Film: Design & Architecture

The Remains of the Day (1993)

Dyrham Park, near the village of Dyrham in South Gloucestershire, England
Dyrham Park, near the village of Dyrham in South Gloucestershire, England

Traveling vicariously through film. If I am unable to physically travel to admire historical architecture in a foreign country, watching a film such as The Remains of the Day can be a fun substitute. This film runs so seamlessly that it’s deceptive that numerous English country estates were utilized to comprise just one estate, Darlington Hall. I have captured stills and carefully matched each of them to the actual country home they belong to. They are Dyrham Park, Powderham Castle, Corsham Court, and Badminton House. It’s been a fun exercise. Enjoy!

Film: Design & Architecture

The Temptress (1926)

"Never would he let himself be snared by passion!" The graphics in these old "moving picture" posters are so much fun. It was the only time the public would get a glimpse of color before they headed to the black and white film.
“Never would he let himself be snared by passion!” The graphics in these old “moving picture” posters are so much fun. It was the only time the public would get a glimpse of color before they headed to the black and white film.

It’s New Years Eve, and since this film’s party scenes are so glamorous and fun, the way New Years Eve should be, I thought I would bring some visual glitter to spark your evening plans. So click the link below to see how others celebrated in bygone days.

Film: Design & Architecture

A Single Man (2009)

One star of this film is the iconic Schaffer residence, a 1949 redwood design by John Lautner.
One star of this film is the iconic Schaffer residence, a 1949 redwood design by John Lautner.

Tom Ford’s film, starring Julianne Moore and Colin Firth, is one of those films in which every frame is a visual feast and a must-see for all design fans. The “Mad Men” team of production designer Dan Bishop and set decorator Amy Wells provided the phenomenal sets and wardrobe. And it was their sets which helped illustrate and add dimension to the characters and story.

Set in 1962, the drama unfolds in Santa Monica and is filmed primarily in two locations. One is a lushly landscaped Pasadena residence that in the film is owned by Charley (Julianne Moore). It is decorated in an ultra-feminine cream-and-pink Midcentury Hollywood Regency scheme with a Moroccan accent. Far different is the austere monochromatic modern home of George (Firth), filmed in the iconic Schaffer residence, a 1949 redwood design by John Lautner (above).

The first third of the film is drained of color in much the same way George has been drained of life by sorrow. But as the film progressed, I noticed that when another human shared a frame with our single man, the scene’s colors warmed up and glowed.

I have decided not to provide captions for the following photos. That would be just too much. So just click the link and view 42 gorgeous moments from “A Single Man.”

Film: Design & Architecture

Bachelor Apartment (1931)

I would think the colors in this poster are not an accurate depiction.
I would think the colors in this poster are not an accurate depiction.

Yes. It’s another bachelor apartment, and the third one for me to capture stills from. I originally saw this film on Turner Classic Movies, but when I searched for a DVD to rent or buy, all I was able to find was an import from Spain that required some tricks to play on my DVD drive. After going through all this trouble, I was disappointed in the quality of this copy. I don’t remember TCM’s version being this poor, but it’s okay enough for us to make out the stunning interiors.

And the plot? It’s the same old story. There’s the womanizing playboy with his many liaisons, who meets an honest working girl and falls in love. The film stars Lowell Sherman, Irene Dunne, and a fabulous apartment. If you want to know more about the film go here, here, and here.

If it weren’t for all the crazy 45 degree angles, I would have attempted to draw up the floor plan to share with you, but I just couldn’t work out the outside entry, inside foyer, his bedroom and dressing room with all their angles. The rest of the apartment is easy to understand and sketch out.

Film: Design & Architecture

Le Voyage dans la Lune (1902)

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A Trip to the Moon is a silent film and the creation of French illusionist and filmmaker ‪Georges Méliès‬, who I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t seen Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film Hugo. While watching Scorsese’s film, I had no idea that Ben Kingsley’s character was an accurate historical depiction of France’s cinema legend ‪Georges Méliès‬ and that most of the antique film frames used in Hugo were excerpts from ‪Méliès‬’ surviving and reconstructed films. Those images were so wonderful that I couldn’t resist researching this wonderful legend and his films.

For the next four paragraphs, I will be giving you the story of how this once-lost film was reconstructed. The technical details fascinate me. If you want to know more about ‪Georges Méliès‬, I would suggest viewing Scorsese’s film Hugo and then learn more by reading about Méliès here.

Film: Design & Architecture

Hell’s Angels (1930)

Even though this entire blog post is about the use of color in this film, I needed an introduction image.
Even though this entire blog post is about the use of color in this film, I needed an introduction image.

Hell’s Angels is a 1930 American war film and one of the first sound blockbuster action films. Directed and produced by Howard Hughes and starring Jean Harlow, Ben Lyon, and James Hall, this film had been originally conceived as a silent film. But after completing the silent version, Hughes decided to scrap the film and reshoot most of it with sound. By 1930, the production had cost $4,000,000, an unrivaled amount until 1940, when the final cost of Gone With the Wind was tallied. The plot is a bit lame, but the visuals are mesmerizing, making this film a must-see.

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.

Film: Design & Architecture

God’s Gift to Women (1931)

This glamorous group includes identical twins Eleanor and Karla Gutchrlein who were a dance act known as the Sisters G. Their dance number in the nightclub sequence was cut from the film. In fact all of the musical and dance numbers were cut from the American film version.
This glamorous group includes identical twins Eleanor and Karla Gutchrlein who were a dance act known as the Sisters G. Their dance number in the nightclub sequence was cut from the film. In fact all of the musical and dance numbers were cut from the American film version.

Another film where the bachelor pad plays a leading role. Directed by the legendary Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame and starring Vaudville and stage star Frank Fay, this film is a Pre-Code bedroom farce set in Paris. Among the glamorous flappers in the film are the vivacious kewpie doll Joan Blondell, the femme fatale Louise Brooks, and the less-than-glamorous Laura LaPlante who plays the lead’s true love which is a real head scratcher for me. To see all 43 captured stills showcasing sets and costumes, click the link below.

Film: Design & Architecture

Star of Midnight (1935)

This still really doesn’t hint at the wonderful sets that I’m about to show you.
This still really doesn’t hint at the wonderful sets that I’m about to show you.

The bachelor apartment is the real star of this film, not William Powell or Ginger Rogers. It’s interesting that stripes and plaids (refer to my past posts here and here) were generously used to decorate masculine quarters in many films from this era. Today’s male seems to prefer a more cavelike atmosphere populated with massive furniture upholstered exclusively in dark leather.

Film: Design & Architecture

The Age of Innocence (part two)

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.
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.