Hollywood, it seems, just can’t live without New Year’s Eve. The American Film Institute Catalog even includes a separate heading, with nearly three dozen listings from 1931 to 1940, for that night.
Among them are a number of classics dressed in memorable costumes. “Cavalcade,” Noel Coward’s 1933 Academy Award winner, starts on New Year’s Eve, 1899, with star Diana Wynyard in Victorian party splendor by Earl Luick.
In the 1938 comedy “Holiday,” a posh family party proves too much for Katharine Hepburn, who sulks then somersaults in a tailored black gown and white petticoats designed by Robert Kalloch. And in the 1939 drama “Made For Each Other,” Carole Lombard, dressed in elegant simplicity by Travis Banton, decides she and James Stewart really aren’t made for each other.
Decades later, Meryl Streep--costumed by Milena Canonero in a somber black lace gown and matching headdress--makes a similar New Year’s Eve decision in the 1985 film “Out of Africa.”
The night seems lighter and brighter in such films as “Holiday Inn,” the 1942 musical starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds, Virginia Dale, the song “White Christmas” and festive costumes by Edith Head. In the 1943 drama “Old Acquaintance,” Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins, resplendent in Hollywood glamour by Orry-Kelly, cement their friendship on New Year’s Eve.
But it’s heave-ho for two-timing Fred MacMurray in the 1960 comedy “The Apartment.” Shirley MacLaine--in a zany party hat, dime-store pearls and store-bought chiffon frock--chucks him to celebrate, permanently, with Jack Lemmon.