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Silver Screen Scenes (4)

Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley is set in the late 1950′s. Highsmith was a Texas-bred, American novelist who is known mainly for her psychological crime thrillers which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations. The movie’s plot revolves around a New Yorker, Tom Ripley, a young underachiever who was a lavatory assistant, is sent to Europe to retrieve a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy, named Dickie Greenleaf. When Mr. Ripley’s errand fails, he takes extreme, bizarre, and unique measures to make the jet set lifestyle’s privileges his own. The strange, eerie and atmospheric cinematography, set design, and costumes fit the story beautifully.

The movie was mainly filmed in Italy with landmarks in the cities of Rome and Venice used as a backdrop for the narrative. Released in 1999, one of its initial reviews  by Andrew Sarris for The New York Observer writes, “On balance, The Talented Mr. Ripley is worth seeing more for its undeniably delightful journey than its final destination. Perhaps wall-to-wall amorality and triumphant evil leave too sour an aftertaste even for the most sophisticated anti-Hollywood palate”. Most critics, and more importantly, audiences agree that this film is an intelligent and suspenseful exploration of artistry, scenery, and ethics.

The backdrops and filming locations are described as “lusciously seductive”. Using a patchwork of European locales, the film recreates an Europe of the late 1950′s and early 1960′s. Mr. Ripley leaves from New York City to arrive in an Art Deco Palermo and then off to the the fictional Italian resort town of ‘Mongibello’. The director interprets this as the actual Ischia Ponte, Ischia, Italy.  Most of the street scenes are filmed in the closely San Rocco, Corricella, Procida, Italy. For complete information on the meticulously crafted locales, go HERE.

Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

Image found HERE.

At one point, Mr. Greenleaf stays at the ACTUAL St. Regis in Rome. European, Renaissance opulence at its finest.

Image found HERE.

The Bottega Veneta Suites at St. Regis designed by Tomas Maier, found HERE.

St. Regis Rome Designer Suite’s Living Room. Situated in Rome, the capital city of Italy and of the Lazio region.

Designer Suite Entrance to the St. Regis Rome, Detail, image found HERE. 

One can recreate the lifestyle by surrounding oneself with plush fabrics, italian busts, marble countertops, art deco accents, colorful facades, gilded mirrors, woven persian rugs,  atelier urns, ornate chandeliers, wicker cafe tables, European mannerist paintings from the 16th century. The key is lavish, exuberant, and ostentatious details! This bric-a-brac of items can be found throughout several scenes in the film, with a particular focus on mirrors (as an esoteric and philosophical challenge to Mr. Ripley…who is he?).  Believe it or not, comfort isn’t exactly what these spendthrifts are about.

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 (frame) / 11 (art)

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Silver Screen Scenes (2)

I remember my first love. It was a summer in the 1960′s. I was on holiday. We met in the Catskills. He was a tough, misunderstood, ne’er-do-well dance instructor with great hair. I was a naive, privileged, daddy’s girl who wanted to take a walk on the wild side. Wait, Wait, Wait, that wasn’t me.  That was Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) in Dirty Dancing. I have watched this movie an uncountable and incalculable number of times – case in point – I used to have “CRAZY FOR SWAYZE” sleepover nights with girlfriends.

Keep Calm and Carry a Watermelon (Screencaps Here).

Dirty Dancing is meant to capture a time in American history before families vacationed at Disney World or took International Cruises, before people were heading to the Bahamas or Cancun, families wholesomely vacationed in New York’s Catskill Mountains. From the 1920′s until the 1960′s, families often traveled to now mostly defunct summer camps – colloquially termed “Jewish Alps” or the “Borscht Belt”. The movie is scripted to take place during the decline of these camps and the onslaught of commercial airline travel. Well-known resorts of the area included Brickman’s, Brown’s, The Concord, Friar Tuck Inn, Gibber’s, Gilbert’s, Grossinger’s, Granit, the Heiden Hotel, Irvington, Kutsher’s Hotel and Country Club, the Nevele, The Laurels Hotel and Country Club, and The Pines Resort.

c. 1940s postcard of the Pine Tree Villa, a primarily Jewish resort at Kiamesha Lake, New York in the Borscht Belt of the Catskill Mountains!  Finely detailed image, showing layout of many of the resort’s buildings, including the casino and tennis courts to the left.  Was run by Greenberg & Son. The unused postcard can be purchased HERE.

GROSSINGER’S: The resort’s huge pool in the 1950s (Here).

The indoor and outdoor pool at GROSSINGER’S, dilapidated and in disrepair as of 2008 (Here).

My mom remembers a time when she used to visit these summer camps! She told me that such comedic legends at Woody Allen, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, Carl Reiner, George Burns, Mel Brooks, Fanny Brice, Bea Arthur and Joan Rivers got their start at these hotel resorts. Amazing actresses and entertainers such as Carole King, Shari Lewis, Mel Torme, Barbara Streisand, and Joel Grey also performed yearly at the establishments. These establishments were also some of the only places wherein African American performers were allowed to frequent (before Civil Rights) and was referred to as “The Chitlin Circuit”. The Supremes, Duke Ellington, The Four Tops, Etta James, Cab Calloway, and Smokey Robinson are some of the famous acts who frequented east coast resort towns. Clearly the performance halls and boarding houses nestled in the counties of Upstate New York have had an everlasting effect on the landscape of entertainment. However, has anyone yearned for the decor of this time period?