Saturday, April 30, 2011

GWTW Behind-the-Scenes: Fitch Fulton and the Original Tara Movie painting

Image  and text below from
This matte painting was sold at $32,500.00
"(MGM, 1939) When David O. Selznick was preparing Gone With the Wind, he gathered together some of the most talented cinematic artists in Hollywood at the time, realizing that the film would need a number of effective matte paintings to save on costs and embellish the elaborate sets. The team of artists consisted of photographic effects supervisor, Jack Cosgrove, Albert Simpson, who was skilled at blending mattes with live-action components, and Fitch Fulton, who later worked as an uncredited matte artist on Citizen Kane, and on the technical staff of Mighty Joe Young. Fulton is probably best remembered as a talented landscape painter, focusing on Southern California and the Sierra Nevada, and as the father of effects man John Fulton. It was Fitch Fulton and Albert Simpson who sketched the mattes for Gone With the Wind on thirty-by-forty inch Masonite boards, providing Tara with walls that were never built, bringing Atlanta back from the devastating fire, and rendering the many realistic details that brought the Civil War era to life on the screen. There were more than one hundred shots in Gone With the Wind that incorporated matte paintings. When it came to the matte work for the opening credits in the film, Fitch Fulton was the artist who came up with the concept based on the research, paintings, sketches and original architectural plans supplied by Kurtz, Cosgrove, Simpson, Menzies and others on the art department team. Offered here is the original production master painting of Tara by Fulton, executed in oil on Masonite with rich, vibrant color worthy of this important subject. In this painting, Tara is presented as a sprawling estate on a working plantation in the Old South, set behind a tree with a neatly kept path angling up to the door. This is the master concept artwork of Tara, and the original design from which the matte paintings were then rendered. It differs slightly from the final matte paintings, which were sketched using an entirely different process with pastels on chalk board and featuring a large black area where the actors could be inserted. The painting is inscribed at the lower right by Fitch Fulton, “To John from Dad 43”, at the time he presented this painting as a gift to his son, John. An incredibly important piece of original artwork from the film, this production master painting is one of the finest artifacts to have survived the 60+ years since the release of Gone With the Wind. Measures 36¼ in. x 32¼ in. Provenance: From the estate of Fitch Fulton."

While it may be a sad thought that the original matte painting was sold by the estate of Fitch Fulton, the lighter side is it must be hanging in one rich person's room taken cared of. Scarlett would think otherwise though: "I can't let Tara go...while I've got breath in my body."  Land is the only thing that matters as Gerald O' Hara would put it. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lost and Found: Tonner Scarlett O' Hara Blue Portrait

Ordered last December...found before Easter Sunday. Timely. Just when I had accepted the fate of this doll, I get a surprise email from my courier in New York who said it had been found! I think this is very late in the game. There are valid reviews about it. I agree with all but allow me to add a few. As one member in the Franklin Mint Doll Yahoo Group said:  "Franklin Mint is missing a moneymaker here". In Ebay alone, where the FM blue portrait ensemble can still be seen (albeit rarely), it sells for about $300 dollars. That's enough to get you a good sofa for the living room! But since its manufacture, FM has ceased developing more of this. Enter Tonner. Tonner's Blue Portrait version misses the splendour of what this gown could be. It is so stiff with its hard tulle sewn inside the gown that the doll can do without a stand. Thus, the draping that could have captured light and shadow is gone. Second, the material. Unlike the FM version, the velvet seems to have been dyed and dyed with a lackluster finish. The FM version has a good reflect and offers good draping on the doll -- even on a Tonner Scarlett.  But nevertheless, you may be asking why I ordered it? Why go through all the trouble of paying, losing, being frustrated and losing all the thrill because of its absence?
The answer is simple -- it is I believe one of the powerful dresses that Scarlett is seen wearing in the film -- and seen in just seconds! The actress is never seen wearing it in action, it is seen in Rhett Butler's bedroom, and  which he throws a glass of alcohol at -- poor painting! And yet it is one of the most desired by GWTW doll collectors. Despite the miss, it remains an ensemble any GWTW doll collector must have.

The doll here has had a haircut, leaving the length of the curls at the back and the first two on both sides cut in a descending manner -- just so they would touch the shoulders. The hairline has been painstakingly repainted to make her more realistic too and to frame the face better. More photos up soon!
If you look closely, you'll see that the doll was made to have a wedding ring.
Scarlett would have preferred a diamond to go with it, I think.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tonner Antoinette: Night at the Opera

I was fortunate enough to have found a seller who had this ensemble. She's a mother of two whose husband suffered a recent stroke and thus, needed sell the Franklin Mint Gibson Girl's Night at the Opera.   I had urged her to check ebay for its actual sale as she would probably have sold it higher there, but still she offered this for me. I had long to have this worn by Scarlett but unfortunately, it would not fit the Tyler body mold. Luckily it was a good enough fit for Tonner Antoinette. I will post more photos on the details of this outfit. Over-all it is rich in texture, details are impeccable (!!) and it it all "in scale". 
The cloth drapes beautifully and the black soft tulle edged with lace detail adds to the elegance of the doll. She wears a generous amount of beading on her shoulder, necklace and on the feathered hat (I have no idea yet on what to call it). The beads do not look cheap and are "plum" in color. She also comes with dark gloves which do not fit the Tonner doll so I thought of just putting that away (it would've added to the luxurious opera feel though).  

This is truly a testimony of Franklin Mint's reputation in doll dress detail -- the purse is detailed with gold molds and old rose satin. Truly a very vintage feel in every detail. The hair of this doll has been styled just for this photo shoot. 

What I truly admire about the Tonner Antoinette mold is the expressions that are possible with its body and hands.  She is always picture perfect! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tonner A Sensible Notion: Jane Austen Romance Portraits

Pride and Prejudice (Restored Edition)Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (6 Piece Collector's Box Set) [VHS]The Making of Pride and Prejudice (BBC)Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E, 1996)Pride & Prejudice [Music from the Motion Picture]Pride and Prejudice Poster 27x40 Colin Firth Jennifer Ehle David Bamber

The Regency period silhouette, in which Jane Austen's characters lived, was known as the "Empire" silhouette -- still used during these days for weddings I hear (and known by dressmakers as the "empire cut"). "Closely-fitted at the torso and falling loosely below" as described by Wikipedia is common in book covers of Jane Austen novels. One can notice that portraits of these always come with a shawl.(All images below are from

I was not much interested in this fashion for dolls, much enchanted by the full sway of GWTW full skirts. 
But just as GWTW had enchanted me by its story and film, eventually spinning my love for GWTW fashion, my attention was drawn to the Regency fashion by yet another woman writer and her lead female character who was progressive as Scarlett O' Hara -- albeit not as scandalous.

Pride and Prejudice came to my attention when my sister nudged a DVD of the BBC adaptation of the novel in a mini-series starring the (then) young Colin Firth and a young actress named Jennifer Ehle. I set it aside for awhile and was prompted only to watch it when I chanced upon a scene of it in youtube. The link provides you with one of the highpoints of the series: Darcy's proposal. I was struck not only by how well these two actors delivered Austen-esque dialogue and also -- Jennifer Ehle's similarity to Meryl Streep in looks.
Ehle I believe is an underrated actress -- by Hollywood standards. She desires to keep a low profile I believe (too sad for the industry) and focuses on family, stage and some TV projects that come her way. She is also daughter of Rosemary Harris -- an equally accomplished actress (who plays Spiderman's -- Toby Maguire's -- aunt).
Jennifer Ehle, an accomplished actress who I wish would get more lead roles and more movies.
She and Colin Firth used to date during "Pride and Prejudice". They reunite much to the delight of P&P fans  in "The King's Speech". She reminds me of Meryl Streep.
I would encourage anyone to watch this version which is closest to the Austen novel.
Here you see a young Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.
Jennifer Ehle wins the BAFTA here for Best Actress.  She is also a 2-time Tony Award Winner and and a recipient of a Lawrence Olivier acting award. 
Pride and Prejudice, like GWTW is about love witheld, a progressive woman, it has wild and witty (albeit more intellectual) repartee between the lead subjects of the novel. Elizabeth Bennett is a strong, will-fulled woman caught in an era where it was a woman's main pursuit and aspired destiny  to be married, catch a rich husband and live comfortably. Like Scarlett, Elizabeth Bennett characterization implied the great Scarlett conviction: "why does a girl have to act so silly to catch a husband?" Unlike Scarlett however, Elizabeth Bennett is progressive by her independence and convictions, refusing to marry for comfort nor convenience. It is this attitude that eventually captures the eye of the proud and wealthy Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Austen doesn't paint Elizabeth Bennett as a beauty. Darcy notes this: "not enough charm to tempt me". But it is her rare, and progressive attitude that stands out during those times that eventually makes him proclaim his proposal of marriage. The story doesn't end there and you'll have to read the book to find out how it all ends. 
Image from

Margaret Mitchell must have been an accomplished reader too and must have read Austen well to create a strong feminine lead who thought differently amidst and beyond women of her times.  And I think it is this that draws me well to Pride and Prejudice.
Drawn to the story, drawn to the BBC adaptation ergo, drawn to Tonner's "Sensible Notion" ensemble under the Anne Harper Designs for the Tonner doll character -- Carol Barrie. Luckily this is one package bought that arrives too. For now not only has the Tonner Portrait been lost -- but also another doll opera gown!! That's another story.

Here are more details to Tonner's "A Sensible Notion".  I chose the Tonner Melanie to wear this costume despite her Victorian hairstyle (an era after the Regency), thinking that Melanie Wilkes Hamilton loved Jane Austen novels too. She does quote from British novels as Thackeray and Dickens and so it can be deduced that she must have had some Austen in her reading. 

Shawls are always present in Regency portraits of women. Tonner's "A Sensible Notion" has this beautiful embroidery that adds texture to the plain dress worn by the doll.

 The hem of the white dress has this nice detail. Hardly captured in the portraits I've done though. 
Fringes at the end of the shawl.
The Regency's Empire Silhouette. It has a ribbon that can be tied at the back. 
Charming shoes
The hat which I never used for the portraits. Reminds me of  Scarlett's Twelve Oaks Hat

Well,  I hope to get in more photos during the weekend. I haven't been feeling too well and hope this will give me something to look forward to while getting well. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Faux Movie Poster: Vivien - The Untold Story of Vivien Leigh

I think it would have made a great story material. Beauty, madness, love, amazing talent, grace, icon -- all these and more rolled into one. It would be a tour-de-force acting for the actress who could be chosen to play Vivien Leigh. No one in my opinion has come close to her fragile, porcelain-like beauty. And perhaps like porcelain she did break when subjected to years of hard work. It is said that many regret she took on "Streetcar Named Desire" because Blanche Dubois was so close to home. In "Elephant Walk" she is replaced by the young Elizabeth Taylor when Vivien was unable to continue because of her manic depression. During those times, shock treatment was said to be one of her most despised remedies to control the extreme mood swings. The fact that there could never be an actress who could play Scarlett better than she did -- and perhaps a present day actress who could play her with great accuracy and believability -- makes this but a big dream. Her legend lives on though in Gone with the Wind, and even in the dolls made in her likeness. That is perhaps the only way the story goes on.

April's SouthernBelle Faux Magazine Cover

I am uploading the larger file for better appreciation here. Hope you all like it!

Tonner Scarlett: Don't Look Back Portrait Re-repaint

When one loses a doll thru shipping, one exercises patience. When one loses another, one exercises great fortitude of spirit. It really pains me to know that such accidents happen. That opera gown for which I had been preparing this doll to wear seems to have gone to some other recipient -- as I was told by my courier. Address was right. Recipient wrong. I have no idea what went wrong as the sender has not replied yet to my email. Perhaps this is the reason why I chose to bring out this doll again and see parts that needed re-repainting. The Tonner name for this Scarlett is "Don't Look Back". How can I not? Each doll in my currency is 45 to 1 dollar. That's hard-earned money for me -- really and truly. I have thought of selling some of my repainted practice dolls but who would actually buy from the Philippines. With the cost of shipping, with the probability that state-of-the-art tracking and postal services can go wrong?
And so, I find myself channelling my energies to more productive efforts such as repainting a repainted doll. Actually, this one has just been retouched in the brows, the lips, the blushing and extensively on the hairline -- to lower the harsh heart-shape cut of hair rooting.
I also experimented in photo editing so you will see some of the photos in black and white and some in sepia tones. I think these create a different mood for the doll -- at least from my eyes.
If you backread thru the blog you will see this same doll with no seamless hairline.  Heretofore, is the doll. And as for its title "Don't Look Back", I guess in instances such as these, the mode is just "not to look back." = (  Goodnight everyone = ) Tomorrow is another day!