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Still in the blonde-ingenue phase of her career, before becoming a brunette femme fatale a year later, Joan Bennett starred in Vogues of 1938 (1937) for Walter Wanger, the producer who would become her mentor and whom she would marry in 1940. As early as Private Worlds, filmed in 1935, Bennett had noticed -- after being alerted by Claudette Colbert, the film's star -- that Wanger was showing up on the set only when Bennett was working. Still, Bennett would recall in later years that Wanger had been "hard to land" as a husband.
In Vogues of 1938 Bennett plays a fashion-plate debutante who creates havoc for Warner Baxter as the owner of a fashionable design shop on New York's Fifth Avenue after he refuses her request to delay the creation of a wedding dress so she won't have to get married. Baxter's other problems include a nagging wife and a jealous rival who wants to steal his business. But the movie's plot is mainly an excuse for a parade of 1930s fashions in gorgeous Technicolor. Also included are several musical numbers including the Oscar-nominated Les Brown/Sammy Fain "That Old Feeling," which is sung in the movie by Virginia Verrill and has since become a standard.
Vogues of 1938 also was Oscar®-nominated for its art direction, which uses subtle greys and metallic colors in the background to set off the pastel colors of the fashions. Wanger had wanted to make a "Vogues" movie since 1934, when he had signed Frances Langford to star in such a film, but decided to wait for the Technicolor process to become perfected. Wanger was very sensitive to this subject, having produced the first three-color outdoors adventure, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936).
Langford filmed some scenes for Vogues of 1938, according to production schedules of the time, although she does not appear in the completed film. The fashion sequences feature prominent models of the day including those known as the Lucky Strike Girl, the Chesterfield girl, the Lux Soap Girl and the Pepsodent Girl. Hedda Hopper, later to gain notoriety as a gossip columnist, also has a role.
Producer: Walter Wanger
Director: Irving Cummings
Screenplay: Bella Spewack, Sam Spewack
Cinematography: Ray Rennahan
Production Design/Art Direction: Alexander Toluboff
Original Music: Louis Alter, Sammy Fain, Victor Young (all uncredited)
Editing: Otho Lovering, Dorothy Spencer
Costume Design: Helen Taylor (uncredited)
Principal Cast: Warner Baxter (George Curson), Joan Bennett (Wendy Van Klettering), Helen Vinson (Mary Curson), Mischa Auer (Prince Muratov), Alan Mowbray (Henry Morgan).
by Roger Fristoe