Robert De Niro as Sam, professional mercenary thief and ex-CIA operative
Nice, France, December 1997
Release Date: September 25, 1998
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Designer: May Routh
I recently received a request to explore Robert De Niro’s outfit in Ronin when his ex-CIA thief Sam accompanies Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) on a recon mission in Nice. Deirdre has hired Sam’s crew to attack an armed convoy to steal an unidentified briefcase that would serve as the film’s MacGuffin.
Rather than bothering with spy cameras and tactics, Sam merely brings Deirdre and his Leica R6 2 camera to the luxurious Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic (actually located in Cannes), posing as a pair of tourists and thus not raising any suspicions as they take a considerable amount of photos to prepare for the job. Continue reading
Harrison Ford as Han Solo, world-weary smuggler and former resistance leader
A Long Time Ago in Galaxy Far Far Away
Film: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Release Date: December 18, 2015
Director: J.J. Abrams
Costume Designer: Michael Kaplan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
With the upcoming release of Solo: A Star Wars Story this month, I’m honoring May the fourth with another look at everyone’s favorite intergalactic scoundrel.
Rey: You’re Han Solo?
Han Solo: I used to be.
Brad Pitt as Tom Bishop, experienced CIA operative and U.S. Marine
Beirut, Summer 1985
Film: Spy Game
Release Date: November 21, 2001
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
Halfway through Tony Scott’s espionage thriller Spy Game, we get to the operation that led to the expository situation of rogue CIA agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) landing himself in Chinese captivity in the midst of secret trade negotiations.
As his one-time mentor Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) explains to agency top brass, Bishop arrived in Beirut in 1985 under the cover of a photojournalist (“he was good, he was talented, he had a good eye… probably had a photography merit badge stuffed in the drawer at home”) to try to get close to the family doctor of their target, Sheik Salameh. Along the way, Bishop breaks the rules and falls for one of his assets, a mysterious Brit named Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack), and is eventually forced to choose between his assignment and his amour. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, baseball prodigy and “middle-aged rookie”
New York, June 1939
Film: The Natural
Release Date: May 11, 1984
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Design: Gloria Gresham & Bernie Pollack
Baseball season is back and in full swing (forgive the pun), and I’m feeling much better about it this year after my hometown Pirates won their home opener against the Twins yesterday, making us 4-0 for the season… after last year, I’ll take all the hope I can get! In the spirit of America’s pastime, today’s post explores one of the great baseball movies ever made.
Based on Bernard Malamud’s 1952 debut novel – and considered by many to be an improvement on it – The Natural stars Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, an earnest, homespun, and sincere baseball player whose sole ambition is glory on the diamond. As he himself wonders, “What else is there?”
Of course, when we first meet Roy Hobbs in media res, you’d never know it to look at him that he was about to embark on his last shot at big-league stardom.
Steve McQueen, iconic American actor
Fall 1964, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Photographs by William Claxton
Happy birthday to Steve McQueen, born March 24, 1930, in Beach Grove, Indiana, then a small town of barely more than 3,500 people. By the age of eight, he had already received his first bike (well, a tricycle) and his first watch (a gold pocket watch from his uncle), two items that would become very important to his life and legacy. By the time McQueen died of cardiac arrest in November 1980, the “King of Cool” had cemented a place among the greatest American icons of screen and style through his performances in films like The Great Escape, Bullitt, and The Thomas Crown Affair, and his lifelong passion for racing and rebellion.
Edward Fox as “The Jackal”, mysterious professional assassin
Southern France, near Grasse, August 1963
Film: The Day of the Jackal
Release Date: May 16, 1973
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Costume Design: Joan Bridge, Rosine Delamare, and Elizabeth Haffenden
The only time we see Edward Fox’s enigmatic Jackal in a non-earthtone ensemble outside of his numerous disguises is this brief interlude for a summer evening in the south of France, near Grasse, as he chats up Colette (Delphine Seyrig) in a hotel parlor. His seduction induces Colette into his cadre of temporarily useful – but ultimately disposable – assets as he kills his way across Europe to his ultimate target. Continue reading
Humphrey Bogart as Harry Morgan, cynical fishing boat captain
Fort-de-France, Martinique, Summer 1940
Film: To Have and Have Not
Release Date: October 11, 1944
Director: Howard Hawks
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today in 1957, the world lost one of the most iconic actors of the classic Hollywood era with the death of Humphrey Bogart at the age of 57. In the last days of his life, Bogie was surrounded by friends and loved ones like Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, and his loving wife, Lauren Bacall.
Bogie and Bacall had first met 14 years earlier when she was making her debut in To Have and Have Not, an adaptation of what director Howard Hawks considered to be the worst of Ernest Hemingway’s novels that would translate to the screen as a war romance full of wit, style, and intrigue in the tradition of Casablanca, the film that had cemented Bogart’s stardom two years earlier. Continue reading