Thursday, July 28, 2016


By José Alberto Hermosillo

A fabulous and glamorous documentary about the life of one of the most excellent costume designers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. 

It is a milestone for everybody involved in fashion, costumes, and moviemaking. 

“Women He’s Undressed” is a personal outlook on the life, creations, and romance of the legendary Academy Award winner Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly (“Some Like It Hot,” “Casablanca,” “An American in Paris”).

Women He’s Undressed

“Women He’s Undressed” is a well-researched documentary with immense material that no one ever imagined existed. It contains plenty of fantastic footage of many of the films Orry-Kelly worked on designing clothes for the biggest movie starts and mesmerizing audiences worldwide.

The interviews with directors, historians, celebrities, collectors, and close friends were well-staged. They remember Kelly’s work, talent, and friendship with admiration and high appreciation.

Women He’s Undressed

During Hollywood’s Golden Age, Orry-Kelly designed clothes for more than 282 movies. “Nothing makes you a better designer than practice.”

This documentary focused heavily on the dirt of the designer’s private life. At the time, it could have been an epic scandal. But how could he have a formal relationship or intimacy with someone when working on a set sixteen hours a day, 50 movies a year?
Women He’s Undressed
Director Gillian Armstrong. Photo by Tim Baure
Despite Orry-Kelly’s controversial life, director Gillian Armstrong kept it classy.

Orry-Kelly dressed and undressed many actors and actresses, including Dolores Del Rio, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Betty Grable, Ava Garner, Loretta Young, Angela Lansbury, Natalie Wood, and Jane Fonda.
Women He’s Undressed
Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video

“Orry-Kelly was one of the greatest costume designers of all time.” He studied the stars’ anatomy, making them look striking by accentuating their best features with glamorous results.

Most of the wardrobe Kelly designed for the movies was in sharp colors, even if the film was in black and white. This is true of “Jezebel” and the famous dress that Bette Davis wore, which emulated the “red dress” of “Gone with the Wind.” People assured me the dress looked in color. 
Women He’s Undressed
Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video

Kelly's genius vision was so effective in telling the story that the wardrobe worn by the stars added authenticity and facilitated the film’s success.

When his popularity skyrocketed, Kelly became a close friend to many stars.

Kelly’s designs were elegant, classy, stunning, and minimalist, like those in the classic Western Oklahoma!

Women He’s Undressed
Veda Ann Borg and Orry-Kelly, CA 1937

Some of the dresses Kelly designed for Hollywood’s classics are now part of private collections and museums. Others auctioned for thousands of dollars.

Women He’s Undressed
Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video
Orry-Kelly’s life became controversial when rumors about his affair with one of the most well-known Hollywood actors surfaced.
Women He’s Undressed
“Women He’s Undressed,” Orry-Kelly’s funeral cortege. Photo Prudence Upton

“He kept his secret to his grave, even though he had a big mouth.”

As a writer, – Orry-Kelly’s book was never published, and the manuscript got lost. Witnesses said Orry wrote in detail the most intimate moments with the love of his life, Cary Grant.
Women He’s Undressed
Darren Gilshenan playing Orry-Kelly with the Warner Bros. sign. Photo Prudence Upton

In the beginning, being gay in Hollywood was not a big deal. In 1930, things changed with the enforcement of the conservative Motion Picture Production Code, which affected everyone in the industry. 

When Cary Grant became more famous, married, and divorced – Orry and Cary had an “on and off” relationship.

Key Francis, Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video
Orry-Kelly was sent to WWII to fight for America, even though he was born in Australia. Upon his return, he had to start over and knock on doors in Hollywood. 

Being alone helped Kelly create his best designs for many classic films, including Harvey, An American in Paris, Auntie Mame, The Sweet Bird of Youth, Gypsy, and Irma la Douce.

“Woman He’s Undressed” is a docu-fiction piece that recreates some intimate scenes connecting important moments of Orry-Kelly’s life as if he were still alive. 

Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video

The reconstruction was done by professional actors who revealed what could happen to Kelly’s mom and friends. This technique moved the narrative forward, making the documentary more accessible and entertaining.

Paradoxically, Orry-Kelly was a total unknown in his homeland, Australia. The only person who remembered him was his mother.

“Woman He’s Undressed” is comparable with other great films about fashion and filmmakers, such as ‘The September Issue,” “Valentino, the Last Emperor,” “The Celluloid Closet,” and “The Kid Stays in the Picture.”

Director Gillian Armstrong with Actor Jane Fonda. Photo Anna Howard

Director Gillian Armstrong's meticulous work shows Orry-Kelly as a beautiful human being with vitality and vulnerability. 

No matter what, Kelly’s spirit was never broken.

“Women He’s Undressed” points out Kelly’s legacy as a fundamental part of moviemaking in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Outfest, Women He’s Undressed
Outfest 2016, photo by Jose A Hermosillo. Copyrights Festival in LA, 2016
“Women He’s Undressed” was one of the best films played in OUTFEST 2016!!!  

“Women He’s Undressed” is an extraordinary work of art that can be used as a learning tool to appreciate costume designers’ work in the film industry for future generations.


 Copyright © 2016 Festival in LA

Friday, July 1, 2016

Argentina: is more than Tango in the New Documentary Directed by Carlos Saura

By José Alberto Hermosillo

“Argentina” is 
an exquisite and delightful documentary with great art and beauty.

The magical journey to the South American country approaches us to its music, rhythms, dance, and folklore. It is an extraordinary voyage that starts with the enlightenment of “The Muleteers/Los muleteros” who, with their mules and horses, worked the Andean region spreading those rhythms.

Influenced by Africa, Italy, Poland, Brazil, and Los Andes, Argentinean music has many styles and different rhythms, known as samba, samba alegre, vidala, chacarera, malambos, valsecitos, coplas, and folklorist.  

The spectacular theatrical staging in the film showcases those dances with excellent choreography.

In dancing, the necessary steps of classic valet are infused with modern jazz and placed together in Argentinean folklore.

Los Chalchaleros performed the most affecting traditional songs in their original and/or current versions.

“Argentina” features some of the most popular folk singers, such as Mercedes SosaEl Chaqueño Palavecino, Soledad Pastorutti (“La Sole”), Liliana Herrero, Luis Salinas, Jaime Torres, Jairo, and the folk group Metabombo.

The dancers include Ballet Nuevo Arte Nativo de Koki and Pajarín Saavedra.

In the film, it is beautiful to see a younger generation pay a heartfelt tribute to one of the world’s most significant promoters of Argentinean music, Mercedes Sosa, with one of her greatest hits, “Changes, Everything Changes/Cambia, todo Cambia.”  

The Malambo tableaux is epic!

The legendary Spanish director Carlos Saura, “Cría Cuervos” (1976) and “Ay Carmela” (1990), among other magnificent films, delivers his fifth musical work: “Carmen,” “Flamenco,” “Tango,” “Fados,” and now “Argentina.”

Saura’s cinematic vision continues exploring the telluric connection between song and soul, music and movements, color and shapes.

The accomplished Spanish director in “Argentina” must translate the music, dance, and moves to the screen in a cinematic feast of color and energy.

“Argentina” is passion, “Argentina” es amor, "Argentina" es mucho corazón.


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Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016