch, not cool. Surely there was a better way for our depression sad audience to get a peek at the Harlow lady Hamlet.  Well, off to the cannery. Where the female bonding of other dock trollops in not so pristine surroundings work shoulder to shoulder at the origin of my Fathers favorite casserole.  Huh, so this is how fish is made.

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Enter our bad guy! The 1930’s stereotype villain with pinky ring, weasal-stache and more money than Dutch! Boo! Hiss!! He sees something special in Jean- I’m wondering if it’s her aversion to foundation garments…..

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He offers her a bit of night school, a cozy office job and tries to get a leg over of course, but our heroine is made of stern stuff- but wait- he ups the ante by throwing in a little pet/pelt.

7   Scientific/Historical fact- between 1810 and 1960, women totally melted and peeled off knickers for wrap around carcasses. I mean really, who wouldn’t? Its a gutted animal with snaps attached to its paws- what is not hot about that???? Style and sompanionship all at once. Jean was a goner when those clammy paws hit her collarbones. Oh, and she liked the stole too.

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Jean is now marked as the property of pinkie ring weasel stash dock boss! Oh no! What about Dutch? Time for a big drunken crowd scene where the gals show off the only other dress they have besides the cannery uniform. It’s a big party on one of the boats- convenient, so no one will be able to guess who smells the most like herring.

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News flash! We have an outfit change!!!!  I’m throwing in a better picture here- its pretty swank- even sans foxy bits.

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Well, of course these two woolen wrapped testosterone bags can’t help but fight over our girl and words and bravado was exchanged around a heated game of off-shore dice. As an early feminist, Jean refused to blow on Dutch’s dice. She’s no prize for the blowing. Well, something like that.

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Ok, you know what happens next- we need a montage.

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Yup, weasel-stashe, you missed your window. Dutch and Jean are making it legal. Dock living bliss!

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Look! She dyed the fox to match her bridal gown- thats dedication to theme!

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Dutch and Jean start their life together in a bungalow furnished entirely by Dutch at Depression Rooms to Go- oh dear, he is not a good manager of money and she knows nothing but canning tuna and being sassy!

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Foreshadowing! Dom DeLuise is here to repossess it all- but she changed her outfit- so that’s good.

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Dutch, buddy- have a heart- share the only piece of furniture left, will ya?  If I thought this was a plan and if I was a thoughtful reviewer, I’d mention here that she is back to the ‘cannery collar’ as her descent back to working girl starts….

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Jean, don’t be so sad- your plaid matches perfectly. Oh, upset stomache? In a 30’s movie? That can only be code for prenatal things. Perfect timing, kids!

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Sad at his inability to pay for nice things on his crappy tuna boat salary, Dutch walks out. Jean does the best she can to survive once Dutch takes a powder, but she never finished secretarial school and her skills are more….hands on, anyhoo. Back to the villain she goes! He must pay cash for everything.

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Plot development and longer view of a fab frock:

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Hmm….Jean uses a sassy bow to hide the pain of her separation from Dutch.

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Uh oh- I hope sister can sneak in a bottle of peroxide with that file!

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Well, while the Jeans away, her sister is starting to dress up a bit and go thru her things.

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She’s here on visit a trollop day at the pen to retrieve some contraband you aren’t allowed to keep under your bunk- surprise! I will never cease to be amazed at what you can hide in a bias cut gown!

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News travels to Dutch that he has the worlds largest newborn and he returns to see Jean!

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He suggests a daring escape while he works to clear Jeans name! Conveniently, they are building the warden a spa area just outside of the laundry. I think we’re about to go Shawshank! Please read the next paragraph in a Morgan Freeman voice!

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Jean and her prison sorority sisters distract the guards with a live rat (I’m sure Jean tried to wear it first) and make a run for the drain pipe! Soon a wet Harlow is on the lam!

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She runs to her sisters hovel for her stole- oh and her kid, possibly. Ok, mostly to get her stole back. After unexplainedly clearing Jeans name and mysteriously disposing of Weasel Stashed pinky ring dock boss, Dutch rushes to see Jean and his large headed child and they swear undying love under the seriously intrusive gaze of her sister.

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Ah, ain’t love grand? So what did we learn kids? Prisoners dress better than cannery workers and buying on time is a bad idea. Also, never trust weasels bearing furry gifts.

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If you enjoyed this, you have the same dodgy tastes as I do and I love you for it.

*An Eighter from Decatur is craps slang for rolling an eight. Glad I could clarify for you layman.

photo credits: little me with a TCM assist. Alamy.com All images remain the property of their original