Thursday, July 28, 2016

“WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED” FASHION AND GLAMOUR IN THE TIME OF THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD

By José Alberto Hermosillo
A triumph of documentary, glamorous and splendid! A milestone for the Golden Age of Hollywood!

“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”).
Australian Poster
"Women He's Undressed" is a well-researched documentary with an immense amount of material that no one ever imagined existed. It contains some fantastic footage of many of the films Orry-Kelly designed clothes for that mesmerized audiences around the world.

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.
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 was it possible to have a personal experience when he was working on a set sixteen hours a day, 50 movies a year?
Director Gillian Armstrong. Photo by Tim Baure
Despite Orry-Kelly's controversial life, director Gillian Armstrong kept it classy.

Orry-Kelly dressed and undressed a significant number of 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. 
Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video
“Orry-Kelly was one of the greatest costume designers of all time.” He studied the anatomy of the stars, making them look striking by accentuating their best features with glamorous results.

Most of the wardrobe that Kelly’s designed for the movies was done in sharp colors, even if the film was in black and white. As it happens with “Jezebel” and the famous dress that Bette Davis wore emulating the “red dress” of “Gone with the Wind.” People assured the dress looked in color. 
Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video
Kelly brought his genius vision so effectively to the story that the wardrobe worn by stars added authenticity and facilitated the success of the film.

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

Kelly’s designs were elegant, classy, stunning, and minimalistic as we can see in the classic western "Oklahoma!"
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.
Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video
The life of Orry-Kelly became controversial when rumors about his affair with one of the most well-known actors of Hollywood surfaced.
"Women He's Undressed," Orry-Kelly's funeral cortege. Photo Prudence Upton
“He kept his secret all the way to his grave, even though he had a big mouth.”

As a writer, – Orry-Kelly’s book was never published. The manuscript got lost. Witnesses said Orry wrote in details the most intimate moments with the love of his life, Cary Grant.
Darren Gilshenan playing Orry-Kelly with 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 that affected everyone in the industry. 

When Cary Grant become 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 to create his best designs for many classic films, “Harvey,” “An American in Paris,” “Auntie Mame,” “The Sweet Bird of Youth,” “Gypsy” and “Irma la Douce.”


“Woman He’s Undressed” is part docu-fiction - Recreates some intimate scenes connecting important moments of Orry-Kelly's life, as if he was still alive. 

Photo courtesy of Wolfe Video

The reconstruction was done by professional actors who brought to life what could happen to Kelly's mom and friends - this technique made the narrative to move 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

In the meticulous work of director Gillian Armstrong, we can see Orry-Kelly as a beautiful human being, with so much vitality and vulnerability as well. 

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 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 the work of costume designers in the film industry for future generations to come.


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Friday, July 1, 2016

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

By Jose Alberto Hermosillo
“Argentina” is an exhibition of high art and great beauty in a delightful documentary.

The magical journey of music, rhythms, dance, and folklore of the South American country 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, the Argentinean music has many styles and different rhythms that are also known as samba, samba alegre, vidala, chacarera, malambos, valsecitos, coplas, and folklorist.  

In the film, the astonishing theatrical staging showcases those dances with excellent choreography.

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

It is beautiful to see, in the film, a younger generation to bring a heartfelt tribute to one of the greatest promoters of the Argentinean music in the world, 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 others 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, colors, and shapes.

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

“Argentina” is passion, “Argentina” es amor, "Argentina" es mucho corazon.
ARGENTINA TRAILER

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