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Directed by Gillian Armstrong
95 min | 2015 | Australia | Not Rated
Orry George Kelly designed costumes for a multitude of classic films—including 42nd Street, An American in Paris, Auntie Mame, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and Some Like It Hot—and was a favorite designer and dinner companion of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, and many other leading ladies. Having designed costumes for nearly 300 films, he was Australia’s most prolific Oscar winner (three awards) until Catherine Martin overtook him in 2014. He was also a roommate of Archibald Leach—the future Cary Grant—in a tiny apartment pre–fame and fortune in New York, and this lifelong relationship is one of the more intriguing, albeit unconfirmed, aspects of this documentary film. Grant and Orry-Kelly concurrently found success on Broadway, and eventually Hollywood beckoned them both.
Gillian Armstrong’s feature directorial debut, My Brilliant Career (1979), was an influential film from the Australian New Wave, and Women He’s Undressed is her first film in five-years. It is a true labor of love and homage to Orry-Kelly, whom Armstrong describes as “the Hugh Jackman of his day.” This film has it all: Hollywood glamour; insights from actors we know and love, as well as insiders we wish we knew; reflections from the descendants of legends from Hollywood’s Golden Age—including Jack Warner; and charming reenactments and other quirky storytelling techniques. Women He’s Undressed is pure, fabulous, festival fun.
Official Selection: 2015 Toronto International Film Festival