She won eight Academy Awards, worked on several hundred films, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame over her busy 50-year career, but she was always behind the scenes. Now, she’s finally going to play a lead role.

The Museum of the Moving Image will present See It Big! Costumes by Edith Head from Saturday, Feb. 2, to Sunday, March 10. The series will screen 13 classics that feature wardrobes by the always-in-demand designer for such Golden Age of Hollywood legends as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Audrey Hepburn.

Tickets are $15.

Head’s first major gig was designing Dorothy Lamour’s sarong in “The Hurricane” in 1937. Her next big thing was the mink-lined gown for Ginger Rogers in “Lady in the Dark” in 1944. The California native won her first Academy Award for Best Costume Design with “The Heiress” in 1949. Her last one came for “The Sting” in 1973. Along the way, Head (1897-1981) developed a reputation for putting the character first. She made the clothes to suit a personality. She also demonstrated how fashion is not just about style.

In the selected See It Big! movies, her designs play as large a role as the writing, performances, cinematography, and music. Here’s the schedule.

  • “The Uninvited” (Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.) is a chiller about two London siblings who buy a cliffside mansion for a suspiciously low price. Tragedy, fright, romance, and Head’s sweeping, ghostly designs ensue.
  • “Double Indemnity” (Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m.) and (Feb. 9 at 2 p.m.) is a noir tale of a straight-arrow insurance salesman and a boldly bloused femme fatale.
  • “The Lady Eve” (Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.) and (Feb. 3 at 3 p.m.) is a comedy about a beautiful female con artist (in outfits such as a midriff-baring two piece and a lacy white dress) who seduces a naïve, wealthy man on a cruise.
  • “To Each His Own” (Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.) is a melodrama about a woman who has to give up her child due to societal norms in the first half of the 20th century.
  • “The Heiress” (Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m.) is an adaptation the Henry James novel “Washington Square” about an aging society girl who is torn between her overprotective father and a handsome bachelor who might be a gold-digger. Head adds a sexy simmer to a Plain Jane.
  • “Roman Holiday” (Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.) and (Feb. 16 at 2 p.m.) stars Audrey Hepburn as a princess disguised as an ordinary civilian in Rome. She falls for a handsome journalist.
  • “Sunset Boulevard” (Feb. 16 at 4:30 p.m.) and (Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.) features Head’s outfits on Gloria Swanson, who plays a complicated, aging movie star.
  • “I Married a Witch” (Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.) and (Feb. 24 at 3 p.m.) is a comedy about a witch who returns to present-day New England to get revenge on the descendants of the Puritans who sentenced her to death. Of course, she falls in love with her main antagonist.
  • “Funny Face” (Feb. 23 at 4 p.m.) and (Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.) is a musical about a frumpy bookstore girl who falls in love with an older photographer and flies with him to Paris to meet her favorite philosopher. She also becomes a fashion model and dons many glamorous clothes.
  • “Sweet Charity” (Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m.) is a musical inspired by Federico Fellini’s “Night of Cabiria.” Shirley MacLaine is a down-and-out dance girl dreaming of a better life, but she also rocks Head’s tassels and glitter.
  • “To Catch a Thief” (March 8 at 7 p.m.) is an Alfred Hitchcock crime story about a retired cat burglar who is the suspected mastermind of a new wave of robberies on the French Riviera. As her tries to clear his name, he falls for a gorgeous American tourist.
  • “The Birds” (March 9 at 3 p.m.) and (March 10 at 3 p.m.) is Hitchcock’s classic horror film with squawking gulls. The pale green coat and skirt ensemble that Head designed for star Tippi Hedren adds an essential element to the apocalyptic plot.
  • “Marnie” (March 9 at 6 p.m.) and (March 10 at 6 p.m.) depicts a serial thief who changes her identity to steal from her male employers. Her wardrobe exudes icy elegance.

The Museum of the Moving Image, which is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District, presents the periodic See It Big! series so viewers can watch classic films on the large screen in the 267-seat Sumner M. Redstone Theater. Each series has a theme.

Image: Museum of the Moving Image


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