Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Millinery Movie Moments: The Bishop's Wife

Many classic movies feature phenomenal examples of the milliner's craft, but despite being visual showstoppers, they are not often relevant to the plot. I love it when the hats are central to the action, and even have a deeper meaning.

The Bishop's Wife is my number one pick for classic movie moments that centre around a hat. Early in the movie we first see the incomparable Loretta Young as Mrs Julia Brougham gaze longingly through the store window at the coveted hat. It sits behind a frame, covered in folds of ribbon, a frivolous but beautiful confection.


Julia's other hats in the movie are simple by contrast, although of course she still looks stunning in them. It helps to have her face.

They are both plain felt hats with no trims beyond simple bands. The first is, in my opinion, the nicer of the two, with a cute short brim at the front and turn up at the back.



The other is even plainer, but she still makes it work!




Nevertheless, there is a big contrast between these reserved styles and the glorious bonnet in the millinery shop.



When Julia sees the hat being removed from the window, Dudley (Cary Grant) pushes her inside and convinces the woman trying it on that it doesn't suit her - against the best efforts of the salesperson.


"Not everyone could wear such a daring hat. But of course it was made for madame."

Julia consequently is able to immediately buy the hat for herself, and wear it in a scene that makes us all want to ice skate, no matter how uncoordinated we are in reality.


This hat is a symbol of one of the movie's messages, and the lessons that Julia and the Bishop are reminded of - living life to the fullest and feeling young again. Being a bit more free and enjoying the experiences of life. As the cab driver Sylvester puts it, "You know your destination, but you're in no hurry to get there."

In fact, the hat isn't the only accessory with meaning in this movie. There is the scarf that Matilda gave to the Bishop, that he never wears, so she encourages Dudley to wear it."I'm sure he'll appreciate it once he sees it one me." That line sums up the whole movie!


I also love how both Matilda and Mildred start wearing flowers in their hair once Dudley has arrived on the scene. I only just noticed that in this last viewing.

 

There are also hats in the background that are worth checking out. The women in the street scene at the start, the lunch crowd at Michel's, and even the formidable Mrs Hamilton have some appealing looks to be inspired by. Not to mention knitted caps on the skaters and beanies and hoods on the children in the snow battle.







Do you have any favourite hats from classic movies? Can you think of any others where the hats play a role in the action?

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season, whatever that means for you. And remember...

The only people who grow old were born old to begin with. You were born young. You'll remain that way.

16 comments:

  1. I think I underestimate the beauty of really simple vintage hats, like the first two. They're not usually the show stoppers, but they're the ones I wear ALL the time, especially if they have nice lines like these!

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    1. Absolutely! Flattering lines, as you say, can make the hat, no matter how simple it is. Much as I love the more outlandish vintage creations, they aren't always practical, or complementary to the average outfit.

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  2. Well I think I found a new movie to watch, first off. And wow, I haven't put too much thought on favorite hats in movies. Hmmm, guess I gotta watch some again.
    But, one of my favorite hats is a really simple one I bought at the beginning of the year with a friend!

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    1. The simple hats can be the best. It's amazing how flattering they can be. Movies are great for having a range from charming simplicity to the most ridiculous over-the-top creations!

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  3. Now I have to see this movie again with greater attention paid to hats

    retro rover

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    1. I watch all movies this way now! :)

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  4. I haven't seen this film but think I need to now to marvel at the wonderful hats. In fact, I am going to hat spot in old films from now on!

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    1. It's a good film in general, the hats are just a bonus! I can't help watching out for hats in movies now!

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  5. What a nice film to watch! I can see lovely hats there. I love to read your point of view as you are a talented hat expert! ;-)

    Hug,
    Beta

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  6. I haven't seen this movie, but I feel like I saw it up on Netflix not too long ago; might have to go check it out. Sadly, I don't know too many movies where hats play any kind of a role, but I do love checking out vintage fashions (hats included) in even bad movies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. There's always so much inspiration to mine.

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    1. Yes! Even the bad movies can have great costumes. And I love how many of them have a character who is a model or a fashion designer or something so they have an excuse to show a fashion parade!

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  7. Always essential Christmas viewing for me,as you know. Have just seen 'Mrs Miniver' again, a 1942 film starring Greer Garson. It was made as a 'keep the home fires burning despite the War' film, so quite grim, but the first five minutes is all about a hat, and there are some fabulous creations to be seen throughout. At this festive time of year, better to stick with the section before the outbreak of WWII, if it can be found online.
    Loved this post, my favourite scene is all about celery...

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    1. I remember the title but not the movie. I will have to check it out!

      The celery scene is lovely :)

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  8. How truly beautiful to look at a movie with an eye to the hats in it and the roles they played throughout the film. I adored this post and hope you'll treat us to similar ones in the future.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it and I do intend to follow up with more similar hat-themed movie reviews. I have my millinery eye on a few already :)

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