Thursday, June 3, 2010

Designing Woman (1957)

Retro Active Critique #16

The fun of watching 'Designing Woman' is threefold: there's the feel-good script, which won the Best Screenplay Oscar for its year; its stars, Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck; and the charmingly dated feel of the whole production. 
'Designing Woman' has a great deal to love. While the film drags on just a little bit towards the end, the overall plot maintains great momentum and the film's execution by director Vincent Minnelli is top notch. Prior to 'Designing Woman', I wrote a post about another little known Gregory Peck film, 'Mirage'. I strongly suggest that anyone who hasn't enjoyed these two films, starring the great leading man, do so. And with 'Designing Woman', there's also the wonderful Lauren Bacall.
Peck plays a sportswriter getting into some hot water as he writes about some controversial mobsters; Bacall is the incredibly successful fashion designer with whom he falls in love. They are a couple of grownups with their own individual lives who decide to get married before they actually get to know one another.
It's an interesting story, but particularly so for the era during which it was told. In 1957, it was still quite rare for women to be career-oriented. Meanwhile, people generally got married when they were far younger than these protagonists. So their dilemmas, despite seeming dated, are particularly interesting considering the context of the film. If you'd like a bit of late 50's escapism and wit, I highly recommend 'Designing Woman.'

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