Women He's Undressed
Directed by Gillian Armstrong
Women He's Undressed is a cinema length documentary that explores the life of Australia's most prolific costume designer. Until now Orry-Kelly has been unacknowledged in his country of birth and pretty well forgotten in the adopted country of his greatest success. During the boom years of Hollywood he was the costume designer on an astonishing 282 motion pictures. He designed for the stars like Marilyn Munroe, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Rosalind Russell, Errol Flynn and many more of the immortals. His films included Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, An American in Paris and Now, Voyager. Orry-Kelly (Jack to his friends) won three Academy Awards and was nominated for a fourth. Orry-Kelly was Head of Warner Brothers Costume Department during the richest period of American film, the establishment of the dream factory and its effect on mass culture. He was outrageous, witty, outspoken, a drinker and uncompromising but he survived partially protected by his friendship with Jack and Ann.
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★★★★ review by Zā on Letterboxd
A sparkling gem of a Hollywood documentary I found on Netflix thanks to someone's recommendation on here. I really had no idea who Orry-Kelly was, but while watching this film I of course was familiar with his work with Bette Davis and on Casablanca, Auntie Mame, and my favorite, Some Like it Hot as well as others.
I love that it combines narrative with documentary. They have an actor reciting from Orry-Kelly's memoir of the many thoughts he has and the interactions he had with his mother via letters. Honestly I loved seeing the current costumers absolutely geeking out over the legacy that Orry-Kelly had created through his designs, while also citing the ups and downs he received during his career.
Also since this was distributed through Wolfe, we never lose the fact that Orry-Kelly was unapologetically queer. Then it also touched on people like Cary Grant who was more likely queer as well, but that subject is so touchy because of old people for whatever reason.
Lastly, this is a great doc because you get to listen to Jane Fonda talk about how she wants to motorboat Marilyn Monroe in her dress in Some Like it Hot.
★★★★ review by Vivian on Letterboxd
great gowns beautiful gowns
★★★½ review by Louisa on Letterboxd
As someone who's interested in costume design, and who comes from the same country as Orry-Kelly, it was an interesting film and very enjoyably presented. Also, if you like Hollywood gossip, there's certainly a fair bit here. So I guess we've had a few things cleared up about Cary Grant, then?
I saw this at a preview screening with a Q&A by the director. The story of how she made it was very interesting to hear in and of itself. If you're in any way interested in Old Hollywood, or fashion, clothing, costume etc, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
★★★★ review by Casey on Letterboxd
Fantastic documentary about Orry-Kelly. Conflicting versions of the same info presented side by side by historians and eye witnesses. Totally fascinating approach to a documentary.
★★★★ review by Mouldy on Letterboxd
The scene where Jane Fonda pretends to motorboat Marilyn Monroe's breasts should be shown everywhere all of the time.
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