Category: Casual

The Yakuza: Ken Takakura’s Navy Baracuta G9

Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka in The Yakuza (1974)

Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka in The Yakuza (1974)

Vitals

Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka, disciplined ex-Yakuza

Tokyo, Spring 1974

Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

Background

Fans of ’70s action would no doubt appreciate The Yakuza, Paul Schrader’s debut screenplay, co-written with his brother Leonard Schrader based on Leonard’s own experiences in Japan. A driving factor that compelled the brothers to finish their initial script was the stoic screen presence of Ken Takakura, who appeared in the film as the ex-akuza gangster who now teaches kendo.

Ken takes up his sword as part of his giri with Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum), formerly a U.S. Marine MP who had dated Ken’s sister while serving in Tokyo during the post-WWII occupation of Japan. Loosely defined as a lifelong debt that can never truly be repaid, the giri concept is central to The Yakuza, in which Ken describes it to Harry as “the burden hardest to bear” and refuses to rid himself of his obligation even when Dusty (Richard Jordan) suggests that the nature of his debt is relatively arbitrary.

Having arrived in Japan in search of his associate’s kidnapped daughter, Harry seeks out Ken’s assistance, but the blood they spill rescuing the young woman results in Yakuza contracts placed on both Harry and Ken, a threat that can only be eliminated by Ken killing the powerful gangster Tono (Eiji Okada) with a sword. While Harry arms himself with a .45 and a double-barreled shotgun, Ken takes a katana to appropriately exact his vengeance on the dangerous crime boss.

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John Wayne in True Grit

John Wayne as Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn in True Grit (1969)

John Wayne as Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn in True Grit (1969)

Vitals

John Wayne as Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, tough Deputy U.S. Marshal

Fort Smith, Arkansas, into Indian Territory, Fall 1880

Film: True Grit
Release Date: June 12, 1969
Director: Henry Hathaway
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Wardrobe: Luster Bayless (uncredited)

Background

To commemorate John Wayne’s birthday 113 years ago today on May 26, 1907, let’s take a look at one of Duke’s most enduring roles and the one that won him the Academy Award after more than forty years making over 200 movies.

Swiftly adapted from Charles Portis’ source novel of the same name, True Grit follows 14-year-old Mattie Ross as she seeks the help of a drunken U.S. Marshal, chosen by virtue of his reputation as the meanest marshal, to avenge the murder of her father. Continue reading

Tony Soprano’s Aloha Panel-Print Shirt in “Irregular Around the Margins”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 5.05: "Irregular Around the Margins")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 5.05: “Irregular Around the Margins”)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

Newark, New Jersey, Spring 2004

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Irregular Around the Margins” (Episode 5.05)
Air Date: April 4, 2004
Director: Allen Coulter
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Memorial Day weekend has traditionally been the unofficial start of the summer season with cookouts and amusement park openings, despite the solstice itself still being a month away. (Today also concludes Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, highlighting a topic that anchors to The Sopranos‘ central narrative.)

Many spent time during self-isolation this spring to catch up on classic TV shows, with The Sopranos frequently cited as a show that people were re-watching or discovering for the first time. As we’re hopefully moving away from the weeks and months of social distancing, I want to take a look at one of many summer-friendly looks from the show’s central character, conflicted Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano played by James Gandolfini, who deservedly racked up three Emmy Awards among other accolades for his portrayal. Tony brings a summery sartorial spirit to a moment of isolated indoor frivolity in “Irregular Around the Margins”, the memorable fifth episode of The Sopranos‘ fifth season.

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Grand Prix: James Garner’s Derby-Style Jacket

James Garner as Pete Aron in Grand Prix (1966)

James Garner as Pete Aron in Grand Prix (1966)

Vitals

James Garner as Pete Aron, determined Formula One driver

Monaco, Spring 1966

Film: Grand Prix
Release Date: December 21, 1966
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Supervisor: Sydney Guilaroff

Background

The 2020 Monaco Grand Prix was to begin today, which also commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Monaco Grand Prix’s first inclusion in the inaugural FIA World Championship. Unfortunately, the spread of the dangerous coronavirus pandemic resulted in the race being cancelled for the first time since the 1954 Formula One season.

“In my opinion, still the best picture ever made about auto racing,” wrote James Garner in his memoir, The Garner Files, an opinion into which I put a lot of stock given the actor’s real-life passion for racing and his characteristic modest regarding his own cinematic career. Continue reading

Jurassic Park: Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm

Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park (1993)

Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park (1993)

Vitals

Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, “rock star” chaos theorist

“Isla Nublar”, 120 miles west of Costa Rica, Summer 1993

Film: Jurassic Park
Release Date: June 11, 1993
Director: Steven Spielburg
Costumes: Mitchell Ray Kenney, Sue Moore, Kelly Porter, and Eric H. Sandberg

Background

International Dinosaur Day is celebrated twice a year, always on June 1st but also the third Tuesday in May, making today—May 19, 2020—the first observance of Dinosaur Day for the year. Why the chaotic timing?

The answer to questions like that may rest with a chaos theorist like Dr. Ian Malcolm, the swaggering, skeptical, and somewhat frantic mathematician portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel.

“I bring the scientists, you bring a rock star,” the park’s exuberant founder John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) comments upon the first impressions that Dr. Malcolm makes on Hammond’s distinguished guests from the scientific community, Drs. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern).

“You’ll have to get used to Dr. Malcolm, he suffers from a deplorable excessive personality… especially for a mathematician,” Hammond adds. “Chaotician,” Ian corrects.

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Mad Men, 1970 Style – Don’s Finale Flannel

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.14: "Person to Person")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.14: “Person to Person”)

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself

“Somewhere in California”, Fall 1970

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14)
Air Date: May 17, 2015
Director: Matthew Weiner
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Five years ago today, Mad Men‘s final episode “Person to Person” aired on AMC, concluding a decade’s worth of storytelling as we followed advertising director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his family and colleagues as they navigated the tumultuous 1960s.

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Martin Sheen in Badlands

Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers in Badlands (1973)

Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers in Badlands (1973)

Vitals

Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers, garbage collector-turned-spree killer

South Dakota through the Montana Badlands, Spring 1959

Film: Badlands
Release Date: October 15, 1973
Director: Terrence Malick
Costume Designer: Rosanna Norton (uncredited)
Wardrobe Credit: Dona Baldwin

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Terrence Malick made his impressive cinematic debut writing, producing, and directing Badlands, the romanticized re-interpretation of the infamously violent crime spree of Charles Starkweather and his teenage girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, that left ten dead across the Great Plains during eight brutal and bloody days in January 1958. Continue reading

From Here to Eternity: Montgomery Clift’s Aloha Shirts

Montgomery Clift as Private Prewitt in From Here to Eternity (1953)

Montgomery Clift as Private Prewitt in From Here to Eternity (1953)

Vitals

Montgomery Clift as Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, U.S. Army bugler and “thirty-year man”

Honolulu, Hawaii, Summer through Fall 1941

Film: From Here to Eternity
Release Date: August 5, 1953
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Costume Designer: Jean Louis

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

April showers are said to bring May flowers, so let’s get into the spirit of the season with the classic floral shirts in From Here to Eternity, an adaptation of James Jones’ novel set on a U.S. Army infantry base in Hawaii during the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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The Office: Florida Stanley

Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson on The Office (Episode 8.15: "Tallahassee")

Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson on The Office (Episode 8.15: “Tallahassee”)

Vitals

Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson, bored paper company salesman

Tallahassee, Florida, Late February 2012

Series: The Office
Episode: “Tallahassee” (Episode 8.15)
Air Date: February 16, 2012
Director: Matt Sohn
Creator: Greg Daniels
Costume Designer: Alysia Raycraft

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Thanks to a “Celebrate Every Day” calendar I received from my girlfriend marking quirky observances throughout the year, I’m privileged to know that April 26 is celebrated as National Pretzel Day. And, of course, hearing the words “pretzel day” should remind most people of one man in particular:

"I like pretzel day." - Stanley Hudson

While there’s little that’s significant or interesting about how Stanley Hudson dresses for day after excruciating day racking up sales (or, more often, crossword puzzle victories), we see a whole different side of the banal salesman when he successfully campaigns to join a select team from his office for an extended business trip to Florida. Continue reading

Gary Cooper’s Picnic Blazer and Day Cravat in Love in the Afternoon

Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon (1957)

Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon (1957)

Vitals

Gary Cooper as Frank Flannagan, wealthy playboy industrialist

Yvelines, France, Summer 1957

Film: Love in the Afternoon
Release Date: May 29, 1957
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Jay A. Morley, Jr. (uncredited)

Background

April 23 is celebrated as National Picnic Day, an observance that can still be observed in relative isolation for those willing and able to safely venture outdoors. The word “picnic” derives from the late 17th century French word pique-nique that had originally described restaurant diners who brought their own wine, essentially an early form of BYOB. In the years following the French revolution, the word took on its more familiar connotation as the country’s royal parks were opened to the greater public, who would spend hours and even days preparing lavish luncheons for outdoor dining. Given this French association, let’s check in on two classic film stars enjoying a picnic near Château de Vitry in the 1957 romantic comedy Love in the Afternoon.

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