Category: Two-Piece Suit

Fred Astaire’s Stone “Girl Hunt” Suit in The Band Wagon

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon (1953)

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon (1953)

Vitals

Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star

New York, Spring 1953

Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg

Background

Today marks what would have been the 120th birthday of Fred Astaire, the renowned Nebraska-born dancer and singer whose prolific career on stage and screen extended more than three quarters of a century.

The Band Wagon (1953) is considered a highlight of the entertainer’s career, starring Astaire as a once-famous musical star who hopes to revive his career with a major Broadway production. Even if you’re not into musicals, it’s hard not to appreciate Astaire’s elegant footwork as he masterfully dances through the film’s culminating number, “Girl Hunt”, based on the novels of Mickey Spillane. Continue reading

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From Russia With Love – Kerim Bey’s Beige Suit

Pedro Armendáriz as Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love (1963)

Pedro Armendáriz as Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love (1963)

Vitals

Pedro Armendáriz as Ali Kerim Bey, gregarious MI6 station chief

Istanbul, Turkey, Spring 1963

Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Kerim Bey, the gregarious head of MI6’s Station T (T for Turkey), is one of the more memorable characters from the early films of the James Bond franchise. A proudly streetwise counter to the taciturn and sophisticated agent 007, the two got on like gangbusters. It’s tragic that Kerim was designated by Ian Fleming as the story’s “sacrificial lamb” as it would have been satisfying to follow his interactions with Bond across multiple adventures à la Felix Leiter or even René Mathis, who actually returned in Fleming’s novel version of From Russia With Love, though Armendáriz’s death would have prevented this anyway. Today’s 00-7th of May post is a tribute to this charismatic character. Continue reading

Gig Young in That Touch of Mink

Gig Young as Roger in That Touch of Mink (1962)

Gig Young as Roger in That Touch of Mink (1962)

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Gig Young as Roger, neurotic financial advisor

New York City, Spring 1962

Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann

Background

Though not regarded among the best of either Cary Grant or Doris Day’s filmographies, That Touch of Mink will always have a special place for me as one of the movies I used to watch with my grandma, who introduced me to many classic stars from the era through her collection of VHS tapes that we watched nearly to oblivion.

In this romantic comedy, it’s the leads’ best friends who are the most fun to watch, both Audrey Meadows (who Grant—a fan of her work on The Honeymooners—campaigned to have added to the cast) and Gig Young as Grant’s right-hand man.

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Arabesque – Gregory Peck’s Brown Flannel Suit

Gregory Peck as David Pollock in Arabesque (1966)

Gregory Peck as David Pollock in Arabesque (1966)

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Gregory Peck as David Pollock, American hieroglyphics professor

London, June 1965

Film: Arabesque
Release Date: May 5, 1966
Director: Stanley Donen
Tailor: H. Huntsman & Sons, London

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today marks the 103rd birthday of Eldred G. Peck, better known to the world as Gregory Peck after dropping his first name in pursuit of his now legendary acting career. Peck received five Academy Award nominations over the course of his career, finally winning the Best Actor statue for his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Later in the decade, Peck starred opposite his friend Sophia Loren in Arabesque, Stanley Donen’s follow-up to Charade that—like its predecessor—blended elements of comedy, espionage, and romance into one Hitchcockian package, though even Donen had to admit that the film was more style than substance.

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Jimmy Stewart’s Blue-Gray Flannel Suit in Vertigo

James Stewart as John "Scottie" Ferguson in Vertigo (1958)

James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson in Vertigo (1958)

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James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective

San Francisco, Fall 1957

Film: Vertigo
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

In the spirit of yesterday, March 12, being deemed Alfred Hitchcock Day, not to mention being one week away from the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, even if the weather itself can’t make up its mind…

For those whose offices call for jackets and ties, dressing for work during these transitional weather periods can be a challenge, balancing professionalism with comfort in the context of an uncertain weather forecast. As San Francisco detective “Scottie” Ferguson in Vertigo, James Stewart provides a solution.

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Lee Marvin’s Plaid Suit in Prime Cut

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut (1972)

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut (1972)

Vitals

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin, mob enforcer

Kansas City, summer 1972

Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Lee Marvin’s submachine gun-packing mob enforcer Nick Devlin gets plenty of opportunities for badass action in Michael Ritchie’s sophomore film, Prime Cut, but the smooth gangster also takes the chance to show a more genteel side, such as when escorting Poppy (Sissy Spacek) to a fancy dinner in a hotel restaurant.

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The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Brown Striped Suit

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

Background

The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and ClydeDillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.

Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.

The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.

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