MODERNIZED VICTORIAN BACKGROUNDS
GIVE SOPHISTICATED AIR
WE have come to regard the fascinating back
grounds used in motion picture sets as charm
ingly idealistic but impractical and quite beyond the
average purse. This is not necessarily true, for
many of the home interior scenes are comparatively
simple and could be easily and inexpensively dupli
cated. Often it is merely the proper use of wall
paper as a background.
For the most part the charm of motion picture
interiors lies not so much in the use of costly fur
nishings as in the carefully planned co-ordination
of wall coverings and furnishings. It is the rule of
motion picture sets that the background must ac
complish precisely what it is intended to doto
strike the keynote of mood or feeling of the setting.
And just as in real life this keynote must harmonize
with and enhance the personality of the character
belonging in that setting.
Retail dealers will readily concede that only
through the ensemble idea of harmonizing wall
paper with fabrics, floor covering, and furnishings
can the most satisfactory results be obtained. In
terior decorators strive for this goal of co-ordination,
yet few carry out the idea with the consistency of
the decorators of motion picture sets.
Motion picture designers are not purists in any
sense of the word, for although the keynote struck
in the wall covering is carried through to the
minutest detail, still several different periods and
styles are combined in a single set. None-the-less
so carefully are these different elements chosen that
the result is usually pleasing and always expresses a
As an example of how this scene mood is ob
tained, modernized Victorian design is much in
vogue at the present time to express an air of smart
modern sophistication. In the setting from "For
saking All Others," illustrated here, Cedric Gibbons,
E. B. Willis and Fred Hope of the M-G-M studios
have created a smart 1934 drawing room as a scene
of sophisticated entertainment.
Against a background of brilliant yellow wallpaper
with a pattern of grey and white leaves the scene
is built. Nineteenth century furniture of three
countries is combined successfully in this grouping.
The chintz sofa with its shell pattern in blue and
white was adopted from the Civil War period. The
two cabinets in fruitwood are Venetian. The tufted
back chair is English Regency. The essentially
modern flower painting adds a decidedly modern
touch but is Victorianized by a silver frame that
suggests the rococo curves of past eras.
Carrying the idea still further, the alabaster lamps
have shades of blue net over white silk with large
blue velvet bows. The curtain treatment uses color
in quantity and yet the effect is smart and pleasing.
Lemon yellow satin striped moire curtains are
trimmed with sapphire blue ball fringe and held up
with blue cords and tassels. The carpets are grey
with accents of sapphire blue in the shell.
Although motion pictures necessarily lose the
color values of the settings, the harmony of hues
remain. While usually not so much attention is
given to the color plan as to the harmony of in
tensities and design this set has a very definite color
scheme of lemon yellow, sapphire blue, dove grey,
and white. Many different color variations, how
ever, would produce practically the same effect pho
The staircase of this motion picture home is in
the same Victorian style and offers an interesting
study in lines. Striped wallpaper in tones of yel
lows and blues carries the vertical feeling of the
balusters in direct contrast to the horizontal lines
of the late Empire sofa. White rhododendrons are
refreshing in the Empire flower stand.
In the same production the feeling of a smart but
comfortable library is effected by the use of Chinese
floral wallpaper. Trees, birds, and flowers in green,
cream yellow and coral set the keynote. Against
such a background mahogany and old Chinese por
celain are especially pleasing. The two chairs are
upholstered in cream corded velvets. The carpet is
On the opposite side of the same room a fine
breakfront mahogany bookcase between two win
dows is the dominating factor. Curtains are the
same color as the background of the wallpaper. The
Chinese influence is evident in the curtain cornices
and the ornaments. The lamps also are of Chinese
design. Pickled pine stands are pleasing against
coral colored Venetian blinds. Georgian mahogany
furniture of the Chippendale era is used.
In each of these settings the individuality of the
character to be portrayed is clearly and definitely
delineated by the use of backgrounds built up from
carefully chosen wallpaper designs.
By Charles F. Berry.