Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, eagerly romantic millionaire and bootlegger
Long Island, New York, Summer 1922
Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin
On the eve of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday, let’s look at the most recent major adaptation of his most famous work, The Great Gatsby. Fitz’s 1925 novel had been adapted for the big screen at least four times before Baz Luhrmann directed his colorful spectacle during the past decade.
Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Bratislava, Fall 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
Happy birthday to Timothy Dalton, born 74 years ago today on March 21, 1946! To celebrate the Welsh actor’s birthday, I want to revisit Dalton’s debut as James Bond, bringing a serious, Ian Fleming-influenced approach two decades before Daniel Craig would approach the role in a similar manner.
Dalton had long been a contender for the role, turning it down twice due to his youth when the filmmakers sought a replacement for Sean Connery and then for George Lazenby. When it was unclear if Roger Moore would return for his trio of 007 films in the ’80s, Dalton’s name came up each time, but it wasn’t until Pierce Brosnan was contractually obligated to turn down the role to return to Remington Steele in 1986 that a pathway was finally opened for Dalton, then 40 years old and seasoned enough to play the agent, to slip into Bond’s finely tailored dinner jacket for The Living Daylights. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Philip Shayne, smooth, sophisticated, and suave investment executive and “perfect gentleman”
Bermuda, Spring 1962
Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann
Tailor: Cardinal Clothes (credited “for Cary Grant’s suits”)
To commemorate the birthday of Cary Grant, born on this day in 1904, let’s celebrate the debonair actor who was seemingly born to wear a tuxedo. After three decades of a well-tailored career, the erstwhile Archie Leach sported his final on-screen dinner suit in the romantic comedy That Touch of Mink released in 1962, the same year as the first James Bond movie was released, thus heralding the transfer of the definitive screen dinner suit-wearer to 007. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Philip Adams, sophisticated playboy economist
London, Fall 1957 to Spring 1958
Release Date: June 26, 1958
Director: Stanley Donen
Happy birthday to the great Cary Grant, born 115 years ago today on January 18, 1904, in Bristol, England. Born Archibald Leach before he assumed his catchier stage name, Grant’s signature screen presence blended his self-deprecating sense of humor with peerless suavity in both attitude and style. Grant’s popularity during the mid-20th century and the height of the dinner suit’s ubiquity meant the debonair actor would don a tuxedo almost as frequently as James Bond… and it’s not surprising to hear that Grant was an early contender for the role of 007, at least in the mind of the character’s creator Ian Fleming.
Between 1955 and 1962, Grant starred in seven contemporary-set films that didn’t require him to be in military uniform; of these, he sported a tuxedo in all but one (the lone exception, North by Northwest, featured the actor wearing arguably the most famous suit in movie history so there was little need for black tie.) In the middle of this impressive and stylish run of movies is Indiscreet, a Stanley Donen-directed romantic comedy that earned Grant his first of five Golden Globe nominations. Continue reading
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik
St. Petersburg, Russia, October 1910, and
London, November 1918
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
– “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses” (Episode 6), dir. Jim Goddard, aired 10/5/1983
– “After Moscow”(Episode 9), dir. Martin Campbell, aired 10/26/1983
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Reilly: Ace of Spies fictionalizes the exploits of Russian-born spy Sidney Reilly, often cited as a real-life basis for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. While the showrunners must have been cognizant of the need to place their suave British secret agent in a tuxedo, the series’ narrative also coincided with the rise of the dinner jacket over the first quarter of the 20th century.
Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges, millionaire and estranged family man
RMS Titanic, April 1912
Release Date: April 16, 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Before there was Kate and Leo, there was Barbara and Clifton.
To know me is to know my obsession with the Titanic and other maritime disasters of the early 20th century. SS Valencia, Empress of Ireland, Lusitania, Princess Sophia, Titanic‘s hospital sister ship Britannic… chances are that if it sank in the first few decades of last century, I know a thing or two about it.
It was today in 1912 that the RMS Titanic actually struck the iceberg that sank her. The collision happened around 11:40 p.m., North Atlantic time, on the night of Sunday, April 14. Compared to most of the other disasters in the previous paragraph, it took considerable time to sink, finally settling under the waves at 2:20 a.m. on the morning of Monday, April 15, 1912, ending more than 1,500 lives of the roughly 2,200 that had been aboard.
George Lazenby as James Bond, smooth British secret agent
Estoril, Portugal, September 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Tailor: Dimi Major
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
On the 00-7th of December, this Car Week post is focused on James Bond’s sole Christmastime adventure, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby as the suave secret agent.
The film opens with a scene straight out of the source novel as a competitive Bond engages in a playful “race” against a beautiful young woman speeding toward the beach in her convertible. Continue reading
Roger Moore as James Bond, suave and sophisticated British MI6 agent
Cairo, Egypt, August 1977
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
Release Date: July 7, 1977
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Tailor: Angelo Vitucci
A man in a sharply tailored tuxedo meets a beautiful woman over martinis in an exotic cocktail lounge. Hours later, he finds himself—Walther PPK in hand—stalking a seemingly unstoppable metal-mouthed killer through the Egyptian pyramids. This quintessential James Bond sequence is one of many iconic moments in Roger Moore’s third 007 outing, The Spy Who Loved Me, and it’s how I remember him on his first birthday since his passing last May at the age of 89. Continue reading
Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr, charming studio wunderkind
Hollywood, August 1936 through February 1937
Series: The Last Tycoon
– “Pilot” (Episode 1, dir. Billy Ray)
– “Eine Kleine Reichmusik” (Episode 5, dir. Gwyneth Horder-Payton)
– “A Brady-American Christmas” (Episode 6, dir. Stacie Passon)
– “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” (Episode 9, dir. Billy Ray)
Streaming Date: July 28, 2017
Developed By: Billy Ray
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Amazon recently announced the disappointing news that they are discontinuing production of The Last Tycoon, the second of its F. Scott Fitzgerald-inspired series to meet that fate following the cancellation of Z: The Beginning of Everything days earlier.
In its brief, nine-episode life, The Last Tycoon was true to its “golden age of Hollywood” roots with an emphasis on style rather than substance… but oh what style it was, and with strong performances to booth with Matt Bomer, Kelsey Grammer, Lily Collins, Rosemarie Dewitt, and others rounding out the talented cast of characters. Continue reading
Dean Martin, smooth and multi-talented entertainer
Burbank, California, 1965 to 1974
Series: The Dean Martin Show
Air Dates: September 16, 1965 – April 5, 1974
Director: Greg Garrison
Tailor: Sy Devore
On June 7, 1917, Dino Paul Crocetti was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to Angela and Gaetano Crocetti, the latter a barber from the Abruzzo region in Italy where much of my own family hails. One hundred years later, the world remembers him as Dean Martin, the charming crooner whose legendary career spanned half a century as a major headliner from nightclubs and casinos to movies and TV shows.
Effortlessly charismatic and unflappable, Dino brought his smooth star power to his popular comedy act with Jerry Lewis and later as a leader of the Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Continue reading