Fashions of 1934

Infobox Film
name = Fashions of 1934

image_size = 200
caption = theatrical poster
director = William Dieterle
producer = Henry Blanke "(uncredited)"
writer = Story:
Harry Collins
Warren Duff
F. Hugh Herbert
Carl Erickson
narrator =
starring = William Powell
Bette Davis
Frank McHugh
Hugh Herbert
music = Sammy Fain "(music)"
Irving Kahal "(lyrics)"
cinematography = William Rees
editing = Jack Killifer
distributor = Warner Bros.
released = 14 February 1934
runtime = 78 minutes
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget =
gross =
imdb_id = 0025101

"Fashions of 1934" is a 1934 American musical comedy film directed by William Dieterle with musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. The screenplay by F. Hugh Herbert and Carl Erickson was based on the story "The Fashion Plate" by Harry Collins and Warren Duff. The film stars William Powell, Bette Davis, Hugh Herbert and Frank McHugh, and has songs by Sammy Fain (music) and Irving Kahal (lyrics).


When the Manhattan investment firm of Sherwood Nash (William Powell) goes broke, he joins forces with his partner Snap (Frank McHugh) and fashion designer Lynn Mason (Bette Davis) to provide discount shops with cheap copies of Paris couture dresses. Lynn discovers that top designer Oscar Baroque (Reginald Owen) gets his inspiration from old costume books, and she begins to create designs the same way, signing each one with the name of an established designer.

Sherwood realizes Baroque's companion, the alleged Grand Duchess Alix (Verree Teasdale), is really Mabel McGuire, his old friend from Hoboken, New Jersey, and threatens to reveal her identity unless she convinces Baroque to design the costumes of a musical revue in which she will star. Baroque buys a supply of ostrich feathers from Sherwood's crony Joe Ward (Hugh Herbert) and starts a fashion rage.

Sherwood then opens Maison Elegance, a new Paris fashion house that's a great success until Baroque discovers Lynn is forging his sketches. He has him arrested, but Sherwood convinces the police to give him time to straighten out the situation. He crashes Baroque and Alix's wedding and promises to humiliate the designer by publicly revealing who is bride really is unless Baroque withdraws the charges. The designer agrees and purchases Maison Elegance from Sherwood, who assures Lynn he'll never get involved in another illegal activity if she returns to America with him.


*William Powell as "Sherwood Nash"
*Bette Davis as "Lynn Mason"
*Frank McHugh as "Snap"
*Reginald Owen as "Oscar Baroque"
*Verree Teasdale as "Grand Duchess Alix"
*Hugh Herbert as "Joe Ward"
*Henry O'Neill as "Duryea"
*Phillip Reed as "Jimmy Blake"
*Gordon Westcott as "Harry Brent"
*Dorothy Burgess as "Glenda"
*Etienne Girardot as "Glass"
*William Burress as "Feldman"
*Nella Walker as "Mrs. Van Tyle"
*Spencer Charters as "Man removing telephone"
*George Humbert as "Caponelli"
*Frank Darien as "Jules"
*Harry Beresford as "Paris bookseller"

Cast notes:
*Arthur Treacher, appearing in his fourth Hollywood film, played his first part as a butler, a role he was to play many times in his long career. [IMDB [ Arthur Treacher] ]


With this film, Warner Bros. chief Jack Warner tried to change Bette Davis' screen persona by putting her in a platinum blonde wig and false eyelashes and dressing her in glamorous costumes. The actress, who had been trying to convince the studio head to loan her to RKO so she could portray slatternly waitress Mildred Rogers in "Of Human Bondage", was appalled at the transformation, complaining they were trying to turn her into Greta Garbo ["The Lonely Life" by Bette Davis, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1962, pg. 173] . In an interview with "Photoplay" editor Kathryn Dougherty, she complained, "I can't get out of these awful ruts. They just won't take me seriously. Look at me in this picture - all done up like a third-rate imitation of the MGM glamour queens. That isn't me. I'll never be a clothes horse or romantic symbol." [Lorraine LoBianco [ "Fashions of 1934" TCM article] ] To Gerald Clarke of "Time" she lamented, "I looked like somebody dressed up in mother's clothes. But it was a great break because I learned from the experience. I never let them do that to me again. Ever!" [ [,9171,923967-2,00.html "Just a Dame from New England" by Gerald Clarke, "Time", April 14, 1980] ]

Working titles for the film, which was filmed at Warner Bros. Burbank studios in 1933, were "King of Fashion" and "Fashion Follies of 1934". Warners listed writers Gene Markey and Katherine Scola as having adapted the original story that was the basis of the film, but according to the the Screen Writers Guild they had nothing to do with the film. [TCM [ Notes] ]


The film's musical numbers included "Spin a Little Web of Dreams" and "Broken Melody" by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal and "Mon Homme (My Man)" by Maurice Yvain, Albert Willemetz, and Jacques Charles.

Critical reception

The "New York Times" described it as "a brisk show" and added, "The story is lively, the gowns are interesting and the Busby Berkeley spectacles with Hollywood dancing girls are impressive . . . William Dieterle, that expert director who has been responsible for several imaginative pictures, does well by this particular production." [ [ "New York Times" review] ]

"Variety" called it "a bit far-fetched and inconsistent . . . but it has color, flash, dash, class, girls and plenty of clothes . . . Just why and how Bette Davis enters the picture never quite rings true." [ [ "Variety" review] ]


External links

*imdb title|0025101
*tcmdb title|3830
*allmovie title|1:16828

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