Saturday, April 30, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies Installment 1

I decided that I would take part in the 100 Day Project this year. Because I'm insane, clearly. My chosen subject is 100 Days of Old Movies - every day I am drawing a quick picture of an actor or actress in an old film. They're quick, so I'm not bothering too much about likenesses, but I want to see if I can build up my speed a bit while doing them. 

I'm posting them daily on my Twitter and Instagram pages but I have decided to post them here in installments of 10 each, with a bit more about the movies and why I chose them. I'm now 10% off the way through, so it's time for the first installment!

Please follow along! I'm drawing my old movies from a wide net of well-known and little-known films, you might discover a gem you've never heard of!

1 & 2 : Romeo and Juliet (1936)

Oh, that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!

The start of the project coincided with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, so I started off with three Shakespearean themes. 

Romeo and Juliet was directed by George Cukor, and is a traditional-style Shakespearean movie, starring Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet. You can watch the trailer here. It's a beautiful film, but suffered a bit from the Shakespearean connotations (even though almost half the play was cut) and the age of the two stars, who couldn't really pass for teenagers. Personally I'm not one for tragedies, but I thought I'd start with a bang and one of the the Bard's most famous works. I haven't seen it in some time, but I think these costumes are from the ball scene where Romeo and Juliet first meet.

3 & 4 : Kiss Me, Kate (1953)

This is the way to kill a wife with kindness.

Kiss Me, Kate (Starring Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel (and Ann Miller)) has even less of Shakespeare's words, as it's not a straight Shakespearean production. It is, however, one of my favourite musicals, with music (slightly bowdlerised to suit the movie censors of the time) by Cole Porter. It's a backstage musical where warring divorcees star opposite each other in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Here is the trailer. 

Kathryn Grayson's red dress from the beginning of the play is more well-known (she wears it to sing 'I Hate Men' but I chose to use the beautiful blue wedding gown, and likewise gave Howard Keel his wedding costume. Interestingly, the randomness of what he's wearing is never mentioned - you have to know the play to work out that the costume designer wasn't actually drunk while designing it. Petrichio turns up to the wedding looking like a tramp, part of his plan to tame Katherine. She is not impressed - but that whole scene is cut in the musical, there's no room for it with the double story-line.

Why, Petruchio is coming in a new hat and an old
jerkin, a pair of old breeches thrice turned, a pair
of boots that have been candle-cases, one buckled,
another laced [...]

(Act II Scene II)

Another interesting thing to watch for in this film is all the actions that were designed for the early 3D - Kiss Me, Kate was filmed in both 3D and 2D, and once you're looking for it, you find lots of occasions when the actors threw items directly at the camera to take advantage of the new technology.

5 & 6 : The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

I am ashamed that women are so simple, to offer war when we should kneel for peace.

In my personal opinion 1967 is almost too recent to be counted as 'old movie' but I thought it would be interesting to look at two treatments of The Taming of the Shrew. This Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton film was directed by Frank Zefirrelli and is fabulously over-the-top, bawdy and with very extravagant costumes. I chose the costumes from the finale as a contrast to the previous wedding scene. I'm afraid Richard Burton is hiding behind Elizabeth Taylor because it's a film that is very fond of close-ups, and I couldn't find a single shot where I could see what he wore on the bottom. It could have been shorts for all I know. Here is the trailer for this film.

This is the end of my Shakespeare films, I think.

7 & 8 : The Divorce of Lady X (1938)

We have ample opportunities in this court for learning what women mean, or what they mean they mean if in these days they mean anything at all!

This is a fabulous little comedy (not, I think, very well-known) starring Merle Oberon and Lawrence Olivier. You can actually watch the whole movie on Youtube, I think the copyright has well and truly lapsed. Stranded in a London hotel after a fancy dress ball (due to the heavy London fog) Merle finds herself a hapless bachelor and steals his hotel room, his bed, his pyjamas and his book. He gets to sleep on the floor in the sitting room of his suite. By morning, naturally, he's smitten, but he thinks she's married (she isn't), and what's worse, he's a lawyer and becomes convinced that he is the co-respondent in a divorce case he's handling for a man who's divorce-happy wife spent the night with a man in his hotel after a fancy dress ball. 

9 & 10 : Key Largo (1938)

When your head says one thing and your whole life says another, your head always loses.

Here's a bit of a change of pace - a classic film noir, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's Key Largo. I cheated a bit here, I had already drawn Bacall but had never finished Bogart. This was a good excuse. Key Largo isn't my favourite Bogie & Bacall film, but really, they're all good, and this one is quite minimalist and elegant. It's in black and white, but I managed to track down a colour production photo, so Bacall's outfit is accurate. Here's the trailer.

And that's it so far! In another ten days I will post again with the next installment!

(all these sketches were done in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 on a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2)

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