Archive for the ‘Costumes’ Category

Location Location Location

11 May

May 11, 1940
The Weekly Wireless


Miriam Hopkins in three moods -demure, gay and grim. The swash buckler is, as you probably guessed, none other than Errol Flynn.

The appearance of a grasshopper in the leading
lady’s bed may wreck a million-dollar movie. That’s why location-man hates arranging locations, especially for films such as
Warner’s spectacular “Virginia City,” made at Flagstaff, with Miriam Hopkins and Errol Flynn.

The stars, director Michael Curtiz, and about a hundred others spent six weeks on the famed
Painted Desert.

Only those who have been on “location” trips can have any idea of the headaches involved. Joe Barry, who handled the “Virginia City” job, estimated the expense og the trip at approximately £20,000, over and above regular salaries and production costs.

But money was the least of his worries. A location invariably offers unexpected problems, which may vary from finding lost children to the discovery of a grasshopper in the leading lady’s bed.

He can figure almost exactly the cost of train fare and freight. He can allow £2OOO, more or less, for food for the company, and not be far wrong.

Even if Miss Hopkins had insisted on strawberries for breakfast, or if Mr. Flynn had called for a special kind of beef to keep up his flagging strength, the final totals would not have been changed much. But there are other expenses which cannot be budgeted so closely. There are the items of rent and feed for horses needed, in addition to those taken from Hollywood, accommodation and food for drivers of trucks and buses from the studio and those hired “on the ground.”

Flagstaff, where the company had to stay, is a small town of 4000 inhabitants, with three small hotels and a limited number of restaurants.
The problem of assigning living quarters and eating places was no small one, and arrangements for doctors, nurses, dentists, barbers, laundries, and filling stations had to be made.
Dry-cleaning alone presents a problem in a small community. Even though he allowed £3OO for that
item, he had to be sure that the local cleaners could give him the overnight service he needed.
He had to get local people to serve as extras, and this invariably led to hard feelings on the part of those he did not employ.

A location-man must, if possible, re-route any regular plane service over the location. Railroad whistles have to be suppressed.. Officials of all kinds must be met, wheedled, placated, and side-tracked. Sometimes fences had to be removed, and replaced later,and roads had to be covered up. (“Virginia City” starts in American Civil War times, so that motor cars and their tracks must be kept well out of sight.)

Irate neighbors in the vicinity who had not been employed by the company chopped wood and beat
on tubs, to the dismay of the sound men, until Joe appeased them.

Fire hazards had to be watched, dry creeks to be flushed with water dragged miles in tanks, a telephone from the company headquarters to the home studio had to be kept open continuously.

On any location at night there are standing-room-only signs before the theatres and cafes. Ice cream is at a premium. The studio had to
put up a big bond that no liquor will be allowed on the Indian reservation near the “Virginia City” camp.

Joe brought the “Virginia City” location back to Hollywood according to budget. But he lost weight doing it. He always does.



Did you stay in Flagstaff while filming Virginia City?

DICK JONES: Oh yeah, I remember it real well. I just about ate myself to death with trout. I loved it. I actually came back to Flagstaff later that year to do The Outlaw.

What can you tell us about the personal appearance you made at Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater while filming here?

I don’t remember it at all. I probably did a trick roping act, because that was the only thing I knew. (Laughing) I could strum a ukulele but that wouldn’t have been much!

Do you have memories of working with Errol Flynn in Virginia City?

The one thing I can remember was that he had this standard-sized schnauzer. He had that dog trained. [Flynn] had this swagger stick and he’d be slapping his boot with it, then he’d stop to talk to somebody and he’d slap them on their boot with that swagger stick. Then when he walked away the dog would come up and lift its leg up on them. I think [co-star] “Big Boy” Williams almost wanted to kill him!

I really enjoyed working with Errol Flynn. I worked with him again on Rocky Mountain (1950); that was my favorite of all the films I ever made. [Flynn] was one of the best journeyman actors. He knew his trade and worked his craft real well.

— Tim


A Trophy for Travilla

04 May

Western Union – May 4, 1948

“[Billie] “Travilla” arrived in Hollywood in 1941 and won an Academy Award for his designs in Adventures of Don Juan starring Errol Flynn. He is credited as the costume designer of over 90 films and television productions — nine of which starred Marilyn Monroe. He may be best known for creating Monroe’s iconic Seven Year Itch white halter dress which was forever associated with both of them. (See below)”

The scene that the not thrill Joe DiMaggio. Dress by Travilla.

— Tim


The Virginia City Premier — March 16, 1940

16 Mar

— Tim


Dressing in the 14th Century

09 Oct

“The big trouble with the 14th century insofar as the movies are concerned is the fact that most of the ladies dressed like nuns.”

October 8, 1937

The Evening Herald
Klamath Falls, Oregon

By Frederick C. Othman
Hollywood Citizen News

The big trouble with the 14th century insofar as the movies are concerned is the fact that most of the ladies dressed like nuns. This is particularly bad for movies in full color, and it explains why Milo Anderson, Warner Brothers costume expert, is cheating on history today in dressing the folks appearing in Hollywood’s latest version of Robin Hood.

This picture first was made in 1922 by Douglas Fairbanks, when movies were black and white and noiseless. Warners’ version calls tor full color and a couple of million dollars to make it realistic. Nearly $500,000 of this money went to Anderson for fancy clothes. He was ready for a real spree in silver cloth and slashed velvet and whatnot, when he discovered that all the women of Robin Hood’s time. from the queen on down to the lowliest peasant, dressed mostly in black and dark brown. They all wore coifs, such as nuns still wear, and shoes which look a lot like gymnasium slippers.


“So we had to cheat a little.” young Anderson said. “We put In a spot of color here and a splash there. We had to.”

His spots and splashes looked pretty gay to us. One bolt of cloth, with silver threads running through the gold, cost Warners $25 a yard. “But it looks too fine,” he said. “So I had it dyed a light blue and I told the dyer to be a little careless. The result looks like it may really have been made six centuries ago. He had to make 45 costumes for the ladies in the picture, of whom Olivia de Havilland, as Maid Marian, is the most important. Each dress took about 40 yards of velvet and other rich cloth, which cost an average of $4 a yard.

The result was inclined to depress Anderson. He cheered up only when he got the chance to rig out the men in the film. “They were the gay sex in those days,” he said. “They went in for slashed silks and doublets and whatnot, all in the brightest color combinations available.”

Anderson displayed the costumes he’d built for Errol Flynn as “Robin Hood”; Ian Hunter as “King Richard”; Claude Rains as “Prince John”; Basil Rathbone as “Sir Guy”; Alan Hale as “Little John”; and Eugene Pallette as “Friar Tuck.” These garments really were something with long tight pants of rainbow hue and doublets and tabards and curves of spots and stripes and curlicues.

On the same movie lot we met Mrs. Felix Mauch, wife of the general agent in New York city of the Toledo. Peoria, and Western railroad, and her two 13-year-old sons, Billy and Bobby. Mrs. M. stands by to keep an eye on her famous twins, who now are starring in “Penrod and His Twin Brother.” But it doesn’t do her much good. “I can’t tell them apart myself,” she confessed. “When one of them needs a whipping. I have to spank both of them to make sure I’m punishing the right one.”

Milo Anderson designs for Robin Hood:

— Tim


A Natural in Any Costume!

11 Jul

Errol always looked natural in any costume he wore …

C. Henry Gordon, Errol Flynn, director Michael Curtiz, dialogue director Irving Rapper on location for CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, 1936

— David DeWitt

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