Thursday, July 10, 2014

Double Wedding

When I'm getting dressed in the mornings, it's not CNN nor the morning talk shows that I watch on TV. (Does anyone else get annoyed with those CNN anchors who constantly interrupt and talk over the person being interviewed?  And why do commercials have to be so LOUD?)   Instead, I like to have Turner Classics going in the background, because the channel often airs 1930s-era movies early in the morning.  Just last week, TCM showed Double Wedding, a 1937 screwball comedy starring Myrna Loy and William Powell.

The movie was cute enough, but it was the Cedric Gibbons-designed sets that caught my eye, especially the house of Loy's fashion designer character, Margit.  (See below.)  I decided to rent the movie so that I could pay attention to both the sets and the dialogue.  Here are a few of my favorite scenes from the film:

After passing through Margit's front door with its louvered fan and side lights, one entered the entry hall...

...which had that wonderful staccato black and white floor. The stairs had quite a loopy banister, which resembled a garden border fence.

Blanc de chine objects and glossy satin upholstery, seen here in the living room, were of course the rage on 1930s-era film sets.

In the dining room, there were dramatically-scaled panels with broken pediments, which framed the doorway.  Throughout the movie, the mirror-clad dining table was set with those high-style crystal trees and centerpiece...

...which makes sense considering that even the breakfast grapefruit was served rather formally.

Margit was a little uptight and liked order in her household- order that was partially maintained by these typed breakfast menus.

Framing the sliding glass doors, which led to a terrace beyond, were curtains with a pennant-edge...

...whose jagged edges were mimicked by the border fence.  And don't you like the curlicue furniture?

The four photos above show Margit's fashion studio, which was quite glamorous with its white-lacquered furniture, horse statue-capped borne, garland-print wallpaper, and those magnificent Greek-Key motif doors.

The bonus shots show a minor character's apartment, which I might like even more than Margit's house.  I'm crazy for the living room's plaster swag and tail, which framed the Marie Antoinette-ish bust.  But the poor woman's bedspread??  I'm not so crazy about that.  It reminds me of Austrian shades.


  1. I love this! I love to watch that channel too - late late night. The sets are great.

  2. Ohhhh! I haven't seen this in years! Thank you for reminding us :-)
    I particularly love the wallpaper and barrel back lounge chairs in Margit's studio.
    I've never enough time to watch TCM so getting a dose while dressing is brilliant. Although, I might get too distracted and find myself ...

  3. I'm with you. I can't take the shrieking newscasters either! TCM in the morning is such a treat. I only wish the set designers were given more attention. It's often impossible to credit the talent who created these gorgeous rooms. Perhaps such glamorous, grand homes were so commonplace at that time the designs didn't stand out as they do to us? I want to live in that world!

  4. Great post. Crikey, wish we had old b & w films to watch instead of dreary old breakfast television. Promise you, British television has become dismal, which is sad- as once, not so long ago, it was actually rather good. Your post makes me want to dig out "Desigining Dreams, Modern Architecture in the Movies" which is a brilliant book. I know there's a copy in the Boles Library.

    Don't you think, in a funny way, that 1930's films can seem rather modern? "Bringing Up Baby" is a massive favourite- and it makes me want to live in East Coast, late 1930's America. Just seems terribly advanced and civilised. Except there is no internet, or mobiles. Good things!

  5. Anonymous11:43 AM

    And look at how great they are all dressed!! Women in tailored suits and hardly see that anymore!!! I recently saw a "colorized" version of the "Blythe Spirit" and I love the navy velvet sofa with burgundy-colored corded trim! Another move with great sets is the "Young Philidelphians." Thank you for the post Jennifer.

  6. This is just the best Jennifer, stylish for the era and yet so many elements we love today!

    The Arts by Karena

  7. This is one I have never seen; I would have remembered these sets for sure. The relative tightness of the sets in terms of volume is interesting. So many times in this era, all the interiors were big.

  8. Thank you for the inspiration Jennifer! I scrolled back and forth from the pennant-edge to the plaster swag, then downloaded both. They may be nice in marbled paper.

  9. Anonymous1:55 PM

    I am crazy about all these pictures and have been studying them. Then i looked up and saw my own surroundings and realized how much this "1930s" style is in my own home. Im not kidding. It never occurred to me that i have been totally influenced by 1930s movies (and i cant say that i have seen many yet they have obviously stayed in my subconscious!). And i agree with luke honey about 1930s movies being a riot. So funny. So light. So decent. But really so very witty and amusing. We never go to the movies at our house as most current things dont have the beautiful settings and lack the humor. Thank you so much for another fascinating and illuminating post! Xo

  10. My favorite era of design. This post is fabulous, as I too love to observe the homes, foods and fashions in these vintage movies. I look forward to more of your insights....