Jun 232012
Recently, Perfume Shrine, a fragrance blog, offered a full bottle of Andy Tauer’s first Tableau de Parfums snapshot fragrance, Dark Passage, to its readers. Dark Passage was created for the kickstarter campaign for our next film, ONLY CHILD, and was only available for a limited time. Tauer gave bottles to several bloggers who reviewed the fragrance, and some, like Shrine, decided to share with their readers.
To enter the draw, respondents were asked to list their favorite old films and the fragrances their characters might have worn. Last time I checked, there were over eighty responses. For a filmmaker, perfume lovers are about the best audience  imaginable. As a rule, they love movies; they’re well read; they’re into music; they get your jokes, if the jokes are any good. And their favorite movies, judging by these responses, range all the way from Fassbinder to Tati and Cukor:
Blogger Elisa said…
My favorite old movie is High Society, a remake of The Philadelphia Story starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. I don’t have any specific scent associations with it, but I often associate frosty, elegant perfumes (like Puredistance Antonia) with Grace Kelly (who I think is the most beautiful woman ever!)


Anonymous Lucinda said…
My favourite old film has to be ‘Some Like it Hot’, no obvious connection to perfume but that doesn’t deter it from being my favourite.


Anonymous hotlanta linda said…
Elisa, I`m right there w/you on High Society!! Must add “Rear Window“for Grace Kelly again – I think Dior scented her personal space in that movie!


Anonymous Dawn said…
My favorite old movie is The Women. Heaven with all of the different perfume bottles at “Blacks Fifth Avenue” and in Mary Haynes’ powder room!


Anonymous Melisa said…
My favorite old movie would be Rear Window 🙂 Garce Kelly was so elegant in it


Blogger pipefan said…
My favourite old film – Breakfast at Tiffany’s,and I probably can associate it with Guerlain – Mitsouko


Blogger rosarita said…
Gaslight is very film noir and wonderful, but my most watched old movie is the fantasy/comedy Harvey, with the inimitable James Stewart. The only fragrance for him that I can think of is whiskey, but I suppose Myrtle Mae smelled of a sweet talcum powder as she tried to find a suitor who wasn’t put off by her uncle, Elwood P. Dowd. Thanks to all for the wonderful draw!


Anonymous Anonymous said…
Thanks for giving us this chance! My favorite old movie is “It’s a Wonderful World”, one of the best feel-good & sentimental movies ever! Smells like Zeta 🙂 as for Film Noir, 1944’s “Double Indemnity” is excellent… smells like danger & intrigue!


Anonymous Kal said…
Sorry! Signed as anonymous by mistake! Thanks for giving us this chance! My favorite old movie is “It’s a Wonderful World”, one of the best feel-good & sentimental movies ever! Smells like Zeta 🙂 as for Film Noir, 1944’s “Double Indemnity” is excellent… smells like danger & intrigue!


Blogger Isa said…
My favorite old movie is “Singing in the rain”. Unforgettable moments and musical numbers.

I could think of a rainy scent for it, but instead I associate the movie with a powdery or fresh rose scent, something like Coup de Foudre.



Anonymous Joaquim said…
“The enigma of Kaspar Hauser” by Herzog is my favourite old-time movie, and if I must associate this film to a perfume it would be…Tubereuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens, not for the notes, for the evolution of the fragance: strange and even unpleasant at the first sniff, but wonderful if you take your time looking inside.
Thanks for the amazing draw!


Anonymous Maureen said…
My favorite old movie is Gone With The Wind. Everytime it is on TV, I stop and watch it. A perfume I would associate with Scarlet would be something very pretty, outrageous, expensive and French, but with a backbone, something that Rhett would have bought her. I


Anonymous Chris G said…
One of my favorites is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. As a 10 year old (going on 21, so I imagined!) I knew Marilyn Monroe wore Chanel No. 5 and I had a tiny sample bottle of it. I thought I was SO sophisticated. I still love Chanel No. 5 and wear it on summer evenings. What memories!!


Blogger Wyrdsystyr said…
My favorite old movie is Metropolis – I love the art deco design and feel of it. This early Science Fiction film has it all.


Anonymous Mimi Gardenia said…
My favorite old movie is Some Like It Hot and the scent that would go with that is Chanel No .22 rather than No.5 .

Andy Tauer is wonderful ,so humble .


Blogger La Patatita said…
“The Third Man”, with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten – for me, the association would be Piguet´s Bandit, something dark, mysterious, sharp and intelligent about both creative works. Thanks so much for a giveaway, it´s a wonderful treat to participate!


Anonymous pam said…
My favorite movie is “An American in Paris”. With that setting, perfume is all around you, but I smell Jicky.


Blogger lasuse said…
My favourite old movie is singing in the rain, i loved the singing and dancing as a little girl, but unfortunately never had a perfume to associate with it.


Anonymous Maria said…
My favorite old movie is “Gone with the wind” and I associate with a Magnolia perfume like Magnolia Romana.


Anonymous Kay P said…
I love Double Indemnity and I think Barbara Stanwyck would wear Fracas.


Anonymous Magnus said…
Dark Passage is simply a masterpiece.


Blogger pyramus said…
My favourite old movie, and in fact my favourite movie of all time, is Notorious, with Ingrid Bergman looking as ravishing as it is possible for a human being to be, though admittedly Cary Grant gives her some competition in the looks department. I think she would be wearing Joy, because it is soft and dreamy and beautiful, as if it were somehow lit from within. (He is wearing Knize Ten, I think.)


Blogger cbstarker said…
My favorite classic film has always been Breakfast at Tiffany’s (although Citizen Kane is a close second). I’ve always associated Miss Dior with that movie – probably from the houndstooth pattern? – and think of Audrey when I wear it.


Anonymous Ursula said…
My favorite movie is “From Here To Eternity” with Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed.
I don’t know just what 4 fragrances would go with these characters.
Something Hawaian or Magnolia for Donna Reed.


Anonymous elizabethn said…
Hmmm…I’m not an old-movie kind of person. (sorry!) I don’t even remember one I’ve seen all the way through. I do love the Hitchcock ones, though. I’d love to win a bottle of anything of Andy’s, too!


Blogger Barbara said…
The old movie about Elizabeth Short with Lucy Arnaz Jr. playing the role.


OpenID thescentedhound said…
One of my favorites from the 1950s is The Bad Seed. I think of the principal female characters wearing heavy gardenia like floral perfumes. Which would just add to the movie’s overall seemingly perfect 1950s world touched by an unfathomable evil. Thanks for the draw.


Anonymous cheesegan said…
My favorite old movie would be The Thin Man. Scents of cigarettes, coctails, well groomed dog and probably perfumes like Tabu, Mitsouko, Jicky, and fabulous Coty perfumes.


Anonymous Anonymous said…
Any Fred-and-Ginger black-and-white RKO picture would do for me: to see them dance together simply lifts my spirits.

I first saw their films as a very small child one Christmas, so the scents of Christmas treats and goodies always come to mind. (The highly glamorous settings cry out for vintage perfume but my mind supplies Christmas fruits and spices instead even now.)

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh, off to find some Fred-and-Ginger dancing clips online


Anonymous Anonymous said…
Cassablanca is my fav old movie. Thx for this opportunity! Alica – alica at cleis dot net.


Anonymous ana said…
My favorite old movie is Gone with the wind as I loved the book so much! I think I read it at least 4 times!Vivien Leigh was absolutely brilliant as Scarlett and I think Rubj by Vero Kern would be a wonderful fragrance for her. Thank you and Andy for the draw!


Anonymous Anonymous said…
I’d love to try Tauer perfumes – I can’t believe I haven’t yet. They sound so interesting and the design is great as well. One of my favourite films is Shanghai Lady and I imagine the cool Marlene Dietrich to wear Aromatics Elixir in the humid climate. It is good for humidity I think, and both dirty but cold and certainly a bit “strange” – like Marlene too. Natalia X


Blogger yash said…
My favourite old movie would be Luis Bunuel’s ‘Belle du jour’ with Catherine Deneuve trying to save herself from marital boredomand frigidity through kinky business.. Even though Yves St Laurent has been associated with the movie (costume designer and friendship with la Deneuve) this movie always reminds me of Lutens Iris Silver Mist for its aloofness, cold chic it projects but also its earthiness..


Blogger queen_cupcake said…
Apologies if this is a double post–thought I commented but it isn’t showing up!

So many of my favorite films have been mentioned here. One of my all-time favorites is Gone With the Wind, a beautiful and passionate film. I love it when Scarlet drinks cologne to try to conceal that she has been drinking brandy (alone, and during the day!) but Rhett is not fooled.


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Blogger Playtime said…
My favourite noir movie is “All about Eve”. I imagine the smell of martini whenever I get to the scene at the party. As Betty Davis is getting more and more intoxicated and she slowly but firmly starts to express her dislike of Eve Harrington..it’s going to be a bumpy ride…Epic!


Blogger therese19 said…
This is a toughie! I love so many old films. I have to choose one so All about Eve, it is. Wit and glamor.


Anonymous brie said…
Would a movie dating back to the early 80s be considered old? If so I would have to say “A Room with a View”. That scene where the heroine is kissed in the field covered in red flowers in Italy is breathtaking-the book by E.M. Forster is equally as moving. Don’t know why but whenever I see that scene I think of the Escada 1994 limited edition “Un Ete en Provence”-perhaps because the notes are “red” to me and I associate that with the beautiful red flowers in that field. I have been to both Italy and France and there is so much about Europe that inspires thoughts of fragrance in me! I can only imagine how wonderfully scented Greece would be!

This is an amazing draw! I have read so much about Tauer’s work but have yet to try any of his perfumes. I am crossing my fingers that my name gets drawn!


Anonymous Internet said…
Took me time to read all the comments, but I really love the article. It proved to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also engaged! I’m sure you had joy writing this article.


Anonymous nita said…
My favorite old-time movie has to be “I’m No Angel” with Mae West. Just the thought of her sashaying up & down in front of that all-male jury in her black feather-trimmed low-cut gown & matching hat brings joy to my heart! And then she tops off her very competent cross-examination by asking the jury: “How’m I doin’, boys?”
I can picture her wearing a knock ’em dead perfume like Fracas!


Blogger josh said…
A Place in the Sun with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, I love the melodrama and the acting style is so much fun and over the top. Rather than pin a fragrance on Liz, I’ve been enjoying thinking about what Monty would wear for the film. Regardless of how affable Monty is in the movie, my first thought is Knize Sec, the ultimate jeans fragrance, but it’s incense notes could easily carry him from the dusty opening, through the factory work and into the dinner and balls… even the summer house shots would work for Monty and Knize Sec.


Blogger monster said…
I’m a sucker for old science fiction like “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Forbidden Planet”, but for this post I’m going to have to call “War of the Worlds” my favorite. I’d scent that movie with L’Origan.


Anonymous MariaA said…
i will do for Gilda, just saw it again recently, it smells like Fracas to me…


Blogger Tamara*J said…
I love many but my favorite is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. I imagine smelling salt air, chilly fog mixed with longing and fear. James Stewart and Kim Novak would wear Guerlain Vetiver and Jungle Gardenia. Jimmy’s because he’s a Dapper Dan sort and it suits him to smell of grasses and tobacco. Kim’s because of AH obsession with blondes, she should smell of white florals to go with her aloof character that carefully lures Jimmy in until she finally draws him close with her deceit and then drives him mad.


Anonymous Gogol said…
Some Like it Hot. To me it smells like Malle’s Lipstick Rose.


Blogger AllThings Glitter said…
As a horror fan, of course my favorite old time movie is “Psycho”! Hitchcock is the master of suspense and terror, if you ask me. And the beautiful fashion…………*sigh*.

As for scent associations, I always tie “Psycho” to a scent I wore in high school (around the time I was discovering “Psycho” and the like) — Victoria’s Secret “Azurine”. I recently found a bottle on ebay and it’s as lovely as I remember 🙂


Anonymous ElizabethC said…
Sudden Fear with Joan Crawford and Jack Palance as her evil hubby. It was filmed in San Francisco in 1954. My husband and I go to some wonderful film noir festivals in Seattle, and this was one of our favorites. Joan’s character would be wearing Chanel No. 5.


Blogger Camille said…
Thanks for this great opportunity.

I think my favorite old movie might be Bringing Up Baby, which probably smells strongly of leopard. Another favorite, not as old, is the Lion in Winter. No real big cat in that one, just torches and wine and Christmas. All good smells to me.


Blogger Natalie said…
Would love to try this! Favorite old film would be the lovely, ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. Camp and hilarious, the three female leads take you on a ride. Certainly they are all wearing Chanel (No. 5, or Mademoiselle) during their attempt to marry up!


Blogger Victorian said…
My favorite is Some like it hot, when I see Monroe I always think about her love to Chanel 5, amazing film and amazing actress.


Blogger Robin E. said…
Hard to choose a favorite, but I think it would probably be Bringing Up Baby, with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The perfume I associate with that movie is Chanel Cuir de Russie (extrait only!), because Baby is a leopard, and because of Hepburn’s famous menswear style and uppercrust devil-may-care attitude in the movie. She almost has a swagger. Thanks for the draw!


Blogger Tracy said…
My favorite old movie is Gigi (and I also like the book). I’m too much of a novice still to associate it with a perfume, but I think the movie and the book have a lot of scents (Gigi waking up and putting on lavender water, Deauville and the sea air, Mamita’s chamomile tea, etc)


Anonymous Blimunda said…
I have so many favourite old movies…….On The Town. Bringing up Baby. A few Hitchcocks. But my all time favourite is The Court Jester, starring Danny Kaye. And it has no scented memories or associations for me, at all! But I would love to win this draw!


Anonymous Steve S. said…
Key Largo!



Anonymous Eva H. said…
I *love* “Some like it hot” (sun tan lotion, the ocean, Chanel No. 5 and…minty tooth paste).
Another favourite is “It´s a beautiful life” (snow and cold air, pine, cookies and, of course: Zuzu´s rose petals).


Anonymous Kristen said…
I think my favorite noir movie is Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford. I could definitely see Veda wearing Habanita.


Blogger Matt said…
I think that White Christmas is my favorite old movie, and it brings to mind (unsurprisingly) the around of eggnog and nutmeg. Probably quite different from Dark Passage! Thanks for the draw!


Blogger TimeaZsofia said…
My favorite old movie is Psycho! When I saw that film, I never thought about any scent, but maybe the smell of blood….:)
I love Andy Tauer, but I’ve tried only Pentachord White which I love too.
Thank you for this draw.


Anonymous Stephan said…
I’m not a movie freak, but I still remember the strangly comical “Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot” by Jacques Tati.


Anonymous Musette said…
Pride and Prejudice 1940. A sparkling film!!! Edna May Oliver is the most wonderful actress. Mary Boland (Mrs Bennet). Oh, I am in love. It veers wildly from the book but I. Don’t. Care.



Blogger Kathryn said…
I love old movie musicals and of them all Top Hat is most iconic. Amouage Honour Woman summons a vision of Ginger Rogers in that stunning white, feathered ballgown, whirled through the air by Fred Astaire wearing his white tie and tails.


Blogger roughmetaphors said…
My favourite is “The Asphalt Jungle”. I associate it with Habanita de Molinard for being dark and brooding yet tender and bittersweet at heart.


Anonymous Giovanni fragrancescout said…
My favourite Is with no doubt the godfather.
It smells of patchouli for me… A great patchouli high pathculol.


Blogger brookesfca said…
My favorite old film is Casablanca. I associate the location with the base of several Lutens fragrances. I can see Bogie pulling off Chergui.
Thanks for the amazing draw.


Blogger amyorvin said…
My favorite is Wizard of Oz.
It reminds me of my childhood, I watched alot as a kid.



Anonymous Natalie said…
I have too many “favorite” old films to truly pick one, but at the moment I choose To Catch a Thief. Thanks to you and Andy for the draw!


Blogger azure said…
My favorite classic movie would have to be Gone With the Wind. The perfume I would have to associate with this movie needs to be bold, undeniably feminine and leaves a memorable trail….have to be Fracas.


Blogger The Gastronomic Goddess said…
I have quite a few faves, but since it’s so blasted hot here in Pennsylvania right now, I’m wishing it was Christmas, and I have such a deep, abiding love for White Christmas. I like to imagine that Rosemary Clooney was wearing the heck out of Caron’s Nuit de Noel. 🙂 Thanks for the draw! Huge fan of Andy’s here, and I would love to add another bottle to my collection.


Blogger jwpianoboe said…
My favorite would probably be White Christmas because we always watched it every year and it reminds me of all the holiday memories.


Blogger Olivia said…
One of my favorites is The African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart & Katharine Hepburn. This film brings to my mind a mix of thick, humid greenery, mud, tar & leather, sweat, and something sulfur-y (gunpowder). Or maybe L’Artisan Timbuktu… 🙂

Dark Passage sounds like a gorgeous fragrance (not to mention, a film I HAVE to see 🙂 ) Thank you for hosting the giveaway!


Anonymous Natalia del Oeste said…
One of my favorite old movies is “Suddenly, Last Summer” w/ Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. Toward the beginning, they step out into KH’s poisonous Southern backyard…the plants look ghoulish and gothic, portending things to come (and things past/flashbacked on). I’d scent it with vintage Narcisse Noir.

Thanks for the drawing! 🙂


Blogger fjord said…
If I think really old-time, it would have to be “City Lights”. Incidentally, all silent movies appear olfactory rich to me. It’s an illusion I know. The lack of the all-permeating surround sound – or do we need it really?


Blogger Maggie Mahboubian said…
Oh this is easy! My favorite old time movie would have to be David Lean’s dark and glorious “Great Expectations”. It’s as close to the essence of a novel a movie has ever reached. I dive into the characters each time I watch it. Estella, Miss Havisham, Abel Magwitch, Pip.


Blogger Unknown said…
My most overt scent associations is probably Joan Crawford working at the perfume counter in Cukor’s “The Women”. I recently (finally) was able to see Fassbinder’s 1970s remake for German TV, and it was also amazing!


Blogger Jo said…
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a classic 🙂


Blogger Martinus Scriblerus said…
My favourite film in this context is, I think, Dial M for Murder, and the scent that (I think) perhaps anachronistically goes with it is No.19. Cold, sinister luxury that will swaddle you to death.


Anonymous Miss Heliotrope said…
Does the Errol Flynn Robin Hood count? &, while not reminding me of any perfume I know, I love the idea of the forest & the fresh air with a fire & smoke dancing through the bushes & trees & dirt. It must have been a wonderful change after being shut up in that dark castle…


Blogger Jennifer Haile said…
My favorite classic movie is Stella Dallas with Barbara Stanwyck. I imagine her character scented with Youth Dew by Estee Lauder.


Anonymous Katya said…
My favourite old movie is Some Like It Hot, so much fun!
Thanks for the chance,I can see Marilyn wearing something by Chanel in the movie,Perhaps Gardenia


Blogger Anna said…
Oh, Roman Holiday. It´s funny and beautiful. Maybe Acqua di Biella – Kid Mohair, which is inspired by Audrey Hepburn. =)


Blogger Wakeup Your Makeup said…
For me it is “GiGi “…
The character of Aunt Alicia in that movie was oh so glamour is to me as a young girl –
And her lines which featured  …
“Didn’t you tell her that on the other side of the world the sea is phosphorescent, that there are humming-birds in all the flowers, and that you make love under gardenias in full bloom beside a moonlit fountain?”
Still captivates all my senses to this day…along with my love of Gardenia’s
I have even named one of my daughters Gigi 🙂


Blogger womo531 said…
Mine is the Princess Bride… is that old enough?


Anonymous MarieG said…
My favourite old movie is probably The Fearless Vampire Killers with Sharon Tate. I remember watching it with my mother when I was a child and being fascinated by the vampires and their costumes. Though it became more tragic than funny when I heard the story of Sharon Tate’s death after the filming. I imagine Sharon wearing Kilian’s Beyond Love because it’s sweet and seductive but not as femme fatale as Fracas is.
Thanks for the drawing, I would love to try Andy’s Dark Passage!


Anonymous Anonymous said…
Our dancing daughters where Joan calls her mum’ s perfume Vicious in an approving way…AnnieA


OpenID australianperfumejunkies.com said…
My Mum and I used to watch Stage Door, a B&W ensemble movie with Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rojers, Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Albert Menjou and a cast of thousands living in a girls theatrical boarding house. The smell I associate with the movie is Mum. Every time I watch it I can smell her, as if we are sharing the couch with the dogs at our feet.
I love Andy Tauer’s work. Genius,
Portia x


Blogger Irina said…
my old favorite is Bunuel’s “exterminating angel” and somehow in my mind it is related to “dark passage” although I never had the chance to sniff it
thanks for the draw


 Posted by on June 23, 2012
Jun 202012

If you donated to the kickstarter campaign for our next film, Only Child, your package is on the way…

Here’s a photo to prove it.

Last week, co-producer Eileen Meyer and I got together to pack up all the goods (perfumes, soaps, scarves, more perfume). I needed a beer. And, after a while, glasses.  I guess one of the tests for how well your campaign did is how much your eyes and head hurt after organizing all the shipments for donors. We started mailing the packages today, just as my eyes had started to adjust. But I couldn’t be happier:

The other test, maybe, would be whether or not your movie got made. Thanks to you, ours did. And after we finish getting all these items out, we can move forward with the editing.

 Posted by on June 20, 2012
Jun 182012

Notes on Miriam…

Miriam Hopkins originally studied as a dancer, until a broken ankle sent her in another direction. You can see what kind of dancer she might have become by watching her film performances. The first time I saw her, in Old Acquaintance with Bette Davis, I was struck by how musical she was on screen, how meticulously she choreographed her movements. Davis and Crawford were stylized too, but less physically; with those two the stylization had more to do with voice and expression. Hopkins has a dancer’s neck and poise and she carries herself sometimes like she’s the only dancer left in a scene that started out as a dance number. Check her out in the beginning of Trouble in Paradise, where she flings herself elaborately across a series of chairs like something out of Swan Lake.

She was very popular (cover of Time magazine, Academy Award nomination) but  compared to her contemporaries didn’t make many movies – 35 to Crawford’s 80 – partly because she focused on the stage, partly because she was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. She was Ernst Lubitsch’s favorite actress – they shared that strange musicality and built character and narrative arc in similar ways: elliptically, through gesture and juxtaposition. Some of Hopkin’s best work was for Lubitsch (Trouble in Paradise, The Singing Lieutenant, Design for Living). Her carriage and diction feel somewhat old-fashioned now but there’s something about her that seems totally modern.

According to Allan Ellenberger, she was difficult to work with, and not just for fellow actors. Andre Soares of the Alt Film Guide wrote that one of the only times Hopkins seems to get talked about is after one of her films plays on cable, at which point someone comes out of the woodwork to say again that she was a “selfish, self-centered, megalomaniacal, scene-stealing, temperamental, fire-spitting Bitch from Hell who made life difficult for co-stars, directors, producers, writers, cameramen, hairdressers, manicurists, costume designers, studio carpenters, and special effects personnel, among others.” She didn’t hang around film people, so maybe there was no love lost. Her crew included writers, mostly – Faulkner, Dorothy Parker, Tennessee Williams, Dreiser. She was well read. Sexually liberated, too, according to Ellenberger, who has been researching Hopkins for an upcoming biography. Well read and sexually liberated with an aversion to obscenity.

This is one of my favorite photos of Hopkins. Notice the absorption with which she reads about, presumably, her public image. Notice the finger. Connect the dots and you get an idea what she might have thought about what you thought of her. Like a lot of famous actresses, she had a troubled relationship with her mother. She went years without speaking to her father, until she “made it” in Hollywood. She was well read and sexually liberated, had an aversion to obscenity – and was difficult in the way only really famous people can be, estranged from their most ardent admirers, who can become their fiercest enemies. Their parents barely know them but hold fast to the idea they do.


If you’ve heard much about Hopkins it might have been in relation to two time co-star Bette Davis, who famously called her a bitch. A “terribly good actress,” says Bette, using the same knife to butter and cut. In a fantastic scene from The Smiling Lieutenant, Lubitsch has Hopkins and Claudette Colbert fight over the same man. They slap each other, then strike up a friendship. No such bygones for Hopkins and Davis.

Actress Ann Magnuson is often compared to Shirley Maclaine (the short red hair, the dancer’s legs) but she reminds me more of Miriam Hopkins. She looks very much like her, and shares that gift of musicality – the way she modulates her voice, the way she carries her body. I named Magnuson’s character in the Woman’s Picture series (Miriam Masterson) after Miriam Hopkins.

You can catch a lot of Hopkins’ films on youtube: Trouble in Paradise, The Smiling Lieutenant, Becky Sharp, Carrie, Design for Living.

 Posted by on June 18, 2012
Jun 142012

Dream involving a poodle, an iguana, a cobra, chicken wire, a concussion, and the President of the United States…

I was in town visiting you, and you had this massive iguana or something out in a chicken wire pen in the back yard. My dog Jody was with me (black standard poodle) and she’d wandered into the pen, her legs sort of poking through the chicken wire holes. And I didn’t know there was an iguana in there, until you said, Oh look, here’s my new pet, and it came out and was slithering around Jody’s legs, and looked like a cobra, and I was freaking out, and upset, and trying to get Jody’s legs out of the pen. Jody was freaking too.

You felt I was overreacting because you knew it wasn’t a snake and it wouldn’t hurt Jody, so there was tension between us, and I was like, get my dog out of there.

You had this weird thing between the back of your house and the yard. It was like a concrete canal down to the basement – a drop of a full house story – and in order to get to the yard you kind of had to straddle a concrete piling and hop, and because I was freaking out you were rushing to cross it and get over to the pen. You missed and your foot hit air, and you fell forward and hit your head on the concrete piling, forehead first, then dropped all the way down the ground below, on your back.

I was so scared. I rushed to you, and you were dazed. You weren’t injured externally that I could see but you weren’t making sense at all. I rushed you inside, where there were a bunch of other people, and asked them for help. A woman you knew came up and after hearing what happened asked you who the president was. You answered correctly. Then she asked you if you fell and you looked at her like what the hell are you talking about. You had zero short term memory and were saying you were sleepy and groggy and just wanted to lie down.

 Posted by on June 14, 2012
Jun 132012

A vintage gas mask might be just the thing for a dream sequence in an as yet unmade film…

My friend Eileen found this gas mask (pictured above) at an estate sale over the weekend and texted me a picture of it, thinking it might come in handy for a film. At twenty bucks, it’s a pretty affordable special effect.

I did a little research and the kind she got, which has the thick glass eye holes and a screw-in canister at the mouth, came out around 1944. The glass had to be thick – therefore small – to protect the eyes without fear of breakage and injury. From Wikipedia: “It was made of plastic and rubber-like material that greatly reduced the weight and bulk compared to World War One gas masks and fitted the user’s face more snugly and comfortably.”

I wouldn’t associate comfort with rubber, and this mask, though indeed snug, is hardly cozy. It feels on your face the way a bathing cap feels on your scalp and reminds me of wearing panty hose over your head, only the nylon was dipped in quick cement.

Later technology (plastics?) allowed for larger eye holes, which became more like Buick dashboards. I think I prefer the older kind. More insect-like. You can’t see the face – the gas mask becomes the face, and you search it looking for something recognizably human.

I’ve had some pretty creepy dreams, and it’s hard to capture that kind of mood on film. Something like this gas mask is the right kind of visual, elliptical shorthand somehow.

Now if I could just find a gas mask for a horse. And a horse.

 Posted by on June 13, 2012
Jun 112012

How a chair, a broom, a mug, and a vintage car came together for a sequence in ONLY CHILD…

These stills are from the ONLY CHILD shoot, taken by Jamie Harmon on April 16th, 2012.

We were scheduled to shoot interiors at this location, Fuel Cafe over on Madison Ave., Memphis, TN. I’d already worked Bennett Foster into a scene inside but I wanted to do something else with him. The place looked so great on the outside that I wanted to get exterior shots too.

I pulled this chair out the day before to get some distance from things while we were shooting. When I saw it there the next day, I wasn’t looking at it the way it was but the way it might look in a film. The chair, against the wall, had a quality I liked. When I added a broom it looked even better. It felt like some kind of story was going on there.

We’d already used Alice Laskey-Castle’s car, a vintage blue Mercedes. We decided that would be the car driven by Delores, Grace Zabriskie’s character. I saw the chair and the wall and I thought Bennett would look fantastic sitting there, with the car right up against him and a broom leaning nearby. So we got Alice, who did wardrobe on the film, to pull the Mercedes in. And I got a coffee cup I’d seen inside the day before, and set it on the chair to see how that would look.

Delores is in town looking for her estranged daughter, and comes to this diner almost every day. She sits at the same table. Has a tuna melt. Glares at her fellow patrons. She makes friends, cautiously, with her waitress. In the script you always see her at the table, after she’s already entered the place and been sitting there for a while.

I wanted to see her get out of her car and enter the building. What does she look like when she’s not where I’m used to picturing her? Whatever this story was – this broom and the chair and Bennett sitting there – I wanted to see her pass through it. So we set up a scene where Bennett, who works at the diner, was maybe sitting outside, drinking coffee on a break. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to be taking a break. Or it was only a break because there weren’t any diners inside.

We started the scene as if Delores had just parked her car, and we positioned Bennett’s legs where it felt like Delores had practically parked the car on top of him. As Delores gets out of her car, they stare each other down and it makes you wonder what they’re thinking. And Bennet, all seven feet of him, leans clear over in the chair watching Delores scope out the building. And when she enters, he gets up, and puts his coffee down on the chair, and goes inside to wait on her.

Bennett’s outfit matched the wall – white on top, black below. Delores was all in black except for a leopard print scarf around her head. She carried bright orange plastic grocery bags and stopped with them at the hood of her car, staring down Bennett like he might steal her hubcaps if he got the chance.

 Posted by on June 11, 2012
Jun 082012

Flood Pants: Back story on a still of Bennett Foster from the set of the feature film Only Child…

Bennett Foster has been around midtown Memphis for a while now. His father’s pretty well known in the area and Bennett’s been somewhere in the general vicinity since he was a kid I think. I worked at a coffee house briefly with him about ten years ago. He was probably still in high school at the time.

I always thought he looked interesting. He’s very tall, slender, and his scale seems to be off when you put him up against other people. He’s one of maybe four or five people in town I’ve always wanted to put in a film. Generally I’m shy about asking.

Bennett’s a musician so I guess he’s used to performing. He’s in a band called Magic Kids (first album, Memphis, is out on Matador). Before that he was in band called The Barbaras. Both bands are sort of orchestral pop, with harmonies that remind me of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, though the Barbaras were a grungier move in that direction.

We were about two weeks from our start date on ONLY CHILD, the latest feature film in the Woman’s Picture series, when I walked into the coffeehouse Bennet and I used to work at. He’s working there again off and on and happened to be in that day. I got a coffee and a bagel to go and he was making the bagel. He had flood pants. I think it’s probably hard to find pants with the right inseam, but he’d pulled them up so high on his waist he wasn’t giving this pair much of a fighting chance. I thought I should just ask him if he wanted to be in the film. Then I decided against it. Then I grabbed my bagel and blurted out something pretty inarticulate.

He said he might be interested as long as the story wasn’t sexist, capitalist, or several other things I can’t remember. I wasn’t really sure the script didn’t fall into any of those categories, so I said I’d send it to him.

I didn’t hear from him for a week or so and thought the film probably wasn’t his idea of a good time. Then I was there again having coffee and he came up to me in those pants and sat down and told me he liked the script. He thought it was really dark and hoped I kept it that way.

He was on set for two days. I asked him to wear those pants or something like them. The set was a diner in midtown, located in an old converted gas station. The tablecloths are black and white plastic gingham. Every table has one of those outdoor citronella candles  on it. With his white t-shirt and his high tide pants and his skewed flop of hair, Bennett looked like somebody who’s watched a lot of James Dean and tried to dress like him but got stretched out a little.

Photo by Morgan Fox.

 Posted by on June 8, 2012