'Image Copyrght: THE IPCRESS FILE' (1965) - (RANK)
'Image Copyrght: 'THE STEPFORD WIVES' (1975) - (COLUMBIA PICTURES)
"You didn't come here to talk to me about button mushrooms and birds."
Whether it is the opening image of the Dude, shuffling along Ralph's dairy section – opening a milk carton and giving it a good sniff (The Big Lebowski, 1998); or the final act of The Stepford Wives (1975) - where the denizens of the titular burg are somnambulistically pushing their carts down a dry goods aisle; supermarkets, in motion pictures, stick indelibly in the mind.
Another notable inclusion is from Sidney J. Furie's The Ipcress File (1965) wherein the working-class spook, Harry Palmer (played by Michael Caine), meets his departmental head, Colonel Ross (Guy Doleman) while out grocery shopping. During their interaction Palmer alludes to his bon-vivant nature via his choice of mushrooms; he chooses the chi-chi champignons over the regular button variety.
Ross: Champignons. You're paying ten pence more for a fancy French label.
Palmer: It's not just the label. These really do have a better flavour.
Ross: Of course. You're quite a gourmet aren't you Palmer?’
In the scene, all of the products are in sharp focus due to the use of the Technocope film format. The camera's shorter focal-length lens allowed for an overall greater depth of field. Cinematographer Otto Heller’s judicious choice of equipment means that we can see the box of Trill bird-seed in minute detail, nestling behind Michael Caine’s right shoulder. Adjacent to the aforementioned champignons, Production Designer Ken Adam color-coordinated the neighboring cans so elements of red on the labels would lead one’s eye toward the central two columns.
This careful consideration of consumer products as set decoration was inspirational fuel for Backstory 20th Century Film Art Rentals.
Nowhere is the zeitgeist more evident than when a camera is dollying across a fixture of produce. The social mores and health preoccupations of a given era sound off from soup cans and margarine tubs, like notes on a temporal keyboard, signaling precisely when you are. Backstory’s extensive inventory (of over 400 designs) aims to recreate the look of grocery store items from times gone by. All of our work is crafted assiduously – informed by much in-depth research, gleaned from a myriad of contemporaneous primary source material. We strive to be as accurate as possible in our output, matching period fonts and choosing appropriate imagery to reflect a precise, designated point in time.
Whenever you need to furnish your Formica with authentic-looking vintage prop items, make Backstory 20th Century Film Art Rentals your go-to resource.