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  1. #1
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    Kilted characters in The Thirtynine Steps

    The John Buchan ripping-good chase thriller has been 'adapted' for the big screen at least four times, with Alfred Hitchcock's moody 1930s version being given something of approval by Buchan himself.

    At least, the author admitted to being entertained when he saw what the 'master of suspense' had done with his book.

    The 1959 remake was really just an up-dated version of the 1936 film, and used more or less the same script and screen-play, and we have to wait for the 1978 version for the story to be set at the time of Buchan's original story, and filmed in the part of Scotland that it was set.

    The open moorland chases and the monoplane hunting is probably pretty close to what John Buchan envisaged, and the hero Richard Hannay character's costumes of old tweed suit and evening clothes are not far from authentic.

    So why, when there is an abundance of historical illustrated reference to consult, did the wardrobe department not try as hard when it came to the kilted characters.

    The kilt (after all, the story is set in the lowlands, even if it is the hilly country of southwest Scotland) is only seen fleetingly, but the piper character is wearing contemporary (for the 1970s) Prince Charlie coatee, while the factor's rig only marginly closer in style to the early-1914 setting.

    But hey, they're nice to see whatever, so here they are for you enjoyment and scrutiny.

    Screenshot (11).jpg Screenshot (12).jpg

  2. The Following 2 Users say 'Aye' to Troglodyte For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
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    About the piper, I have a hunch that he's wearing his own kit.

    I've worked in Hollywood for a bit and it's not uncommon for musicians and extras to be wearing their own clothes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_667mafbFtk

    Many of the pipers showing up for the audition would come in their outfits, or at least brought photos of them in their outfits.

    Extras know in advance what the time-period the scene they're showing up for is set in, and whether it will be a situation where they bring their own outfits or the costumer will dress them. If the former, the costumer would have looked them over and said "that looks OK" and that would be that. Yes it's laziness on the part of the costumer, but it also saves time and money.

    BTW you get paid extra for providing your own outfit.

    That being said, a Prince Charlie Coatee of some sort did exist at that time, but would have been unusual.

    Loudon MacQueen Douglas, writing in 1914, says

    "In place of the Doublet [what we call the Regulation Doublet today] some Scottish dresses have a Coatee, or short coat, with abbreviated tails, like a Morning Coat.

    It is quite optional whether this is worn, or the Doublet. Any form of the Coatee, however, is entirely modern, and, personally, I prefer the Doublet.

    I understand that in some parts of the North of Scotland they are trying to introduce a Coatee with longer coat tails, and if this succeeds I think it will be a pity, as the Doublet strikes me as being much more complete and artistic than any form of the Coatee I have seen."


    What are certainly anachronisms concerning the piper are his modern shirt-collar and tie, and his interwar sporran.

    I should mention that it's obvious that the piper is an actual experienced piper due to his overall posture and way of holding the pipes including his hand positions. Non-pipers never get that stuff right.

    I didn't see the scene but almost certainly the piping heard would not have been captured while filming it. The piper almost certainly would have his pipes corked off so as to be silent on set, and the music dubbed in later. (All of the sounds heard such as footsteps, doors closing, background conversation, street noise, musicians playing, and even some of the main characters' dialogue is dubbed in later.)
    Last edited by OC Richard; 20th May 24 at 06:50 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  4. #3
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    Personally, I think the piper would fit right in at any evening function today - which suggests something of a 'timeless' quality to his outfit, even if it is too modern for the 1914 setting. This was probably what the film producers were banking on.

    There is nothing remarkable about the factor's outfit - except that his tweed coat is probably closer in style to the setting era, and that, too, would not look an inch out of place today. But he does seem to have a stud-on collar with rounded corners, which is more in-keeping with the pre-WWI setting.

    OC is spot on with actors wearing their own clothes, even when playing more than an extra role. Desmond LLewelyn, the actor who played the gadget-providing 'Q' character in the early James Bond films, is known to have worn his own old tweed suits, that helped give his character more authenticity and credibility.

    I had school teachers who dressed in much the same way back in the 1960s, so having the actors comfortable and in a recognisable, natural 'lived in' outfit must be a benefit to both the wardrobe department and the director.

    I know a couple of soap-opera actors actors who receive an allowance to buy their own 'work' clothes, so that there is a degree of continuity with their appearance. It makes perfect sense for the wardrobe dept. to encourage it.

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