Oscar Time and Wandering Through The Shelves chose The Costumes and Make-Up/Hairstyling for this this Month at the Oscars. It's a long one so let's jump right in...
Edith Head, the Queen of the Costume Dept, at Paramount was nominated 35 times and won 8 Oscars during her career. She "created" the famous sarong for Dorothy Lamour as well as the beautiful gown that Grace Kelly wore when she won the Oscar for lead actress in "A Country Girl." Now, that being said, The famous outfits you see Audrey wear in this great film (even if Humphrey Bogart was miscast, in my humble opinion, as the grouchy romantic lead) were mainly created by Hubert De Givenchy starting a beautiful friendship between the star and the clothing guru. Audrey ended up almost always wearing his clothes in films and in personal life. Unfortunately, since Paramount was the studio behind the film and Edith Head was head of the Costume Dept., she got the Oscar which she accepted not ever recognizing Givenchy as the main reason Sabrina Won. The film is about Sabrina(Hepburn), a daughter of a chauffeur, who saved enough money to send her to Paris. When she comes back, she is very sophisticated with clothes to match and has attracted the attention of the younger brother of the rich family her father works for. She is happy because she feels she is in love with this younger brother but is she? All eyes are on Hepburn especially when she wears this black dress, near the end of the film, for the unique cut of the neckline. It became famous as the Sabrina neckline.
Irene Sharaff won the Oscar for this slog of a film known more for the backstage antics of Lizzy & Ricky than for the actual film. It is a long film and there are some interesting bits but it is a long one about how Cleo(Elizabeth Taylor) meets Julius Caesar(played by Rex Harrison) wrapped in a Persian carpet to her famous affair with Marc Antony (Richard Burton) and eventual death at the hands, er...fangs of an Asp (not Ass, that would be Eddie Fisher). The costumes are amazing even daring for the time with the most famous being the gold outfit she wears when entering Rome. Irene Sharaff won 5 Oscars and was nominated 12 times in total but also won a Tony Award for The King & I. I think part of the success of An American In Paris are the costumes because I don't think that film would have won best picture without her.
3. THE ADVENTURES OF PRICILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT-1994
The Oscars, for that year, were one of the most boring, not just because of the usual boringness of it but the utterly boring outfits all the stars wore except for one...the co-winner of this fun film, Lizzy Gardiner and here's why...
Yes, this dress is made up of expired American Express cards and it is...not the nicest and must have been a bitch to sit in but people still talk about it today. Now, Lizzy gets all the looks but her co-Oscar winner was Tim Chappel who both came up with the amazing frocks that Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce wore as Drag Queens crossing the the Australian Outback meeting a variety of interesting and some dangerous folk along the way. You quickly learn that Terence, once a famous Drag Queen is now Transgender who decides to go with his fellow performer and friend, Hugo, to do a gig in a small town. Also along for the ride is young upstart Guy. It is a heartwarming movie with some good tunes(ABBA) and offers some very heartwarming moments.
Best Make-Up and Hairstyling...
Michael Westmore(famous for many, many Star Trek make-ups) and Zoltan Elek won the Oscar for this film about a young boy suffering from the Elephant Man's disease or Craniodiaphyseal Dysplasia, a very rare bone disorder. Cher plays the mother who is a drug addled mom who hangs around bikers with the lead biker, played by, be still my heart, Sam Elliott, the father of her boy. One thing this mom has is her profound love she has for her son as she will walk through fire to help him through anything and everything. Cher gave a fantastic performance as did Eric Stolz who played the son.
2. BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA-1992
OK I could have chosen this for Best Costume as well since the outfits are amazing in this film created by Eiko Ishioka who won the Oscar that year but the make up was also excellent when you see Good ole Drac a few centuries old. The 3 make up artists who created the looks in the film are Greg Cannom (he also did Mrs. Doubtfire and has won 5 Oscars), Michele Burke (she won 2 Oscars) and Matthew Mungle (won for this film but won many Emmy's). I love this film, despite Keanu Reeves who I like better than most people do but he is the weak link in an otherwise great film. The big bat sequence is amazing fior the make-up as well and now, they would probably CGI it which would take away from the film. We know the Dracula story but this film brings in a love story and even reincarnation as a major theme. The acting of Gary Oldman is excellent and I love the music.
3. PAN'S LABYRINTH-2006
I love this film which is part fairy tale, part horror story and part dreams. The sad thing is that the horror part is not that evil looking eye thing but the reality the young girl has to live in. Her mom marries a nasty Spanish Franco following Captain and they travel to his home in the country. There the young girl meets fairies whom she follows into the forest where she meets this fawn-like character who states she needs to do certain deeds if she wants to reclaim her throne. We follow her through the fantasy and the reality hoping the fairy tale will have a happy ending. The looks of the fawn and that evil looking thing with one eye, is downright creepy and quite memorable were created by David Marti and Montse Ribe. CGI is used here in certain ways to enhance a scene but not rule it which is what I always prefer.
Now, I have to mention 2 amazing make-up people who not only created the works but were the only ones to make these works which, nowadays, there is a whole department even if only one or 2 people get the Oscar.
He was known as the man of a Thousand Faces and created some many iconic scenes that we see but have no idea what actual pain he went through to achieve the effect. In Fact, for the "Encyclopedia Britannica" he wrote the introduction to make up in an early edition. I copies and pasted what Chaney did for his make-up for his role as the Phantom. He loved what he did..."He raised the contours of his cheekbones by stuffing wadding inside his cheeks. He used a skullcap to raise his forehead height several inches and accentuate the bald dome of the Phantom's skull. Pencil lines masked the join of the skullcap and exaggerated his brow lines. Chaney then glued his ears to his head and painted his eye sockets black, adding white highlights under his eyes for a skeletal effect. He created a skeletal smile by attaching prongs to a set of rotted false teeth and coating his lips with greasepaint. To transform his nose, Chaney applied putty to sharpen its angle and inserted two loops of wire into his nostrils. Guide-wires hidden under the putty pulled his nostrils upward. According to cinematographer CharlesVan Enger, Chaney suffered from his make-up, especially the wires, which sometimes made him "bleed like hell."
This man was head of the make up dept at Universal but, being a perfectionist, he was a true hands-on master and liked to work on the stars himself for the most part. Even though poor Boris Karloff had to endure hours in the make up chair with make-up that actually left scars, he got along well with Pierce. The same can not be said with his relationship with Lon Chaney jnr who played the Wolfman. I used this short clip because Rick Baker, another classic make-up artist, talks about Jack Pierce. Who can ever forget not only Frankenstein's monster but his Bride. Oh, funny anecdote, Boris was a gentle man who loved gardening. When he was at his home, in full make-up, watering his flowers, the cops pulled up to arrest him because someone called in saying there was a monster running about. Poor Boris!
Which Costumes made you swoon? Which make-ups made you gasp at?