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Cinemalphabet: A is for Auntie Mame (1959)

February 1, 2011

Good heavens, you won't need most of these words for months and months...

It’s difficult to avoid using trite phrases such as tour-de-force when referring Rosalind Russell’s performance in the 1958 classic film Auntie Mame, but there it is. Russell stars as a wealthy bohemian who find herself guardian of her only living relative – a wide eyed boy named Patrick – when her brother, a Chicago industrialist keels over at the gym hours after penning his will. While there have been other adaptations of the novel by Patrick Dennis I pretend they do not exist. Mostly because they shouldn’t. Everything that ever needed to say about Mame Dennis – on film anyway – has already been said by Russell, who shut it down.

who knew it was all done with rubber bands!

Auntie Mame has long been a favorite film of mine. Since La Mommie introduced me to it one night when it came on AMC. I was hooked and there hasn’t been a month in recent history where I haven’t viewed the film at least once. And in the twenty or so years since it was originally introduced to me I swear I have probably watched that movie thousands of times.

He's coming here? In the middle of the night?

Key elements cribbed from Auntie Mame:

  • Sequins as daywear
  • tonal outfits consisting of worker bee skirts and fitted sweaters
  • sweater coats
  • mary janes
  • coats with big fussy collars, faux fur
  • jangling statement jewelry

For me the fashion inspiration isn’t merely what she wears in the film – though the clothes are spectacular – but rather the attitude and self confidence she has has about her style. It’s so permissive and inclusive. It’s all very, of course you wear sequins around the house darling, good heavens if not here then where? and very affirming. You feel silly doubting yourself as you step into a pair of hot pink sequined platform maryjanes and a floral satin raincoat for a quick jaunt to the Jiffy Mart for a bag of Doritos.

If not here then where?

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