For Reel

Fashions of 1934 (1934)
January 6, 2012, 2:55 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William Dieterle

Hollywood didn’t quite know what to do with Bette Davis in the early thirties, and in Fashions of 1934 she is terribly miscast as a fashion designer and love interest to William Powell’s con man. Done up in a platinum blonde wig and painted with eyeliner meant to make her eyes appear longer, she exclaimed in her memoir, “The bossmen were trying to make me into a Greta Garbo!” Later that same year, she would finally hit her stride with a career-making performance in Of Human Bondage. Aside from the casting error, the film is a brisk pre-Code romp, punctuated by a marvel of a Busby Berkeley number that features countless women in skimpy ostrich feather bikinis. While the romance at the center of the picture isn’t ultimately convincing, Powell is a delight, and character actor Frank McHugh is entertaining as an oversexed pervert. Mostly, though, this is costume designer Orry-Kelly’s showcase, an indispensable figure in immortalizing the glamour of Hollywood for several decades.

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