Scene Stealers: Five Films that Cast Design in a Starring Role

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Swooping shots of the Chrysler Building. Gleaming Aston Martins. Hitchcock's blondes. Maybe it's false nostalgia, but everything seems classier when shot in glorious black and white. Part of the reason, surely, is the film industry's stylish packaging of life — for better or worse, our notions of high-design have been both influenced and propelled by what we've seen on the silver screen. Architecture, cars and clothing frame the actors we worship, and in turn, earn their own small spots in the star system. Screengrab's Phil Nugent walks us through five films in which design nearly stole the show.

My Man Godfrey (1936)

In this Depression-era comedy, a palatial apartment, decorated to match Carole Lombard's hair, played on the audience's desire for wealth.

Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles's use of large block fonts on monumental posters in his most famous film foreshadowed the pop-art movement of the 1960s.



Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Director Alexander Mackendrick's decision to shoot on location in Times Square helped give Tony Curtis's performance its shadowy, high-energy metabolism.

L'Avventura (1960)

In the '50s and early '60s, stylish Americans wanted to dress like stylish Italians, a fact that Antonioni capitalized on.

Eraserhead (1977)

David Lynch's unmistakable aesthetic reflected a DIY sensibility central to '70s and '80s punk.




©2008 Phil Nugent and Nerve.com