Prolific blogger Little Augury recently posted about the 1960 Stanley Donen film The Grass Is Greener, starring Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons. Osterley Park, on the western outskirts of London, was used for some of the exterior shots.
Some of the interiors at Osterley, designed by Robert Adam in the 1760s and 1770s, were also used as inspiration for the sets (as was, apparently, the Long Gallery at nearby Syon House, also by Adam).
The story revolves around the Earl and Countess of Rhyall (Grant and Kerr), who have been forced by straightened circumstances to open their stately home to the public. The Countess is flattered by the attentions of an American oil tycoon (Mitchum), and in revenge the Earl invites his former girlfriend, an American heiress (Simmons). Cue a romantic comedy that has over time become a minor classic.
The sets were designed by decorator Felix Harbord. As Little Augury’s post shows, they were sometimes amazingly accurate copies of the original spaces at Osterley, while on other occasions he clearly remoulded the rooms to suit the film.
Harbord must have had great fun adding characteristic country house touches, such as groups of miniatures hung next to the fireplace, the ‘correct’ picture hang with the smaller paintings hung below the larger ones, and a rush firewood basket of a type still (or again) fashionable today.
The cushions on the drawing room sofa seem very ‘c. 1960′ to me, but I wonder if, even in that era, the Victoria & Albert Museum (who ran Osterley then) had quite so many barrier-ropes about the place?