Roland Young as William Henry Blore in And Then There Were None (1945)
Roland Young as William Henry Blore, oblivious private investigator
Devon, England, Summer 1945
Film:And Then There Were None Release Date: October 30, 1945 Director: René Clair Costume Designer: René Hubert (uncredited)
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The great English character actor Roland Young died 70 years ago today on June 5, 1953. Perhaps best known for his Academy Award-nominated performance as Cosmo Topper in Topper (1937) and its two subsequent sequels, Young was also a memorable performer among the ensemble cast of René Clair’s 1945 adaptation of And Then There Were None. Continue reading →
Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy on Succession (Episode 4.06: “Living+”)
Jeremy Strong as Kendall Roy, ambitious corporate climber and recovering addict
Los Angeles, Fall 2020
Series:Succession Episodes: – “The Munsters” (Episode 4.01, dir. Mark Mylod, aired 3/26/2023)
– “Living+” (Episode 4.06, dir. Lorene Scafaria, aired 4/30/2023)
Creator: Jesse Armstrong Costume Designer: Michelle Matland
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The first episode of Succession aired five years ago today on June 3, 2018. Now, less than a week after the fourth and final season concluded last Sunday, we finally have an answer to the question posited since the beginning about who would assume leadership of the Murdoch-inspired media conglomerate Waystar RoyCo after the death of its domineering founder, Logan Roy (Brian Cox).
Despite the ensemble cast that includes three—occasionally four—of Logan’s children vying for the role, @MarkHarrisNYC tweeted yesterday that “the series never forgot that its central four-season plot question was not ‘Who’s going to get it?’ but ‘Is Kendall going to get it or not?'” Continue reading →
Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Tom Ewell as Richard Sherman, imaginative publishing executive and a self-described “foolish, well-to-do married man”
New York City, Summer 1955
Film:The Seven Year Itch Release Date: June 3, 1955 Director: Billy Wilder Costume Designer: Travilla Wardrobe Director: Charles Le Maire Men’s Wardrobe: Sam Benson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Born 97 years ago today on June 1, 1926, Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe may be indelibly associated with the iconic image of the star’s white dress being blown upwards by a subway grate on Lexington Avenue. The much-photographed moment was part of a scene in The Seven Year Itch, which premiered on Monroe’s 29th birthday before its wider release later that month.
The title and concept were inspired by a then-common psychological term for the period in a marriage when a partner’s eye supposedly begins to wander, aligned with the mid-20th century practice of wives and children traveling to the country or seaside for the summer while their husbands remain in the city to work… though The Seven Year Itch proposes that their work was more focused on bedrooms than boardrooms. (Mad Men fans may recall a relevant plot from the first season episode “Long Weekend”, set during Labor Day 1960.)
After shipping his wife Helen and son Ricky up to Maine, our protagonist Richard Sherman seems to think he’s above that level of sleaze… until a falling tomato plant introduces him to The Girl, a voluptuous blonde living upstairs in a neighboring couple’s apartment for the summer:
Boy, if anybody were to walk in here right now, would they ever get the wrong idea… cinnamon toast for two, strange blonde in the shower, you go explain that to someone. Don’t tell ’em you spent the whole night wrapping a paddle!
Inexplicably billed as “Tommy Ewell”, Tom Ewell reprised the role he originated on Broadway as Richard Sherman. Viennese-born actress Vanessa Brown (who had an IQ of 165 and whose family fled Europe in 1937 to avoid Nazi persecution) had played The Girl on stage, but the part was recast for the screen, in turn providing Marilyn Monroe with one of her most enduring performances. Interestingly, there were several actors considered to play Richard before the part went to Ewell, who had already won a Tony for his stage portrayal and wasn’t expecting to be cast. Despite that, there was never any question that The Girl would be played on screen by anyone but Monroe. Continue reading →
Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice (2006)
Colin Farrell as James “Sonny” Crockett, maverick Miami-Dade PD undercover detective
Miami to Havana, Summer 2005
Film:Miami Vice Release Date: July 28, 2006 Director: Michael Mann Costume Design: Michael Kaplan & Janty Yates Colin Farrell’s Costumer: Jody Felz
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Ahead of Colin Farrell’s birthday tomorrow, I want to take a much-requested look at his style in Miami Vice, Michael Mann’s cinematic adaptation of the iconic TV show he had executive-produced in the 1980s.
The mid-2000s had been full of movies inspired by TV shows of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s… just off the top of my head, Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazzard, Get Smart, I Spy, and Starsky & Hutch come to mind. Rather than these nostalgia-driven quasi-parodies, Miami Vice surprised audiences as more of a gritty reimagining than the pastel pastiche they may have been expecting. Though critical and audience reception was lukewarm at the time, the movie has grown a more positive reputation over the years, thanks in part to a dedicated cult following.
The 2006 update maintained the core essence, characters, and overall concept, though the vibes were updated from the vibrant ’80s aesthetic to match the darker tones of a decade that also rebooted larger-than-life characters like Batman and James Bond in more serious movies like Batman Begins and Casino Royale, respectively. Instead of Gotham’s Dark Knight and agent 007, our heroes are the ice-cool undercover cops James “Sonny” Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, played by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in the roles originated by Don Johnson and EGOT hopeful Philip Michael Thomas. Continue reading →
Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Charles Bronson as “Harmonica”, vengeful drifter
Arizona, circa 1875
Film:Once Upon a Time in the West (Italian title: C’era una volta il West) Release Date: December 21, 1968 Director: Sergio Leone Costume Designer: Carlo Simi
After establishing the spaghetti Western with the popular “Dollars trilogy”, Sergio Leone had intended to move away from the genre until Paramount Pictures compelled him to follow up his success with another Western. With Paramount’s substantial budget in his coffers, Leone reteamed with iconic composer Ennio Morricone and cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, working with Dario Argento and Bernardo Bertolucci (and, once production began, also Sergio Donati) to conceptualize the vengeance-driven epic that would become Once Upon a Time in the West.
Unlike the Dollars trilogy, which invariably starred Clint Eastwood among a mostly Italian and Spanish cast (with the rare exception for Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach), Once Upon a Time in the West featured a cast well-known to Americans, led by Henry Fonda playing one of the few villains of his career. The cast also included Claudia Cardinale (who was a Tunisian-born Italian actress but known to Americans thanks to films like The Pink Panther), Jason Robards, Keenan Wynn, American Western regulars like Jack Elam and Woody Strode, and Charles Bronson, who was recruited after Eastwood turned down the role. Continue reading →
Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance (1993)
Christian Slater as Clarence Worley, newlywed rockabilly enthusiast and former comic store clerk
Mojave Desert, Spring 1992
Film: True Romance Release Date: September 10, 1993 Director: Tony Scott Costume Designer: Susan Becker
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The Friday before Memorial Day has been designated National Road Trip Day, celebrating the open road and the start of the summer travel season. As this year is also the 30th anniversary of the Quentin Tarantino-penned, Tony Scott-directed genre-blender True Romance, let’s follow the felonious newlyweds Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) as they make their way west from Detroit in the Elvis-obsessed Clarence’s pink Cadillac convertible. Continue reading →
Series:I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson Created by: Tim Robinson & Zach Kanin Season 1 Costume Designer: Emily Ting Season 2 Costume Designer: Monica Chamberlain
We all know that triples is best, so the third season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson will premiere on Corncob TV Netflix just under a week from now on Tuesday, May 30.
I Think You Should Leave often steps beyond the line into absurdity, though its costume designers Emily Ting and Monica Chamberlain have always dressed its characters to realistic perfection, adding a familiar verisimilitude that communicates so much about them in the few minutes we spend with each, whether that’s representing the hoodie culture of millennial-run agencies, a drivers’ ed teacher whose baggy polo probably even predates his instructional videos, and the insufferably pedantic jazz fan Howie (Tim Heidecker) poorly layering an open button-up shirt over a black T-shirt with slightly longer sleeves.
I could go on about the understated brilliance of I Think You Should Leave‘s costume design, but I’ll instead limit my focus to the handful of sketches that have centered around clothing, from ridiculous inventions like a T-shirt designed to be tugged or trousers designed to look pissed-in to men who invest in ludicrously patterned shirts and ill-conceived fedoras. Continue reading →
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022). Photo by John Wilson.
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, famous Southern detective
Spetses, Greece, May 2020
Film:Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery Release Date: November 23, 2022 Director: Rian Johnson Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan
Three years ago this month, eccentric billionaire tech developer Miles Bron (Edward Norton) pulled together a half-dozen of his closest friends frenemies for a weekend at his private Greek island. It’s May 2020, and—as in real life—the height of the COVID-19 lock-downs, though there appear to be no restrictions for Miles’ upper-class coterie.
While Miles welcomes some from outside his college clique, such as the laidback loafer Derol (Noah Segan), he’s unpleasantly surprised to greet the woman he had known as his former business partner Andi Brand (Janelle Monáe) and the famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). Continue reading →
James Stewart as Frank Towns in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
James Stewart as Frank Towns, experienced cargo pilot and war veteran
Libyan desert, Spring 1965
Film:The Flight of the Phoenix Release Date: December 15, 1965 Director: Robert Aldrich Costume Designer: Norma Koch
James Maitland Stewart had to fly. His earliest memories of flight involved colorful covers of Literary Digest depicting the Great War, then in progress, and the incredible use of air power by both sides. Jim tacked up each magazine cover on the wall in his bedroom. “Airplanes were the last thing I thought of every night and the first thing I thought of every morning,” he would say as an adult.
— Robert Matzen, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, Chapter 1
Born 115 years ago today on May 20, 1908, Jimmy Stewart had a lifelong passion for flight that followed him through his career, from the model airplane he lovingly constructed with Henry Fonda during their salad days on Broadway through his celebrated service flying dangerous combat missions as a U.S. Army Air Forces officer during World War II. Reticent to discuss his service after the war, Stewart flew B-24 Liberators on 20 combat missions over Europe and, by war’s end, was one of only a handful of Americans to rise from the rank of private to colonel in only four years.
Aviation continued to be a theme of Stewart’s life during his postwar film career, often starring in flight-themed dramas like No Highway in the Sky (1951), The Glenn Miller Story (1954), Strategic Air Command (1955), and The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), playing famed aviator Charles Lindbergh.
One of the last—and perhaps best—of Stewart’s aviation-centered films is The Flight of the Phoenix, Robert Aldrich’s 1965 survival drama based on Elleston Trevor’s novel of the same name. Stewart plays civilian cargo pilot Frank Towns, described by his navigator Lew Moran (Richard Attenborough) as “one of the few really great pilots left in this push-button world of yours.” Continue reading →
Leo Woodall and Haley Lu Richardson on The White Lotus (Episode 2.05: “That’s Amore”)
Leo Woodall as Jack, a brash young man from Essex who is close to his uncle
Sicily, Summer 2022
Series:The White Lotus Episode: “That’s Amore” (Episode 2.05) Air Date: November 27, 2022 Director: Mike White Creator: Mike White Costume Designer: Alex Bovaird
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The warmer weather may be inspiring you to plan for a late spring break or start prepping for summer vacations. With the recent announcement that the third season of The White Lotus, Mike White’s anthology of doomed vacationers, will be set in Thailand, I returned to the style from the series’ second season set in sunny Sicily… specifically a style that I was pleasantly surprised to see had long been in my own closet!
Rather than being a guest at the resort, the cocksure Jack (Leo Woodall) is connected to the coterie of Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his “high-end gays” who entertain the oblivious Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) and her Gen-Z assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) on their yacht Ethna en route Palermo. Quentin describes the outgoing yet shady young man from Essex as his “cheeky nephew”, who initially seems to be the answer to Portia’s wish for a simple, adventurous fling before she and her employer begin seeing the far more sinister reality underscoring their association. Continue reading →