Clothing in "Hollywoodland" & "Black Dahlia"

JLibourel

Honors Member and King Fop
Over the past two weekends, my wife and I saw the current movies "Hollywoodland" and "The Black Dahlia." Since the two movies, although set 12 years apart, are set in eras most forumites look back to fondly, sartorially speaking at least, I thought I'd comment on some of the costuming of the lead characters:

In "Hollywoodland" (much the better of the two movies, IMO), there was a deliberate choice in costuming the two male leads. The director deliberately chose to costume the George Reeves character (played by Ben Affleck) in a manner a befitting a man who came of age in the '30--"an era of glamour, when dressing for a dinner was de rigueur and an air of elegance was the order of the day; when people carried themselves with a certain formality and, one might say, dignity...while the world Simo [the detective character, played by Adrian Brody] resides is increasingly characterized by far more casual attire and an utter physical informality." Thus, the detective is supposed to be much more contemporary man with which the audiences can empathize.

The movie was also very accurate in portraying how garishly awful a lot of 1950s sportswear was. Ditto a lot of the neckties, which was spot on.

The costuming in "The Black Dahlia" was weird. The protagonist and the second male lead are both ex-boxers turned cop. They are promoted to detective after fighting an unbelievably [literally] vicious benefit match with each other and shortly thereafter assigned to the breaking Black Dahlia case. While the second lead immediately dressed well in accordance with the standards of the day, the lead--most of the time (he turns himself out impeccably in black tie)--wears a sort of Indiana-Jones-cum-country-bumpkin get up. Usually he is in a beat-up leather jacket, beat up hat (porkpie in hommage to Mike Hammer, I think. The ending is lifted from "I, the Jury"), open necked work shirt, pulled down necktie, and prominent suspenders worn with a belt. Curiously, he wears his pants far down on his hips, contemporary style. I can hardly see this attire being permissable for an LAPD plainclothesman in 1947. In addition to this get-up and to reinforce the image of him as an innocent in a world of corruption, he has his hair parted smack down the middle. The only "cop" of that era who wore his hair in that fashion that I can remember was "Sheriff John," a children's TV program host and a funny man who no doubt did so for comedic effect.

Hope this is of some interest.
 

AlanC

Sartorial Sultan<br> Moderator, Trad Forum
I've wanted to see 'Hollywoodland', but have read some negative reviews of 'The Black Dahlia'. The latter has Scarlett Johansson, however, which means it ought to be watched regardless.
 

GMF

Senior Member
I've wanted to see 'Hollywoodland', but have read some negative reviews of 'The Black Dahlia'. The latter has Scarlett Johansson, however, which means it ought to be watched regardless.

When I want some of her Eye Candy, I just slip "Lost in Translation" into the DVD player. :icon_smile_big:
 

pt4u67

Honors Member
I've only seen Hollywoodland thus far and doubt if I will see Black Dahlia (I heard it is very gruesome and thus to me far too disturbing). I agree that Hollywoodland's wardrobe was arranged such that it tried to say something about the personality and lives of the characters. Overall however I was disappointed from an overall visual perspective. I use D'Lovely as an example in that the clothing was an absolute visual feast.
 

JLibourel

Honors Member and King Fop
I've wanted to see 'Hollywoodland', but have read some negative reviews of 'The Black Dahlia'. The latter has Scarlett Johansson, however, which means it ought to be watched regardless.

Perversely enough, I found Hilary [email protected] a good deal more glamorous and alluring than Scarlett Johansson. I think the only Hilary [email protected] movies I have seen were "Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby." I had no idea that Hilary did glam so well. Although just about all the characters were deeply morally compromised, Scarlett's character, even though she portrayed an ex-hooker with underworld ties, was incomparably more wholesome and endearing than Hilary's.

I use "[email protected]" to foil Andy's vulgarity blocker. I think "[email protected]" is some sort of British vulgarity.
 

MK

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
.

...and Josh's hat screams modern fedora while many of the extras have decent looking vintage lids.
 

Artisan Fan

Honors Member
Thanks for the comments, :)

How were the movies as filmmaking?

I was considering both I was scared off by Affleck in Hollywoodland and the reviews in the case of Dahlia.
 

JLibourel

Honors Member and King Fop
I thought Affleck did a decent enough job in "Hollywoodland." However, I am perhaps not the most exigent of critics. You won't miss too much if you pass on the Dahlia. As previously noted, I thought "Hollywoodland" was much the better movie.
 

Artisan Fan

Honors Member
JLibourel,

Thanks...may see that one. :) Brian DePalma is so erratic. He like Spielberg seems to have lost his ability to tell a story.
 

rip

Elite Member
As mentioned above, Hillary Swank turns in a (as usual, IMO) stellar performance, nuanced and deep. I think she is a remarkable actress from the gitgo (boys don't cry) and just gets better with time (the necklace, million dollar baby, insomnia). I was less upset by the extremely variable costuming as were some of the posters; I did think Scarlett did a decent job, and the character Josh Hartnett played required someone quite callow, and I believe he pulled this off.

All-in-all, I enjoyed Black Dahlia much more than I did Hollywoodland, which I finally walked out of because of terminal boredom. I finally just didn't give a damn who did what to whom. Arguably, Ben Affleck did capture the most telling characteristic of George Reeves, who was, by many reports, just about the most boring man in Hollywood.
 

PJC in NoVa

Connoisseur
I saw H-Land; have not seen BD yet. I hear it's a dog, but as noted, it's got Scarlett J in it, so I might have to see it anyway.

The costuming in H-Land was ho-hum; nothing like "De-Lovely" at all. Affleck's formalwear was OK, but other than that it was nothing special. The people who should have been best-dressed, the studio execs, were at times garish (Bob Hoskins's polka-dotted dress shirt was particularly awful).

The one honorable wardrobing mention goes to Joe Spano for the db navy blazer, Cambridge-grey slacks, and ascot combo that he sported in the scene where he intercepted the Adrien Brody character at the front door of Hoskins's house. Spano looked very "Ask Andy" in that scene.
 

JLibourel

Honors Member and King Fop
The costuming in H-Land was ho-hum; nothing like "De-Lovely" at all. Affleck's formalwear was OK, but other than that it was nothing special. The people who should have been best-dressed, the studio execs, were at times garish (Bob Hoskins's polka-dotted dress shirt was particularly awful).

But wasn't that part of the plot of the movie--to portray Eddie Mannix as a venal, crude, vulgar man with possible underworld ties?

Had he been a courtly, elegant older gentleman of good character, Toni Mannix's affiair with Reeves would have both less comprehensible and forgivable.
 

Doctor Damage

Connoisseur
Finally saw The Black Dahlia last night and really enjoyed the film. For most people it could have been seen on the small screen, but I enjoyed the quasi-Film Noir aspects on the big screen, although it's not quite Chinatown. I had no probs with the costuming: Hartnett's character was probably a rougher, working-class cop and he would have dressed like that. In my view, it's important to recognize that although it was the "Golden Age" of men's clothing, not everyone wore suits and hats all the time, despite our rose-tinted view of the era. Old photos reveal people wearing all manner of stuff, and even going without hats. In any case, it's a good film (which could use a bit of script tightening), and it was not nearly as grusome as some might expect, bar one or two short bits.

For keeners, there are a ton of great photos from the film here. And yes, there are several photos of Hillary Swank looking swank, but overall I thought Mia Kirshner managed to be both beautiful and creepy at the time, and extremely photogenic (as her character in fact says), although she has made a career of playing such women (all jokes about Egoyan aside).

DocD
 
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