TBT: Forever Amber (1947)

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While the movie of Forever Amber (1947) doesn’t have the reported 70 references to sexual intercourse, 39 illegitimate pregnancies, 7 abortions, and 10 descriptions of women undressing in front of men that got the 1944 novel of the same name banned as pornography in 14 American states, the film was racy for its time. The main character, Amber St. Claire, has only five lovers in the movie instead of 30 in the book and bears only one child. But she’s still scheming and social climbing and gets a tragic ending she so deserves.

This flick is a classic bodice-ripping romance in many ways, with lots of implied sex and plenty of tits-out bodices. Amber bounces from one man to another in search of riches and social status, even though she’s supposedly in love with an absent nobleman-privateer Bruce Carlton. She’s no starry-eyed romantic — from the start, Amber is ambitious as hell and selfish too. Life turns her cynical about everything but her supposed true love. Apparently, the 1940s film censors required the movie to end on a more moralistic tone than the novel. That’s show biz, folks!

Forever Amber (1947)

There are big hats!

Forever Amber (1947)

Like this black & white number.

Forever Amber (1947)

That went on sale.

Forever Amber (1947)

And was worn when Amber & Bruce got cuddly in a carriage.

Forever Amber (1947)

Better view of the dress that hat goes with.

Forever Amber (1947)

How about some cherries on top of a big hat? Sounds more Victorian than Cavalier to me, but you do you, Amber.

Forever Amber (1947)

After all, this hair is kinda sorta Victorian. By way of the 1940s.

Forever Amber (1947)

I don’t even know what to say about that bodice. Sure, it goes with the peasant blouse. But the skirt fabric? Newp.

Forever Amber (1947)

She’s got a few of these wenchy looks.

Forever Amber (1947)

Fancy wench though, with a sequined blouse & velvet gown. I feel like Stevie Nicks would wear this with a black shawl.

Forever Amber (1947)

This one is more reminiscent of the 1660s.

Forever Amber (1947)

The same gown in the Debbie Reynold’s catalog.

Forever Amber (1947)

What this movie does well is glam! Gold lame with a fully gem-encrusted bertha? I’m in!

Forever Amber (1947)

FULLY COMMITTED TO SPARKLE MOTION.

Forever Amber (1947)

Ostrich feathers! Sequined gloves! Yes please!

Forever Amber (1947)

Taking up all the space!

Forever Amber (1947)

Marring an earl for his money, as you do.

Forever Amber (1947)

Wearing a super-glam wedding gown, as you do.

Forever Amber (1947)

Fabulous bling supplied by Joseff of Hollywood.

Finishing up the film in a subtle satin gown.

Forever Amber (1947)

That bears very little resemblance to a period other than the 1940s.

 

Have you seen Forever Amber or read the book?

19 Responses

  1. picasso Manu

    I’ve seen that one, oh, soo many moons ago (gah, I’m getting old!). If I remember right, the double standarts between the “dashing Bruce” and “Immoral Amber” while they’re BOTH trying to ascend the social ladder by dubious means are heavy enough to bludgeon an elephant in full flight. But very shiny exemple of great studios work (Plague looks so clean!)

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth K. Mahon

    I read the book in high school and I remember that Amber was even more of a bitch than Scarlett O’Hara in the book version of Gone with the Wind, and that her true love wasn’t worth it, like Ashley in GWTW.

    Reply
  3. Kathleen Julie Norvell

    I read the book which made me gag (it was SO BAD). A friend, who’s on this board, referred to it as “Forever Under.” The costumes are dreadful!

    Reply
  4. Richard Harper

    I have never sought out this movie as I mistakenly believed there wouldn’t be much to see. Now imma have to watch it.

    Reply
  5. thedementedfairy

    I used to love that book when I first read it in the 60s, and when I re-read it through the early 70s. By the time I was a teenager it started to look a bit lame lol
    I remember spending too much time working out just how that dress was supposed to have been made of pearls and to disintegrate so spectacularly…[that is the right book yeah?] I got very geeky trying to work out the mechanics of it, deciding it was nonsense even then.
    I mean, compared with my grandad’s Victorian/Edwardian porn, 40s porn was LIMP lol

    Reply
    • Kathryn Willsey

      No, this is the one where she wears the risque black dress to a party and realizes when she gets there that she’s all but naked. And then everyone gushes over her beautiful, refined, tastefully dressed rival.

      Reply
  6. M.E. Lawrence

    My mother, who was 30-something at the time, confessed that she didn’t find the book all that shocking. My teenage self thought the research seemed pretty good, and the casual talk of abortion, etc., interesting. As I recall, there is little or no mention of religion/piety; perhaps that had something to do with Winsor’s matter-of-factness.

    Reply
  7. Janet Nickerson

    What would make an interesting film is the book that the author, Kathleen Winsor, wrote after ‘Amber’ – ‘Star Money’. Somewhat autobiographical as it’s about a woman who writes a runaway best-seller during WWII and how it changes her.

    Reply
  8. Sonick

    This looks amazing! Hats! And big hair! I need to see this on rainy day when i stay in bed with PMS. It reminds me of Angelique movies.

    Reply
  9. Cheryl from Maryland

    My mother had the book, which I found as a pre-teen and read. She found me reading it, pretended to be shocked, and then let me finish it. Between this book, Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Tom Jones and Aubrey Beardsley drawings, I aced sex ed.

    Reply
    • Trystan L. Bass

      Thanks! Btw, your original comment had a search link that was broken, but it had enough clues that I found what you were talking about. Shame that FIT’s own website didn’t show up in any of my googling on Forever Amber or I’d have included it in my post — someone there needs to work on SEO ;)

      Reply
  10. Damnitz

    The movie now is boring and the sexist moral (Carlton is an asshole who can have as many Mistresses as he wish (B. Palmer included) but could not only blame Amber but take away her son without any problems or feeling his unjustice… The whole story of the movie is a boring version of “Roxana” by Defoe. I hated all these grey rooms and these shoulder pads on all men were slaying. The only good aspect was Linda Darnell in the leading role, showing emotions, while most of the other actors just had to speak their text.

    Reply

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