Jon Hamm as Don Draper, ad man at the pinnacle of professional success… and personal disillusionment
New York City, Summer 1970
Series: Mad Men
– “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), dir. Jennifer Getzinger, aired 4/19/2015
– “Time & Life” (Episode 7.11), dir. Jared Harris, aired 4/26/2015
– “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12), dir. Phil Abraham, aired 5/3/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Considering its significance, the final business suit that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) wears on-screen in Mad Men makes a rather ignominious debut, though it does get a shining moment of glory as Don – the erstwhile Dick Whitman – gets a glimpse of what he really wants his life to be.
Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe, American private investigator
London, September 1977
Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: March 13, 1978
Director: Michael Winner
Costume Designer: Ron Beck
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Raymond Chandler’s birthday was 130 years ago today (July 23, 1888), so I’m celebrating the hard-boiled author’s big day with a look at a cinematic portrayal of one of his most enduring creations, cynical private eye Philip Marlowe, as played by Robert Mitchum in this 1978 update of The Big Sleep.
Tyrone Power as Jake Barnes, expatriate journalist and wounded World War I ambulance driver
Pamplona, Spain, July 1922
Film: The Sun Also Rises
Release Date: August 23, 1957
Director: Henry King
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup
Today is my shared birthday with Ernest Hemingway, so I’m celebrating with a look at a cinematic adaptation of my favorite of Papa’s novels, The Sun Also Rises, which he had started writing on his 26th birthday, July 21, 1925.
Warren Oates as Bennie Benjamin, piano-playing bounty hunter
Mexico, May 1973
Film: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Release Date: August 14, 1974
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Wardrobe Credit: Adolfo Ramírez
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today would have been the 90th birthday of Warren Oates, the grizzled Kentucky-born actor celebrated on BAMF Style for his depiction of John Dillinger in 1973’s Dillinger and also his collaborations with director Sam Peckinpah including The Wild Bunch (1969) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). It was this latter film that the iconoclastic director deemed the only one from his three-decade career that matched his original vision.
Elvis Presley as “Lucky” Jackson, mechanic and aspiring race car driver
Las Vegas, Summer 1964
Film: Viva Las Vegas
Release Date: May 20, 1964
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
Regarded as one of the better movies of Elvis Presley’s acting career, Viva Las Vegas stars the singer opposite Ann-Margret, and it’s reported that the very real chemistry between the two was indicative of their off-screen friendship that briefly grew into romance.
On screen, however, Elvis played “Lucky” Jackson, a mechanic who wins – then literally loses – the money he had hoped to use to finance his own race car. To raise the money back, he takes a part-time gig in the Fabulous Flamingo casino in Las Vegas, where he meets sultry swimming instructor Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret, of course).
Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence officer
Casablanca, Morocco, Fall 1942
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
On the eve of D-Day, when Allied forces landed on the beaches of France 74 years ago to turn the tide of World War II, I’m taking a look at a stylish wartime thriller that received plenty of attention for its sartorial sapience.
Allied begins as Wing Commander Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), an intelligence officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, parachutes into Morocco. The first step in his mission to assassinate a German ambassador is to make contact with a French Resistance agent, Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), who will be posing as his wife. After changing out of his khaki field jacket and into a snazzy suit befitting his cover and his warm surroundings, Max strolls into a nightclub to the tune of a boozy, contemporary take on “The Sheik of Araby” and meets his pseudo-wife. Continue reading
Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, unscrupulous publicity agent
New York City, Fall 1956
Film: Sweet Smell of Success
Release Date: June 27, 1957
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Costume Designer: Mary Grant
Happy birthday to Tony Curtis, born 93 years ago today on June 3, 1925. The actor will always hold a special place for me as one of my earliest brushes with a known celebrity.
It occurred in the summer of 1998, during a vacation with my family to Las Vegas. We were approaching the exit to the MGM Grand as we came face-to-face with another entourage striding through the entrance. Flanked by two tall, voluptuous blondes at the front of the formation was a tuxedoed man with messy gray hair, considerably energetic for his age.
“That was Tony Curtis!” my family began murmuring to each other. Being only 9 years old at the time, I was concerned about feeling left out of the gossip until my grandma leaned in and explained to me that this was “Josephine” from Some Like It Hot, one of our favorite movies to watch together at the time.
Some Like It Hot will always have a place on my personal cinematic Mount Rushmore, but my favorite Tony Curtis performance is likely in Alexander Mackendrick’s atmospheric 1957 noir Sweet Smell of Success. Curtis stars as a Manhattan publicity agent oozing with opportunistic sleaze.