In this movie, the interior sets are as much characters as the actors, and change along with them. The set design plot goes something like this:: Rock Hudson, back East on business, visits an associate at his old Maryland homestead---I did not get a screen shot of the exterior, but in Hollywood fashion, the set more resembles one of those Georgian country houses so beloved by the fox-hunting set on Long Island in the early years of the last century. As he enters the front hall, one finds oneself not in Maryland, but instead suddenly in New England, for the set designer has based his design on one of New England's handsomest 18th century interiors, the hall of the Moffatt-Ladd house in Portsmouth New Hampshire. There are differences---the door heads are Federal, in the style of Salem's Samuel McIntyre, not Georgian Portsmouth. But, small quibble. It is interesting to see all the same
|In love, Elizabeth Taylor dances in her parent's hall|
|The original: The hall at the Moffatt-Ladd house in Portsmouth NH|
|Despite a slight difference in proportion, there is no mitaking the historical source for the dining room set.|
|Two views of the White Parlor at Arlington house, with its lovely Leghorn marble fireplace surround, and reeded over doors.|
In short order, Rock and Liz marry, and go home to the gloomy old house built by Rock's father on the family's Reata ranch, in the middle of Nowhere on the Texas plains.
The newlyweds are greeted in the baronial hall by Rock's less than friendly sister, Mercedes McCambridge. The Old Dominion gentility of Liz's childhood home has been left far behind.
But not to worry, distraction from the brooding decor arrives in the person of brooding James Dean.
But, that doesn't keep Liz from updating the decoration in the hall to something more closely resembling her genteel youth.
After awhile, everyone in the movie seems to strike oil, and the decorating at Reata really takes off---Liz brings things up to snuff, chic in monochromatic gray to complement her hair (The years have passed, and she's now the mother of nearly grown Carole Baker).
|A bedroom designed by Frances Elkins|
And there you have it---how a design fan sees a classic movie.
Baz Luhrman's set designer could take lessons.