Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)

Maggie McNarmara, Dorothy McGuire, and Jean Peters star in this Academy Award nominated film about three American secretaries working abroad in Rome, Italy.

Charade (1963)

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant star in this delightful romantic comedy involving spies and missing money. Set in Paris. Walter Matthau also makes an appearance as a CIA agent.

The Best of Everything (1959)

Original tagline: "These are the girls who want the best of everything...but often settle for a lot less!" Mid-century drama following the lives of three young career women living in New York City.

High Society (1956)

Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra star in this delightful musical comedy remake of the beloved classic The Philadelphia Story (1940).

Far From Heaven (2002)

Set against a spectacular autumn palette, Juilanne Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Dennis Haysbert star in this compelling drama which grapples with issues of race and homosexuality in conservative 1950s Connecticut.

Death In Venice (1971)

An aging German music composer sojourns to Venice in hopes of improving his health and finds himself enraptured by the beauty of a young adolescent boy. A visually mesmerizing film.

Cracks (2009)

Based on the novel of the same name, Eva Green stars as a young, charismatic teacher at an all-girls English boarding school.

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

Based on the true story of the Windmill Theatre in London, Judi Dench stars as a wealthy, eccentric widow who purchases a theatre and turns it into a somewhat Moulin Rouge-esque venue that featured nude performers.

Desk Set (1957)

The introduction of computer technology renders the reference jobs of three women potentially useless. Stars Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Sylvia (2003)

A biopic of writer Sylvia Plath set in the 1950s starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig.

Howard's End (1992)

Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins and Helena Bonham Carter star in this E.M. Forster classic set in turn-of-the-century England.

July 29, 2009

Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) Pt. 1 - Opening credits design

I'm going to break down my feature on Mrs. Henderson Presents into two separate posts. I am too much in love with the artwork presented in the opening credits to not share them with you. The entire sequence is animated and it's really well done. I couldn't find out who was responsible for it though, even after scanning the full cast & crew list several times over, so if any of you know, please let me know. I'll do a bigger post with screencaps from the movie itself later this week. Update: Foreign Office Design was responsible for the animation sequence. Check out their other projects. Really great work.

By the way, the images are arranged in the same order as they appear during the opening credits.

























July 28, 2009

20th Century Props closes, auctions off inventory

Last month, 20th Century Props announced that it was closing its doors after 40 years in business. Their huge inventory is being auctioned off starting TODAY. It'll end on Aug. 1st. If you've ever been interested in owning a piece of film or television history, this is your chance. For me, it's always exciting when props are auctioned off b/c many of the items are unique and custom-made. You can't just go, "where can I buy that?" because it doesn't exist outside of the props warehouse. Go check out the auction HERE.



These desks were used in The Aviator (2004).

These chandeliers were made to order for Miracle on 34th St. (1994)

Here's a few more that I wouldn't mind adding into my house.

gorgeous settee used in Panic Room (2002)

ornate antique Spanish desk

Moroccan inlay, mother-of-pearl coffee table

side table with a patterned top and drop sides

wooden bench with a wagon wheel for its back

really ornately carved desk with ladies, lions, and gargoyles; was used for an Aerosmith video and General Hospital

pretty silk embroidered chair

source: photos 1-4 NYTimes; all other photos 20th Century Props auction images

Mark Phenicie handmade furniture & decorative items

This man makes his own furniture and I am so in love with his creations.

Mark Phenicie says, "One day, back in the early 70’s after I had returned home from Traveling Trough France, Italy, Living in North Africa for a year and going through Israel, India, Thailand and living a year in Vietnam as a young Marine, I decided to set out to build some of my own furniture with my own designs. I frankly could not understand why we as Americans who had access to the most sophisticated tools could only turn out what I called “Sears $49.95 junk furniture, whereas in the poor countries they were turning out detailed masterpieces." Well said, Mark!

I couldn't believe that the items displayed in the following two photos were not actual 100+ y.o. Victorian pieces. The "spiral design" that Mark employs is indeed reminiscent of furniture from that era. I am delighted to discover that there are artisans out there who still possess such remarkable craftsmanship and who are keeping the handmade furniture tradition alive.

Mark Phenicie_handmadefurniture1

Mark Phenicie_handmadefurniture2

can you believe this amazing birdhouse?! just look at all the details. unfortunately it's already sold.
Mark Phenicie_birdhouse

Mark Phenicie_lamp

a lighthouse lamp! my New England coastal roots want this so badly.
Mark Phenicie_lighthouse

Mark also has a personal blog here but there's very little about his furniture design on there, except for this entry, where I got all my photos from. And yes, all photos shown here were taken by and belong to Mark.

Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005)

It's been randomly thunderstorming here in NYC and rain always makes me nostalgic for England. Instead of running down 5th Ave. with a newspaper over my head, looking like all sorts of dishevelment, I like to imagine that I'm in 19th century London, sitting in my Victorian parlor, gazing out at the hurrying passersby through my window, and quietly remarking, "goodness, what a dreadful downpour!" as I take tea and nibble on biscuits and jam.

Being reminded of England puts me in the mood for a Dickensian film and since I've already seen every adaptation of Oliver Twist, I dug up instead Tom Brown's School Days, a recent BBC production which I've put off watching for years. Tom Brown's School Days was an autobiographical novel written by Tom Hughes in the mid-1800s and details life in a traditional English boarding school for boys. It's a popular book and has been adapted many times for television and film, but this was my first time with it and even though I thought it wasn't as good as Goodbye, Mr. Chips, it was still enjoyable and sufficiently scratched my English itch.

The book chronicles the author's experiences at Rugby School, a real-life institution in Warwickshire that is still in operation today. The movie made use of the actual location itself so the gorgeous shots of ivy covered stone/brick buildings and lusciously green campus grounds are all authentic.

England's national treasure Stephen Fry plays the progressive schoolmaster set on reforming the school through love, honesty, and discipline.

"Tom Brown" is the kid on the left, with the stringy blond hair, played by a remarkably convincing Alex Pettyfer. The kid on the right is his best friend. I really love these outfits. Look at their little neckties! Can you imagine getting kids to wear such elaborate ensembles nowadays? Impossible.

The hierarchy of authority between the upper and lower classmen was notorious. The younger students basically served as lackeys for the older ones and this system of power was often abused to a point where if obedience was not observed, the lower classmen were brutally terrorized through physical beatings and public humiliation.

such colorful vests and nicely done up ascots.



So school wasn't just about sitting still in a classroom and learning stuff anymore. It became a game of survival.

Tom Brown and his fellow lower classmen were at the beck and call of the older students. Here they are fetching water for one of them.

They also had to adhere to certain "traditions," like stealing a chicken from the groundskeeper.

Forms of torture included being pinned up against an open fireplace, which often resulted in painful 2nd to 3rd degree burns.

But Tom Brown stood up to the lead bully one day and challenged him to a fight. (btw, I was kind of disappointed at the lack of homoerotic undertones here...they had so much potential to work with. I mean, a school full of adolescent boys with raging hormones? Hello!)



I don't want to spoil the ending for you but let's just say that even though Tom Brown got the daylights knocked out of him, he doesn't die and instead, becomes somewhat of a hero among his fellow lower classmen. The film isn't without its tragedies though, but I thought it best not to go into too much detail.

Here's a few more screenshots of the boys partaking in daily exercise, which consisted of playing rugby, cricket, and other English games I'm not familiar with.






And here are more images of the school and its environs. What beautiful grounds. I know some people, especially Americans, perceive boarding school as something of an archaic tradition, a place for wealthy parents to send their children when they don't want to deal with the burden of raising them. I am one of those unusual creatures who always wished her parents had actually sent her off to boarding school instead. But then again, I was always one of those quiet nerdy girls who loved to learn... and who liked uniforms.



the chapel. gorgeous stain glass.



Overall the movie was alright. It's a BBC production and for those of you familiar with those, you'll know what to expect (moves kind of slow, somewhat awkward camerawork, realistic and not glazed with a pretty, shiny Hollywood veneer, etc). But it's still enjoyable.

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