Leaning boards ( also called Slant boards) were invented for Hollywood players to relax between takes. Frequently, the costumes were cut on the bias, and tailored so snugly that the actor could not sit down without bursting a ladder of seams. In fact, most of the time, there were no zippers or buttons on the costumes. Actors were sewn into their garments.
So, when you see Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight, and marvel at the impeccable fit of the famous white silk gown, be aware that Harlow’s mobility was severely limited. In fact, just breathing was something of a chore.
These days, leaning boards are still in use, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
We continue our survey of the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1950s.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1940s, click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1930s click here.
For the Twenty Greatest Movies of the 1920s click here.
19. Some Like It Hot, 1959.
“Look at that!” Jack Lemmon tells Tony Curtis as he watches Marilyn Monroe in awe. “Look how she moves. Like Jell-O on springs. She must have some sort of built-in motor. I tell you, it’s a whole different sex.”
Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s screenplay for Some Like It Hot, which some consider the greatest comedy ever produced, nails the Marilyn Monroe personae with an exactitude that is almost frightening.
Ever since there were movie stars there have been star product endorsements.
Corporations and their advertising companies were quick to understand that those larger than life figures floating like angels on the silver screen were potent persuaders. Thus, the synergistic relationship between one product, the movie star, and a consumer product — cigarettes, perfume, makeup, whatever — was born, and continues with increasing power and sophistication to this very day.
The idea is simplicity itself: Buy me, be me.