The Then of Yesteryear Is The Cool Of Today 

By Lance Avery Morgan     Photography courtesy of archival Roddy McDowall home movies

Ever stumbled into a gathering where you thought the heavens of cool were pouring down on you like never before? Sort of like discovering your neighbors a few homes away had a backyard oasis you never knew about. Or, traveling to Europe and getting invited to an all-white attire party in Bordeaux’s town square. We all love being surprised by treasures like this, which is why stumbling upon legendary host Roddy McDowall’s home movies shot in the summer of 1965 has us enthralled.

The collection of Roddy McDowall’s never-before-seen silent home movies from the summer of 1965 have been uploaded onto YouTube featuring impossibly young, impossibly gorgeous stars like Natalie Wood, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Hope Lange, and Rock Hudson frolicking on the beach. Enter stage left: Sal Mineo slinking out the back door with a guilty-looking beach blond. Cut to: a closeup of Natalie Wood’s freckles, Jane Fonda sticking out her tongue, and a hunky Paul Newman. All shot at McDowall’s Malibu home way before anything sold north of a million dollars.

These videos, 22 in all, are a very glamorous, gorgeous, sexy, intimate glimpse into the lives of his friends.  Most of the shorts were filmed at Malibu beach house parties in the summer of ’65.  Some of the videos annotate who is in the movie, but part of the fun is watching, trying to determine who is who. Look, there’s Anthony Perkins chatting with a Lilly Pulitzer-clad Lauren Bacall. Or, Tuesday Weld chatting with Samantha Eggar and Lee Remick about a role for which they were all being considered. Christopher Plummer chats up Elizabeth Ashley and Suzanne Pleshette, likely about The Sound of Music that debuted that year.

While it’s remarkable to glimpse all of these stars relaxed and having fun with one another, it is also amazing to see what they are wearing. In fact, the beach togs in these films are incredible and the perfect peek into fascinating and otherwise private and decidedly stylish lives they led that still influence us today.