A Doris Day sex comedy, Gene Tierney at her evil best, and a William Wyler classic lead this month’s picks.
“Escapism with fabulous costumes” is the theme for this month’s selection of Blu-ray and DVD releases — check out these March debuts:
Pillow Talk (1959)
Starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson
Directed by Michael Gordon
Costumes by Bill Thomas
Doris Day’s Jan Morrow is a talented and stylish interior designer who cannot stand her neighbor, Rock Hudson’s Brad Allen, not only because he’s always monopolizing their party line, but especially because his phone calls are forever rooted in romancing women. (PS, does anyone remember what a party line was or why they were needed?) Hudson decides to teach Day a lesson, and you can guess the end result. Pillow Talk kicked off the genre of sex comedy, the dynamic of a man and woman who battle while enjoying unmistakable chemistry and sexual tension, and though it was followed by Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers, this is without question the best of the trio. Kudos also to Bill Thomas’s costumes for Day, from her variety of fab coats to the sleeveless white gown she wears for a key nightclub scene. A great example of fashion in film.
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
The Criterion Collection
Starring Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde
Directed by John M. Stahl
Costumes by Kay Nelson
What lengths will a woman go to out of obsessive love or jealousy? Gene Tierney’s Ellen pushes the limits to unspeakable boundaries in Leave Her to Heaven, a role so delightfully evil that, just one year after Laura, she netted a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Ellen impulsively falls in love with Cornel Wilde’s Richard during a train ride — his resemblance to her late father has a little something to do with it — and before you can say “rebound,” she’s broken her engagement with loyal fiancé Vincent Price and railroaded Richard into a proposal. But Ellen, always used to being the center of attention, doesn’t count on Richard’s younger brother, her cousin Ruth (played by Jeanne Crain), or even her own unborn child stealing some of the spotlight. Seventy-five years after its release, Leave Her to Heaven is still gasp-inducing, among the key reasons it remains a guilty pleasure.
Starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor
Directed by William Wyler
Costumes by Omar Kiam
Typically mid-life crisis stories focus on the husband and his insecurities as he gets older, but Ruth Chatterton gets the meaty part in this tale of a couple who travels to Europe after the husband sells his successful car-manufacturing business, only to discover that they aren’t the same people they were when they married years ago. Chatterton’s Fran enjoys herself a bit too much as she tries to recapture her youth amid the Euro society set, while Huston’s Sam seems to feel a bit lost — that is, until he meets the down-to-earth expat played by Mary Astor. Fran’s glam evening looks are courtesy of costume designer Omar Kiam and offer a terrific showcase of 1930s style, among the reasons Dodsworth is a worthy entry in the library of any fashion-in-film fan.