The news yesterday that ABC is updating to modern times Judith Krantz's iconic seventies novel of sex and shopping, Scruples, for next fall's television schedule, reminded me that I have long been planning a post on it's first screen adaptation. Broadcast on CBS in 1980 with Lindsay Wagner (the Bionic Woman) starring as Billie Ekehorn, the secretary that marries her oil billionaire boss and who then starts the most exclusive store in America, Scruples. Divided into three episodes, the first mainly focuses on the background stories of the three main characters, leading up to the opening of the shop: Billie, Spider Elliott (Barry Bostwick) and Valentine (Marie-France Pisier).
Billie Ekehorn (Lindsay Wagner).
Spider Elliott (Barry Bostwick).
Valentine (Marie-France Pisier).
The 1976 novel is one of my favourite reads- I guess it could be seen as a guilty pleasure, but I have no guilt over it. It's hilarious and melodramatic, but also well researched and very informative about the world of the hyper-rich in Beverly Hills in the mid to late Seventies. The mini-series does a good job of this too- Wagner's lean, toned body is clad in luxurious silks and plush furs, and though the Billie of the book is a brunette, Wagner's blond locks always appear immaculately styled for every occasion.
Of course the show is helped immeasurably by having the gorgeous Marie-France Pisier as one of its stars- she glows so brightly every time she is on screen that it's hard to pay attention to what she is wearing, though as a fashion designer Valentine is always perfectly chic.
A very young Kim Cattrall plays a model just starting out who captures Spider's heart and gets to wear some killer outfits.
The costume designer, Daniel Paredes, only worked on ten movies in addition to this series, but they included Car Wash and Cat People. He got his start dressing windows for Bloomingdale's and Bendel's in New York, so he obviously had some understanding of what very rich women wore when they went shopping and how department stores functioned, which helps to make the scenes set in Scruples successful. A separate post on Scruples, the store, is to follow.
The original cover.
The amount of screenshots I have from these three episodes is rather astounding, but literally every outfit is stylish and covetable. I highly recommend getting a copy of the book (perfect to read by a pool with a piña colada), and then watching the miniseries- while I'm intrigued by the idea that it is being brought back for 2012, I am a little worried that the fun of it will be lost. The more open approach to sex in the 1970s, pre-AIDS, stops the book and the show ever appearing vulgar, and the shopping over the course of the book helps Billie learn about herself. It is easy to see how those elements could be lost in a contemporary version.
The best bedroom ever.
All screenshots from Scruples, 1980.
Labels: 1970s, 1980, 1980s, barry bostwick, books, costumes, department stores, lindsay wagner, marie-france pisier, scruples, tv