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You know what I’m talking about. You’re tootling along, watching some movie, when suddenly someone references Pearl Harbor or the stock market crash or some other historical event, and you sit up and say, “OHHHH this is supposed to be PERIOD. I missed that, because of the total lack of historical wardrobe/totally wrong hair/complete lack of effort.” Or maybe it’s the opposite, you go in thinking, “Yay, a period piece!” and then spend the rest of the time squinting at various ensembles and thinking, “MAYbe? I guess?”
During Snark Week, let’s look at five contenders for this category — I know there are more, suggest them in the comments!
Honorary Mention: War and Peace (2016)
This BBC miniseries hasn’t been released yet, and so we haven’t seen the full wardrobes … but what the hell is Gillian Anderson as Anna Pavlovna Scherer WEARING here — a bridesmaid’s dress from David’s Bridal? I’m sorry, has anyone heard of one-shouldered gowns in the Regency era?
5: A Christmas Story (1983)
Okay, so yes, this movie is a classic and rightly so. We watch it at my house at least once a year, and phrases like “Bumpuses!” and “I like the Wizard of Oz” are used weekly. The filmmakers clearly weren’t working with a huge budget, but they did a decent enough job showing a middle-class family in the 1930s … except for mom’s hair. WHAT is up with that bad 1980s poodle perm? It looks like the actress (Melinda Dillon) even has naturally straight hair, so this is DEFINITELY a perm. There’s just nothing 1930s about it. It’s not waved or pin-curled, it’s not styled at all, and THOSE BANGS!
4: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Okay, so Raiders of the Lost Ark did okay in terms of putting lead actress Karen Allen into plausibly 1930s clothing:
But really, Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) is BEYOND 1980s.
3: The Searchers (1956) and Most Other Mid-Century Westerns
I’m so confused when I look at mid-century (1940s-60s) Westerns. When the hell are they set? It seems like it’s ye oldey-timey 19th century, as everyone’s riding horses to get around and there’s no pizza delivery. But then all the women are in jeans, and the hair is just uber-of-its-period, and I have no idea. The Searchers is a great example: it’s set in 1868. Please to enjoy.
2: Most 1960s-70s Barbra Streisand Movies
The movies that Barbra Streisand made in the 1960s-70s are great examples of the period’s preference to hang on firmly to contemporary fashions. She’s not the only one — look up most “historical” movies made in this era and you’ll be able to spot bouffants right and left.
But let’s take a look at a few Barbra classics, like On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970), in which Barbra plays a modern woman who, through hypnosis, gets in touch with a previous life in English Regency era. Here’s what that looks like:
I’ve never seen Funny Girl (1968), but it’s a biopic about Fanny Brice, singer and actress who was active from the 1930s to 1951. Maybe you can explain looks like this to me:
But special mention has to go to…
1: The Way We Were (1973)
Okay, it’s another Barbra film. BUT SERIOUSLY. I spent the entire time watching this movie say, “No. NO. THERE IS NO WAY THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A PERIOD MOVIE.” It theoretically covers the 1930s through the late 1950s or early 1960s. Apparently that memo never made it to the costume or hair designers:
Alright, lay it on me. Which “ohhh this is supposed to be PERIOD” movies did I miss?