I have loved Australian actress Toni Collette ever since one of the most important of movies was released way back in 1994:
That’s right, Muriel’s Wedding! As I followed her career, I was blown away by her acting talent in so many films, but most especially as a woman with multiple personalities in the TV series The United States of Tara. As Ms. Collette is playing a major role in the recently-released neo-noir, late-1930s set Nightmare Alley, it seemed like a great time to look at her historical roles.
The Efficiency Expert (1991)
Per IMDB, “An expert on productivity shows wacky workers in 1966 Australia how to run their moccasin factory.” Yes, I’m padding here!
Collette plays Harriet Smith, protégé of the titular Emma, in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of the Jane Austen novel. I get annoyed that they try to make her dumpy, but she does great things with the role.
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
I think Trystan and Sarah will hurt me when they realize I’ve never seen this movie about 1970s glam rockers, but even I know that Sandy Powell’s costume designs are great. Collette plays one the musicians’ wives, and I have a feeling she’s a Big Character.
The Hours (2002)
Three different generations of women are connected by a Virginia Woolf novel. Collette is in the 1950s section.
She plays real-life Peggy Robertson, script supervisor and personal assistant to film director Alfred Hitchcock, in this film about Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife during the filming of Psycho.
Jasper Jones (2017)
An “Australian murder mystery” set in the 1960s.
Nightmare Alley (2021)
A “neo-noir psychological thriller” set in the late 1930s/early 1940s and centered around a carnival. Collette plays a clairvoyant named Zeena, which sounds amazing.
Which is your favorite of Toni Collette’s historical roles?
Toni was the Angie Bowie expy in Velvet Goldmine, and I want all of her costumes but especially the coats!
I’m pretty sure that the silver leopard-print suit is an original Biba piece – or at least strongly Biba inspired!
BTW, the other “baby face” in that shot from THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT is Ben Mendelsohn (DARKEST HOUR, THE KING, CYRANO).
I know it’s not a frock flick, but Muriel’s Wedding is one of the most important movies in my personal cinematic collage.
The ABBA karaoke revenge scene in Muriel’s Wedding is one of the formative experiences of my life. Everyone should see it at least once, and everyone should have a friend like Brenda who encourages you to give no fucks and lip synch Waterloo if the mood strikes you.
Peggy, Hitchcock’s secretary in Hitchcock had such a smashing professional wardrobe. It makes me long for smartly tailored women’s business wear with artful little flourishes.
I forgot my other comment about Hitchcock – Toi looks absolutely ravishing as a brunette! She should go ”dark’ more often. It really sets off her eyes.
Nightmare Alley. I either haven’t seen the other movies, or didn’t realize she was in them.
I’ve never seen Velvet Goldmine, and I feel it’s time to rectify this gap in my movie/fashion education.
She is such an AMAZING actress!! Like several other people have commented, Muriel’s Wedding is a GEM!!! My fave of her FrockFlick roles is Harriet from Emma. I LOVED her costumes from the pics you showed from Hitchcock. I might actually watch that film now. Not a FrockFlick, but she’s in another movie that I love, A Long Way Down. As per usual, she’s amazing in it. Great WCW choice!
Now I have to rewatch Velvet Goldmine, which my daughters have already made me watch one time too many!
Velvet goldmine is luscious, (though, I’m assuming, slightly sanitized,) version of “not” david/angie/iggy love story, and might be a great choice for Pride month. I recall at least one scene in his youth set before the 1969 cut off–so it may qualify! Its almost like a really long, trippy, music video.
I’ve loved Toni Collette since Muriel’s Wedding, she’s so good in EVERYTHING.
Hit reply button too quickly but my favorites of her period costume roles have to be Emma and Nightmare Alley — it’s a pretty good movie but the costumes are outstanding. And I’d forgotten she was in Hitchcock! Such great casting in that movie, James D’Arcy was perfect as Anthony Perkins.
You mention the baby face in The Efficiency Expert, but check out the baby face on Ben Mendelsohn! :D
Muriel’s Wedding was my first real exposure to Australiana and Aussie cinema (as well as Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths). When my (coincidentally Aussie) husband and I got married in his hometown, all the music we used for the ceremony and reception were all songs we love or hold special meaning for us. Despite his dislike of Abba, I convinced him to include Waterloo because of that scene in Muriel’s Wedding.