Sidney Poitier in In the Heat of the Night

Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Vitals

Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, Philadelphia homicide detective

Sparta, Mississippi, September 1966

Film: In the Heat of the Night
Release Date: August 2, 1967
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine

Background

Happy birthday to the great Sidney Poitier, born 92 years ago today on February 20, 1927. The actor’s personal favorite among his prolific filmography is In the Heat of the Night, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1967, a year that found him pulling off a peerless hat trick that included that film as well as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and To Sir, with Love. Continue reading

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The Sopranos: Paulie’s Tan Leather Jacket in “Pine Barrens”

Tony Sirico as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in "Pine Barrens", the eleventh episode of the third season of The Sopranos.

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in “Pine Barrens”, the eleventh episode of the third season of The Sopranos.

Vitals

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran

New Jersey, January 2001

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Pine Barrens” (Episode 3.11)
Air Date: May 6, 2001
Director: Steve Buscemi
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

This year marks the 20th anniversary since The Sopranos made its debut on HBO, and the milestone has encouraged many to revisit the series, sharing their takes on their favorite episodes, characters, and moments. One episode that receives nearly unanimous praise is “Pine Barrens”, the famous third season episode that finds Jersey Mafia soldiers “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and his ostensible protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) stumbling through the snowy woods of south Jersey after a simple money pickup turns into a hit-gone-awry.

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Pal Joey: Sinatra’s Red Fleck Mess Jacket

Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans in Pal Joey (1957)

Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans in Pal Joey (1957)

Vitals

Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans, womanizing nightclub singer

San Francisco, Spring 1957

Film: Pal Joey
Release Date: October 25, 1957
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Jean Louis

Background

Joey Evans’s first night with the band finds him already complicating his romantic life, balancing his attraction to the demure singer Linda English (Kim Novak) with the vivacious ex-stripper Vera Prentice-Simpson (Rita Hayworth) when the band is hired to play a gig at Vera’s place as a fundraise for the local children’s hospital.

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Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Clint Ritchie as "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)

Clint Ritchie as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)

Vitals

Clint Ritchie as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, born Vincenzo Gabaldi, Chicago mob enforcer

Chicago, Winter 1928

Film: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Release Date: June 30, 1967
Director: Roger Corman

Background

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is one of the few true incidents from mob lore to have expanded into mainstream pop culture. The killing of seven men affiliated with Chicago’s North Side Gang on February 14, 1929, startled and intrigued the public with its brutality, and the event became symbolic of the ugly violence that permeated through Prohibition-era America. Continue reading

My Cousin Vinny

Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini in My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini in My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Vitals

Joe Pesci as Vincent LaGuardia “Vinny” Gambini, fledgling defense attorney

“Beechum County”, Alabama, January into February 1992

Film: My Cousin Vinny
Release Date: March 13, 1992
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Costume Designer: Carol Wood

Background

Happy birthday to Joe Pesci! Though the 76-year-old actor has been mostly retired from acting over the last two decades, he’s occasionally stepped back into the camera lens for a few sporadic screen appearances, most recently a Google Assistant ad that played during Super Bowl LIII and his latest collaboration with Martin Scorsese, The Irishman, scheduled to be released this fall.

Following his notable Oscar win for Goodfellas—and his short, humble acceptance speech that consisted solely of “It’s my privilege, thank you”—Pesci had some fun parodying his excitable screen persona in comedies like Home Alone, the Lethal Weapon series, and My Cousin Vinny.

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Hendley in The Great Escape

James Garner as Flight Lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

James Garner as Flight Lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

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James Garner as Robert Hendley, American-born RAF Flight Lieutenant and “scrounger”

Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944

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

Background

Steve McQueen’s daring Captain Hilts may get all the glory of The Great Escape‘s legacy, but James Garner’s affable and resourceful “scrounger” Hendley remains one of my favorite characters from any war movie.

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Clark Gable in It Happened One Night

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934)

Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934)

Vitals

Clark Gable as Peter Warne, recently fired newspaper reporter

Miami to New York, Spring 1933

Film: It Happened One Night
Release Date: February 22, 1934
Director: Frank Capra
Costume Designer: Robert Kalloch
Tailor: Eddie Schmidt

Background

Today marks the birthday of Clark Gable, born 118 years ago on February 1, 1901, as William Clark Gable, though he would shave off his first name to assume the stage name of Clark Gable by 1924. Within a decade, the young actor from Cadiz, Ohio, had turned Clark Gable into a household name.

Released 85 years ago this month, It Happened One Night earned Clark Gable his only Academy Award while also racking up wins in the category of Best Picture, Best Director (for Frank Capra), Best Actress (for Claudette Colbert), and Best Adapted Screenplay (for Robert Riskin). In the decades since, only two other movies have won this “big five” quinfecta of Oscar categories: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs. Esteemed company, indeed.

With Gable’s birthday today and the 91st Academy Awards just four weeks from now, let’s take a look at the dapper actor’s style in this trailblazing pre-Code comedy that’s still charming, witty, and ageless the better part of a century later. Continue reading