Friday, August 17, 2007

Not so Funny Faces

As a continuation of yesterday's blog on Funny Face...

One of the things that really make this movie work is the use of real models from the period. The first is Suzy Parker.

An Avedon muse, Suzy was THE face of commercial photography. As beautiul as she was, she had an accessibility to her. She had an uncanny ability to be both the most beautiful woman in the world AND approachable.

Suzy only appears at the beginning of the movie (under the credits) and then again in the big "Think Pink" montage number which starts the show. And Avedon's influence is all over these montages. None of the Suzy's pictures shown here are from the movie. They are just being displayed to show her versatility (and to show why I think she is a goddess.)

But the thing is if you opened a fashion magazine in the 50's and 60's, you would have seen Suzy everywhere. She had a stab at acting, but she really didn't have a talent for it. Or at least her directors never seemed to be able to bring it out in her. Because of her beauty, she was pushed into dramatic roles, but I think she probably would have made a better light comedienne. For non-fashionistas, she is probably best remembered for appearing on a classic Twilight Zone episode. In it, the world has decided that, thanks to the benefitd of plastic surgery, everyone should be beautiful... and if you don't want to be beautiful something is wrong with you.

Suzy plays multiple parts, along with Richard Long (the uber-classically handsome Jarrod Barkley from The Big Valley). In this world of perfection, everyone wants to look like Suzy and Richard. Deep philosophical Twilight Zoney message aside... who could blame them?

The second Avedon muse who appears in the film is the incomparable Dovima.

Dovima had a much more high fashion look than Parker. As such, she was not as recognizable to the general public, but her extreme elegance was well known in more elevated circles. I happen to have large version of the above photo at home. I love how composed Dovima seems, while on close inspection you can see that the elephants are moving around quite a bit. It reminds me of an episode of America's Next Top Model (yes, I admit to it). But where those models had to pose with one elephnat in a bathing suit, Dovima is working with an entire herd in an evening gown. AND making art.

Anyhow, in the movie, Dovima has an actual part... Marion, the intellectually challenged model.

The part is really just another dip into the Lina Lamont stereotype from Singing in the Rain. Beautiful woman with horrible voice and not too much upstairs. But like Jean Hagen in Singing in the Rain, Dovima's own intelligence allows her to make a bit more if the part.

It is questionable whether it is actually Dovima speaking, as her dialogue sounds dubbed, but it could be her. There just might have been an issue with her projection in the studio. In either case, the voice that she uses (or that is overlayed on her) is a bit too over the top. But what she does physically is out of this world. At varios times, she is asked to pose and when she does so, she shoots out a barrage of ultra chic and funny postures and looks that no one else could possible do. There is a section where Fred Astaire is trying to get her to think deep thoughts about a modern sculpture where her attempts are simply beyond description. But like the rest of the movie, they just float by. Not to be hammered in. Just one more delight.

I've included this backstage pic with Astaire, Hepburn and Hepburn's husband, Mel Ferrer, because it shows a bit of what the real Dovima must have been like. Yes, this impromptu photo is probaly staged, but of all of the people in it, it is Dovima, who seems the most comfortable just being herself.

Next up, Audrey gets jazzy.



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