I had no idea what to expect when I recorded Fashions of 1934. All I expected was to see William Powell play a charming cheat and Bette Davis to be a feisty modern 1930s girl. Both actors were what I was expecting. I was not expecting too much from the story line and that is what I got out of it.
Sherwood Nash (Powell) is a cheat. His investment scam has been shut down and he is left with nothing. A very pretty young lady named Lynn Mason (Davis) comes to Sherwood on the day his office is literally wiped clean to see if he would invest in her fashion designs. He gets a very good idea and the next business he starts works out great. He has an inside man work for a department store where he can see the latest fashions before they hit the stores. Lynn copies the dresses and Sherwood has the copies made and put into store before the designers can get them in the department stores. Sherwood sells his copies cheaper where the department stores sell the designers for a higher price.
Sherwood’s spy is found out and fired. Sherwood comes up with the idea to tell the designers that he is the one copying their designs. He does so but proposes that since he is so good they send him to Paris to steal designs from the city’s designers and that way they have the latest Parisian styles in advance. He proposes the idea to several of the designers she cheated and they all give him some cash to do so. Sherwood takes along Lynn and his friend Snap (Frank McHugh) to take pictures of the dresses.
The top designer in Paris is a man named Baroque. All three cheats go into the designer’s maison seeing what would be the best clothes to send over. Snap uses a camera in a cane but he is found out. As they walk along the Seine they see the designer buying books on old costumes. The book seller tells them that Baroque takes his designs from old costumes throughout history. Sherwood has Lynn copy some of the styles out of the books, stamp their signatures on the drawings, and send them stateside.
One day Sherwood meets Baroque face to face and the designer brings along his fiancée Grand Duchess Alix. The woman is not fooling Sherwood he knows her as Mabel a woman from Hoboken, New Jersey. He tricks her into telling Baroque to put on a fashion show or he will tell him that she is simply Mabel from Hoboken. Baroque goes ahead with the show and backstage he tries to coax a man who works for Sherwood to work for him and help create his designs. Sherwood hears this and bribes Baroque out of his business.
The rest of the business deal and the film gets a little confusing after this.
I was not too crazy about Fashions of 1934. William Powell was good with what he was given for his character but there was a slimy charm to him not his typical nice charm. Bette Davis was good but her character was not that great. I guess it is safe to say the two main characters were not well written, acted yes, just not written. Snap was the only good character because Frank McHugh made him hilarious. The character was girl crazy and in one scene he was hysterical laughing at sexy pictures. I can only say watch Fashions of 1934 if you are a fan of William Powell or Bette Davis because there are really no other reasons, it was slow and boring.