Film: Design & Architecture

Auntie Mame (1958)

Glamorous hints of what’s to come.
Glamorous hints of what’s to come.

“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.” As one of the most, if not the only, influential design films ever created, Auntie Mame is long overdue for a spot on this blog. In a Wall Street Journal story a few years ago, Jonathan Adler was quoted as saying “Watching Auntie Mame is a right of passage for every aspiring interior decorator.” It’s a bona fide cult classic among us design aficionados.

Art director Malcolm Bert and set decorator George James Hopkins created six types of décor—Chinese, Twenties Modern, Postmodern Neoclassical, English, Danish Modern, and East Indian—to parallel the plot’s story lines. And every one of them is a feast for the eyes. Out of a total of 291 captured stills, I chose 115 to showcase here. To see them all, click on the link below. Once there, you have the option to click on any image and start a manual slideshow of the large scale versions of all 115 stills.

First Décor: Chinese with a Sprinkle of Japanese Art

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(above) The last image from the Chinese interiors.
(above) The last image from the Chinese interiors.

Second Décor: Twenties Modern

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(above) The last image from the Twenties Modern interiors.
(above) The last image from the Twenties Modern interiors.

Third Décor: Postmodern Neoclassical (channeling Syrie Maugham)

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(above) The last image from the Postmodern Neoclassical interiors.
(above) The last image from the Postmodern Neoclassical interiors.

Fourth Décor: English

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(above) The last image from the English interiors.
(above) The last image from the English interiors.

Fifth Décor: Danish Modern

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(above) The last image from the Danish Modern interiors.
(above) The last image from the Danish Modern interiors.

Sixth Décor Phase: Burmese

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3 thoughts on “Auntie Mame (1958)”

  1. Margaret Downs-Gamble says:

    These are fabulous, Patsy Ann! “Auntie Mame” is one of my favorite films, and Rosalind Russell the only one who could play Mame–and I had the pleasure of viewing it again this Christmas with Alastair and his partner (who is an actor). The experience of watching this beautifully designed film with two people who truly appreciated the designs and the costumes was like seeing it again for the first time. Seeing your stills allows me to “see” things I actually never noticed before. Thank you!

    1. Patsy Ann says:

      Thank you, Margaret! Rosalind Russell is such a huge presence on screen which makes it very difficult to take in the scenery. The only way to truly appreciate the sets and costumes and take in details is to hit the pause button.

  2. Debby Mullen says:

    What fun to see these stills. Thanks

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