Slide show: Some movie and TV sets are so luxurious, you just want to move in. Here are our favorites
Yul Ulu’s magnificent portable furniture in “Auntie Mame’s” Beekman Place apartment (1958)
Couches that go up and down that freak out anti-Semitic Republicans. Rosalind Russell running around in a glittery green wrap and silver culottes, shouting “Jackpot!” I don’t see the problem here; in fact, it’s my happiest fantasy (outside of Maureen O’Hara coming down the stairs; keep reading). Install it in my living room now, so I can live, live, live!
Phillip Vandamm’s house in “North by Northwest” (1959)
I know, it’s on almost everyone’s list of favorite movie houses. The faux Frank Lloyd Wright cantilevered house — conveniently located both near an airstrip (for a quick getaway) and on top of Mount Rushmore (in case you need to confirm the faces on your currency) — in Hitchcock’s paranoid chase movie is like a fever-dream version of Wright’s Western designs, with stacked stone walls and swaths of open balconies and large expanses of glass. The house doesn’t really exist — I asked when I went to Mount Rushmore! — and thank god for that. I couldn’t live in a world knowing it existed and that it wasn’t mine.
The tree house in “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960)
It’s a multilevel house. It’s in a tree. On a South Seas island. With John Mills and Dorothy McGuire. Calgon, take me away.
The living room in Mitch Evers’ California ranch house in “The Parent Trap” (1961)
No movie held a greater grip on my 5-year-old brain than the original “Parent Trap.” While I was neither a twin, nor in fact a strangely accented blond girl, I was a child of divorce, and like almost all children in my position, I wanted my parents back together so badly that if I had to play a guitar and sing “Let’s Get Together” on the back patio while my parents ate spaghetti and meatballs to make it happen, well, that’s what I was willing to do. I just wanted my Maureen O’Hara to sweep down that staircase and stay forever, with my Brian Keith. Well, reader, I didn’t have to. Many years later, my parents did get back together. And while I didn’t get the ranch house, I can still sing all the words to “Let’s Get Together.” Yeah yeah yeah.
The Clays’ see-through bar in “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962)
Oh, glorious alcoholism! Have you ever looked so chic and glamorous? Have I ever wanted anything more than I wanted the open shelving stocked with highball glasses and ice buckets and various liquors and potions that divided two rooms in Blake Edwards’ “Days of Wine and Roses”? Completely ignoring the alcohol-fueled downward spiral of the two main characters (Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick), all I could think about was, “Is a fully stocked bar a little too much to have in an 11-year-old’s bedroom?” A question I still seem to be wrestling with, according to the number of wine glasses on my bedside table …
The ice palace of Varykino in “Doctor Zhivago” (1965)
Watching “Doctor Zhivago” on television at age 5 or 6 was definitely a little confusing for me. Forget the Russian Revolution; I thought it was a lovely story about a beautiful woman who ran around in a fur hat and shot random strangers at Christmas parties. I really had no idea what was happening … and even now, some of it confuses me — like how could someone kiss Rod Steiger? But it didn’t matter once Yuri and Lara (Omar Sharif and Julie Christie) cracked open the front door of the dacha at Varykino and revealed an entire exotic house full of furniture and chandeliers and tchotchkes coated in ice — it was like opening up an actual Faberg
The bathroom in “Victor/Victoria” (1982)
“Victor/Victoria” has quite a few jaw-dropping interiors — the green-gradient walls of King Marchand’s (James Garner) hotel room spring to mind — but it’s this simple little art deco bathroom I love most. All teal tile and painted fillips, it’s in here that a key plot revelation takes place, but you don’t really notice. You’ll be too busy sketching out the little wave pattern that surrounds the tile, preparing to have your contractor execute it ASAP in your own bathroom … so that a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman can take a bath. You know: that old story.
The foyer of Larry and Carol Lipton’s apartment in “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (1993)
The interiors of the apartments in Woody Allen’s movies could probably fill out a whole other slide show all by themselves — starting with the interiors of, well, “Interiors” up through Mia Farrow’s mouth-watering apartment in “Hannah and Her Sisters,” all the way to the glossy art deco ridiculousness of Olive’s boudoir in “Bullets Over Broadway” — but I’ve always had a strange obsession with the Liptons’ (Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) apartment in his warm, funny “Manhattan Murder Mystery.” From the scavenged Canal Street subway stop sign mounted over the bed to the hushed, glowing formality of the foyer, it always seemed like the most realistically stylish of all the Allen apartments and the only one I could completely imagine myself in. It’s strange to look at it now — a simple table, a pendant lamp, a vase of flowers — and note how that aesthetic has permeated culture since then. I saw faux subway signs at T.J. Maxx last weekend, and that table and pendant are available at Restoration Hardware for one zillion dollars. Plus shipping.
Erica Barry’s Hamptons kitchen in “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003)
I know a lot of people prefer the similarly overly Williams Sonoma’d kitchen in the same director’s later “It’s Complicated,” but give me Erica Barry’s (Diane Keaton) borderline-pornographic cottage kitchen any day. If you look closely, you can see a ghostly image of me over in the corner, whipping up an egg-white omelet, or perhaps making a pot of Lapsang Souchong. Regardless, it’s very, very far from what I’m actually doing now, which is accidentally microwaving bourbon and trying to figure out how to make Kraft mac and cheese with a tablespoon of coffee creamer and a matchbook.
Charley’s bedroom in “A Single Man” (2009)
Most people probably prefer the clean, mid-century lines of George’s (Colin Firth) house in Tom Ford’s surface-obsessed “A Single Man,” but give me Charley’s (Julianne Moore) messy, over-the-top Hollywood Regency bedroom any time. What’s not to love? A faux-fur-covered chair? Check! A riotous combination of about, oh, 15 different patterns? Check! A blowsy, bewigged Julianne Moore applying her makeup in between cocktails? Check and double-check!