Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, eccentric and ambitious aviation and movie mogul
Los Angeles, Summer 1935
Film: The Aviator
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
Almost five years after the success of his World War I epic Hell’s Angels, Howard Hughes lands his seaplane at the beach to the tune of Bing Crosby crooning the 1933 ballad “Thanks”, backed by “musical host of the coast” Jimmie Grier and his Orchestra. The graceful approach of the Sikorsky S-38 “Flying Boat” and the dapper Hughes deplaning from it dazzles the cast and crew of Sylvia Scarlett, Katharine Hepburn’s first of four films with director George Cukor and co-star Cary Grant.
Richard Benjamin as Neil Klugman, listless library employee and Army veteran
Radcliffe College (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Fall 1968
Film: Goodbye, Columbus
Release Date: April 3, 1969
Director: Larry Peerce
Costume Designer: Gene Coffin
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Based on a novella by Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus marked the first major screen appearances for both Richard Benjamin and Ali MacGraw, who would receive a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer and a Laurel Award for Female New Face.
Goodbye, Columbus was released two years after The Graduate (though Roth’s source novella was published four years before Charles Webb’s The Graduate), and the similarities invited comparison between the two, with some critics like Dennis Schwartz favoring Goodbye, Columbus though it would be far lesser-known in the decades to follow. Continue reading
Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star
Washington, D.C., to Baltimore via train, Spring 1953
Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg
In addition to being Mother’s Day, today also commemorates the birthday of the multi-talented song-and-dance legend Fred Astaire, born May 10, 1899, in Omaha. To honor this elegant dance legend and suggest an outfit that your mother may appreciate as you’re delivering flowers (or communicating via FaceTime, depending on your level of pandemic-informed social distancing today), let’s take a look at a pleasant but all-too-briefly featured outfit from Astaire’s 1953 musical The Band Wagon.
Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate
Los Angeles, Late Spring 1967
Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt
The myriad impacts of the worldwide COVID-19 epidemic has included a halt on college graduation ceremonies, which would typically be occurring around this time; indeed, my own commencement was on April 30, nine years ago today.
The Graduate provided Dustin Hoffman with his breakout role as Benjamin Braddock, a recent graduate suffering from the ennui of balancing one’s achievements and desires with what’s expected of them. After a humiliating 21st birthday party where his parents forced him to scuba dive into the family pool in front of their friends, Benjamin asserts himself by arranging his first assignation with the seductive and unsatisfied Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) at the Taft Hotel (in fact, L.A.’s famous Ambassador Hotel), where he chain-smokes Parliaments and nurses a highball while waiting for her in the hotel lounge. At her prompting, he nervously reserves a room for them under the unconvincing alias of “Mr. Gladstone.” Continue reading
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)
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.
James Garner as Jim Rockford, wisecracking private detective and ex-convict
Los Angeles, Fall 1975
Series: The Rockford Files
– “The Farnsworth Strategem” (Episode 2.02, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 9/19/1975)
– “The Deep Blue Sleep” (Episode 2.05, dir. William Wiard, aired 10/10/1975)
– “Pastoria Prime Pick” (Episode 2.11, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 11/28/1975)
– “The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club” (Episode 2.13, dir. James Garner, aired 12/19/1975)
– “Joey Blue Eyes” (Episode 2.17, dir. Meta Rosenberg, aired 1/23/1976)
– “Foul on the First Play” (Episode 2.21, dir. Lou Antonio, aired 3/12/1976)
Creator: Roy Huggins & Stephen J. Cannell
Costume Designer: Charles Waldo
James Garner, one of my favorite actors, was born today in 1928. Shortly after his decorated Korean War service that provided him with the relevant background for his eventual role as “the scrounger” in The Great Escape (1963), Garner found early acting success in films like Sayonara (1957) and his breakout role on the ABC western series Maverick. Though he would enjoy an illustrious, varied career for six decades until his death of a heart attack in 2014, the role most associate with Garner is that of the affable, beach-dwelling private detective Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files.
Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, tough San Francisco Police Department inspector
San Francisco, August 1972
Film: Magnum Force
Release Date: December 25, 1973
Director: Ted Post
Costume Supervisor: Glenn Wright
When the first Dirty Harry sequel was being conceptualized in the early 1970s, Clint Eastwood recalled a plot line introduced by Terrence Malick in an unused first draft for Dirty Harry that was fleshed out by John Milius to center around a group of young rogue officers in the San Francisco Police Department who formed a secret vigilante “death squad” to rid the city of its worst criminals. This neatly responded to criticism of Harry Callahan’s methods from the first film, illustrating that while Harry may be an antihero comfortable with skirting red tape to get the job done, he doesn’t extend down into the villainous domain that truly takes the law into their own hands, illustrated by the movie’s repeated motif that “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Continue reading
Max von Sydow as G. Joubert, French Alsatian contract assassin
New York City and Washington, D.C., Winter 1975
Film: Three Days of the Condor
Release Date: September 24, 1975
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
You may be walking, maybe the first sunny day of the spring, and a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know – maybe even trust – will get out of the car, and he will smile a becoming smile… but he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.
Happy Spring to my BAMF Style readers in the Northern Hemisphere! Among the many screen credits of the late Max von Sydow, who died at the age of 90 earlier this month, was the taciturn professional assassin known as G. Joubert in the ’70s espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor.
Charlton Heston as Colonel Robert Neville, MD, former military scientist and resourceful survivor
Los Angeles, August 1977
Film: The Omega Man
Release Date: August 1, 1971
Director: Boris Sagal
Costumers: Margo Baxley & Bucky Rous
Tailor: Albert Mariani
The second of three adaptations of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend, The Omega Man stars Charlton Heston as Robert Neville, a survivor of a global pandemic. “The last man on earth… is not alone!” exclaimed the film’s advertising, and indeed Neville is forced to fortify himself into his home each night, warding off attacks from The Family, a violent cult of fellow survivors who—without the experimental vaccine that saved Neville—were mutated by the effects of the plague into nocturnal albinos.
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, “a private investigator of great renown”
Massachusetts, November 2018
Film: Knives Out
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Director: Rian Johnson
Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan
Happy birthday to Daniel Craig, born 52 years ago today on March 2, 1968! While Craig is likely best known as the most recent actor to portray James Bond, one of his most celebrated recent roles has been his Golden Globe-nominated performance in Knives Out as Benoit Blanc, an idiosyncratic detective who describes himself as a “respectful, quiet, and passive observer of the truth.”