Set in 1950s Hollywood, RULES DON’T APPLY follows the burgeoning romance be-tween aspiring actress Marla Mabrey [Lily Collins] and her ambitious driver Frank Forbes [Alden Ehrenreich]. She is a small town beauty queen, songwriter, and devout Baptist. He is a Methodist engaged to his junior high school sweetheart. Both are employed by billionaire Howard Hughes [Warren Beatty] who has forbidden romance between his employees. As Frank and Marla fall in love and defy the rules, the sexual and cultural repression of the 50s makes way for the more liberated 1960s. –Twentieth Century Fox
This is old-fashioned movie making, in the best sense, with a fresh interpretation of the time, written, directed and produced by Warren Beatty, who knows to go to the best when you want the best. So it’s no surprise that he brought in masters in their fields Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, Production Designer Jeannine Oppewall, Set Decorator Nancy Haigh SDSA, and Costume Designer Albert Wolsky to establish the film’s vivid style.
Of the multi-Oscar nominated PD and the Oscar-winning SD, Beatty says emphatically, “Jeannine and Nancy are just great...fun to work with, yet no nonsense, very clear, distinctive. There is nobody better than they are. With their instincts backed up by their knowledge, they always do the right thing. So I was just very fortunate to have them.”
Annette Bening, who plays Marla’s mother notes, “There’s such a glamorous ambiance to the whole movie. It’s sort of a step up from reality, and more the way movies used to look.”
Beatty points out how key every set detail was, “One of my favorite moments in the movie is at the beginning when Annette as Lucy Mabrey, says, “Why are these chairs so far back?” And then she says without hesitation. “I’m going to move them.”
RULES DON’T APPLY re-creates a world that existed not all that long ago, yet has nearly disappeared visually: the Hollywood of the late 1950s, which the team beautifully pieced together.
Since Hughes was known for his interest in architecture, instead of the iconic Spanish style bungalow for Marla’s house, they chose a Hollywood Hills Mid-Century. And found a former resort to use as base for some of the major hotels in which Hughes lodges throughout the film.
Beatty notes, “I think that Jeannine and I were very much in sync, as we were with Nancy. Nancy's just fantastic.
I always think of what you do when you have a movie: think of Napoleon’s battle plan, which was, ‘First we go there, and then we see what happens.’ But it’s nice to have the right place to go, you know?
And Jeannine and Nancy made that happen and then brought them to life with carefully edited detail."
“There’s a retro quality to the movie because it feels so personal,” says Matthew Broderick who plays a Hughes top assistant. “It feels like a Warren Beatty movie, not a movie made by committee. You can see in his filmmaking that he cares about every hair on every head and it’s really and completely his movie. Those aren’t so common anymore.”
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