Updated: Jul 16
Romy Schneider's coveted summer wardrobe, an iconic Howard Hawks comedy, and a Sinatra musical with Jean Louis costumes get the spotlight this month.
From a sultry summer in Saint-Tropez to a fluffy musical with plenty of sexual overtones and one of the greatest screwball comedies in the history of cinema, this month's releases unquestionably offer a little something for everyone.
La Piscine (1969)
Starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin
Directed by Jacques Deray
Costumes by André Courrèges
La Piscine—aka The Swimming Pool—is a perfect summer movie, especially if you're a fan of French films.
Alain Delon and Romy Schneider play a couple, Jean-Paul and Marianne, who summer in the south of France at a gorgeous villa, and all seems idyllic until Marianne invites her former boyfriend, Harry, and his teenage daughter, Pénélope, to stay with them. Played by Jane Birkin, Pénélope is simply stunning, you can't take your eyes off her—and neither can Jean-Paul. Tension ensues between the foursome, and to give away any more would be to give away too much.
Another reason for a fashion fan to keep La Piscine in his or her library: Iconic designer Andre Courrèges did the costumes, and Schneider's enviable wardrobe especially is one that you'd long to pack for summer travel. In addition to a new 4K restoration, features on this Criterion blu-ray include an alternate ending, an English-language version of this film (the original includes English subtitles), a 2019 documentary that includes interviews with Delon, Birkin and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, and a new interview with film scholar Nick Rees-Roberts, who discusses the cinematic and aesthetic legacy of La Piscine. For two hours of escapism featuring gorgeous scenery, beautiful actors and stunning clothes, you can't do much better than this trip through Saint-Tropez.
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant
Directed by Howard Hawks
Costumes by Howard Greer
One of the great screwball comedies of all time, Bringing Up Baby starts out with a series of utterly absurd circumstances, but finishes as a love story.
Katharine Hepburn plays Susan Vance, a socialite who breezes through the world without much of a care until she meets Cary Grant's David Huxley, a zoology professor who's on the verge of both completing an important restoration of a brontosaurus skeleton and receiving a major donation for his work. Soon after their first encounter on a golf course, Susan decides she's in love with David, and neither his impending marriage nor any other circumstance, including the receipt of a leopard (the "Baby" of the title) from her brother in Brazil, will interrupt her quest to make David fall in love with her. From a torn evening gown to Baby causing havoc all over town, this Howard Hawks comedy moves with lightning speed.
Bringing Up Baby's costumes are by Howard Greer, and among the features included with this new 4K restoration is commentary by fashion historian Shelly Foote, who discusses Greer's work in selected scenes. Other bonuses include a 2005 audio commentary by Peter Bogdanovich, the 1977 documentary Howard Hawks, A Hell of a Good Life, and a 1969 audio interview with Grant. For any classic-film fan, this is a must.
Pal Joey (1957)
Starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak
Directed by George Sidney
Costumes by Jean Louis
How do you choose between Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak? That's Frank Sinatra's dilemma as Joey Evans in Pal Joey, the 1957 musical that includes such Rodgers and Hart classics as "I Could Write a Book," "The Lady is a Tramp," and "My Funny Valentine."
Sinatra plays Joey Evans, a singer who'd like to open his own club, but he never quite catches a break—that is, until he runs into Hayworth's Vera, a former exotic dancer (and paramour of Joey's) who's now a wealthy widow. She'll put up the money to open his club, as long as he dutifully remains by her side. That's complicated by Joey's feelings for Novak's Linda, a somewhat prudish chorus girl who doesn't know how sexy she is, and Joey would love to educate her. Whether Joey gets his happily ever after is a conversation that continues to this day.
Jean Louis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and fans of Gilda surely will love another teaming of costume designer and sultry star of that film. Pal Joey was released 11 years after Gilda, and today that's a more intriguing discussion, about Hayworth playing the older woman next to Novak's ingenue (she would be seen in Vertigo the following year). Ultimately this powerhouse trio, a fantastic songbook and an assortment of Jean Louis costumes put this blu-ray in the must-have category.