I've been on a huge 30s film kick lately, probably due to my big purchase from the Warner Archive. I can't even tell you how wonderful I think it is that these different studios are releasing many of their older, lesser known films on a made to order basis. I really feel this is one of the biggest things to happen for classic film lovers since the invention of home video. Anyways, the movie for this week, Girl Missing (1933), is a cute 30s flick with lots of costume changes featuring the early work of Orry-Kelly.
Glenda Farrell.....Kay Curtis
Ben Lyon.....Henry Gibson
Mary Brian.....June Dale
Peggy Shannon.....Daisy Bradford
Kay and June are two chorus girls down on their luck. On the trail to find some sort of an income, the two come across Henry Gibson who is about to marry their ex-chorus girl friend Daisy. When Daisy goes missing, the June and Kay know something is fishy and seek to help Henry; who, by the way, Kay has developed a crush on. Along the way, the girls run into trouble with the law and find that they may end up in jail for their attempts to help Henry. So how does it all end? Is Daisy found? Does she stay with Henry? Do Henry and Kay end up together?
I have to admit, when I first put this film in the dvd player, I wasn't expecting much. The run time is short and the cast had a lot of B actors. The story sounded interesting so I gave it a chance, and boy am I glad I did. As soon as I saw Orry-Kelly's name on the credits I knew this was going to have a least one or two really good gowns in it. What followed was an incredible opening scene with the two girls dressed in their finest and this would set the trend for the remainder of the film.
There are several costume changes throughout the film, which for such a short running time was a huge surprise. The girls outfits range from evening wear to daytime casual, however all sport that lovely 30s style. Each outfit has been given a lot of attention to detail and the girls are accessorized well, with tons of hats, gloves, and jewelry to compliment each of their looks. I especially love the, what I am guessing is Bakelite, dress clips on Mary (left) above. You can purchase some similar ones HERE.
The gowns were designed by Orry-Kelly. Kelly was born in Australia at the turn of the 19th century. His first ambition was to be an actor and when this did not pan out, he began painting backdrop murals for night clubs. This lead to his coming to America to work for Fox and East Coast Studios to create title cards for silent films. On the side, Kelly starting designing costumes for Broadway and caught the eye of Ethel Barrymore and Katharine Hepburn. After a few failed attempts to run some night clubs, Kelly headed west and was introduced to the head of the wardrobe department at Warner Brothers by Cary Grant, an old friend. This began his career in Hollywood designing for the movies.
Kelly's career start at Warners is an interesting one. Since at the time Warners was not doing many period films, the costumes he designed for his female stars became major selling points of the films and were used in the marketing campaigns. For this reason, it is easy to see how much Kelly affected not only Hollywood costuming, but women's fashion in general. For this reason, I would highly recommend seeing this and many of his other films as well. All of the ones I have seen have always provided me with great vintage style inspiration, making me long for bias cuts and dresses with great drape.
Fashion Grade 10/10 (For Kelly's influence in the fashion world and for so many inspiring costume changes in only a little more than an hour running time).