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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Does this outfit make me look evil?

While I wait impatiently for a copy of the new book about Edith Head, my mind wanders languidly on costumes in film.....Ladies in gorgeous pieces, like Myrna Loy as Nora Charles or La Liz in any picture.....would be too too easy. So lets talk about costume enhancing the dark side.....

"Le Grande Illusion" (1937) - Probably not his most evil of roles, Erich Von Stroheim's delightfully reflective Capt.Von Ruffenstein is outfitted as any proud man of his class and station - yet added neck brace gives a stiffness and cruelty to the character. 
This brace, plus the monacle and jaunty tilt to the hat create a stance  before any word is spoken. Costumes on this film are created by Renee Decrais.

"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) - oh you can't help but see the evil as Baby Jane attempts to hold on tightly to her babyhood. Even before she serves rat for dinner, you just know this woman has trouble in her bones. Bette carries this costuming as if its a natural thing. Equal credit in this should be given to make up and costume direction - any surprise that a Westmore was involved? Norma Koch- costumer director. 

"The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) - Admittedly the lead up to seeing Hannibal for the first time is spooky. We know he is a bad guy. But the stark reality of his jail cell and the rough hewn blankness of his wardrobe contribute heavily to the awareness of his cruelty. 
In comparison with Jodie Foster's character, her soft spoken southern accent, lady cop hair cut and her cheap but clean I-mean-business-attire, the blue prison jumper worn by Anthony Hopkins tells us all we need to know. For now. Costumer Colleen Atwood.