Category: Film Noir Fashions

Gun Crazy: John Dall’s Tweed Jacket

John Dall as Bart Tare in Gun Crazy (1950)

John Dall as Bart Tare in Gun Crazy (1950)

Vitals

John Dall as Bart Tare, armed robber on the run

San Lorenzo Valley, California, Fall 1949, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Spring 1950

Film: Gun Crazy
(also released as Deadly is the Female)
Release Date: January 20, 1950
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Costume Designer: Norma Koch (credited with Peggy Cummins’ costumes only)

Background

Fifteen years after armed robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were ambushed and killed on a rural Louisiana road, one of the first attempts to adapt their story for the silver screen arrived in theaters. Sure, there had been Fritz Lang’s sympathetic melodrama You Only Live Once (1937) and the FBI-endorsed propaganda Persons in Hiding (1939), but Gun Crazy—released exactly 70 years ago today—most effectively latched onto the intrigue of a gun-toting couple on the run, and, “more than any other, emphasizes the powerful attraction of weaponry in the growing legend of Bonnie and Clyde,” according to John Treherne, author of The Strange History of Bonnie and Clyde.

Gun Crazy‘s telling original title of Deadly is the Female reflects the narrative leaning into the noir-esque premise of a dominating femme fatale, an expert in firearms who seduces her lovestruck fella into a life of crime… an inverse of the generally accepted reality of the relationship between violent manipulator Clyde Barrow and the vulnerable and troubled Bonnie Parker.

A year after his chilling turn as the calculating, Loeb-like murderer in Hitchcock’s Rope, John Dall stars as the malleable Bart Tare, who finds himself fatefully—and fatally—drawn to the voluptuous carnival sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), “the darling of London, England,” though it’s a toss-up whether it’s her tight pants, knowing wink, or dueling pistols that sink the hook into the already doomed Bart. Continue reading

In a Lonely Place: Bogie’s Dark Suit and Bow Tie

Humphrey Bogart as Dixon "Dix" Steele in In a Lonely Place (1950)

Humphrey Bogart as Dixon “Dix” Steele in In a Lonely Place (1950)

Vitals

Humphrey Bogart as Dixon “Dix” Steele, frustrated screenwriter who’s “been out of circulation too long”

Los Angeles, Summer 1949

Film: In a Lonely Place
Release Date: May 17, 1950
Director: Nicholas Ray

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

As #NoirVember continues, we shift our sartorial focus to a seminal figure in the development and enduring popularity of film noir: Humphrey Bogart. In movies like The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946), Bogie cemented the wisecracking private eye persona often driving the heart of this subgenre, but he did not play a detective in the suspenseful thriller considered to be among his best, In a Lonely Place.

This 1950 noir co-starred Gloria Grahame and directed by Nicholas Ray, her husband at the time, though both Bogie and screenwriter Edmund North had envisioned the then-Mrs. Bogart, Lauren Bacall, to take the role of the “sultry and smooth… striking-looking girl with high cheek bones and tawny hair” as the character of Laurel Gray was described in the North’s screenplay. While Warner Brothers refused to lend Bacall to Bogart’s Santana Productions, Bogie was able to keep the leading role to deliver one of the most explosive and authentic performances of his prolific career.

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Fred MacMurray’s Flannel Sport Suit in Double Indemnity

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity (1944)

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity (1944)

Vitals

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff, slick insurance salesman

Los Angeles, May through July 1938

Film: Double Indemnity
Release Date: July 3, 1944
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

What’d you think I was, anyway? A guy that walks into a good-lookin’ dame’s front parlor and says, “Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands. You got one that’s been around too long, one you’d like to turn into a little hard cash? Just give me a smile and I’ll help you collect?”

Let’s finally kick off Noir-vember with the quintessential film noir, Double Indemnity, the quotable masterpiece from the pen of James M. Cain, adapted for Billy Wilder’s screen direction by pulp writer Raymond Chandler and photographed by inventive cinematographer John F. Seitz. Double Indemnity is the one that has it all: the seductive femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck), the wisecracking protagonist willing to murder for her (Fred MacMurray), and the intrepid investigator, though in this case it’s not a trench coated private detective but an energetic, experienced, and irascible insurance claims manager played by Edward G. Robinson at his best.

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Bogart in The Big Sleep: Chalkstripe Flannel Double-Breasted Suit

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946).

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946).

Vitals

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, archetypal hard-boiled private detective

Los Angeles, Fall 1945

Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: August 23, 1946
Director: Howard Hawks
Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today is a pretty special day for me, and I’d like to celebrate the woman who is the Bacall to my Bogie by reflecting on The Big Sleep, which was originally released in theaters 70 years ago tomorrow, eight days after its premiere on August 23, 1946.

The Big Sleep was the second of four films starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The had originally met while filming her cinematic debut, To Have and Have Not, which was released on October 11, 1944, the very day after production began on The Big Sleep. (To Have and Have Not is also the first movie that my girlfriend and I watched together!) Continue reading

Bogart in The Big Sleep: Gray Birdseye Wool Suit

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946).

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946).

Vitals

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, archetypal hard-boiled private detective

Los Angeles, Fall 1945

Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: August 23, 1946
Director: Howard Hawks
Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The Big Sleep is often considered the apex of American film noir. Plot becomes secondary (and often disregarded) in favor of colorful characters made of private eyes, floozy femme fatales, and pornographers spitting snappy dialogue at each other against the backdrop of both the glamorous and seamy sides of the city. The same plot and characters from Raymond Chandler’s 1939 source novel are here, with the anti-Code elements like pornography and homosexuality all but removed. Continue reading

Bogart’s Trench Coat and Suit in Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942).

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942), surrounded by friends and foe.

Vitals

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, cynical “gin joint” manager

Casablanca, Morocco, December 1941

Film: Casablanca
Release Date: November 26, 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz

Background

Before Casablanca was released in 1942, Humphrey Bogart had spent the majority of his career in secondary roles as sniveling bastards. His first major role in The Petrified Forest saw him as a Dillinger-esque armed robber far more interested in his six-shooter than romance. He was the foil to Jimmy Cagney’s criminal “hero” in Warner Brothers gangster flicks like Angels With Dirty Faces and The Roaring Twenties, and it wasn’t until 1941 when he finally received star billing in both High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The latter film is often considered his breakout role as the cynical P.I. Sam Spade, but it wasn’t until a year later with Casablanca that he would finally be a romantic lead.

The role of Rick Blaine was perfect for Bogie, finally allowing him to develop a romantic depth to his character’s cynicism. Casablanca was never intended to be anything out of the ordinary, despite the cavalcade of stars and writers involved in its production. Many, including those at Warner Brothers, considered it to be a mere copy of the now-forgotten 1938 film Algiers. The film exceeded all expectations and is considered to be one of the few true masterpieces in cinema. It took home the three major production Oscars in 1943 for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard E. Koch, and an uncredited Casey Robinson), and shines a contemporary look at World War II. Continue reading