Orry-Kelly was a Hollywood legend, his costume designs adored by cinema’s greatest leading ladies – but in his home country of Australia his achievements remained unknown. Now, acclaimed director Gillian Armstrong is bringing the legend home and celebrating the life of this extraordinary Aussie in her new film, Women He’s Undressed.The film screened in Toronto last year at TIFF 2015 to positive reception. Armstrong (My Brilliant Career) introduces us to Orry-Kelly’s life by intermingling recreations with testimonies from confidantes, admirers, and Hollywood royalty to create an unforgettable portrait of one of Hollywood’s glamour greats.
Orry-Kelly was born in Kiama, a small town on the coast of New South Wales, Australia, in 1897. He grew up with loving parents, who at seventeen, encouraged him to move to Sydney. After a few years working in a bank in Sydney, Orry sets sail in 1922 for New York City to start a new life. It is around this time that the handsome Archie Leach would walk into Orry’s life. The famous ‘roommate’ he was never to talk about…
Life continues in New York City but due to some ‘issues’ with the mob, both Orry and Archie move to Los Angeles, each hoping to start a career in Hollywood. Archie Leach changes his name to Cary Grant. Once in Tinseltown, and thanks to Archie’s new agent, Orry’s sketches get in the hands of the powers that be at Warner Bros. Within a year, Orry set the tone at Warner Bros., elegant simplicity, class.
He worked on over three decades’ worth of classic films: Jezebel, 42nd Street, Casablanca, Oklahoma, Auntie Mame, Some Like It Hot, An American in Paris, Now, Voyager -and hundreds more. He dressed cinema’s greatest icons, including Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyk, Rosalind Russell, Errol Flynn, and many more. The film features interviews with Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury, Leonard Maltin, and costume designers Colleen Atwood, Anne Roth, Kym Barrett.
Orry had many friends and admirers all over Hollywood. Outspokenly gay at a time when Hollywood was deeply conservative, a lover of boxing and booze, a rebel with a biting wit, Orry always lived a life of artistic and personal integrity. He survived partially due to the protection provided by his friendship with Jack and Ann Warner and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. His accounts of life behind the Hollywood golden curtain are legendary.
In the film, his wit and personality come across in the recreations with Darren Gilshenan, as Orry. The recreations add a bit of a personal touch to the film, although not absolutely necessary in this writer’s opinion. Orry’s life and personality come to life through the interviews and the film clips, where we see his creations on some of Hollywood’s most beloved divas of the time. Women He’s Undressed is a must-see fashion extravaganza for film lovers, and a never before seen glimpse into the unapologetically rich life of Orry-Kelly.
Women He’s Undressed will be released on DVD / VOD, via Wolfe Video as of today, August 9th across all digital platforms including iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and WolfeOnDemand.com, and will also be available same date on DVD via Wolfe Video and many major retailers.
**Photos Courtesy of Wolfe Video