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Film / Designing Woman

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Designing Woman is a 1957 Romantic Comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall.

New York sportswriter Mike Hagen (Peck) and fashion designer Mirella Brown (Bacall) fall in love and quickly get married after a whirlwind romance in California. But even with all that chemistry, they find out that their lives are very different. Even so, they try to work things out.

Trouble arises when Mirella finds a ripped picture of Mike’s ex-girlfriend, Lori Shannon (Dolores Gray), in his apartment. Mirella doesn’t think much of it until she starts designing costumes for a Lori Shannon show, and she realizes that Lori's legs match the photo in Mike’s apartment.

Meanwhile, Mike is writing riveting sports journalism, but it’s gotten him in trouble with Martin Dayler, a mobster who fixes boxing matches. He’s warned several times by his Mooks that if he doesn’t stop his boxing exposés, they’ll knock his teeth out.


After writing one article too many, Mike has to hide out from the mob and pretend he’s following baseball games around the country. This, however, doesn’t help the piles upon piles of misunderstandings with Mirella as her suspicions of his former relationship with Lori grows.

Academy Award winner for George Wells’ original screenplay. Not to be confused with the 1980s sitcom Designing Women.

This film includes the following tropes:

  • Afraid of Blood: Mirella at the boxing match. She immediately has to leave when Mike explains why people are holding up newspapers to their faces (to avoid the blood spatter).
  • Big Apple Sauce: Where Mirella and Mike live.
  • Blatant Lies: Mike’s story about how he met Lori Shannon.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The movie begins with its principal players commenting on how they met, and the unfolding story-line.
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  • Closet Shuffle: Mike, and a shoe-eating poodle.
  • Costume Porn: Mirella’s fashion show is full of the best of 1950s fashion.
  • Camp Straight: Mirella’s choreographer friend, Randy Owens isn’t like Mike and the boys, and is offended when Mike thinks him less masculine. He promptly shows pictures of his wife and children to Mike.
  • Dance Battler: How Randy Owens (played by legendary Jazz choreographer, Jack Cole), beats the hell out of Daylor’s Mooks, and proves that Mike’s archaic view of masculinity is narrow-minded.
  • Fashion Designer: Mirella’s job, and she is quite The Fashionista.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Leads to a lot of Mike and Mirella's problems…but we wouldn’t have a movie without them, would we?
  • Hangover Sensitivity: After a crazy night of drinking, Mike is pained by every sound that's made. The sounds are heightened to comedic effect.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Mike. Of the crooked sports variety. So much so that the mob is looking for him, so they can kill him.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Mike and Lori Shannon. Mike doesn’t help the situation since he won’t tell Mirella the truth.
  • Opposites Attract: Rough and tough, working-class Mike Hagen and prim, high-society Mirella Brown.
  • Pretty in Mink: A lot of Mirella’s outfits involve fur.
  • Second Act Break Up: Mike has to hide away from the mob that’s set out to kill him, so he needs to stay in a hotel for three weeks, and his relationsip with Mirella is on the rocks because of this.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Mike doesn’t remember his wild night when he won $1200: he met Mirella, they wrote his sports article together, and he paid her $700 for it.