13 thoughts on “TBT: Happy Birthday, Walter Plunkett!

  1. I remember seeing an interview with a woman who was an extra in GWTW. She said she’d challenged Plunkett on the amount of detail on her pantaloons because they wouldn’t show, and no one would know how finely detailed they were. Plunkett told her, “But you’ll know,” and she admitted that it made a huge difference in how she carried herself in the movie.

    1. That’s pretty much the gist of a much-repeated story about the legendary extravagance of director Erich von Stroheim: the producers were challenging his demands for finely finished silk undergarments for extras in “The Wedding March” (1928) by pointing out that they wouldn’t even be seen on film, and von Stroheim replied that it was a necessary expenditure, because it would make them feel more truly like aristocrats in the court of Franz Joseph, rather than the five-buck-a-day extras they really were.

      I also heard basically the same story about Adrian: someone questioned the amount of detailing he was putting on one of Garbo’s costumes (for “Camille”, I think), pointing out the camera would never find all the little lavish touches of embroidery he’d tucked into the undersides of lapels and turned-back cuffs. Adrian smiled back, “But she’ll know they’re there.”

      BTW, that first photo under “Show Boat” (1951) is actually Paul Robeson, Irene Dunne, Hattie McDaniel, and Helen Morgan in James Whale’s 1936 version for Universal, costumed by Doris Zinkeisen.

    2. It wasn’t an extra, it was Ann Rutherford. And the quote wasn’t Walter Plunkett’s, it was David Selznick’s.

  2. Brilliant, Brilliant designer. His costumes are more famous than he is b

  3. One of his last films – Forbidden Planet – a HUGE influence on the look of sci fi for generations – actually a very smart, fashion forward look that had “practical comfort” for long distance space travel.

  4. He really liked green velvet and gold embroidery alot.to bad it doesn’t seem to age well.I’ve seen the green curtain dress in person and it looked brownish mustard dirty green they said he faded it the make it look like authentic sun faded drapery but in Technicolor made it vibrant green I wonder if Technicolor just made anything one vibrant tone no matter what because the green wrapper dressing gown looked the same color as the curtain dress and the green wrapper would not of been aged if so why would they even bother with all the makeup tests in black n white because Technicolor obviously made colors so vivid.I wonder if they could, control saturation ohh the white fur what look like a 20s cocoon coat in singing in the rain is very similar design as the blue velvet peignoir worn by Scarlett when bonnie blue dies.he didn’t do true historical gowns verbatim I think because the green wrapper was almost a medieval design I guarantee you none of the actresses wore authentic underwear ever unless for camera who would wear ridiculous bloomers when all that was needed was panties it stupid to film in who knows what conditions with historic undergarments.I’m pretty sure with Vivien Leigh and her amazingly petite frame with just some good boning in a dress she would look corseted.I’m sure for some outfits she was but she was so tiny all that would be needed was boning like you can see in the green wrapper dress up close her waist was just as tiny in a dressing gown as her burgundy party dress so no I dont think with a body like Vivien a corset would be useful unless you just want the look of a corset or for scenes of her dressing I just dont believe in any post war dresses she would of wore corsets just good boning because she had so many bolero jacket type ensembles and the hoop skirts would make her look like she was an insect if she was corsetted and odd proportion onscreen plus the fabric he used form the green ivy party dress would be too thin to hide bulky undergarments maybe I’m wring I just think she wasn’t corrected that lil underbust affair she has on while napping is not cinched tight and doesn’t look like it was made for her body so no I think she would of looked best with just good old boning in the dress and the prayer dress was worn its home no need to be corsetted.the south is hot and my grandmas grandparents and parents word period dress because well it was that period and nobody wore all that junk at home in the summer they used to soak in a tub of ice in the late 1800s to say the twenties when they got electricity throughout the house not just in the formal reception areas and such when all rooms had electrical fans. they would wear a cotton dressing gown chemise and soak in an ice bath get out and lie on blankets on the floor in the foyer and reception and ballroom which was marble and take afternoon naps in wet chemises during summer .ladies would soak in ice baths before getting dressed for parties in the summer.nice assuming you lived close to an ice deliveryman and had servants to fill your bath with water and ice but I know that’s how society women and girls and I’m sure a few boys did .i would have took ice baths in a second I wouldn’t go outside to swim in dirty water atlanta is just miserable in the summer I mean just steamy misery.its why I live in san Francisco from may to September

  5. Brandon, you have to remember that the costumes from GWTW are coming up on 80 years old. Of course they are going to be faded and a bit tattered by now. The costumes went on a tour around America in the early 40s, and were shown in department stores, and Woolworth’s, etc…from what I read about this, it seems they were not exactly handled with care during this time. People could walk up and handle them, and the green curtain dress was even sprayed with Lysol at one point, which discolored it in streaks. The green sprigged BBQ dress basically fell apart from rot and mishandling sometime in the 60s or 70s, By the mid 70s, the bodice was all that was left of it. The blue shanty town dress was rescued from a warehouse, found crumpled on the floor. It’s a testament to Walter Plunkett and his insistence on quality that they survived in any condition at all.
    I am so very grateful and happy that they even still exist!

  6. I realize that most people would choose GWTW. Granted, some of the costumes are really lovely. However, I also noticed that a few modern styles seemed to creep into some of the costumes (well, to be frank, in just about in many of the period dramas during the Studio Age).

    I would choose a tie between “GWTW”, “That Forsyte Woman” and “Singin in the Rain”.

    1. I thought 7 brides took place in 1850 and not 1950?
      Watching Raintree County and though the costumes are not bad I am having a real hard time with all the late 1950s hair on the actresses. Why!!

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