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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Women He's Undressed (2015)

A documentary on the three time Oscar winning costume designer Orry-Kelly who came from Australia to become one of the legendary costume designers of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood. Directed by fellow Australian Gillian Armstrong (MY BRILLIANT CAREER, LITTLE WOMEN), I could have done without the actors playing Kelly (Darren Gilshenan) and his mother (Florence Kennedy) when a simple voice over spoken over photos or film would have been preferable.  That aside, it's never less than an engrossing film with insightful interviews with contemporary costume designers like Ann Roth (KLUTE), Colleen Atwood (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), Deborah Nadoolman (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), Kym Barrett (THE MATRIX) and Michael Wilkinson (AMERICAN HUSTLE) as well as two actresses he dressed in films, Jane Fonda and Angela Lansbury. The film doesn't gloss over the darker aspects like the rampant homophobia of 1930s Hollywood or Kelly's descent into alcoholism which railroaded his career after he won his Oscar for AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951) until his comeback with OKLAHOMA! (1955). The doc explores two relationships that were important to him, a personal relationship with Cary Grant who broke his heart which the film is explicit about and a working relationship with Bette Davis who also broke his heart when she abandoned him for Edith Head! 

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