Lyntonesque: Fashion Film Classics

In the spirit and promotion of air-conditioned escapism, this week three lesser-known fashion film classics. They were lesser-known to me, at least—discovered only after I had my fill of perennial favorites like The Women and anything starring Audrey Hepburn.

The Bride Wore Red (1937)
This movie sings with the question, Can one really reinvent oneself? Joan Crawford, as café singer Anni Pavlovitch, is given a chance to try. Or, rather, she is a case study, her rapid entre to the wealthy class the result of a bet between two wealthy men who find her while slumming in a Trieste dive. Provided with a new wardrobe and two weeks at an exclusive resort, will she fool the native elite into believing she is one of them? A masterful Adrian red dress proves to be the answer.

Lucy Gallant (1955)
I admit I have an issue with Jane Wyman, and it’s not that she was once married to Ronald Reagan. I find it difficult to tolerate her hair. Her little bangs simply make me sad; they seem a symbol of all the repression and forced housewifery of the 1950s. For this reason, Lucy Gallant remained in my Netflix queue until a moment of late night, sleepless desperation. Surprisingly, I soon found myself fighting off the sleep I’d wished for….

As Lucy, Jane’s a tiger, not a mousy housewife at all. Down-on-her-luck, but with a good wardrobe (such a modern story already!), she finds herself in a Texas oil town selling off her wardrobe to the newly rich, but dowdy, wives of lucky prospectors. When she sees what joy she brings to the small town, a fashion empire is born.

Along the way she trysts with a dashing Charlton Heston and, even better, has Edith Head narrate a fashion show. Yes, readers, Edith Head in the flesh. Somehow her little bangs always seemed tough as hell.

Save the Tiger (1973)
Jack Lemmon in a fashion film!? Indeed, and it’s a classic 1970s grit-fest, with declining morals and harrowing WWII flashbacks as Harry Stoner (Lemmon), the owner of a design house, experiences increasing post-traumatic stress disorder. This is serious drama, worthy of the multiple Oscar nominations it garnered (Lemmon was awarded Best Actor for his role). The fashion itself—and, being the 70s and set in Los Angeles, quotes are implied around the word fashion—is secondary. But it’s there and it’s, well, groovy.

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