George Lazenby as James Bond, smooth British secret agent
Bern, Switzerland, Christmas Eve 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Wrapping up this winter Car Week on the 00-7th of December, let’s flash back to 1969 and Aussie actor George Lazenby’s sole adventure as James Bond. Whether the Bond production team was reversing its formula after the larger-than-life You Only Live Twice or playing it safe after Sean Connery left the role, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service closely follows the plot of Ian Fleming’s source novel, chronicling the agent’s romance with the self-destructive Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) as well as setting up his snowbound investigation of arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) at his research institute Piz Gloria, located high in the picturesque Swiss Alps.
The action culminates in a Christmas Eve confrontation that results in 007’s alpine getaway on commandeered skis, assisted by Tracy and her bright red 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 that had first captured his attention when they met in Portugal three months prior. Continue reading
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!
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 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
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
Kevin Costner as John Dutton, wealthy ranch patriarch and Montana Livestock Association commissioner
Western Montana, Fall 2017
– “Daybreak” (Episode 1.01, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 6/20/2018)
– “Kill the Messenger” (Episode 1.02, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 6/27/2018)
– “The Remembering” (Episode 1.06, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 8/1/2018)
– “A Monster Is Among Us” (Episode 1.07, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 8/8/2018)
– “A Thundering” (Episode 2.01, dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/19/2019)
– “New Beginnings” (Episode 2.02, dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/26/2019)
Creator: Taylor Sheridan & John Linson
Costume Designers: Ruth E. Carter & Brit Ellerman (Season 1) & Johnetta Boone (Season 2 onward)
Tomorrow night, the Dutton family returns to TV with the fifth season premiere of Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan and John Linson’s modern-day Western series chronicling the fictional conflicts of a cattle ranch, an Indian reservation, and land developers against a lush Montana landscape.
The series centers around the widowed Yellowstone Ranch patriarch, John Dutton III (Kevin Costner), who puts considerable thought into his words and actions and whose primary motivation seems to be proudly maintaining his ranch to continue his family’s legacy to his now-adult children. Continue reading
Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan, affable gardener and widowed father
Suburban Connecticut, Fall 1957
Film: Far From Heaven
Release Date: November 8, 2002
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
Far From Heaven premiered twenty years ago this week, a smart, sincere, and stylish drama that stands alone as a thoughtful story beyond its oft-discussed intentional parallels to the Douglas Sirk melodramas of a half-century prior.
The Sirk homages are evident not just in the autumnal photography but also the plot, recalling the romance between a woman and her gardener in All That Heaven Allows (1955) as well as the racial themes driving Imitation of Life (1959). In this case, the woman is housewife Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), who raises her friends’ eyebrows through her growing bond with Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), a kind gardener taking over his late father’s accounts. Continue reading
Roddy Piper as “Nada”, tough drifter and anti-alien vigilante
Los Angeles, Spring 1988
Film: They Live
Release Date: November 4, 1988
Director: John Carpenter
Costume Supervisor: Robin Michel Bush
Released on this day in 1988, They Live followed the example of most of John Carpenter’s work by finding a cult following considerably after it came out, though it debuted at the top of the North American box office.
Adapted from Ray Nelson’s 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”, They Live stars Canadian-born wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as an unnamed drifter who arrives in Los Angeles looking for work… and finds a box of sunglasses that literally open his eyes to the fact that an alien ruling class has been subliminally manipulating the public to conform, consume, and reproduce. Continue reading
Tom Savini as “Sex Machine”, whip-snapping biker
Mexico, Summer 1995
Film: From Dusk till Dawn
Release Date: January 17, 1996
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Costume Designer: Graciela Mazón
Though it may be a few days late to celebrate Halloween, it’s always the right time to celebrate Tom Savini, my fellow Pittsburgher who turns 76 tomorrow!
Born November 3, 1946, Savini grew up in the Bloomfield neighborhood and served in the Vietnam War before following his cinematic passion to become an iconic figure in horror movies, working extensively on both sides of the lens as a prosthetic makeup artist, stunt performer, actor, and director. (Non-horror fans may recognize Savini as the beleaguered shop teacher Mr. Callahan in the Pittsburgh-filmed The Perks of Being a Wallflower.)
Perhaps best known for his six (to date) collaborations with George A. Romero, Savini memorably appeared in From Dusk till Dawn, perhaps one of his earliest prominent roles in which he was solely credited as an actor. Savini co-stars as “Sex Machine”, a biker who becomes one of only a half-dozen initial survivors after the vampiric employees of a rowdy bar in the Mexican desert turn on its customers. Continue reading
Peter Cushing as Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing, occult researcher and descendant of the famous vampire hunter
London, Fall 1972… A.D. 1972, that is
Film: Dracula A.D. 1972
Release Date: September 28, 1972
Director: Alan Gibson
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Happy Halloween! Today’s post takes us back fifty years to 1972—A.D. 1972, to be exact—when Hammer Film Productions reunited Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the debonair vampire Count Dracula and his nemesis Van Helsing, respectively, for the first time since Dracula (1958), a.k.a. Horror of Dracula.
I was first made aware of Dracula A.D. 1972 by BAMF Style reader Alan, who had suggested Cushing’s wardrobe that remained timelessly tasteful despite the film’s setting at the dawn of the disco era. Continue reading
Kevin Costner as Lawrence “Crash” Davis, minor league baseball catcher
North Carolina, Spring and Summer 1987
Film: Bull Durham
Release Date: June 15, 1988
Director: Ron Shelton
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
Tonight is game 1 of the World Series! One of my favorite baseball movies, Bull Durham, shines a light on Minor League Baseball, based on writer and director Ron Shelton’s own experiences as a Minor League infielder.
When not following the national pastime and registry discussions out on the baseball diamond, the extremely quotable Bull Durham follows a romantic triangle with “Church of Baseball” groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) balancing her seductions between the Durham Bulls’ rookie pitcher Ebby “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) and catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), a veteran with 12 years in the minor leagues who’s been recruited onto the team to help temper LaLoosh’s wild pitching. (Crash’s name was inspired by real-life second baseman Lawrence “Crash” Davis, who played for the Durham Bulls in the late 1940s and befriended Shelton after the production.) Continue reading
Billy Crystal as Harry Burns, sarcastic political consultant and recent divorcée
New York City, Fall 1987
Film: When Harry Met Sally…
Release Date: July 14, 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Costume Designer: Gloria Gresham
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today being my wedding day (congratulations to me!) feels like an appropriate time to revisit the style of one of my favorite romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally. In addition to being a famously great fall movie, Rob Reiner’s chronicle of enemies-becoming-friends-becoming-lovers also demonstrates a surprising parade of great autumnal menswear, from Billy Crystal’s cozy sweaters to military surplus jackets. Continue reading