Costumes not only aid world-building and provide non-verbal insights into character and situation. But they also leave an indelible impact on culture as we know it when done well. And no one grasped the significance of this more than Edith Head. Whether it was set in the Old West, the cobblestone lanes of Rome, or WWII Brazil, Head’s 50-year career in costume design presented story after narrative. Though she was a part of hundreds of fantastic films, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten that best highlight Head’s abilities.
Table of Contents
1. All About Eve (1950)
Director- Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Margo Channing is the idol of Eve Harrington and a friend of playwright Lloyd Richards and his wife Karen. She is also in love with director Bill Simpson. When Eve becomes Margo’s secretary-aide, she begins to exert control, mailing Bill Margo birthday greetings and planning a party for him, which causes Margo to erupt. When Margo is absent from a performance, Eve becomes Margo’s understudy, and critic Addison DeWitt praises Eve while making snide remarks about ageing performers like Margo. Eve tries to persuade Karen to take the lead in Lloyd’s new play during Margo and Bill’s engagement celebration. Margo announces her retirement to Lloyd. Eve is cast in the role, but Addison informs her that he is aware of the lies and machinations she used to get there.
2. Notorious (1946)
Director- Alfred Hitchcock
Alicia Huberman is a sassy young lady who enjoys alcohol and men; her father was a German spy in the United States who committed suicide in prison. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, government agent Devlin begs the girl to spy on a gathering of her father’s Nazi buddies. This could be her opportunity to clear her name. The girl falls in love with the agent, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in her lifestyle. Alicia accepts the assignment and joins Devlin in Brazil.
Alicia informs the US Agents that Sebastian has proposed to her and asks if she should accept his proposal. They agree after a brief conversation, and she follows suit. Alicia steals the key to the wine cellar at a party and delivers it to Devlin. They locate some uranium dust in Sebastian’s canteen, but he has now realised Alicia is a spy and is poisoning her on a daily basis.
3. She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Director- Lowell Sherman
Lady Lou works at local politician Gus Jordan’s saloon in the Bowery as a successful saloon singer. She’s a popular girl who attracts a lot of men’s attention, though she’s attracted to a lot of men as well. Chick Clark, her envious boyfriend, is in prison and tells her not to betray him or he’ll murder her. Captain Cummings, the head of a Salvation Army-like Mission next door, piques Lou’s curiosity. She buys the building so they – and the Captain – may stay when she learns they couldn’t pay the rent. Clark rushes to Jordan’s saloon after breaking free from prison. Cummings, on the other hand, isn’t quite who he appears to be.
4. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Director- Billy Wilder
Joe Gillis, an unknown screenplay writer in Hollywood in the 1950s, is unable to sell his work to studios, is in debt, and is considering returning to his hometown to work in an office. He gets a flat tyre while attempting to flee his creditors and parks his automobile in a sumptuous home on Sunset Boulevard. He meets Norma Desmond, the owner and former silent-film star who lives alone with her butler and driver Max Von Mayerling. Norma is insane and believes she will return to the film profession. She is shielded from the world by Max, her former director and husband, who still loves her.
Joe accepts Norma’s invitation to move into the mansion and assist her in developing a screenplay for her return to the silver screen, and the small-time writer becomes her lover and gigolo. When Joe falls in love with Betty Schaefer, a young aspiring writer, Norma becomes enraged and deranged, and her lunacy leads to a horrible conclusion.
5. Roman Holiday (1953)
Director- William Wyler
Princess Anne is about to go on a well-publicized tour of European capitals. She begins to fight against her prescribed schedule when she and her royal entourage arrive in Rome. Anne sneaks out of her apartment one night and jumps into the back of a delivery truck, escaping her opulent imprisonment. However, the Princess falls fast asleep on a public seat as a sedative she was compelled to take earlier begins to take effect. Joe Bradley, an American newspaper correspondent stationed in Rome, discovers her. He returns to his residence with her. Joe rushes off the next morning to cover Princess Anne’s press conference, completely ignorant that she is sleeping on his couch. Joe promises his editor an exclusive interview with the Princess once he discovers his good fortune.
6. To Catch A Thief (1955)
Director- Alfred Hitchcock
John Robie, formerly known as “The Cat,” the handsome, retired jewel thief, has been living quietly in his picture-perfect home on the cosmopolitan, sun-kissed Côte d’Azur for more than a decade. However, someone is on the loose on the French Riviera, and with a string of heinous diamond robberies plaguing Cannes, John will have no choice but to return to action to clear his name. Indeed, John is caught between a rock and a hard place, and to make matters worse, Frances Stevens, a sleek and savvy nouveau-riche heiress, has his number.
7. A Place In The Sun (1951)
Director- George Stevens
George Eastman, a young up-and-comer, is thrown into the blue-collar world of a wealthy uncle’s family business, where he is expected to learn the ropes from the ground up. Eastman falls in love with Alice Tripp, a simple, trusting girl on the assembly line, while paying his dues. When Eastman finally meets the beautiful, smart Angela Vickers, he instantly forgets about Alice. Only Alice will be difficult to get rid of, especially because their affair is going to provide an unexpected and unwelcome payoff.
8. White Christmas (1954)
Director- Michael Curtiz
Bob Wallace and Phil Davis form a successful partnership after World War II, eventually becoming top Broadway producers. Bob agrees to see the Haynes sisters, Betty and Judy, in a nightclub act as a favour for their brother, who served with Bob and Phil in the war. When Phil sees that Bob is captivated with Betty, he plans to join them to their play at a small Vermont Inn. Imagine their surprise when they hear that the owner is Major General Tom Waverley, their former commanding officer. He’s put his life savings and pension into the venture, but it hasn’t snowed yet, and he appears to be on the point of bankruptcy. They devise a strategy to assist the General, but a misunderstanding causes a gap between Bob and Betty, leaving Phil and Judy to try to mend their relationship.
9. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969)
Director- George Roy Hill
Butch Cassidy, the smart leader of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, and his taciturn and lethal buddy, the Sundance Kid, looted trains and banks for a living around the turn of the twentieth century in Wyoming. After a bungled train robbery, the criminal team ends themselves in far-off Bolivia to take up where they left off, with the famed Indian tracker Lord Baltimore and the lethal posse of the unrelenting lawman Joe Lefors hard on their tail.
10. The Sting (1973)
Director- George Roy Hill
When Johnny Hooker, a small-time thief, conducts a normal street scam, he unwittingly steals from Doyle Lonnegan, a big-time crime lord. For the insult, Lonnegan expects satisfaction. Hooker flees after his colleague, Luther, is slain and seeks the assistance of Henry Gondorff, one of Luther’s connections and a master of the long con. Because Hooker acknowledges he “doesn’t know enough about killing to kill him,” he wants to use Gondorff’s expertise to take Lonnegan for a large quantity of money to level the score.
They concoct a complex plot and assemble a talented bunch of scam artists who want a piece of the restitution pie. In this game, the stakes are high, and our heroes must cope not only with Lonnegan’s violent tendencies, but also with other side players who want a piece of the action. Hooker and Gondorff will need all of their skills and a lot of confidence to win.