The political thriller “Glorious 39” takes place in the summer of 1939, covering the period just before and after England declares war on Germany, and although well acted, the film suffers from an underdeveloped plot-line and poor editing. However, I am here to talk about the fashions.
The costumes were done by Annie Symons, who has done splendid work before when she is given the time and budget (see Worried About the Boy.) Unfortunately, this film looks like it was rushed and it shows in the costuming, make-up, hair, and etiquette. There aren’t any egregious errors in the costuming, but the fashions do not match an aristocratic family’s taste or budget in the summer of 1939. The men’s fashions aren’t as perfectly tailored as they should be and the women’s fashions include an array of middle-class separates that date everywhere from 1932 to 1940 – typical of a film that has to rely upon a costume house rental rack. The costumes also don’t match the season. The majority of the film was supposed to take place in August and September 1939 but most of the time, everyone is dressed for a chilly autumn day – belying the fact that it was mostly filmed in October-November 2008.
More baffling was the poor make-up and hair which often included badly set wigs with unkempt curls – the opposite of what all photographic evidence shows of how women wore their hair in the late 1930s; this was the era of the tight pincurl set and the permanent wave – hair never looked like it could blow in the wind. Deportment is also a problem, especially with the men. For example, young men of this class did not, and still don’t, stand around with their hands in their pockets, especially not at a formal dinner party – that would have been beaten out of them at school by the headmaster. The costuming gets a passing 6 out of 10 for me for not being overtly inaccurate, but it lacks believability. Much worse are the wigs, make-up and deportment which fail to accurately recreate the period on most accounts.