Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Freelance 1943

1943 - The Desperadoes

Travilla gives a tiny peek into the issues he had to deal with as a studio designer when replying to a letter dated April 13, 1943 complaining about the incorrect time period of costumes from one of his films from Columbia starring Claire Trevor.

Recently I saw the picture “(The) Desperadoes” in which you designed the costumes. The costumes were lovely, but they were in style in the nineties and not the sixties. And the pompadour hair dress that wasn't worn either The other girls wearing pants for horse back riding wasn't done either because my grandmother said it wasn't. I never studied dress designing but keep my eyes open and have a vague idea what they wore. You make styles your life work I can't see why you don't take the trouble to do some research on the subject. That one thing spoiled the show for me. The costumes were lavish but not the right date. Please don't make this mistake again. Sincerely, Mrs. Leonard Heffern 566 North Kingsley Drive Los Angeles Calif. (4)

Travilla replied on the 26th.

My Dear Mrs. Heffern,

I was pleasantly surprised to receive your recent letter regarding the costumes in “(The) Desperadoes” --- perhaps because designers rarely receive “fan” mail.

Unfortunately I am compelled to agree with everything you wrote regarding Miss Trevor's wardrobe being of the nineties rather than the sixties, and I hope you won't think me facetious, Mrs. Heffern, when I tell you I knew it before you did. When I was given the script to read the story was laid in the '90s and I designed clothes absolutely true to the period. After the clothes were in work in our shop here changes were made in the story and the dates moved thirty years for some reason or reasons known only to those who make movies. I protested that the things to be worn by Miss Trevor were ALL WRONG but was overruled because they were more flattering to her than dresses of the CORRECT period would have been.

That, or similar situations , explains why disconcerning people like yourself frequently detect anachronisms in motion pictures. All designers have reference works and a certain pride in their knowledge of such little things as the year the first”leg o'mutton” sleeve made its appearance. We KNOW, but frequently aren't permitted to make use of what we know. A producer looks at designs and says “ I don't like that – inject a little sex into it”, so I more or less subtly inject into a hoop skirt or bustle. Or a star says: “Oh, that's impossible for me – I wouldn't look well in that”, and if she is a big enough star we change the sketch again to accentuate her good points and hide her bad ones and maybe inject some feature in the dress which was never used until 20 years after she died – in the picture.

So in the future Mrs. Heffern, when you and your mother notice such things in a picture, DON'T blame the poor designer. I do appreciate your writing me. If more movie goers took the trouble to let producers know about such things, maybe the designer's lot would... 

The letter cuts off, but it might continue ...much easier to bear (or something similiar...)

Miss Trevor in her finest, but incorrect era Travilla.

Mrs. Heffern replied the same day to his letter.

Mr. Travilla,

I was pleased and flattered to hear from you. I guess we all have our troubles. I forgot to tell you that I thought your costumes were beautiful. You certainly know what looks well on blondes. I started studying graphology a few weeks ago and here is what I found out about your writing according to your signature. You have an atheistic nature: You like beautiful surroundings: Your tastes and (are) refined and artistic: You are intuitive, witty and good humored. You are the inspirational type of artist. Your personality is an asset to you. Sincerely Mrs. L. Heffern....

Redhead from Manhattan

The Woman of the Town

Klondike Kate

Two Senoritas from Chicago

No comments:

Post a Comment