Remember the Night: Fred MacMurray’s Christmas Road Trip

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Remember the Night (1940)

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Fred MacMurray as John “Jack” Sargent, smooth-talking New York prosecutor

New York to Indiana, Christmas 1938

Film: Remember the Night
Release Date: January 19, 1940
Director: Mitchell Leisen
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

This year’s winter #CarWeek installment kicks off with a holly jolly hoosier holiday in Remember the Night, a 1940 romcom released at the outset of a decade that included many classics of Christmas cinema like The Shop Around the Corner (1940), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Holiday Inn (1942), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), 3 Godfathers (1948), and Holiday Affair (1949). Yet before all those classics came Remember the Night, arguably one of the earliest major movies to recognize how compellingly Christmas, both at its loneliest and most celebratory, could be effectively woven into a story.

“While it has remained for decades mysteriously under the radar, its tender romance and comedy are so skillfully blended—and its use of Christmas so poignant—that it stands among the very best holiday movies,” describes Jeremy Arnold in the TCM volume Christmas in the Movies. Continue reading

Elf: James Caan in Camelhair for Christmas

James Caan as Walter Hobbs in Elf (2003)

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James Caan as Walter Hobbs, workaholic children’s book publisher

New York City, December 2003

Film: Elf
Release Date: November 7, 2003
Director: Jon Favreau
Costume Designer: Laura Jean Shannon

Background

Happy December!

The late James Caan effectively subverted his screen image when he starred in Elf, a family-friendly comedy that’s already established as a modern holiday classic. Of course, as one of the big screen’s most famous tough guys, Caan’s Walter Hobbs begins the story on Santa Claus’ notorious “naughty list” as a children’s book publisher too focused on his bottom line to care about his family or even the minutae of his job, overlooking the last two pages of his latest book that leave the fate of a beloved puppy and pigeon too ambiguous for its young readers. Continue reading

Devil in a Blue Dress: Don Cheadle as Mouse Alexander

Don Cheadle as Raymond “Mouse” Alexander in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

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Don Cheadle as Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, smooth but dangerous gunsel

Los Angeles, Summer 1948

Film: Devil in a Blue Dress
Release Date: September 29, 1995
Director: Carl Franklin
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

As #Noirvember comes to a close, I want to celebrate one of my favorite characters from neo-noir, the trigger-happy “Mouse” Alexander in Devil in a Blue Dress, played by Don Cheadle who was born November 29, 1964 and celebrates his 58th birthday today.

Fledgling private eye Ezekial “Easy” Rawlins (Denzel Washington) calls his old pal Mouse for some high-caliber help as the stakes climb but soon regrets his decision: “You ain’t been in my house five minutes and you gone and shot somebody already, Mouse!” Continue reading

BAMF Style’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Ahead of Cyber Monday sales tomorrow (as the tryptophan hit too hard after Thanksgiving to get it together in time for Black Friday), I wanted to revisit my once-annual tradition of pulling together a holiday gift guide that you could use either when shopping for others… or just looking to fill out your own Christmas list!

Ho-ho-oooh!

The below list combines a mix of inspiration from movies and TV as well as my own favorite things, many of which I wear or use on a regular basis.  Continue reading

Out of the Past: Robert Mitchum’s Suede Fishing Jacket

Robert Mitchum as Jeff Markham in Out of the Past (1947)

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Robert Mitchum as Jeff Markham, aka Jeff Bailey, laconic gas station owner and former private detective

Bridgeport, California, Fall 1946

Film: Out of the Past
Release Date: November 25, 1947
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Costume Credit: Edward Stevenson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today marks the 75th anniversary since the release of Out of the Past, often considered among the best of classic film noir, the shadowy sub-genre known for its murky morals, gat-toting gumshoes, and double-crossing dames.

We begin in the small northern California town of Bridgeport, where laconic gas station owner Jeff Bailey enjoys a quiet fishing date with his girlfriend Ann Miller (Virginia Huston) until he’s silently interrupted by his deaf employee, “The Kid” (Dickie Moore), signing for Jeff to return. Back in town, Jeff is greeted by Joe Stefanos (Paul Valentine), a mob torpedo sent to invite Jeff—whom we learn is actually an ex-private investigator named Jeff Markham—to Lake Tahoe to meet a mysterious figure from… out of his past. Continue reading

Michael Caine’s Thanksgiving Cardigan in Hannah and Her Sisters

Michael Caine as Elliot in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

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Michael Caine as Elliot, financial advisor

New York City, Thanksgiving 1985

Film: Hannah and Her Sisters
Release Date: February 7, 1986
Director: Woody Allen
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland

Background

Happy Thanksgiving! Hannah and Her Sisters is one of my favorite movies to keep in my Turkey Day rotation (I know, I know, Woody Allen… And no, I’m certainly not one of the Maxes in the “Woody Underground” described in Jason Diamond’s excellent recent article for his Substack, The Melt.)

Set between three Thanksgivings, the story centers on the eponymous Hannah (Mia Farrow) and those in her orbit, including her nebbish ex-husband Mickey (Allen) and her current husband Elliot (Michael Caine), a “glorified accountant” whom we meet at the outset harboring an impossible obsession with Hannah’s sister Lee (Barbara Hershey).

“God, she’s beautiful,” Elliot’s limerence-laden narration begins over Harry James’ “I’ve Heard That Song Before,” as he continues detailing his private admiration and lust for Lee while he and Hannah host their annual Thanksgiving party. Of course, he’s concerned less about the Thanksgiving turkey than at landing himself that elusive Hershey’s kiss (do you get it please?) Continue reading

Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Steve Martin as Neal Page in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

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Steve Martin as Neal Page, advertising executive and family man

New York City to Chicago… via Kansas and Missouri, Fall 1987

Film: Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Release Date: November 25, 1987
Director: John Hughes
Costume Designer: April Ferry
Steve Martin’s Costumer: Dennis Schoonderwoerd

Background

It’s two days to Thanksgiving! If you’re an ad man in New York for a creative presentation with an indecisive client, that should give you just enough time to unsuccessfully race Kevin Bacon for a taxi and join up with a talkative shower curtain ring salesman—excuse me, shower curtain ring sales director—for a series of transportation-related hijinks to make it home to Chicago just as that stuffed bird is ready to come out of the oven on Thursday.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles remains one of the few bona fide classic Thanksgiving comedies, released 35 years ago this week as commemorated today with an all-new 4K home video release that includes more than an hour of deleted and extended footage. The movie arguably succeeds best thanks to the comedic chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy, balancing humor and heart as both the banal Neal and garrulous Del are humanized beyond initial stereotypes in what both actors described as a career-favorite film. Continue reading

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Sidney Poitier in a Navy Suit

Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Prentice in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)

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Sidney Poitier as Dr. John Wade Prentice, widowed physician and professor

San Francisco, Spring 1967

Film: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Release Date: December 12, 1967
Director: Stanley Kramer
Costume Designer: Joe King

Background

As we gear up for arguably the biggest family dinner of the year this week, I want to revisit one of the most famous “dinner movies” despite never actually seeing the titular meal on screen. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner broke ground upon its release 55 years ago for its positive portrayal of an interracial relationship when the white Joanna Drayton (Katharine Houghton) returns from a Hawaiian vacation with her new fiancé, a widowed black doctor named John Prentice (Sidney Poitier). Continue reading

James Coburn in The Great Escape

James Coburn as Louis Sedgwick in The Great Escape (1963)

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James Coburn as Louis Sedgwick, Australian RAAF Flying Officer

Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944

Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today is the 20th anniversary of the death of James Coburn, the prolific and reliable Nebraska-born star who grew to fame through memorable appearances in the ’60s, including the requisite Westerns and war films including the 1963 ensemble epic The Great Escape, dramatizing the real-life mass breakout of more than six dozen Allied airmen from Stalag Luft III during World War II. Ultimately, there were three successful escapees; of the 73 captured, 50 were summarily executed on Hitler’s direct orders.

Coburn portrayed the fictional Australian officer Louis Sedgwick, an amalgamation of the camp “manufacturer” Johnny Travis (RAF) and Dutch flying ace Bram “Bob” van der Stok, one of the three successful escapees who made his getaway, crossing much of occupied Europe with the help of French Resistance networks. Continue reading

Fatal Attraction: Michael Douglas’ Plaid Sport Jacket

Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction (1987)

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Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, lawyer

New York City, Fall 1986

Film: Fatal Attraction
Release Date: September 18, 1987
Director: Adrian Lyne
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick

Background

Inspired by costume designer Ellen Mirojnick’s recent podcast appearance on From Tailors With Love that clarified a few misconceptions held around Michael Douglas’ tailored costumes in some of his most prominent movies, let’s finally cover the 35-year-old noir-ish thriller that spawned a cinematic sub-genre centered around Douglas’ sex life getting him in deep trouble. Continue reading