Frock Flicks note: This is a guest post by our friend Yosa Addiss. At 6 years old, she informed her mother that her selection of dress-up clothes was woefully inadequate. Yosa has been building a suitable collection ever since. After pursuing a degree in costume design, she created one of the first websites for custom-made costume gowns. Yosa has moved on to a career in marketing but remains a lover of theatre and film and lifelong fan of historical costume. Find her at yosa.com.
Ah, let’s roll back to the good ol’ days of cinema with Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl (1954), starring Anthony Dexter and Eva Gabor. When the sets were paper and the beards were painted on with eyebrow pencil.
The movie opens with our brave Captain already in dire circumstances. He is in jail and to be hanged on the morrow. Oh dear! Our hero is wearing some sort of stretchy pants and a shirt/vest combo that is almost certainly sewn together. Sewn together? Why yes — that way the shirt doesn’t get in the way of seeing his stretchy pants!
High boots in black compliment his clearly and obviously fake mustache and goatee. Seriously, they are painted on with eyebrow pencil. It is fantastic!
The first woman we see makes this film for me. It is set in the 1600s. Right? Right?
Ok, so we have here a classic 1950s “period” piece. Bullet bra, off the shoulder, big swaths of fabric off puffy sleeves, and a bouffant. (Insert peals of laughter from the peanut gallery.) It even has the super flattering pointy bodice, too! No shots of Eve Gabor’s costumes yet — she spends the entire first scene in the bathtub.
Interestingly, this gentleman’s clothing is pretty good here for the late 1700s a la 1950s Hollywood. Jacket, vest, shirt, breeches, hose, and even shoes instead of boots. The jacket and vest have matching gold embroidery, and the shirt has ruffles of lace. Oddly, the breeches are a different color than the rest of the outfit, but whatever. Sure, his outfit is boxy, and he is clearly wearing shoulder pads, but for the time and the certain small budget, I’d call it pretty good.
The only thing really off is Eva Gabor in full 1940s starlet drag taking a bubble bath in the background. Later she gets clothes, which all seem to have parts of mink coats on them.
Onboard the ship, the wealthy men are still doing pretty well, with the exception of beauty queen sashes, I mean, belts across their shoulders. Why? Who knows. Maybe they are guitar straps? They are in a cover band?
Eva Gabor then shows up in a completely spectacular outfit of tight-lacing corset, padded bra, and miles of knit chiffon. It is a Grecian number, with a criss-cross bodice, off-the-shoulder sleeves, and lots of pretty buttons. I’ve gotta say, her commitment to tight lacing is impressive.
Men’s outfits continue to be pretty good throughout. The shoulder pads are impressive and the lines as straight as possible, but overall they coordinate and are of a time instead of 1950s runway fashion. They are all clearly winners of their state in the Mr. America Pirate competition of 1955. Solid B.
Another classic on Eva, a touch of mink, off-the-shoulder, corseted to high heaven. Ivory or maybe pink velvet, with a zipper or hook-and-eye tape up the front.
Seriously, this ‘penoir a la francaise’ has got to be seen to be believed.
She is corseted/girdled within an inch of her life and her nylon floor-length nightgown has a sacque back!
Slippers? Sheer stockings? On Kidd?
Blackbeard and Calico Jack make an appearance. Arrr.
Eva swans about in a full-on 1950s evening gown. Why? Sequins, of course!
I counted 8 tricorn hats in this scene. Either they had large tricorn budget or they got a discount.
Anne Bonney gets pants and her own sword fight — I’ll take it.
Have you seen Captain Kidd and the Slave Girl?