Despite myriad predictions that the salacious behind-the-scenes goings-on permeating the set of Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directorial offering, “Don’t Worry Darling,” would surely derail its box office standing, the much-ballyhooed dystopian thriller enjoyed a stellar opening weekend, bringing in just over $19 million, about $2 million more than originally anticipated, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Critic response has been mixed (while Russ Simmons of KKFI calls it “an ambiguous, head-scratching exercise in paranoia,” Keith Garlington of Keith at the Movies says, “there’s a lot to like”), but one thing everyone seems to agree upon is that “Don’t Worry Darling” is beautifully filmed, set and costumed, making for some absolutely delicious onscreen eye candy!
Shot against a striking backdrop of midcentury architecture and dusty desert landscapes with cinematography by Matthew Libatique and production design by Katie Byron, the film tells the story of Jack (Harry Styles) and Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh), a handsome 1950s-era married couple who move into Victory, a master-planned company town where the employees of the mysterious Victory Corporation live. A suburban utopia complete with sprawling greenbelts, a clubhouse, a sparkling pool and even an onsite boutique, Victory residents want for nothing and have little reason to ever leave the premises. In fact, they are instructed not to. As fellow denizen Bunny (Wilde) advises Alice in the trailer, “The one thing they ask of us is to stay here, where it’s safe.”
Of the fictional community, production designer Katie Byron told Desert magazine, “I would describe the town of Victory as a hedonistic playground. It’s not a tame and controlled conservative suburban life. Victory is a spectacular place full of opulence. We were depicting a secret society in America, so it doesn’t represent traditional 1950s America or its values.” As such, the production team descended upon Palm Springs, the longtime playground of the Hollywood elite, to create their desert utopia. A land of everpresent sunshine, blue skies and midcentury architecture galore, the area proved the quintessential backdrop for the dark storyline.
A few local spots highlighted include the Kaufmann House, Richard Neutra’s 1946 steel, aluminum, glass, and stone masterpiece, which portrays the offsite residence of slick Victory Corporation founder, Frank (Chris Pine). The historic La Quinta Resort & Club pops up as Victory’s communal clubhouse and pool. And the Palm Springs Visitors Center, a former Enco gas station designed by Albert Frey in 1965, also makes a brief appearance.