Elvis Presley as Mike Windgren, expat singer, part-time lifeguard, and former circus performer
Acapulco, Summer 1963
Film: Fun in Acapulco Release Date: November 27, 1963 Director: Richard Thorpe Costume Designer: Edith Head Tailor: Sy Devore
This weekend, I saw Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis chronicling the life of the King of Rock and Roll with Baz’s characteristic splendor. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, most likely due to Austin Butler’s revelatory performance. (I’d need some more dedicated Elvis experts to confirm for me whether or not Colonel Tom Parker actually sounded as much like Goldmember as Tom Hanks’ performance portrayed.)
Elvis addressed the King’s cinematic ambitions, hoping to follow in James Dean’s footsteps but arguably ill-treated by his frequently banal material, as illustrated by the 1963 vehicle Fun in Acapulco. Continue reading →
Film:The Thing Release Date: June 25, 1982 Director: John Carpenter Costume Supervisors: Ronald I. Caplan, Trish Keating, and Gilbert Loe
We’re not gettin’ out of here alive… but neither is that thing.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Thing, which premiered June 25, 1982 and remains the personal favorite of director John Carpenter. Four days ago on June 21, British Antarctic research stations would have observed their Midwinter Day celebration that typically includes watching horror movies about being trapped in the snow such as The Thing and The Shining.
Indeed, the action begins during “first goddamn week of winter” grumbles R.J. MacReady, a grizzled helicopter pilot embedded with an American scientific research crew stationed in Antarctica. The U.S. Outpost 31 crew is baffled by the sudden appearance of a Norwegian gunman shooting at what appears to be a relatively benign wolfdog (Jed). “Maybe we’re at war with Norway,” quips Nauls (T.K. Carter), the cook, who more helpfully offers that “five minutes is enough to put a man over down here” as the team mulls over the gunman’s possible motives.
That night, it’s not the Norwegian who the crew needs to be alarmed about, but instead the curious creature locked up with the dogs. As their canine handler Clark (Richard Masur) warns Mac:
Now that it’s summer—and already a hot one!—I’ve started rotating my favorite aloha shirts and tropical prints into my wardrobe. Luckily for me, bright Hawaiian-style resort shirts have been undergoing a wave of revival each summer, perhaps encouraged by Brad Pitt’s now-famous yellow aloha shirt in Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Style in QT’s early movies typically conjures the well-armed professional criminals in their uniforms of black suits, white shirts, and black ties, but outside of this lethal look, characters in the Tarantino-verse often pulled from the Hawaiian shirts in their closet. The first example would be Harvey Keitel’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it palm-print shirt before taking Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange for tacos in Reservoir Dogs. Two years later, it was Roth himself that would be tropically attired for the next of Tarantino’s defining cinematic works. Continue reading →
Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby (1974)
Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway, impressionable bachelor and bond salesman
Long Island, New York, Summer 1925
Film:The Great Gatsby Release Date: March 29, 1974 Director: Jack Clayton Costume Designer: Theoni V. Aldredge Clothes by: Ralph Lauren
“Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it,” laments Daisy Buchanan—somewhat redundantly—to her cousin Nick Carraway over a visit that kicks off the romantic drama of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. (The summer solstice today makes this the longest day of the year, so take note, Daisy!)
Set 100 years ago across the summer of 1922, The Great Gatsby begins with Nick joining the Buchanans, Daisy being his second cousin once removed and Tom one of his former classmates at Yale. The wealth disparity is represented in the fictionalized areas of Long Island where they live, Nick describing his home “at West Egg, the—well, the less fashionable of the two” when compared to their elaborate mansion located among “the white palaces of fashionable East Egg… across the courtesy bay.”
The novel merely has Nick driving around the sound to arrive for dinner, while the movie follows Sam Waterston’s Nick across the bay in a small boat, fumbling for his nearly-drowned hat while his narration relays his father’s time-tested advice to check one’s privilege prior to criticizing anyone. Continue reading →
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.01)
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief
North Caldwell, New Jersey, Summer 1998
Series:The Sopranos Episode: “The Sopranos” (Episode 1.01) Air Date: January 10, 1999 Director: David Chase Creator: David Chase Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Father’s Day today often means cookouts and looking ahead to the start of summer. From its first episode, The Sopranos centered around the two “families” beleaguering Tony Soprano: the network of gangsters comprising the DeMeo crime family and as the suburban dad at the head of his biological family.
On a day celebrating dads and to honor James Gandolfini on the ninth anniversary of his death, let’s revisit the final scenes from the pilot episode as the actor ably balanced both of Tony’s “family” roles during a backyard cookout ostensibly for his son Anthony Jr.’s birthday. Continue reading →
Philip Baker Hall as Richard M. Nixon in Secret Honor (1984)
Philip Baker Hall as Richard M. Nixon, disgraced former U.S. President
New Jersey, early 1980s
Film:Secret Honor Release Date: July 6, 1984 Director: Robert Altman
This week, we learned that the great Philip Baker Hall died at the age of 90. Familiar as a recurring face in Paul Thomas Anderson movies and as the anachronistic, straight-talking “library cop” Bookman on an early Seinfeld episode, Hall’s breakthrough screen performance was reprising his stage role as a disgraced Richard Nixon in Secret Honor.
“You have read in the press the reasons for the Watergate affair. Today, my client is going to reveal to you the reasons behind the reasons,” Hall narrates into a tape recorder as the now-former President Nixon. It was fifty years ago today when five burglars were caught breaking into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate hotel, igniting a political scandal that resulted in the fall of a president and a widespread cynical distrust of American government.
Subtitled “A Political Myth”, Secret Honor was originally a one-man play written by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, who adapted their work for Robert Altman’s film of the same name. Avoiding caricature of an easily caricatured man, Hall portrayed Nixon—the only human who ever appears on screen—who spends the film’s hour-and-a-half runtime ranting to the contents of his study, specifically a tape recorder, an increasingly empty bottle of Scotch, a loaded revolver, his mother’s grand piano, and portraits of presidents and significant figures in his life from Henry Kissinger to his own mother. Continue reading →
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity (2002)
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of when The Bourne Identity was widely released, check out this comprehensive breakdown of how Matt Damon’s style as the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne, née David Webb, evolved over the course of the original Bourne trilogy and was updated a decade later in Jason Bourne.
Unlike his fellow J.B.-named super-spy, Bourne never dressed to impress, instead favoring a more subdued and utilitarian wardrobe consistent with the “gray man” philosophy of blending in, specifically in urban environments like the European capitals where he evades his one-time CIA overlords.
The Beach Boys, clockwise from left: Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, David Marks, Dennis Wilson. Photo by Ken Veeder, 1962.
The Beach Boys: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and David Marks
Malibu, California, Summer 1962
Photographs by Ken Veeder
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars and style icons rather than from specific productions.
Sixty years ago this month, The Beach Boys debuted their first arguable hit single, “Surfin’ Safari” (with “409” on the B side) for Capitol Records in June 1962. The group of southern California youngsters had released their first single (“Surfin'”) with the short-lived Candix Records the previous fall… and the resulting regional success essentially bankrupted the fledgling record company, who could barely afford to pay the group a thousand dollars in royalties for a single that had charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
After signing with Capitol Records, the teens realized they were now in the big leagues. When Brian Wilson turned 20 in June 1962, “Surfin’ Safari”—the simple song he’d written years earlier with his cousin Mike Love—was now rising up the Billboard charts to peak at #14. The lineup now consisted of Wilson and Love with Wilson’s younger brothers Dennis and Carl as well as the 13-year-old David Marks, who had replaced their friend Al Jardine in February, though Jardine—who had left the group to attend dental school—would be back to replace Marks within the year.
On October 1, 1962, Capitol released the first full-length Beach Boys album, named Surfin’ Safari after the hit single that led the album. As their song titles implied, the Beach Boys were heavily influenced by surf music pioneers like Dick Dale, adding harmonies that provided more mainstream pop appeal and popularized what came to be known as the “California sound”.
To visually communicate this West Coast spirit, Capitol photographer joined the Wilsons, Love, and Marks on the seaside sands of Paradise Cove in Malibu for an album cover shoot that would visually communicate the spirit of California with the boys, complete with Dennis’ nine-foot Hermosa surfboard and a palm frond-decorated yellow 1929 Ford Model A pickup truck that Capitol art director Ed Thrasher rented for $50 from a local “beach contractor” known as “Calypso Joe”. In the tradition of all the rising young bands of the day, the Beach Boys dressed identically for that overcast August afternoon in the surf, all clad in woolen board shirts that evoked the band’s original name: the Pendletones. Continue reading →
Anthony Quinn as Andrea Stavros in The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Anthony Quinn as Colonel Andrea Stavros, tough Greek officer
Middle East, Fall 1943
Film: The Guns of Navarone Release Date: April 27, 1961 Director: J. Lee Thompson Wardrobe Credit: Monty M. Berman & Olga Lehmann
Seersucker Thursday may be one of the few remaining bipartisan aspects of American politics. Inspired by the practice of early 20th century congressmen donning their tailored seersucker suits, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott reinstated the tradition in 1996, to be observed by men and women of the Senate on the second or third Thursday in June to coincide with National Seersucker Day, a standing celebration of the cool-wearing cloth.
There have certainly been more elegant showcases of seersucker suits in cinematic history, but one of the toughest examples can be seen with The Guns of Navarone‘s introduction of Colonel Andrea Stavros, the pipe-smoking officer of the Hellenic Army’s 19th Motorized Division. Continue reading →
Daniel Craig as James Bond in No Time to Die (2021)
Daniel Craig as James Bond, retired British secret agent
Jamaica to Cuba, Spring 2020
Film:No Time to Die Release Date: September 30, 2021 Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga Costume Designer: Suttirat Anne Larlarb
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy 00-7th of June! The weather continues warming up as we approach summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and I’m sure I won’t be alone in turning to James Bond for inspiration as I begin rotating summer style staples back to the front of my closet.
To dissect the phrasing of his literary creator, you could say James Bond had lived enough for two lifetimes by the time we find the globetrotting secret agent now retired toward the start of No Time to Die. Continue reading →