Some movies and occasionally TV shows have a set that just really leaps out at you because it’s so great or so not-great or so just memorable. What are some that come to mind? This is preferably for movies and TV shows that had a budget. (Ed Wood’s movies were dreck, but you try building a spaceship interior/cemetery/president’s office/laboratory for $62.12 [well, okay, you’d probably still do a better job].)
My vote for greatest sets include:
Gone With the Wind and Dr. Zhivago- a tie for “best before & after a war” mansion sets. Tara after Sherman’s officers and a few thousand of their nearest and dearest friends hold a party there is fantastic- the broken mirrors, the rain(?) stained wallpaper, the general decay of a house that used to have a dozen maids that’s now down to two ex-slaves and some spoiled ex-heiresses not accustomed to housework (and really what’s the point anyway?) is just breathtaking. The house of Yuri Zhivago’s foster parents/in-laws in Dr. Zhivago is similarly great from the upper middle (or lower upper) class opulence of turn-of-the-century Russian society to the post “this house can accomodate 30 more people” disrepair and then outright destruction (burning the staircase bannister for fuel) that makes it into a ruin. I’ve wondered with both movies if they used the same sets for before/after, deliberately ruining them for the after obviously, or if they were separate sets altogether using the same plans- any idea?
Gone With the Wind also gets a “worst set” award. Scarlett’s over-the-top robber baron era mansion in Atlanta is believable (in fact nowhere near as opulent or obnoxious as some of the homes popping up on 5th Avenue and in Newport were so I can accept that (though the parrots are a bit overkill), but Twelve Oaks (much of which was painted glass overlays and didn’t actually exist) was just waaaaaaay too much to suspend disbelief. It wasn’t a southern planter’s mansion but an Old World Palace; I doubt you’d have even found a place that ostentatious and enormous in the richest families in metro NYC/Philadelphia/Boston at the time and I don’t even think Sherman’s army would have had the time to burn something that huge to the ground.
Other sets I always really liked or disliked:
Kim Novak’s shop in Bell Book & Candle was a really cool set, especially the decorations, including the hoops suspended from the ceiling to make a Christmas tree.
Titanic was, of course, breathtaking- worth seeing the movie for far more than the plot.
ANYTHING that’s computer graphic. I wish producers from George Lucas would grasp the fact that in most cases digital animation does not yet look real; the miniatures from the original Star Wars look far more impressive than most of the ships and interior scenes on Coruscant looked a quarter century in real years/two centuries in computer-technology years later.
I once made a comment about the Ponderosa on Bonanza being incredibly well decorated for a family of three middle aged men and an aging man whose wives die 45 minutes after he meets them. I always loved that house when I was a kid, and in a small-world coincidence learned in that thread that Doper Manatee’s grandmother-in-law was the set decorator.
I loved the interior and exterior sets of the Southfork Ranch on Dallas and it was also that odd TV house with a floorplan that actually made sense. It was obviously home to a super rich family, yet at the same time very comfortable and “homey” seeming rather than a nouveau riche “Look what we got!” feel, the type you could believe Jock and Miss Ellie building.
While I accept that sitcoms, especially those filmed before a studio audience, have severe limitations and thus must have “interesting” floor plans (there have been threads about this), even taking this into account the worst sets on TV shows all seem to belong to Garry Marshall shows. Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley had sets that looked like exactly what they were- sound studios with concrete floors and flimsy hastily thrown together walls. Sometimes when there are sets that only exist in that episode (i.e. not the Cunningham home or L&S’s apartment which are more stationary) you can actually see the walls wobble when a door is slammed- it’s totally high school theater department quality.
Designing Women- If I walked into Sugarbakers looking for a designer for anything I’d take one look at that enormous room, claim I was “looking for Nguyen’s Vietnamese Pizza place, must have the address wrong” and walk out. It’s an abysmal cross between a whorehouse and a televangelist set, and it’s also odd that even in the late 1980s they wouldn’t have computers, there were no private offices, and their Louis XIV desks were always perfectly neat and organized. I think the whole agency was a money laundering front for a Miami cocaine cartel and therefore they didn’t have to do anything but sit around and gab all day.
Enough from me- which ones do you like or not like?