Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner, Hollywood screenwriter
Malibu, California, September 1947
Film: The Way We Were
Release Date: October 19, 1973
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins & Moss Mabry
Don’t take any crap…to the both of us… and all the absent friends, class of ’37.
Navy pals-turned-Tinseltown teammates Hubbell (Robert Redford) and J.J. (Bradford Dillman) cynically reflect on the decade since they graduated from college together, one world war and sold-out script later.
John Slattery as Roger Sterling, Madison Avenue ad executive
New York City, Fall 1966
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Far Away Places” (Episode 5.06)
Air Date: April 22, 2012
Director: Scott Hornbacher
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Tomorrow may have a storied association with cannabis, but today—April 19—has been deemed “Bicycle Day”, recognizing that wild Monday night in 1943 when Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann recognized the highly potent psychoactive properties of LSD during a mind-bending bicycle ride home from his Basel lab.
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Ferdinand Griffon, runaway husband
French Riviera, Summer 1965
Film: Pierrot le Fou
Release Date: November 5, 1965
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
He may spend most of Pierrot le Fou insisting his name is Ferdinand, but we all know he’s actually Jean-Paul Belmondo—also known as Bébel—the French star born 88 years ago today on April 9, 1933!
Pierrot le Fou was the third and final feature-length collaboration between Belmondo and Jean-Luc Godard, who had directed him to worldwide fame as the criminal protagonist in A bout de souffle (Breathless), considered a seminal work in establishing the French New Wave cinematic movement.
While both of these stylish films shared themes of criminality, philosophy, and doomed love, Pierrot le Fou pops from the screen with its colorful and surreal pop art-inspired presentation of the increasingly desperate Ferdinand Griffon abandoning his family life to join his dangerously free-spirited ex-girlfriend Marianne (Anna Karina) in a life of crime and seaside seclusion. Continue reading
Alec Baldwin as Frederick J. Frenger Jr., sociopathic ex-con
Miami, Fall 1989
Film: Miami Blues
Release Date: April 20, 1990
Director: George Armitage
Costume Designer: Eugenie Bafaloukos
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
I wanted to write about some pastels leading up to Easter and stumbled upon this chaotic look from Miami Blues, an adaptation of Charles Willeford’s 1984 novel that was the first in his Hoke Moseley series. “Nobody writes a better crime novel,” Elmore Leonard had once said of Willeford, who died in March 1988, two years before the novel made it to the screen. Miami Blues was only the second cinematic adaptation of a Willeford novel, following the 1974 release of Cockfighter starring Warren Oates.
Fred Ward—who also served as executive producer—starred as Moseley while Alec Baldwin (who celebrates his 63rd birthday today) played the sociopathic Frederick J. Frenger Jr., wreaking havoc through the Magic City with a badge stolen from Moseley. Continue reading
Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, “celebrity” gangster and casino builder
Los Angeles, Spring 1945 and Las Vegas, Fall 1946
Release Date: December 13, 1991
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Everybody deserves a fresh start once in a while.
At least three times while wearing this outfit alone, Warren Beatty’s Bugsy Siegel pontificates on the power of fresh starts. While the real Siegel may not have been quite as forgiving, Beatty plays him with the actor’s characteristic charisma to better communicate to audiences how a violent gangster could have charmed the stars of “golden age” Hollywood.
Sidney Poitier as Matt Younger, widowed father and clinic physician
London, Summer 1972
Film: A Warm December
Release Date: May 23, 1973
Director: Sidney Poitier
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
Happy birthday to screen legend Sidney Poitier, born 94 years ago today on February 20, 1927 in Miami. After two decades of screen success that landed him the Academy Award for Best Actor (and he remains both the oldest living and longest surviving recipient), Poitier began directing his own movies in the early 1970s, beginning with the groundbreaking 1972 Western Buck and the Preacher.
Poitier proved the diversity of his directorial talent by sliding to the other end of the genre spectrum the following year when he released the romantic drama A Warm December, in which he also starred as a recently widowed doctor who finds love across the Atlantic when he meets the magnetic Catherine (Esther Anderson) during an extended trip to London with his daughter.
Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella, cultured art critic and one-time novelist
Rome, Summer 2012
Film: The Great Beauty
(Italian title: La grande bellezza)
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Costume Designer: Daniela Ciancio
Tailor: Cesare Attolini
Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, and whether you’re celebrating with a great beauty in your life or observing Singles Appreciation Day, you may want to have some eye-catching red ready to wear in the spirit of the season.
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, calculating Mafia boss
Havana, December 1958, and Lake Tahoe, Spring 1959
Film: The Godfather Part II
Release Date: December 12, 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
When “gangster style” comes to mind, you may think first of the silk suits from Goodfellas or tracksuits of The Sopranos, but Michael Corleone established an aristocratic sense of style as he grew into his leadership role in accordance with his reserved nature. Continue reading
Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green, ambitious blues cornetist
Chicago, Summer 1927
Film: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Release Date: November 25, 2020
Director: George C. Wolfe
Costume Designer: Ann Roth
The late Chadwick Boseman was being named as an Oscar contender for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on the August Wilson play of the same name, even before it came out. We’re still two months away from the Academy Award nominations being announced, but Boseman has already received posthumous Best Actor wins from the Chicago Film Critics Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and Music City Film Critics’ Association for what turned out to be his final screen role.
The praise is well-deserved as the actor delivered a powerhouse performance as the hotheaded horn-blower Levee Green, an ambitious (and fictional) member of a four-piece band backing Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), the Mother of the Blues herself. The North Side neighborhood in my hometown of Pittsburgh was transformed to resemble roaring ’20s Chicago when production came to the Steel City two summers ago; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the only one of the ten plays in the Hill District-born Wilson’s “Century Cycle” not actually set in Pittsburgh.
Chadwick Boseman had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, never speaking publicly about his illness all the while delivering some of his most iconic performances in Marshall, Black Panther, and the two Avengers films to follow. Indeed, Boseman’s vigorous performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom belies his health at the time, and his fellow cast members remained unaware of his ongoing treatment for the cancer that would progress to stage IV before it ended his life at the age of 42 on August 28, 2020. Continue reading
Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner and World War II veteran
Pine Tree, Vermont, December 1954
Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Merry Christmas to all BAMF Style readers who celebrate! After a turbulent year, I know I’ve found comfort in the warm familiarity of the 1954 holiday classic White Christmas starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a pair of war buddies-turned-producers who stage yet another “yuletide clambake” to support their popular general (Dean Jagger)… as if you hadn’t already seen it!