Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin, American government agent
Miami and Rio de Janeiro, Spring 1946
Release Date: September 6, 1946
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
It’s impossible to over-celebrate the elegant yet understated sartorialism of Cary Grant, born this day in 1904. One of my favorite of Grant’s movies is Notorious, the 1946 espionage adventure that paired him with Ingrid Bergman as a pair of American spies tasked with exposing Alexander Sebastian, a former Nazi played with charmingly evil affability by Claude Rains.
Notorious was the second collaboration between Grant and director Alfred Hitchcock, and it marked the start of a string of wildly successful and ultimately timeless movies that Hitch would direct over the next two decades. Continue reading
Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes, private investigator and ex-policeman
Los Angeles, September 1937
Release Date: June 20, 1974
Director: Roman Polanski
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert
J.J. Gittes begins his final day investigating the Mulwray case in Chinatown with his usual cheekiness, even when surprised by walking into a murder scene. He trades barbs with increasingly suspicious detectives, including the pugnacious Detective Loach (Richard Bakalyan) who inquires about Gittes’ sliced-up nose; Edward Norton’s character in Rounders would pay homage to Gittes’ response of “Your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick.”
But Gittes’ good humor wears off by the end, following a series of misadventures – mostly at gunpoint – involving sisters, daughters, and a shot-out eyeball. As his assistant Walsh (Joe Mantell) sagely – and now famously – advises him:
Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Cary Grant as Brian Cruikshank (aka Peter Joshua, Alexander Dyle, or Adam Canfield), U.S. Treasury agent
Paris, April 1963
Release Date: December 5, 1963
Director: Stanley Donen
Heading back to business for the first day in the new year, nothing is more appropriate for a winter’s day in the office than a charcoal flannel suit similar to the one that Cary Grant’s multi-named hero wore to the office for the finale of Charade. Continue reading
Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, mob boss and nightclub owner
Harlem, November 2015
Series: Luke Cage
Episodes: “Suckas Need Bodyguards” (Episode 1.06) & “Manifest” (Episode 1.07)
Streaming Date: September 30, 2016
Directors: Sam Miller (Episode 1.06) & Andy Goddard (Episode 1.07)
Costume Designer: Stephanie Maslansky
Key Tailor: Cherie Cunningham
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The chilly weather here in the Northern Hemisphere as we look toward the official start of winter this week is a fine time to explore options for layering against the cold. Continue reading
Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, homicide detective with a troubled past
San Francisco, April 1991
Film: Basic Instinct
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
There have been a few persistent requests to analyze Michael Douglas’ tailored Cerruti suits and sport jackets in the controversial thriller Basic Instinct, best known for what Sharon Stone wasn’t wearing on screen as opposed to what Michael Douglas was wearing.
Described in his book The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood as an exercise to create the lowest common denominator screenplay possible, writer Joe Eszterhas completed his script within two weeks all while reportedly listening to The Rolling Stones non-stop. Eszterhas sold the script three days later for the astronomical sum of $3 million, cynically reattaining his mantle as the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood.
Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, ruthless and calculating U.S. President
Atlanta, July 2016
Series: House of Cards
Episode: “Chapter 48” (Episode 4.09)
Streaming Date: March 4, 2016
Director: Robin Wright
Costume Designer: Johanna Argan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Tomorrow is Election Day here in the U.S. and hopefully the end of one of the ugliest campaign seasons in modern American politics.
In the political world of House of Cards, voters tomorrow would be choosing between Democratic incumbent Frank Underwood and Republican candidate Will Conway (Joel Kinnaman). In Chapter 48 of the series, Underwood notes about his opponent:
You’re a New York Republican. That’s an attractive fiction, isn’t it?
Chapter 48 spans the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta from Monday, July 25 through Wednesday, July 27. (The actual 2016 DNC was held in Philadelphia, in case you’d forgotten, and was quite dramatic in itself… which I’m sure you hadn’t forgotten.) President Underwood’s team seemingly makes a play for Secretary of State Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson) to be chosen as his running mate while secretly working behind the scenes to secure the spot for the First Lady, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright, who also directed this installment.)
One of the episode’s more outstanding scenes finds the unlikely situation of both candidates meeting alone, sifting through the heavy haze of dirty politics permeating the air while channeling their opposition into a discussion of video games. Continue reading
Daniel Craig as James Bond, British government agent
Mexico City, November 2015
Release Date: October 25, 2015
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Jany Temime
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican public holiday to remember and support the spiritual journey of deceased friends and family. This year, as it did last year when Bond “attended”, the multi-day celebration begins on November 1 and ends tomorrow, November 2.
I’ve received several requests to cover the outfit that James Bond wears during the Día de Muertos celebration in Mexico City, and I would like to also direct readers to the excellent analysis of this suit featured at Matt Spaiser’s site The Suits of James Bond, where Matt also developed an excellent digital reconstruction of the suiting that can’t be missed. Continue reading