How’d We Miss Mr. Malcolm’s List (2019)?

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We somehow missed the short film Mr. Malcolm’s List (2019) when it first came out. Well now filming on the full-length film has wrapped an it’s in post-production, with a tentative release in 2022. The short film is a charming preview of the feature film, although Constance Wu will take over the part of Miss Thistlewaite, played by Gemma Chan here.

For about 10 minutes of frock flick, there’s actually a lot of frocks to talk about here! There are several changes of clothing for the main characters, we see proper undergarments, and the hair is mostly dressed in period fashion (with one glaring exception).

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

The eponymous Mr. Malcolm (left) wears a snazzy blue print waistcoat under his frock coat.

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

This lady tries to get Mr. Malcolm’s attention. I’m checking out her hat & capelet.

Mr. Malcolm is the main gentleman of interest, a Miss Thistlewaite tries to secure his affections. She’s rich, spoiled, and has sassy maid and footman.

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

Correct Regency corset with a smock underneath!

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

But *nooooo* she tells her maid to pull the laces tighter, when this isn’t a tight-lacing era & this style of corset isn’t built to withstand tight-lacing :( :( :(

Oh well, she does look nice at the opera, in this gown that’s been recycled from other frock flicks.

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

Then she gets snarked on by a mom who’s pushing her dullard daughter out on the marriage market.

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

I’ll guess that these are also recycled costumes, but they look sharp & are accessorized well.

Between that and hearing from Malcolm’s friend about his notorious “list” (although we never hear exactly what’s on the list), she decides to get revenge on the dude by … inviting her country cousin to town? IDK how that’s supposed to work …

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

She’s from the COUNTRY, where they have no hair pins, of course!

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

Thank goodness she finds a few pins & a bonnet so she can go to town, whew.

Casually spying this cousin’s arrival, Mr. Malcolm immediately falls in LUUUUUUUURVE, so maybe that’s how Miss Thistlewaite’s revenge will be extracted?

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

His low-key riding-around-town clothes feature a nice yellow & green plaid waistcoat.

While I’ve just talked about the costumes and plot, it’s also nice to see diverse casting in this short film (and the feature length version seems to have the same diversity). Lest someone whine about this being ‘woke,’ director Emma Holly Jones said in Free the Bid how she and her team were grounded in historical research:

“We wanted to make the look of this film fresher, but still authentic. We researched 19th century West Africa, China, India and inserted elements into costume, production design, hair and makeup. I wanted to create what Julia would have looked like if she were British-Chinese in 1818, which, on another note, is not fiction — there was great diversity in 1818, it’s just that movies and TV have painted it differently.”

Mr. Malcolm's List (2019)

 

 

 

What do you think of Mr. Malcolm’s List?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

12 Responses

  1. Gray

    Agreed. Tho’ I don’t mind casting the actors the production wants regardless of how much melanin their genes dictate, let’s not pretend it’s accurate. And I’m getting burned out on this period. How about someone make a good bustle gown flick or something?

    Reply
  2. MaryD

    Yay, so glad they made a feature picture on this! I remember watching this and hoping something would result.

    Reply
  3. Kat

    The book is also really good so I’m excited, though less so for Constance Wu because she has too much of a contemporary face in my opinion.

    Reply
  4. Saraquill

    Those frock coats and not quite skin colored trousers have me curious. Is the fashion supposed to be “look at my faux naked crotch?” If so, it’s a huge difference from current male fashion, which seems to be scared of drawing attention to the area.

    Reply
    • Susan Pola Staples

      Please mam may I have some more. To me it looks like the a cross BTW Bridgerton and the Jamaican heiress from Reese Witherspoon’s and Romola Garai’s Vanity Fair, a film which I loved.

      Reply
  5. hsc

    Constance Wu dropped out of the film for some reason.

    Julia Thistlewaite is now being played in the feature by Zawe Ashton, a Ugandan-British actress best known for theater credits and a lead role in Channel 4’s FRESH MEAT (2011-2016)– which featured Gemma Chan.

    Reply
  6. Damnitz

    The pictures remind myself of a German fairytale film from the 2000s “Die Salzprinzessin” with a fashionable prince from Africa with the inclination to marry a princess in a somehow German looking principality. The costumes were in a mix of regency up to 1820s/early 30s style and I loved the idea of a world of different countries all over the world respecting each other and looking for the perfect princess over thousands of miles away from their homeland.

    I would love to see movies settled in merchant towns on the coasts of Africa set in the regency period or in the West Indies. I don’t understand why we have to be focussed so much on common ground (German poets in German movies, British high society in British or US movies) only changing small aspects.

    Reply
  7. hsc

    “We wanted to make the look of this film fresher, but still authentic. We researched 19th century West Africa, China, India and inserted elements into costume, production design, hair and makeup.

    I wanted to create what Julia would have looked like if she were British-Chinese in 1818, which, on another note, is not fiction — there was great diversity in 1818, it’s just that movies and TV have painted it differently.”

    While there certainly were Chinese in Britain in 1818, pretty much all of them were men involved in lascar work (along with sailors from Africa and India) for the East India Company.

    For the most part, these sailors were dirt-poor and lived in squalid conditions in seacoast towns, and weren’t assimilating into British society. Most went back to China as soon as they could– basically “migrant workers”– and even this was getting phased out by 1818.

    It’s true that you had a few Chinese men prior to 1818 who had settled as permanent residents, married British women, and become citizens, but they were notable exceptions.

    Chinese didn’t start emigrating to Britain and becoming residents in any significant numbers until the 1840s, after the First Opium War.

    And for some reason, rather than continuing to present Julia Thistlewaite as “British-Chinese,” after Taiwanese-American actress Constance Wu dropped out they’ve recast the character with a Black British actress (who’s the granddaughter of a former Prime Minister of Uganda).

    Reply
  8. Karen K.

    That salmon-colored gown is GORGEOUS, I need to watch this again so I can get a better look. It looks like it has gold detailing in the hem panel, maybe it was sari fabric? It’s just stunning.

    Reply

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