Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire criminal mastermind
Boston, June 1968
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Thomas Crown Affair, Norman Jewison’s stylish 1968 thriller starring Steve McQueen as the titular mastermind who finds himself in a passionate cat-and-mouse game opposite a glamorous insurance investigator played by Faye Dunaway.
Steve McQueen sports Thomas Crown’s navy suits all over Boston, proudly wearing them for his adventures by land, sea, and air… 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.
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 60th anniversary of the release of Vertigo, Hitchcock’s noir-esque thriller and the last of his collaborations with James Stewart. Hitch blamed Jim for the film’s lack of success at the box office, but history would give Jim the last laugh as a 2012 reevaluation for BFI’s Sight & Sound led to a poll of critics choosing Vertigo as the greatest film of all time, beating out long-standing #1 choice Citizen Kane. Continue reading
Michael Caine as Chester King, aka “Arthur”, secret agency chief
London, Spring 2014
Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Martin Nicholls
WARNING! Possible spoilers ahead!
This week’s second consecutive post featuring style from Kingsman: The Secret Service celebrates the 85th birthday of Sir Michael Caine, CBE, the iconic star who established himself in fashionable ’60s fare like Alfie, The Italian Job, and The Ipcress File. In the latter film, a grounded response to the spectacle-laden James Bond franchise, Caine’s bespectacled spy Harry Palmer would provide a template for the distinctive look to be adopted by the agents of Kingsman five decades hence. Continue reading
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, British government agent
London to Hamburg, April 1997
Film: Tomorrow Never Dies
Release Date: December 6, 1997
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
Who else but the Irish actor Pierce Brosnan would be best to feature on the 00-7th o’ March?
Following a thrilling pre-credits sequence, James Bond gets in some much needed R&R in the arms of a beautiful Danish language tutor when duty calls… in the form of Miss Moneypenny. Bond begrudgingly departs his cunning linguistics session (yes, I know) when MI6 summons him for an urgent briefing and sends him off to a springtime mission in Germany.
The scene is quintessential Bond: an elegant suit, a snazzy new car, a useful gadget… and enough product placement to guarantee the future of the series. Continue reading
Lee Marvin as Charlie Strom, professional mob hitman
Los Angeles, Fall 1963
Film: The Killers
Release Date: July 7, 1964
Director: Don Siegel
Costume Designer: Helen Colvig
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy first day of March! The observance of St. Patrick’s Day this month means plenty of focus on the “luck o’ the Irish”, so today’s post explores a suit sporting the “clover lapel”, a soft type of notch lapel named for its semblance to two leaves of a clover plant.
One character who took advantage of this unique but subtle type of lapel was Charlie Strom, the paid assassin who subverts “movie hitman” tropes by letting his curiosity get the better of him… why did Johnny North give up so easily? Bothered by this incongruity, Charlie and his partner Lee (Clu Gulager) set out to find the truth. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, gruff NYPD narcotics detective
New York City, December 1970
Film: The French Connection
Release Date: October 9, 1971
Director: William Friedkin
Costume Designer: Joseph Fretwell III
Happy birthday to Gene Hackman, born this day in 1930! This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced last week, so today’s post explores the birthday boy’s first Oscar-winning performance as NYPD narc “Popeye” Doyle in The French Connection.
Eddie Egan was a real detective with the NYPD who, with his partner Sonny Grosso, was instrumental in a 1961 investigation that dissolved a massive heroin ring. The case would form the basis of a 1969 non-fiction book by Robin Moore that was swiftly adapted into the fictionalized film The French Connection. Gene Hackman, who by now had two Oscar nominations to his credit, was tapped for the role of “Popeye” Doyle, the profane detective modeled after Egan, while Egan himself would serve as technical advisor and play the smaller role of Walt Simonson, Doyle’s supervisor. Continue reading