The Shift in the Wild: Sweet Charity

Sweet Charity is one of the happiest and saddest movies I have ever seen. This 1969 film -- the first directed by Bob Fosse, and starring my favorite, Shirley MacLaine -- tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess who is super sweet and crazy about love ... almost to the point of dumbness. In the first scene, she's so busy singing her dude a love song that she doesn't even notice when he steals her purse and dumps her into a lake! But honestly, you don't watch this movie to ponder the female conditioning that causes Charity to make unworkable life choices -- you watch it for the dancing! The interior design! The young Ricardo Montalban!

And, oh my gosh, the outfits! There are shifts EVERYWHERE in this movie. Here's Shirley MacLaine, Chita Rivera, and Paula Kelly wearing cute short shifts in the movie poster:

In fact, Charity spends most of the movie in that little black shift, except when she's wearing this one at the dance hall (sorry for the not that clear screen cap -- she was running around a lot in this dress):

Legendary designer Edith Head built the costumes for this movie, and nowhere are they more fabulous than in Fosse's classic dance sequences. The ladies in "Big Spender"?

The dancers in "Rich Man's Frug?"

I cannot even believe those sparkly hat/wig things with the crazy square-armhole shifts:

If you should decide to watch this movie, I should warn you that the ending may make you cry. It may also make you want to give Charity a wee throttle and a Come-to-Jesus talk about trust and relationships and not obsessing about getting married to SOMEONE DEAR GOD ANYONE. Even if a cute wedding shift catches your eye.

But, regardless of her weaknesses, Charity is pretty darn lovable overall. Even when I want to throttle her, I also admire her zany, hopeful resilience.

AND her ability to work a black shift literally every day.