A veritable who’s who was out in force at Le Café de Paris in Monte Carlo last weekend to welcome the announcement of the recipient of the 2016 Auto Universum Comète d’Or du Cinéma.
Amid the din of applause, merriment, back-slapping and hissing Champagne corks, the winner was revealed as 1967’s scathing comedic satire Divorce American Style; starring Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Jason Robards and a personal favourite; Joe Flynn.
The film glistens with 1960s ambiance, particularly the divorcing couple’s suburban home; a period-perfect pastiche of Modernist and Hollywood Regency influences.
Shot in 1966, Divorce American Style vividly captures the pinnacle of American suburban-style Jet Age mid-sixties life; the final three years of the decade would see Modernist architecture and design increasingly under pressure in the United States from Hollywood Regency as well as Early American and other Traditional stylings.
At the same time, the classic American Ivy League menswear as seen here would begin to disappear, giving way to the London Mod Look of flared trousers, wild colours and the occasional ruffled shirtfront.
The mid-sixties are faithfully depicted due in no small part to the fact that most of the settings used were real locations around Los Angeles including Topanga Plaza and Monty’s Steak House.
Hints of aesthetic horrors in the years to come are visible in the form of occasional glimpses of pale avocado green interior finishes and countertop laminates.
If one were to screen a double-feature of 2014’s Comète d’Or recipient, 1961’s Bachelor in Paradise; followed by Divorce American Style, they would see a good overview of the evolution of design that was occurring in the first half of the 1960s.
The Comète d’Or is awarded to films that best capture the look and feel of the heyday of the Jet Age as celebrated in the pages of Auto Universum.