Orry-Kelly means nothing to you, you're either young, straight, or simply uninterested in the heyday of Hollywood and its famous fashion designers. TrustMovies has never been all that interested in fashion (he often quite literally loathes it), but he is bi- and has had a hard-on for Hollywood since around the age of two (when he ran away from home and off to a "picture show," as he then called the movies). Although he didn't realize it until he saw the film under consideration here, he's also been a huge fan of Orry-Kelly's work. Those memorable gowns from Les Girls, above, are in fact long-time favorites of his (the movie may be second-rate, but its fashions are absolutely first-).
WOMEN HE'S UNDRESSED has been directed by Gillian Armstrong (shown above, at right, with multi-Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin) and written by Katherine Thomson, both of them Australian, as was Orry-Kelly himself (who, for purposes of space and repetition, will henceforth be referred to as O-K). What these two have given us is really a kind of celebration of O-K: his life, work, sexuality and in particular his ability to live a relatively uncloseted life in tinseltown long before many other gay men cared to and/or were able to do anything like this.
Bette Davis and Rosalind Russell to Marilyn Monroe and Shirley MacLaine -- and most of them loved him and his work. One of the joys of this lovely documentary is how well it makes us understand what and how the designer was doing, why it was important and especially why it worked so well. You'll come away from the movie with a new (maybe renewed) sense of the importance of fashion to films.
Darren Gilshenan, above, as the adult O-K, and Louis Alexander, below, as the younger version), his mother (Deborah Kennedy), and even briefly his first and perhaps greatest love, a fellow named Archie Leach (known to you all as Cary Grant and played in this film by Nathaniel Middleton).
Wikipedia, were discovered in the care of a relative after the man's death -- the film does full justice to the designer's humor, panache, style and wit, regarding both his work and his attitudes. I suspect he would be pretty damned pleased with this funny and charming documentary -- in which some very good and still-living costume designers, along with actors like Jane Fonda, who worked with the man a few times in her early career, talk about him fondly and with great appreciation.
From Wolf Releasing and running 99 minutes, Women He's Undressed opens tomorrow, Friday, July 29, in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema for a week's run, after which it hits home video on Tuesday, August 9 -- for purchase or rental.