Friday, October 23, 2015

Set Dressing

How would we set dress* our lives, if they were a TV show?

I'm enjoying paying attention to the 1970s backdrop of Starsky and Hutch, like I enjoyed finding the 1960s design influences in Star Trek.
But of course, S&H is set on Earth––the Earth of my teenage years, so I recognize some of the props.
Curious about how they'd dressed the set for Hutch's home, I slowed and rewatched a scene of it.
That fuzzy poster on the wall. [Recognize it?] Is that, could that be....

Sure enough.
It's "In Bed" (1893)--one of a series of paintings Toulouse-Lautrec did of two women lovers who worked as prostitutes in Paris:

And in the shadowy room behind Hutch is what looks like a Toulouse-Lautrec poster. T-L created art to be posters, so it makes sense they were popular on 1970s walls, as were Alphonse Mucha's posters.

I wonder if college-age people still put them up?

"In Bed" is sort of an odd choice, but I imagine it's not meant to signify much--this was, after all, long before viewers could freeze-frame video-- except to reflect that Hutch went to college, an accomplishment he lords over Starsky in one scene. (Did he study art history?)

Some fans say Hutch is the son of a doctor or lawyer, but upper-middle class people don't brag about going to college. Of course you go to college.

Having just returned from Duluth, I suspect Hutch is a Hillsider--someone who grew up in the working-class hillside neighborhoods, the ones that take the brunt of Lake Superior winds, where you have to push the lawnmower up and down a slanted lawn.
Maybe Hutch could watch from his bedroom window ocean-going ships pass under the aerial lift bridge. 

Painting above, "Over Duluth", by Brian Stewart

I learned the term "hillsider" from the title of the autobiography of current young mayor (40 when he took office), Don Ness: 
 Hillsider: Snapshots of a Curious Political Journey.

It's set-dressed with photos and art, like a really cool website.
The center quote of the "Craft Beer Capitol" spread reads:
Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.  ––Charles de Gaulle

Duluth reminds me of that other inland port city, Portland, OR, but seedier still, and with far less hipsters. Maybe like Portland was pre-1990s?

Ness is kind of a hipster--he could definitely be a character in Portlandia, like the former mayor of Portland, Sam Adams [real name] who appears on the show as an aide to the fictional mayor played by Kyle MacLachlan (from Twin Peaks):

*SET DRESSER, from Film Connection
"The set dresser on a movie is responsible for making the location of every scene look convincing. This may sound easy, but in the magical (i.e. fake) world of movies, this can mean turning a dilapidated warehouse into a swinging 1960s nightclub, or a sunny California bungalow into a "snow"-covered French cottage. One of the set dresser's primary responsibilities is to select the props that will decorate every scene. If it's a period film, it's especially important to be historically accurate, often down to the year that any given product came on the market. (Found a great vintage coffee pot that came out in 1965, but your movie takes place in 1964? Dump it–or face the online wrath of eagle-eyed movie-goers everywhere.)"

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