Cary Grant would not like this film. Randolph Scott might. But Bette Davis surely would. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon would. Rosalind Russell. Natalie Wood. Angela Lansbury. Ingrid Bergman. All yesses. Jane Fonda, ravishing and lively, definitely would give it a thumbs up! Jack Warner would reluctantly approve. By God, they’re all in it and plenty more of the greatest in the annuals of Hollywood History.
And then there’s the man himself, far from ever being a household name, even with all the films, tallied at 285, that he created costumes for and the winner of three Oscars, and friends with the rich, notorious and famous.
Not to mention all the Women He’s Undressed and a bunch of men, too, even a few in women’s clothing, like in Some Like It Hot. And he’s undressed, in life, a few of Hollywood’s finest leading men, in his time, including his once paramour, Grant.
Yet with all these hints, you’ve still not a clue who I’m talking about. Do you?
But you’ll learn and know and enjoy a lot after viewing this wonderfully unique docudrama about one of the most important costumer designers in movie history. And an emigrant at that, from Down Under, born and raised in Australia. Then off and running to New York City, then, eventually, to Hollywood, with his closest and dearest male companion, another emigrant from Jolly Olde England, Cary Grant.
I’m speaking of Orry-Kelly. Highlights of some of the most important films that he designed costumes for even reads like a gay man’s dream list of almost everyone’s favorite of films. That goes for the devotees of the The Golden Years of Hollywood. Of the numerous classic films, they include: Auntie Mame, Casablanca, An American in Paris, Gypsy, Irma La Deuce, Some Like It Hot, and most of the films of Bette Davis (she has a warm spot for Orry-Kelly and demanded he design her costumes). He worked for most of the legendary directors over several decades from Busby Berkeley to George Cukor.
Once you’ve seen Women He’s Undressed, you’ll never look at a dress that he designed in the same way ever again, and you’ll appreciate the subtleties of costume elements from hiding Marilyn Monroe’s breasts to the folds in Ingrid Bergman’s jackets to the outlandish use of color in Rosalind Russell’s exotic outfits.
Orry-Kelly’s life was overpopulated with legends, stars, divas, tycoons, chorus girls and boys, some of whom he no doubt cavorted with. And you’ll discover a different and somewhat unflattering side of Cary Grant, the love of his life, that rival the pages of Confidential or Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon. Some of the magic and myth of that leading man is definitely stripped away.
What do devotees of queer cinema, genuine cinephiles, devoted historians, gossip mongers, staunch fashionistas, appreciators of quality documentaries have in common? They’ll all adore this must-see docudrama, Women He’s Undressed. Now who was Orry-Kelly? You’ll have the answer when it one day appears on Jeopardy!
About the Film:
WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED 2015 Director: Gillian Armstrong
Australia 99 mins Docudrama Documentary English
Centerpiece Screening Friday, July 8 @ 7:15pm The Prince Theater EAST COAST PREMIERE