Hair & Glasses

My three favorite before-and-after transformations involving hair and glasses take place in Now, Voyager (1942), The Big Sleep (1946), and Smoke Signals (1998).

Now, Voyager is a classic “women’s picture” or “weepie” (1940s terms for “chick flick”), starring Bette Davis. In the course of the film, Davis’ character undergoes a transformation which is signalled externally by her metamorphosis into a chic and svelte lady sans glasses, etc.:




 Although there is something a little non-PC about all this, from our hopefully more enlightened perspective (i.e. shedding glasses and plucking eyebrows does not equal increased beauty), it is a wonderfully heartfelt film, and the changes the character undergoes are much more than skin-deep. Here are some images from the movie (which is, incidentally, most famous for Paul Henreid’s iconic double-cigarette-lighting gesture):

Next up in the hair-&-glasses category, we have another ’40s film: The Big Sleep. This movie is notable for starring real-life spouses Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (who had met on the set of To Have and Have Not – see my post on dressing gowns). Bogart and Bacall (or Bogie & Betty, to use the first names they went by in real life) are an absolute delight to watch in all their films together, as they have genuine frisson between them.

However, this particular scene is between Bogart and a minor character: a bookseller’s employee, complete with demure ponytail and (presumably) bookish spectacles. At Bogie’s invitation, she closes the shop, removes her glasses, and, well, lets down her hair. The two then enjoy some paper cupfuls from the “bottle of pretty good rye” which Bogart just happens to have in his pocket (throwback to the Prohibition days?!).

Here’s her quick transformation:




 And this is the scene itself:

And saving the best for last, my very favorite and rather different take on the let-down-hair-and-take-off-glasses manoeuvre, with Thomas (Evan Adams) from Smoke Signals, responding to prompting by his fellow traveller Victor (Adam Beach):




 And here’s that scene in action: (appearance with new look at 2:10)

And if you liked this, do have a listen to “John Wayne’s Teeth” as well. 😉

P.S. For a last nod to the power of glasses as a memorable piece of film attire, here’s a quick flick of the wand from Hermione:

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