The Yellow Rolls Royce Film

Film review: The Yellow Rolls Royce

A while ago we reviewed the film The Damned by Luchino Visconti and paid particular attention to the clothing of the male actors. Today, we want to continue in this spirit and take a closer look at the movie The Yellow Rolls Royce, which was directed by Anthony Asquith and aired in 1964.

The Plot

The film is an anthology of three “love” stories that are all connected by The Yellow Rolls Royce.

The Yellow Rolls Royce Film PosterLord Frinton, Royal Ascot and His Wife

First, the movie starts off with a rather short sequence of barely 34 minutes that takes place sometime during the reign of King George V. In the introductory scene, we see how a new Rolls Royce is delivered to the dealer. Once the car is on display, the aristocrat and official of the British Foreign & Colonial Office,Lord Charles Frinton, also known as the Marquess of Frinton, lays his eyes on this car. Lord Frinton, personified by Rex Harrison, forgot his and his wife’s 10th wedding anniversary on June 10th, and now he wants to make up for it by buying the new, yellow Rolls Royce Phantom for his wife. In such day and age, it was normal to ask for certain customizations on the inside, and so the shape of the decanter is changed, the telephone moved to the left, and the back seat is shortened to match the ladyship’s leg length – what a service!

With the new Rolls Royce, the Marquess and the Marchioness of Frinton drive to the famous Royal Ascot horse race, where the horse-loving Lord hopes to win the Gold Cup this year. Just as his own horse, which is ironically named June 10th, wins the Gold Cup, he encounters his wife in the arms of his assistant Faynes in the yellow Rolls Royce. On the way home, they talk about their future relationship and both come to the conclusion to forget and continue as usual. However, in order to better cope with the pain, Lord Frinton decides to sell the car, and so the first part ends.

The Mafia, A Fiancée & Alain Delon

Collar Pin & Tie Stick Pin

Collar Pin & Tie Stick Pin

20,023 miles later, the Phantom ends up in Genoa, Italy where the second sequence begins. After an interlude with a Maharajah, who lost it again after gambling at the Casino San Remo in Monte Carlo, the New York Mafioso Paolo Maltese (George C. Scott) becomes the new temporary owner.

Maltese brought along his ditzy American fiancée Mae Jenkins (Shirley Maclaine) who is nothing but bored of Italy, until she meets the photographer & gigolo Stefano (Alain Delon). While Paolo must return on a business trip to Miami, Stefano seduces Mae – where else than in the yellow Rolls Royce. However, the all of a sudden Mae decides that this love has no future and leaves Stefano heartbroken.

Smuggling, Resistance & Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman

In the year 1941, the yellow Phantom arrives in the city of Trieste, close to the Yugoslavian border where the actress Gerda Millet (Ingrid Berman) is driven to Yugoslavia. The Yugoslavian resistance fighter Davich (Omar Sharif) asks Mrs. Millet, who is on her way to visit King Peter, for a ride into his home country, hidden in the trunk of the Rolls Royce. Soon thereafter, Millet is involved in supporting the resistance fighters, transporting them in her yellow Rolls Royce. At last, with an in an emotional farewell, Millett decides to return to the US America while Davich remains fighting.

Altogether, I have to admit I found the plots disappointing because they are rather transparent and the scenes are basically taken out of context. It is nearly impossible to relate to the characters since the sequences are so short. As a consequence, the famous actors cannot indulge us with top notch acting, and the plot seems shallow and unconnected.

The Clothes

Unlike the plot, the wardrobe of the actors is splendid, especially in the first two plots.

Morning & Evening Wear

The film starts off with Lord Frinton in a Stresemann suit: black jacket, black 6 x 3 double breasted waistcoat with FOB watch and key chain in gold. He also wears black & grey striped trousers, a white shirt, a silver tie, a white pocket square, a ring on his left pinky finger, a blue boutonniere (also known as buttonhole), black shoes and a Homburg hat. Of course, he carries an umbrella as well as a pair of gloves with him – just like the well dressed London Gentleman used to do it. Noteworthy in this combination is the slip – the white strips underneath the waistcoat that look almost like a separate vest. In fact, it is simply Marcella fabric that is buttoned to the inside of the waistcoat. These simple details will add even more elegance to such a classic ensemble!

Later, we seem him in a very classic white tie ensemble with a white stiff fronted shirt and polished detachable collar, butterfly bow tie, and studs. The pants have two slim braids, just as the proper British evening etiquette dictates it.

The next day, the Lord and his guests are off to Royal Ascot. In the movie, you can see a number of scenes where you find all kinds of gentlemen in a great variety of morning wear. Light grey morning suits, grey toppers, black top hats, striped morning trousers…simply spoken, it’s sartorial eye candy!

 

Casual suits and combinations

In the second sequence we see Paolo Maltese in an off white 6×3 suits that has some black piping along the slanted pockets, a black triangle accent just above the back vent, and an horizontal black accent on his off white waistcoat. On his head, he wears a silver snap brim with a black and silver ribbon. On his feet you can spot a pair of black and white spectators. Also, he enjoys his cane as well as his snap brim felt hats or Panama hats. While the pocket square is red, his tie is blue and pink and interestingly he wears it with a tie stick pin as well as with a collar pin. This is a bit much for a well dressed gentleman and hence it harmonizes perfectly with his flashy Mafioso character.

While Paolo keeps changing throughout the scenes from a plaid sportscoat to a navy chalk stripe suit, his chauffeur wears a light brown suit with overplaids in white and dark brown for most of the time. He wears it either with a bow tie or a tie and tops it off with a boater and spectator shoes.

Livery

Other than the main characters, the clothes of the staff is spot on. On the one hand, the sommelier wears a tastevin around his neck and his tailcoat’s lapels are only partly covered with silk, which looks very elegant. On the other hand, the Italian server wears a black tie with his tail suit and blue waistcoat, so he is distinctly different than the guest that might show up in full fig (white tie ensemble).

Summary

Altogether I must say, that the clothes stood well above the acting and plot. Especially, the fit of the clothes of Rex Harrison are top notch. Everything drapes nicely, the collars do not stand away and every detail is meticulously accurate.

Therefore, I can recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in tailoring, men’s clothing and accessories.

The DVD of The Yellow Rolls-Royce may be purchased for $15.99 at amazon or those of you who have Netflix may watch it here.

6 replies
  1. Barima
    Barima says:

    I watched this film two or three times last year. Thank God for Turner Classic Movies

    Generally speaking, this is a cogent review; I found the plot exceedingly sprawling, particularly given the talents involved – Ingrid Bergman remains stoic and Shirley Maclaine’s performance is particularly game – but the wardrobes, the scenery, the production values and the elegantly flamboyant car paper over some of these missteps. Harrison and Delon were my favourites

    All best from Mode Parade,

    B

  2. Hayden
    Hayden says:

    How could you possibly review the fashion of this film without a mention of Stefano’s swim suit???? The white towel hat alone is worthy of an award

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Hayden,
      Thanks for pointing out the swim suit. Belted swimsuits were rather normal back then. Unlike in the US, in Europe this kind of swimsuit would probably not draw too much attention although even there, the belts have on a swimsuit have generally vanished.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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