Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Look Of "The Loved One"

This post is part of the Production Design Blog-a-thon being hosted at Too Many Projects Film Club.

When I first heard about this blog-a-thon, my first thought ran to "Umbrellas Of Cherbourg". The wallpaper alone from that film deserves its own blog-a-thon. I may still get around to it, but my mind began to drift to other films whose set designs and dressing still stand out in my mind.

And I keep coming back to "The Loved One".

This 1965 satire by Tony Richardson targets just about everything. It's funny, sniping, dark, sharp and filled with terrific performances by everyone from Robert Morley to Robert Morse. So that includes Jonathan Winters, Roddy McDowall, Liberace, James Coburn, Dana Andrews, John Gielgud and Rod Steiger playing one of my favourite characters - Mr. Joyboy.

But the star of the film may indeed be Mr. Rouben Ter-Arutunian: Production Designer.

To be totally honest, I have no idea to what extent Ter-Arutunian contributed towards the look of the film. Maybe this was all a location shoot. Maybe the rooms were already dressed that way. Maybe Rouben was the kindly old janitor who was being fired and they snuck his name into the credits to get him some extra coin...All I can tell you is that they had some great looking sets (you can see more detail by clicking on the screenshots):

And it's not just the rooms themselves, but everything in them. Some of the rooms are so stuffed and almost overflowing that they can barely fit the people in. You can also usually see items in the rooms beyond the one you are currently in.

And look at that phone!

It all works in service of the film and its satirical points - most directed at our culture's attempts to market and sell just about anything. Death and religion are two of the biggest commodities.

Dammit, I want that phone...


James Yates said...

Great pick, Bob. I have to admit that I haven't seen that one yet, but it's now in my Netflix queue as we speak.

I think the beauty of what you described can also be linked to the fact that the film is in black and white. Sure, you don't see the color of the production, but it doesn't take away from it, either.

Bob Turnbull said...

Thanks Jamie...I would agree that the B&W adds to the beauty of the film - in particular those chess board floors.

I hope you like it. It's catch phrase was "something to offend everyone!". Though not quite true, it does cover a wide swath...

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)