Oh the Bad Movies & TV You’ll Watch 3!

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With endless Netflix, Amazon Prime, broadcast TV (particularly Turner Movie Classics), upcoming movies in the theaters, and even some, ehem, other sources to watch historical costume movies and TV shows, the Frock Flicks editorial staff has quite a backlog. Alas, not every flick set in the past is worth our time (though we’ve already reviewed plenty — use the search box or menus to view the archives!).

After clocking all these movie-watching hours, we can tell you: There are a lot of crappy historical costume movies and TV shows out there! It’s not just Snark Week goods either. Some stuff is mere weak tea. These are boring movies, the dull shows, the ones with mediocre costumes and stories that can’t even rise up to the level of camp entertainment. Or the ones that are mildly entertaining, maybe have ‘good-enough’ costuming, or are moderately snark-worthy, but we can’t be arsed to work up a sweat about it.

Thus, this is an occasional series with our one-line reviews of things we’ve tried to watch but just don’t care enough about to write a whole blog post or podcast. Your mileage may vary!

 

Beau Brummell (1954)

Beau Brummell (1954)
I tried, I really did, to even just get through this film in the name of my 18th-Century Quest. I mean, Beau Brummell! Elizabeth Taylor! Shiny wigs! Satin! But it was just so unrelentingly boring, that I gave up halfway through. I’ve been now meaning to finish it for at least 6 months, but clearly that’s not going to happen. All I really remember is standard mid-century costumes, shiny white wigs, and desperately trying to keep my eyes open. Sorry! — Kendra

 

Casanova’s Big Night (1954)

Casanova's Big Night (1954)
Bob Hope is pretty darn funny as a tailor who gets mistaken for Casanova, but otherwise the film is nice-but-not-revolutionary mid-20th-century period comedy. Joan Fontaine’s costumes are very princess-seam-y, the wigs are very plasticky, and Vincent Price is (in my opinion) weirdly cast as the real Casanova. There is one genius scene where Hope has to dress up as a woman at a fancy ball, and it doesn’t go well, to great comic effect. — Kendra

 

Dracula Untold (2014)

Dracula Untold (2014)
Shitty medieval backstory for Vlad the Impaler. It’s like someone took the kind-of-cool opening five minutes of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and made an entire movie of that, changing Elisabeta’s name to Mirena (like the IUD) and adding some demon spawn. Stupid, but not even stupid enough to snark. — Trystan

 

Lark Rise to Candleford (2008-2011)

Lark Rise to Candleford (2008-2011)
My mom recommended this to me, and we’re usually on the same page re: historical fiction. While this has some quite good Victorian costuming, the storylines can be rather twee and predictable. It’s not the worst thing in the world at all, but it doesn’t rock my socks either. — Trystan

 

The Last Kingdom (2015-)

The Last Kingdom (2015-)
Dirty boys running around 9th-century England killing each other or something. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. (Besides, isn’t Vikings covering this period already?) — Trystan

 

Man of La Mancha (1972)

Man of La Mancha (1972)
I adore Peter O’Toole. I love musicals. I like the story of Don Quixote. I hated this film adaption and couldn’t make it past the halfway mark. Also, negligible costume interest. — Trystan

 

Ripper Street (2012-)

Ripper Street (2012-)
Another of your faves, and I got through more eps of this one based on the actors (Bronn from Game of Thrones is always a hoot!). But the female characters are super-cliches (hookers, dull wife, and they’re all just props for the fellas), plus they’re wearing Victorian steampunk bullshit. No can do, folks. — Trystan

 

Wind Across the Everglades (1958)

Wind Across the Everglades (1958)
I only have myself to blame for this one. See, I was born in Florida, and I’m interested in how the overuse of giant feathers and stuffed birds in the 1900s gave rise to conservation efforts. But this movie is not a great history lesson and has no fabulous historical hats. It’s just crap. — Trystan

 

Do you love one of these movies or TV shows? What other stuff should we remove from our queue? Have you searched our site recently to see if we’ve already reviewed your faves?

20 Responses

  1. Adina

    I loved Ripper Street, but I will admit the male costumes were so much better than the female ones.

    But if you want to talk bad historical costumes, video games are the go-to. I love historical games (Red Dead, Assassin’s Creed), but the costumes are terribly inaccurate.

    Reply
  2. Fran in NYC

    I loved Lark Rise! Such fine actors that you see all over Brit TV. And the wardrobe is really good, I think. The hats were to die for! The plots didn’t bother me really, I enjoyed the village/town contrast-and-compare.

    Reply
  3. eadon216

    Last Kingdom gets so much better a few episodes in! I almost gave up on it after the first couple of episodes, but persevered because my husband was enjoying it. By the end of the season we were definitely ready for season 2.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      There’s so many historical costume TV shows & movies being made these days — not to mention all the classics of yesteryear — that if something doesn’t show promise in the first hour, I’m cutting my losses & moving on.

      Reply
      • eadon216

        Fair enough. I’m slowly learning to embrace that idea as well. Latest show on the chopping block was The Expanse (not historical). I just need to get better about doing it with books as well!

        Reply
  4. Charity

    Lark Rise is sweet. Dorcas has THE BEST outfits. It is a little sugary, but I don’t mind a bit of sap once in awhile. :)

    Last Kingdom… I may give it another go at some point. First episode didn’t hook me.

    Reply
      • MoHub

        I simply cannot take the costumes in Brigadoon seriously, and the whole thing was miscast, except for Pamela Britton—and then they clean up the lyrics to “My Mother’s Wedding Day.” And it’s sad, because I love the musical in its stage form..

        Reply
  5. Sarah Faltesek

    Dracula Untold was the worst. Vald Tepes, Prince of Wallachia is the HERO?! Mehmed is Dominic Cooper in weird, pseudo brown-face?! They had a legit Nosferatu in a cave for about two minutes, but they ruined it. Luke Evans is pretty, but he wasn’t enough to save that endless facepalm of a movie.

    Reply
  6. LindaS

    I liked The Last Kingdom. It’s based on a series of decent historicals and I always am interested in more ancient history. Vikings takes place a little before this series’ time, since Alfred the Great was already a ruler in it. In Vikings, Alfred was just a baby, the son of Athelstan and Judith (not married, though).

    Reply
  7. Joanne Renaud

    I tried to watch The Last Kingdom last night, but you guys were right. It’s a rapetastic male power fantasy with MANLY MEN WHO ARE WARRIORS GRRRRR that makes GAME OF THRONES look feminist and nuanced. NOPE. I’m out.

    Reply
  8. KarennA

    Why why why have you not reviewed the,1997 BBC/A&E Ivanhoe miniseries? I keep hoping. Ciarán Hinds! And the costumes were much better than the other versions. They tried…

    Reply
  9. ctrent29

    I tried to get into “LARK TO CANDLEFORD” and “RIPPER STREET”. I really tried. But I just couldn’t.

    There are a lot of period dramas from the 1950s and 60s that were set between the 1920s and 1940s. The costumes and hairstyles for the women were atrocious.

    Has anyone ever seen some of the hairstyles and makeup in the “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” movie, “DEATH ON THE NILE”? Atrocious. Especially Emily Blunt’s kewpie doll look.

    Reply
    • MoHub

      I pushed through the first season of Ripper Street but quit after the first episode of season 2 and don’t feel I missed anything.

      Reply
  10. D.B.

    There was one thing in The Last Kingdom I’d like to know more about, and not knowing the terminology I have no idea where to start googling. Queen Aelswith has a hairstyle my friends and I have come to refer to as a chinbraid, here in all its chinbraid-y glory (plus a possibly objectionable poncho/capelet… thing):

    http://www.farfarawaysite.com/section/lastkingdom/gallery8/hires/13.jpg

    If anyone has the experience/knowledge to even point me in the right direction on the authenticity I’d appreciate it! It’s just such a silly hairstyle that I figured there had to be some reason to use it.

    Reply
  11. Elisa B

    I thought the costuming for Ripper Street got better in the later seasons when they moved away from 1880s steampunk to full-on 1890s. It’s at least to see correct silhouettes for an underrepresented period.

    Reply

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