Friday, September 17, 2010

Film Fashion Friday: Daytime Wife (1939)

Just in time for the back to school season and budding fall weather here in the States, today's Film Fashion Friday selection highlights suits, hats, and accessories all fitting for this time of year for the vintage gal.

The Players

Linda Darnell.....Jane Norton
Tyrone Power.....Ken Norton
Binnie Barnes.....Blanche
Warren William.....Barnard "Barney" Dexter

Directed by George Ratoff
Costumes Designed by Royer

If you like Linda Darnell's hat in the above photo, take a look at these two hats (1 & 2) that I found on etsy that are quite similar.

Jane and Ken Norton are what seems to be the prefect married couple. The night of the Norton's second wedding anniversary, Jane has stages a fabulous surprise celebration for Ken, but Ken does not show up. What he does succeed in doing is forgetting the couple's anniversary, spurring Blanche, Jane's close friend, to concluded that Ken is running around with another woman, his secretary none less! Jane becomes intrigued with secretarial life and how they factor into their boss's life. Jane decides the only way to figure out what's going on is to take a job as a secretary. What Jane doesn't know is that her new boss is a work relation of her husband's. What follows is a series of close calls and funny run-ins to avoid her husband finding her out. Does the couple reunite or does Jane's new job show her a new way of life?

Fashion Review
While doing a bit of further research on this film, I was saddened to find so many poor reviews of Daytime Wife (1939). While I am not here to argue that this is amongst the greatest of the screwball genre, I do feel it deserves much more credit than it is given; and not just from a fashion stand point. In only her second film appearance, Linda Darnell proves that she can handle a leading role and look fabulous while doing so. She was only 16 at the time. I do agree that Tyrone Power is a bit weak throughout the course of the film, but that doesn't detract much from film on a whole; especially since I find this screwball plot fresh and creative, telling the story of remarriage in a unique way that many of its contemporaries did not (i.e. giving power to the female character and presenting an almost feminist message).

The costumes were designed by Royer, who has his roots in 30s costume design. Royer started at 20th Century FOX in 1933 as a "studio stylist" and stayed on until 1939. From 1940 to 1942 he work at Hal Rauch Studios. Royer would go on to be a fashion advisor for Lord and Taylor. He also taught at NYU, Columbia University, and New York School of Fine and Applied Art.

Daytime Wife displays Royer's sheer talent and his experience in dressing actors in both scenes of formal wear and daytime attire of the late 1930s. I am especially drawn to all the little details and accessories Darnell is seen wearing throughout the film. She is always wearing a great hat and some sparkly jewels to go with it. This film is really making me wish for colder weather to come so I can pull out my 40s suits and hats. I also really like that Darnell, and all the female workers for that matter, are shown dressing to the nines for work, something I feel current society does not still practice. When did it come acceptable for us to just roll out of bed and come to work? I don't even like wearing dress pants to work, I feel so unprofessional. Maybe it's just the vintage girl inside of me!

Fashion Grade: 9/10 (for numerous costume changes and exemplifying the entire wardrobe of a middle class/upper middle class female in 1939 from sleep wear to evening wear).

Daytime Wife is available in the Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Box Set and through Netflix and ClassicFlix to rent.


The Cookbook Junkie said...

16???!!! Really??? Now we have 30 year olds playing 16 year olds.

BaronessVonVintage said...

so interesting that this film tracks the various codes of dress for the MIDDLE class woman of the era. I'll have to check this out. Great review!

angie.a said...

Ooh, I haven't seen this one! I'll have to add it to my Netflix. I love Tyrone Power, so anything he does is ok by me!

Have you done "Thrill of a Romance" with Esther Williams? I had never seen it and got it this week. It's a cute little movie (love Esther, she was gorgeous!) and the 1940s costumes are TDF.

Stefanie Valentine said...

Thanks for the review, I'll have to check it out. Especially after seeing some of the wonderful outfits!

Kir said...

16?! Good heavens! That's the same age as me!
the clothes look fabulous. I'll have to check it out. :)

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