This is an occasional series highlighting historical movie and TV costumes that best represent the decade they were produced in. They may or may not be the most historically accurate, but we think these costumes stand out as icons of when they were made. Comment with your faves, and watch the blog for the next decade we review!
Let’s look at some of the most memorable frock flicks from one of the most memorable decades of film.
Mata Hari (1931)
Greta Garbo plays the original femme fatale, WWI-era spy Mata Hari.
Leslie Howard looks fabulous in 18th century, and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so, because he was cast in The Scarlet Pimpernel a few years later.
Brooding, sexually ambiguous, a social misfit … Garbo really was pretty much tailor-made for the role of the Queen of Sweden.
This is one of the iconic film renditions of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel that people will live or die by. I liked it, but didn’t really connect with Katharine Hepburn as Jo March.
Every costume in this film is iconic.
Dolores del Rio as the notorious mistress of Louis XV was actually our original Frock Flicks poster girl.
I love this movie and will fight anyone who says it’s not as good as the 1982 version.
Anna Karenina (1935)
Garbo in another tortured role wearing fabulous costumes…
I’ve never actually watched this film, but it’s always on the list of “best historical flicks of the 1930s” so I included it here lest anyone attack me for leaving it off.
Katharine Hepburn as Mary, Queen of Scots. The actress apparently hated the film, but the costumes are surprisingly accurate for the time this was made.
Romeo and Juliet (1936)
I love me a good Leslie Howard film, and this one does not disappoint.
Garbo being Garbo in fabulous clothes, what more do you want?
The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
Actual twins were used for this take on the classic Mark Twain story.
I watched this movie so many times as a kid, and completely forgot that there’s a scene where Heidi dresses up in an 18th-c. costume!
The great Garbo plays Countess Marie Walewska, love interest to Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Arguably one of the most iconic films of cinema history, just in general. But rather than focus on Errol Flynn in his tight green tights, let’s admire Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian.
Once Technicolor happens, everything goes Next Level. And it doesn’t get more Next Level than Norma Sheerer as Marie Antoinette.
Allegedly, this was Warner Bros.’ attempt to compete with MGM’s Gone With the Wind. Jezebel as a film isn’t as well known now, but the costumes are hard to forget.
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Probably the best-known historical costume film ever made.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda. The era is fairly ambiguous, but the film went on to become heavily referenced in all subsequent versions, including the Disney animated film.
What’s your favorite historical movie costume of the 1930s? What would you add to the list as most iconic?