In Edith Wharton’s day, those who had extensive collections of silver flatware patterns, a catalog such as this one, would have been extremely helpful in planning a dinner party.
This film is a visual feast of details with the dining experience playing a major role. From the table settings to the multiple courses, Martin Scorsese has meticulously recreated the lavish displays of Old New York society in the late Victorian era. When comparing Edith Wharton’s text with the film’s visuals, I was unable to identify the porcelain, silver, and crystal. Perhaps someone out there, who has happened to stumble onto this blog, will be able to identify some of the pieces and leave a comment with clues to their identity. Otherwise just enjoy the visuals.
Michelle Pfeiffer as countess Ellen Olenska.
In this film, the Aesthetic Movement is beautifully represented through the interior spaces of one of the leading characters, countess Ellen Olenska, played by Michelle Pfeiffer. Perhaps you remember a previous post in which I discussed the Aesthetic Movement décor of Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island.
Of all Edith Wharton’s characters, the countess was by far my favorite, and in the film version, Martin Scorsese’s set designs for her apartments were nothing less than brilliant. Since moving into my house in 1985, I had never done anything special other than painting and cleaning the carpets. After seeing the film in 1993, I decided that it was time to personalize my home, and it must be done in the “Countess Ellen Olenska” style. Only back then, I described this look as the “Arts and Crafts” style. So instead of trolling clothing stores for fashionable attire, weekly visits to the local antique malls became my new addiction, and purchasing anything that remotely looked like something the countess would own became an obsession. You can see the sad results in the phase 3 slideshow of the construction section.
After seven years, it became obvious that my attempts at imitating the Aesthetic Style were not standing up well to the test of time. My arts and crafts style was just another “fad of the moment” — a fad that was suppose to fool everybody, including me, into believing that my interior spaces actually worked. By 2001, I had decided it was time to make a grown-up decision, bite the bullet, and hire an architect to start the process of restoring, refining, and reconfiguring my little home — a process that has taken ten-plus years to accomplish. And it all started with this film, The Age of Innocence.
Click on the link below to see more of the countess’s interior world.
Instead of a movie poster to introduce the film, this will have to do. None were large enough.
This film is a very silly musical comedy starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. For me it’s the sets and costumes that are the prime attraction. I’ve seen this film several times and yet, when I rented it from Netflix to capture the following stills I had already forgotten the plot. And the same thing happened again when it came time to put this blog post together. So I hope you don’t mind if I don’t provide captions. It’s really not worth it. Just enjoy the eye candy.
“She had it and made it pay”. This salacious tag line caused some controversy in those days.
Forbidden Hollywood at its best. This Pre-Code film follows Barbara Stanwyck as she climbs her way to the top one floor at a time. From her father’s speakeasy to the final scene’s lavish penthouse apartment, the interiors mirrored her own transformation. If you want to find out more about Baby Face go here, but I’m only interested in showing you the intriguing and telling interior spaces.
A film that opens with a valentine doily. A 1937 screwball comedy starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, The Awful Truth was one of the first, if not the first, of a series called “comedies of remarriage”, where separated or divorced couples rediscover that they are still in love with each other. In this film the interior sets are rich, varied, and will never disappoint.