Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Old Movie Madness - Heartbeat (1946)

Aaaand - I'm back again.  I've been watching a lot of films lately in my effort to get up to date with my knitting.  This weekend gave me this very sweet Ginger Rogers offering, and who can resist Ginger.

This romantic comedy opens in what appears to be a schoolroom, but it quickly becomes clear that Professor Aristide, in a wonderfully Fagin-esque turn by Basil Rathbone, is teaching them little in the way of morality and everything about survival.

Enter Arlette and her enormous hair (Ginger Rogers), who has just escaped from Reform School without any identification papers and is looking for a new start.

It's enormous, really enormous!

The Professor quickly realises that such a pretty young girl can be an asset to someone living a life of crime and teaches her the tricks of the trade.

Unfortunately Arlette isn't as adept at the trade as expected and is quickly caught stealing a tie pin from a gentleman on the tram.  Said gentleman agrees not to prosecute on the proviso that Arlette help him out with something equally underhand (get your minds out of the gutter people!) and so she agrees to pose as a nobleman's niece at a society party.  Her job being to dance and flirt with young diplomat Pierre, in an attempt to prove that the young man is sleeping with another man's wife.

Arlette finds her evidence, a photo of the lady in his watch, but in a goodhearted gesture intended to save hurt all round she steals the photo, keeping his secret.

Pierre, not realising the beautiful girl on his arm is a thief, is so smitten he drives her home and the pair share a kiss - Arlette's first kiss.  They agree to meet the next day at the station.

Arlette confesses all and Pierre is furious but he agrees to help her and arranges her a sham marriage for her to a friend, to help her get her papers.  He leaves, but realises he might love her and returns to see if his feelings are true.  With him there, Arlette cannot marry another and calls off the wedding.

The question is, will Arlette and Pierre end up together or will they just keep double crossing each other...

It's been a while since I saw something so resolutely mid 40s.  This was '46 - the year before Dior released his New Look into the world - and you can see that '46 was considerably less structured. There aren't the severely nipped in waists we would expect from '47 onwards for example.

The first item of clothing that really caught my eye was this absolutely darling little blouse, up close it is really a chequered print.

 I love the pointy collar, which reminds me of these blouses from Qbiffa on eBay.  I have one of these in black and it's gorgeous.

You can see the print and the little beret it is teamed with here. The film is set on the continent, after all.  You have to have a beret, it's compulsory.

Later Arlette is given a very extravagant gown for the ball.  The skirt is formed of three tiers and the whole thing studded with rhinestones.

More enormous hair, and a massive flower.

 These two tiered dresses are held in the Met Museum and are both from 1946.  It was clearly the done thing to dress like a wedding cake in 1946.

Once Arlette is engaged and has access to some money she seems to love her some sun suits.  The first picture below is a most delightful full-length cover up with big severe military shoulders and two tone stripes across the chest.

As usual she pairs this look with massive hair.  The more you look at it the more spaniely it becomes, unfortunately.

Below you can see a bizarre mohair bra top and high waisted shorts combo.  In fact, I would argue this is an early bikini.  The bikini was officially launched in 1946 and this shows that the wardrobe department on Heartbeat really were making efforts to keep it looking contemporary.

There is also quite an array of striking headgear featured.  The feathery pompom hat below, part of Arlette's dark wedding suit for her sham marriage, is so wonderful and hilarious and so very 1946.  Paired with the freaking massive hair it makes her silhouette almost symmetrical.

In fact it recalled to me this picture from the ever brilliant Fashion Era site

The cheating wife of the ambassador also liked a feathery hat and also had massive hair, here - massive victory rolls.  I'm also more than a little in love with the collarless jacket and the sequinned blouse / jabot.

The lady clearly liked her sparkle, in this scene she seems to have a string of diamonds woven into her updo.

And finally - freaking massive flower style wedding headgear.  Yes, it is petals.  Yes, they are bigger than her forehead.

 This picture, also from fashion-era.com, shows some real folk getting married in '46 with the bride wearing something broadly similar.

A great film for fashion, though there isn't a lot of it.  Arlette, being poor, doesn't have a vast wardrobe to choose from.  Still, I feel the outfits here really show fashion on the cusp of change.  The sun suit about to become the bikini, the military lines about to be replaced by the dangerous curves and voluminous fabric of the New Look.

Oh, and restrained 40s practical dos being usurped by the big fluffy hair that the 50s would adore.

For your delectation, two last pictures of the back of the big hair.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your commentary on the fashion. Her hair is super big! That mohair bra big pants outfit is not my favourite!