Welcome to FrockTalk, the web’s only costume-based movie review site. The goal of Frocktalk is to shed light on the magnificent artistry of costume design in motion pictures. Reviews on this site are written by working costume designers in the entertainment industry – people who know, better than anyone, what it takes to make it all happen. The focus of FrockTalk is not to comment on the big flashy costume dramas, but to call attention to the seemingly ordinary costume design work in film that silently and persuasively moves the audience toward understanding the characters. Costume design for motion pictures is an art form that deserves more recognition than it usually gets. Fancy, pretty costumes do not always equal effective, appropriate costumes. The art of the costume is in letting the audience know who the character is, before the actor even has a chance to open his mouth. Read on, and enjoy. ** CAUTION: ALL REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS! **

LAST PICTURE SHOW – Interview: Nancy McArdle

Photo Courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you an interview I conducted with Last Picture Show costumer Nancy McArdle.  She was gracious enough to respond to my million questions via email, and this is what she had to say about the making of LPS:

I am sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you.   My life seems to have been very busy lately.  Last Picture Show was a lot of pictures ago, but I will tell you as much as I remember.

Hollywood work was very slow at that time and the unions made concessions for movies with budgets under $1,000,000.  It was a smaller crew and everyone helped everyone.  There was Mickey Sherrard, who was supervisor and myself.  We added another Hollywood male costumer while we were shooting.  We stayed in Wichita Falls, TX about forty minutes away from the town.  We stayed in a Ramada Inn or something like that. The shooting schedule was about forty days.  We prepped the show in LA.

Polly Platt, who oversaw the look of the show, put an add in The Valley Greensheet, a local valley paper, asking to buy clothing from the late 40’s or early 50’s.  The response was amazing.  These purchased clothes were the bulk of our stock.  Polly had also bought a rack of clothes from MGM Studios.  They were selling all their wardrobe, props etc. at that time.  These clothes were our better stock.  We also had access to Columbia Studios but got very little from them.

We had a wardrobe space in the production office in Archer City.  Most everything we shot was around the town.  As I mentioned, Polly Platt did set the look for the movie.  She oversaw everything.  I was a costumer.  She was also married to the director.  We had no made to order……..no money.  No ager dyer.  Any ageing dyeing we did ourselves.  It was rare in those days to have an ager dyer assigned to one show.

There was a dry cleaner in town that was really helpful.  They got the clothes turned around in a couple of hours.  There were a lot of stories from that movie, but some are better left untold.  It did set off the careers of many actors.  It was a very good experience.
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Nancy, THANK YOU for your memories of this classic show.  I am still amazed by the whole “put-an-ad-in-the-paper-and-get-1940s-1950s-clothing”  AMAZING!!  And no made-to-order!  Also amazing!!  This movie looks wonderful, especially considering it was less than $1M.  Hats off to Polly Platt, Nancy McArdle and Mickey Sherrard!  Job well done, everyone!!

-KMB

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