Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, August 9: WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED
Gilliam Armstrong’s tribute to an acclaimed Hollywood costume designer made its bow at Sydney last year. Additional fest play included DOC NYC, Toronto, Mill Valley, Chicago, Hong Kong, Minneapolis-St Paul, and Seattle, among other events.
Armstrong’s elusive subject is Orry George Kelly, a fellow Australian who made a name for himself in Hollywood as Orry-Kelly, designing costumes for countless classic pictures. While his work is well-remembered and lauded – he won Academy Awards for SOME LIKE IT HOT, LES GIRLS, and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS – he himself is largely forgotten. Faced with a dearth of archival material featuring her protagonist, Armstrong opts for an audacious solution: casting an actor to embody Orry-Kelly in deliberately over-the-top, theatrical settings. As this avatar relates the designer’s life story, the director uses clips from his many films, as well as interviews with several notables – from actresses like Angela Lansbury and Jane Fonda, to fellow costume designers such as Ann Roth, and critics like Leonard Maltin. In the process, this affectionate film pulls back the curtain on old Hollywood, with a particular contemplation of what Orry-Kelly’s experiences as a closeted gay man in a very different time might have been like.