Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, USMC Captain, WWII hero, and Mafia son
Long Island, NY, September 1945
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
On the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, BAMF Style is looking at one of cinema’s most notorious fictional war heroes from the Pacific Theater of World War II: Michael Corleone.
(Just so we’re clear, BAMF Style believes that the true heroes of World War II are those that did not go on to become mob bosses.)
What’d He Wear?
Michael’s USMC Uniform
Michael arrives at his sister’s wedding wearing his traditional Marine “greens”, the winter service uniform worn from September through April. Although appearing brown on screen, the uniform – now known as the Service A (or “Alpha”) – is forest green wool in a color specific to the Marine Corps, dating back to its introduction in 1912. At the time, the winter service uniform was standard in garrison and on leave and liberty. Since the iconic dress blues were temporarily ceased for most of WWII, a Marine not wearing his utility uniform would almost always be seen in his winter service greens. Continue reading
Lee Marvin as Maj. John Reisman, taciturn and independent U.S. Army officer
England, Spring 1944
Film: The Dirty Dozen
Release Date: June 15, 1967
Director: Robert Aldrich
Tomorrow is the 71st anniversary of the Normandy landings. On June 6, 1944 – now known as D-Day, 156,000 troops from 13 Allied nations conducted the largest seaborne invasion in history, beginning the invasion of German-occupied western Europe that led to the liberation of France, and – eventually – an Allied victory to win the war within a year. Although the Allies failed to achieve their goals on the first day, the tremendous fighting spirit of the soldiers in the face of unbelievable odds led to the foothold needed by the Allies that would catapult them to victory.
Many excellent films have focused on the Normandy landings, including The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan. The Dirty Dozen used a different approach, sending a renegade OSS officer behind the lines with twelve ex-soldier convicts to create chaos for the Nazis and distract them from the upcoming landings. The film, which WWII veteran Lee Marvin had originally dismissed as “just a dummy moneymaker”, has gone on to become a classic piece of badass cinema that even received recognition in Sleepless in Seattle during a scene where Tom Hanks and Victor Garber hilariously ad-lib about what movie could make a man cry:
Jim Brown was throwing these hand grenades down these airshafts. And Richard Jaeckel and Lee Marvin – (begins mock crying) were sitting on top of this armored personnel carrier, dressed up like Nazis… and Trini Lopez… he busted his neck while they were parachuting down behind the Nazi lines…
Sam Neill as Capt. Sidney Reilly, British secret service agent and Canadian Royal Flying Corps airman
Russia, Spring 1918
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “Gambit” (Episode 7)
Air Date: October 12, 1983
Director: Jim Goddard
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
The mini-series Reilly: Ace of Spies, being based on Sidney Reilly’s own exaggerated account of his life, certainly stretches the truth – if not downright fictionalizes – many parts of Reilly’s story. However, the show does a fine job of serializing Reilly’s most important and life-altering adventure: the attempted overthrow of the Bolshevik government. Continue reading
101 years ago at 2:20 a.m., the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean, resulting in the death of more than 1,500 passengers and crew.
Kenneth More as Charles Lightoller, Second Officer of the RMS Titanic
North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912
Film: A Night to Remember
Release Date: July 3, 1958
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Costume Designer: Yvonne Caffin
Obviously, the death of 1,500 people is going to be a tragic event. Unfortunately, the extent of most of a modern generation’s knowledge about the event is that “OMG Leo died bc he loved Rose so much,” naturally referring to James Cameron’s well-researched but poorly focused 1997 epic Titanic. The individual stories of everyone on board, whether they stepped onto a lifeboat, fought for their lives in the icy water and managed to survive, or perished are legitimately heartbreaking and fascinating without having to pander to teenage emotions.
Cameron stated that he was inspired by scenes from the 1958 film A Night to Remember, a comparatively little-known film when compared to his blockbuster. However, most experts will call A Night to Remember the definitive filmed adaptation of the disaster. Continue reading
This weekend marked the 69th anniversary of “The Great Escape”, the mass escape of allied airmen from the German-controlled Stalag Luft III in Lower Silesia. The escape, which involved the efforts of 600 men, achieved the goal of RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell to “make life hell for the Hun.”
In 1963, the story was filmed by the Mirisch Company as The Great Escape.
Steve McQueen as Capt. Virgil Hilts, U.S. Army Air Forces pilot and escape artist
Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944
Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve heard of The Great Escape and have hopefully seen it roughly a hundred times in your life. Continue reading
Need a costume this weekend for Halloween that’s identifiable but still looks good? James Bond and Don Draper are good go-tos, but those “costumes” can also be worn on a day to day basis. For an original and sharp 60s-style Halloween costume, consider a Pan Am uniform reminiscent of Frank Abagnale’s co-pilot outfit in Catch Me If You Can.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, Jr., international teenage con man posing as Pan Am pilot Frank Black, aka Frank Taylor, aka Frank Roberts
Pretty much anywhere in the world, notably New York, Miami, and France, 1960s
Film: Catch Me If You Can
Release Date: December 25, 2002
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
By the time he was 19, Frank Abagnale, Jr., had amassed millions of dollars posing as a college teaching assistant, a lawyer, a doctor, and – most notably – a Pan Am co-pilot.
Choosing to imitate a pilot in order to fly around the world for free, Abagnale called Pan Am to ask for a “replacement” uniform, decorated it with a forced FAA pilot’s license, and flew over 1,000,000 miles on over 250 flights in 2 years. After flying to 26 countries with travel, lodging, and food all expensed to Pan Am, Abagnale was captured in Europe. Continue reading