Does the above photo look as if this young woman is living in London in 1944?

American filmmakers CANNOT do period dramas correctly.  

Oh, we don’t mean COSTUME pictures — they can certainly make pictures set in ancient or medieval times or set in any century prior to the 2oth. But films set in the 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s and they’re stumped.

Hello, everybody.  Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, thinking about periods past and film goofs present.

All this comes to mind because we’ve just seen The Americanization of Emily, a 1965 comedy/drama set in England a few weeks before D Day. It’s an entertaining picture with a literate script and some decent acting by the leads, James Garner, Julie Andrews and James Coburn, and some superior performances by supporting players Melvin Douglas and Joyce Grenfell.

But oh those hairdos.

All the men are in the Navy, hence in uniform.  The cars are from 1944.  It’s shot mostly in London and the English countryside.  And, since it’s in black and white, they weave in newsreel footage of the troops, the invasion force and the crossing to Omaha Beach.

But oh, those hairdos!  And the women’s clothes.

Besides Andrews, there are a half dozen beauties in and out of hotel rooms and parties. They look as if they’ve come straight from the set of a James Bond film!

Arthur Hiller directed. The screenplay was by Paddy Chayefsky based on the novel by William Bradford Hule.  It’s a modern classic…

… except for those 60’s hairdos.

The style of women’s clothes and their hair and makeup ALWAYS reflect the year the film was made and never the year the story is set.  Think of Doris Day as Ruth Etting.  Think of Elizabeth Taylor in Giant.

The Brits, it seems, have a knack for it.  Their costume design always matches their art and set design.  If it’s supposed to be the 1930s the women look as if they’re in the 1930s.

Granted, some of today’s directors have caught on.  But in the classic movies of the golden era one must often suspend reality.

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