Thursday, March 22, 2012

Matching Drapes and Couch

This shot from “More than a Secretary” (1936) intrigued me when I first saw it. No, not because of Jean Arthur, although she is swell in anything she does. I mean the drapes behind her. Plaid drapes in 1936. We seem to be unconsciously foreshadowing the war years.

You know what I mean. Never mind the men in uniform or the patriotism. War-time movies really stand out because of those plaid drapes. Here we are in “Since You Went Away” (1944).

The drapes in this movie are to decorate the wide arch between the living room and the hall, and between the living room and the dining room.

But -- and here is the kicker -- they match the cushions on the couch.

Look at the back of this chair in the foreground. The chair matches the plaid pattern as well.

A 1940s fashion? Look here at “My Reputation” (1946). More plaid drapes and matching couch.

The fashion was tweaked a little bit at the end of the decade for “Tension” (1949), where we see a checkerboard pattern Richard Basehart’s apartment.

Not only do couch and drapes match, but the easy chair and desk chair match as well.

Yes, this is why I watch old movies.  I care nothing for acting or story line; it's the drapes.  It was always all about the plaid drapes. 

Can you think of other examples?


Caftan Woman said...

Look after dust has settled on a plot seen years before or an actor's name, unfortunately, eludes me it is the sets and set dressings that remain vivid. "Oh, yes," I'll recall, that was the movie with that wonderful lamp."

Plaid drapes! Not the sort of thing to show a woman who has been renovating. I wonder what the family will think. I wonder if I really care what they think.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Oh, many's the time I've overheard a conversation between two moviegoers: "So, what did you think of the carpet in that scene?"

I'm sure your renovations are stunning, CW. Streamline moderne?

ClassicBecky said...

This was a hoot, Jacqueline! I never noticed that before, and it's pretty funny. I have noted that when you get to see an old movie on a big screen, you really see details like that which are just not so obvious on the TV screen. I had that experience with the sets of GWTW when I saw it at a theatre.

This reminds me of a scene in The Women, where Norma Shearer has just found out her husband has married Joan Crawford. Norma is at the divorcee ranch, and she is on a couch -- it exactly matches the shirt she is wearing! Wow, that's coordination!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

The couch matches her skirt?! Oh, I've got to go back and take a look at that.

ClassicBecky said...

It's her shirt, Jacqueline, not her skirt. You won't believe it!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

My mistake, sorry. I'm definitely going to look for that scene. Sometimes I wish I had a librarian for my DVDs and tapes.

They must have gotten a good deal on that material.

Anonymous said...

It's not foreshadowing the war years - they are the same drapes from the 30's. People kept the same drapes for a long time. There was the austerity of the Depression when there was no money to spend replacing drapes, then during the war people conserved material so it could be used in the war effort. They finally replaced them in the 50's. :-)
I remember my grandmother (born in 1902) cutting down drapes salvaging the good material to make smaller curtains or cushion covers.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

I think my favorite drapes re-use was when Scarlett O'Hara made a dress.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Then there was those Von Trapp kids. "You mean they've been running around Salzburg in nothing but some old drapes?!"

Laura said...

This is fantastic, Jacqueline! I love noticing details like this. But I can't say I noticed the matching drapes and pillows when last I saw SINCE YOU WENT AWAY. I definitely will next time!

I spent much of QUIET PLEASE - MURDER the other night wondering whether women actually wore things like Gail Patrick's tiara-like hat in the '40s, or if they were purely an invention of the movies. There's so much more to enjoy in movies than just the actors and story (grin).

Best wishes,

ClassicBecky said...

LOL! My favorite drapes re-use was Carol Burnett as Scarlett ... she even re-used the curtain rods!

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Laura, I have to say, sometimes I wonder the same thing about the ladies' hats. However, there have been times I've seen some that looked very much like photos of my mother and aunts, so they couldn't all have been strictly Hollywood millinery experiments.

Becky, I can't watch that scene in GWTW without thinking of Carol Burnett. Because of her, I laugh inappropriately through that entire movie now.

The curtain rod across the shoulders was, by the way, a stroke of genius.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

If you ever watch Roy Rogers' films from the later '40s, you'll see plaid drapes all right! Republic used the same ones in about half a dozen movies. When we first watched them my siblings and I would say to each other, "There's the drapes again!" :) I never noticed whether they matched the couch or not, though.

Regarding Laura's comment about the hats - when we watched The Thin Man recently, my mom and I were laughing at the sleeves on the women's costumes - they were all puffed or draped from the wrists to extraordinary degrees, some of them practically a foot long. High fashion for 1934? It would only work if you never had to do anything with your hands.

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for joining our home decor session, Elisabeth. I know what you mean by the Republic pictures drapes. I think I remember that. Actually, I think the drapes shown in the screen cap above for "My Reputation" I've seen before, but I'm drawing a blank. If I ever remember, I'll post it.

Some of those Hollywood fashions, mainly for the ladies, were unbelievable, weren't they?

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clarissa said...

Years ago I accidentally bumped into a checkered skirt in a store, recognizing at once it looked very much like 30s fashion. So I bought it without hesitating.

At home then I had a few doubts. Where my favorite years 1933 through 1937 really that checkered?? So I went to a library and studied books with early Hollywood film-set photos. And yes : checkered stuff already in the early 30s -- partly with even very big squares.

The 40s obviously went ahead with sort of checkered excess -- squared stuff really everywhere. Maybe they tried to upstage the daily military pictures?

Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for stopping by, Clarissa Smith, and for more research. What I thought was going to be a throw-away topic has turned out to be an interesting discussion. Maybe the plaid and checkerboard pattern is just a case of a new trend starting small and then growing into a full-blown fad.

Page said...

Ha Ha Only you could write about plaid curtains with their matching cushions then the icing is those large checks in the other room.

I am no fan of plaid or large checks! Boy do they stick out like a sore thumb.

I was reminded of my The Women photo review when I pointed out Shearer blending in to that awful plaid couch with her blouse. She really did disappear.

You gave me a good laugh today with this. Thank you!

A fun little read and now I'll have to re-watch this one and going forward I'll be noticing the drapes during that era.


Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Page, ever since Becky's comment about "The Women" plaid nightmare I've been thinking about finding that scene. So glad you mentioned your blog post. EVERYBODY, HERE IT IS:

Scroll down towards the end of the film review when the ladies are in Reno. Norma's blending in with the couch. A better way to escape than Wylie Coyote's "portable hole".

Related Products