Sunday, May 7, 2017

TV/Movie Set - When Ladies Meet ( 1941 )

Back in the studio-system days of Hollywood, if a film turned out to be successful at the box-office, within a decade you can be sure that a remake would be filmed. Why chance a new script when you have a winner on hand? Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer loved digging out old scripts and re-working them for their current stars. One such production was When Ladies Meet ( 1941 ), a re-telling of the 1933 comedy starring Ann Harding. 

MGM gathered together a few of their biggest talents, surrounded them with a top-notch production crew, and updated the script a bit to add some modern pizzazz to the old war-horse. What resulted was good box-office. Hey, it's a formula! 

Having not seen the original I can only comment on this remake and say that it is quite an entertaining bit of fluff. But even more impressive then the wonderful cast ( Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, Herbert Marshall, and Spring Byington ) was the set design....particularly the house of Bridget Drake, portrayed by Byington. Like most of her roles, she plays a rather dizzy woman ( but obviously not dumb since she is living in such a beautiful home ). Her boyfriend Walter converted an old water-wheel into the extravagant country retreat and, on one afternoon, she finds herself saddled with some old friends staying for the night : author Mary Howard ( Crawford ) who hopes to have a rendezvous there with her publisher/lover Mr. Woodruff ( Herbert Marshall ); Jimmy ( Taylor ) who comes to follow Mary; and Mrs. Woodruff ( Garson ) who arrives not knowing that she will be meeting her husband's mistress. 

The things that go on in seemingly respectable country homes!.....Tsk, tsk, tsk. 

This lovely timber-framed Connecticut-style farmhouse boasted hardwood floors, beamed ceilings, thick white stone walls, and plenty of fireplaces to keep the guests cozy on rainy nights. It just so happened to be a rainy night when Robert Taylor and Greer Garson arrive unexpectedly. 

THE EXTERIOR

The Backyard - Or is it the front? Believe it or not that "pond" is the swimming pool, which Joan Crawford just splashed into from her perch atop a rustic swing. 
The Front Drive - The driveway skirts around the pool. We are never shown the garage but there certainly is one, and it is probably where the servants quarters are, too. 

THE INTERIOR

Dizzy Bridget was so proud of Walter's handiwork she gave the characters a tour of her house and, since she conducted it so well, we will just follow in her footsteps and make some remarks as we pass by these beautiful rooms. 
The Living Room - One of the best features of a traditional "Connecticut" style home is the sunken-living room. While it is open to the bar/kitchen and the staircases, the off-setting depth of the living space gives the room a warmer cozier feel and adds contrast.
The wrap-around sofa reminds me of the interior of a ski lodge. That's a model ship hanging on the wall. There are a number of them throughout the house. Walter must have shared a common interest in yachting with Claire Woodruff. 
When it's raining cats and dogs outside, sit beside the piano and sing a duet. At least, that is what Claire and Mary decide to do. After they find out they share a love for the same man, they no longer have much to sing about. 
Time for Drinks! - The merry foursome now head off towards the bar, which is actually the conversation room of the house, for this is where the inside of the "wheel" is kept. The water-wheel, that is. Look how thick the supporting beams are! This house is built to withstand a Blitz. 
The Bar - Another sloppy screenshot pastiche. If you want to see a larger image simply click on the photo...but be warned, the images only get blurrier the larger they are viewed. 
To the Dining Room! - After Walter's signature cocktails have been downed, he precedes to show them the dining room, tastefully furnished in Early American style. 
The Dining Room - Straight out of the 1941 Ethan Allen catalog. 

UPSTAIRS INTERIOR

The Upstairs Hall - Bridget now ushers her female guests to the upstairs guest rooms. There are four bedrooms in the main-room and supposedly two additional rooms above the barn. Bridget and Walter have separate bedrooms....she claims. 
Guest Bedroom #1 - Mrs. Woodruff is shown her cozy corners. Bridget plays the perfect hostess and even offers her a new toothbrush and nightgown ( why can't we be invited to Bridgie's place? )
Guest Bedroom #2 - Mary's chamber is much larger and there seems to be a flower theme going on here. 
Look how wide the doors are! Marvelous. 
The Barn Loft Guestroom - Finally, the barn loft, where Jimmy gets to bed for the night. He wonders why he can't stay in the main room, insisting that he has been "housebroken". 

THE TALENTS BEHIND THE SCREEN

The art direction of When Ladies Meet can be attributed to that artistic genius of MGM - Cedric Gibbons - whom you will find on the credits of over 1000 films. Almost all of his sets were decorated by Edwin Willis, who naturally did this film as well. When you have two talented individuals like these fellows working together you are bound to see some great house designs up on the silver screen, and, for me, Bridget's house in When Ladies Meet ranks as one of the best "country retreats" to be seen. 


This post is our contribution to The Favorite Film and TV Homes Blogathon being hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Simply click on the links above to read more posts about fabulous house sets from the golden age of Hollywood. 

13 comments:

  1. Truly a dream abode. We should all have the money and artistry of the MGM staff.

    You will find that the set and the script/cast of the earlier version stands up very well under the weight of this well-done re-do. I hope you get to see it someday.

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    1. I will certainly try to watch the original for I didn't realize the houses were similar, too. Yes, if we only had the talented staff of MGM on hand for all of our design needs!

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  2. Love those digs, that pool, Ooh laa laa.

    I loved the house in first version as well. It did not have the pool though. I like the movie a lot and its worth seeing. Its so funny to see Frank Morgan as an irresistible philanderer.

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    1. When I read the cast list for the original, Frank Morgan at first seemed like an odd choice, but after watching Herbert Marshall's performance again I can see the potential in the part and how Morgan would bring out the comedic side of the role ( which Marshall failed to do ).

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  3. Never even heard of the movie. But that's not as shocking as it probably should be... I'm mostly a 60's and beyond person anyway. Still, it looks interesting. But as I've said on other posts, I prefer a more compact place to live in. Although I wouldn't mind having a pool...

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    1. Oh you must watch more films from the 1940s, Quiggy! This film is probably not your cup of tea but there are too many great action/adventure films from that decade to pass up. I, too, prefer small homes but I think many features from this design can easily be adapted to a smaller home to give it a more spacious look. Too often small homes are cramped when they need not be.

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  4. What a gorgeous home! And it's obviously a very sturdy one, too. Truly to die for.

    Thanks for contributing two wonderful pieces to our blogathon!

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    1. Thanks for hosting this event! It was a brilliant idea!

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  5. Love this house!!!! I wasn't much on the original film and wasn't sure if I would watch the remake but now I see I must if only for the house.

    I meant to put the art directors name in my post but forgot! I'll have to look it up and add it.

    Thanks so much for participating in this Blogathon with such a lovely house!!!

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    1. I haven't seen the original, but I have heard that this was practically a word-for-word remake. Still, it is worth seeing if only to gawk at the house. I love the thick beam/white stone look that was so common in "gentleman farm" ranches of the 1930s.

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  6. I've enjoyed all your posts about movie sets (with the one on THE PARENT TRAP ranch being my fave!). I'd love to live in this house. As for Hollywood remakes, I think the most faithful must be the Stewart Granger PRISONER OF ZENDA. Not only is the screenplay is the same, it is almost directed the same!

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    1. When you really enjoy a film then it's tempting to watch ALL of the remakes just for the fun of comparing them. I'll have to check out the original of When Ladies Meet to compare it with this version. I'm glad you have been enjoying our movie set posts, Rick. We have hundreds of titles we would like to cover and haven't even scratched the surface yet.

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  7. Such a classy time, when even women in conflicts can be gracious to each other. I LOVE the ending!

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