Mink Coat in Film Noir

by Petra Dominkova

While I was researching film noir, I have realized how much the attributes of luxury matter for its femmes fatales: expensive jewelry, fancy cars, but above all: fur coats. Having a fur coat was sometimes literally the question of life and death. Women were willing to sacrifice everything to get it. They often did not have the means to purchase it, so they had to wait for money stolen or a coat given. The most wanted was, of course, a mink coat. Extremely delicate and expensive coat, that was often made from up to seventy mink skins. As was explained in The Saturday Evening Post in 1941: “to give the coat the long-lined elegance that madame expects for her dough, each skin has to be shredded into strips about the width of a lead pencil to be diagonaled in a fashion that pulls the mink out to the three times its original length, all the way from the shoulder to the bottom of the coat-to-be, and yet leaves the dark center stripe on its back straight and rich.” No wonder that in Storm Fear (1955) the heroine who is slowed down significantly by her mink coat when she tries to escape the law in the snowy mountains refuses to take it down, saying: “If this is left behind, I’m gonna be in it.”
Petra Dominkova, PhD, assistant professor at FAMU, Czech Republic.