Film:Thief Release Date: March 27, 1981 Director: Michael Mann Costume Supervisor: Jodie Lynn Tillen
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Michael Mann—born today in 1943—directed (and wrote) his feature-length debut, Thief, a moody neo-noir thriller that would portend his particular brand of stylized crime dramas to follow like Manhunter, Heat, and Collateral, as well as his work on the landmark series Miami Vice. The source material was the 1975 novel The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by “Frank Hohimer”, a real-life criminal named John Seybold who served as an on-set technical advisor despite the pending FBI warrants against him.
As the eponymous thief, James Caan’s Frank establishes an early template for the professional criminals that populate Mann’s work, subdued in appearance and demeanor but ruthless against any target getting in the way of his payday…and his freedom.
Fabian Forte as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd in A Bullet for Pretty Boy (1970)
Fabian Forte as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Depression-era bank robber
Kansas City, Spring 1930 and 1931
Film: A Bullet for Pretty Boy Release Date: June 1970 Director: Larry Buchanan (and Maury Dexter, uncredited) Wardrobe Credit: Ron Scott
After Warner Brothers’ success with Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, American International Pictures (AIP) leapt at the chance to capitalize on the emerging trend of Depression-era crime movies using their own brand of inexpensive, exploitative filmmaking. This wasn’t AIP’s first rodeo in the realm of ’30s public enemies, having earlier produced The Bonnie Parker Story and Machine Gun Kelly, both released in May 1958. Their B-movie output in the decade that followed Bonnie and Clyde ranged from fictional stories like Boxcar Bertha (1972) directed by Martin Scorsese to those loosely based on actual criminals like Bloody Mama (1970) starring Shelley Winters as a caricature of “Ma” Barker (alongside a young Robert De Niro as one of her sons) to Dillinger (1973).
Even before that arguably most famous ’30s bank robber would be played by a grizzled Warren Oates, one-time teen idol Fabian got a shot to rebrand his image by playing Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, the outlaw whose moniker alone lent itself to suit the fresh-faced Mr. Forte.
The real Charles Arthur Floyd was born 117 years ago on February 3, 1904, in Adairsville, Georgia, though his family moved to Oklahoma when Floyd was seven, and it was the Cookson Hills that he would consider home for the 30 years of his life.
A fellow Aquarius, Forte was born only three days (and 39 years) later on February 6, 1943, making him 26—the same age as Floyd was for his first bank robbery—when A Bullet for Pretty Boy was filmed from June to October 1969. A Bullet for Pretty Boy loosely follows the facts of Floyd’s life, albeit exaggerated and certainly simplified for the sake of AIP’s low-budget, short-runtime formula for success that would thrill teens at the drive-ins just before these audiences found the real thrills in their own back seats later that night. Continue reading →
Film:The Misfits Release Date: February 1, 1961 Director: John Huston
The Misfits was released sixty years ago today on what would have been star Clark Gable’s 60th birthday. As the actor died three months earlier in November 1960 (just days after filming wrapped), audiences strolling into the theater were already aware that it had been the screen icon’s swan song but were tragically unaware that it would be the last for Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962 before she could complete production in Something’s Gotta Give.
As it turned out, none of the film’s leading trio would survive the decade as third-billed Montgomery Clift died at the age of 45 in July 1966.
Though not warmly received at the time of its release, The Misfits‘ reputation has benefited from contemporary reconsideration over the years as critics have come to appreciate this somewhat offbeat take on a group of lovable losers and no-account boozers, to pinch a phrase from Billy Joe Shaver. Continue reading →
Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum on Magnum, P.I. (Episode 1.14: “Adelaide”)
Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, private investigator and former Navy SEAL
Hawaii, Summer 1981
Series:Magnum, P.I. Episodes:
– “No Need to Know” (Episode 1.05, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 1/8/1981)
– “The Ugliest Dog in Hawaii” (Episode 1.08, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 1/29/1981)
– “Adelaide” (Episode 1.14, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 3/19/1981)
– “Beauty Knows No Pain” (Episode 1.18, dir. Ray Austin, aired 4/16/1981)
– “Tropical Madness” (Episode 2.07, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 11/12/1981) Creator: Donald P. Bellisario & Glen Larson Costume Designer: Charles Waldo (credited with first season only) Costume Supervisor: James Gilmore
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
We all love Magnum, P.I., don’t we, folks? I’ll be transparent, I was hoping that I would have had enough of the series screencapped so that I could gift BAMF Style readers on the national observance of Selleck’s Birthday with a rundown of that iconic red “jungle bird” shirt that, if I’m not mistaken, was the most frequently worn—and prominently featured—of Tom’s tropical-printed Aloha shirts.
Though armed with the entire series on Blu-ray, my digital rewatch was stalled in the middle of the third season (blame the untimely death of my computer-friendly Blu-ray player and Amazon Prime for removing the show last summer), but the good news is that Tom sported enough stylish looks by that point that I should have plenty of Magnum fodder on hand to tide us over until I’m able to complete the series. (The bad news? Still nothing for those fans of Magnum’s Pepsi bezel Rolex.)
I considered the half-measure of featuring his black-and-neon version of the “jungle bird” shirt, but—given that Selleck’s January 29 birthday falls during #SweaterWeather for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere—it felt like the right time to divert from those famous Aloha shirts and summer-weight polos to focus on Magnum’s more winter-friendly knitwear. Continue reading →
Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only (1981) Photo sourced from thunderballs.org.
Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos, urbane but dangerous heroin smuggler
St. Cyril’s, Greece, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only Release Date: June 24, 1981 Director: John Glen Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller Wardrobe Master: Tiny Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This year marks the 40th anniversary of one of my favorite James Bond movies, For Your Eyes Only, the grounded espionage adventure that brought 007 back down to Earth after Roger Moore’s space-trotting adventure in the polarizing Moonraker.
Subdued and serious, For Your Eyes Only was a departure from the underwater cars and land-going gondolas of Sir Roger’s previous outings, realigning itself with Ian Fleming’s stories after borrowing from the author’s 1960 short story of the same name as well as “Risico”, a story from the same volume that introduced the warring smugglers Columbo and Kristatos, portrayed on screen by Chaim Topol and Julian Glover, respectively.
As in “Risico”, Bond aligns with Columbo after realizing that his initial ally Kristatos is actually his enemy. Glover portrays Aristotle Kristatos with the sinister sophistication that made him a popular villain across ’80s franchise films from The Empire Strikes Back to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Continue reading →
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974)
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, calculating Mafia boss
Havana, December 1958, and Lake Tahoe, Spring 1959
Film:The Godfather Part II Release Date: December 12, 1974 Director: Francis Ford Coppola Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
When “gangster style” comes to mind, you may think first of the silk suits from Goodfellas or tracksuits of The Sopranos, but Michael Corleone established an aristocratic sense of style as he grew into his leadership role in accordance with his reserved nature. Continue reading →
Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke in One Night in Miami (2020)
Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke, “King of Soul”
Miami, February 25, 1964
Film: One Night in Miami Release Date: December 25, 2020 Director: Regina King Costume Designer: Francine Jamison-Tanchuck
Soul legend Sam Cooke was born 90 years ago today, on January 22, 1931. Although Cooke died young, shot at a Beverly Hills motel just over a month before his 34th birthday, his smooth voice endures as the pioneering “King of Soul” who not only wrote and recorded scores of classic hits but also supported, produced, and influenced some of the most talented musicians of the day.
A week ago today, One Night in Miami was released to stream on Amazon Prime Video, adapted by Kemp Powers from his own one-act play. The night in question is February 25, 1964, the night that Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight boxing championship in a surprise victory over Sonny Liston. Powers brings Clay together to celebrate his victory with Cooke, Malcolm X, and Jim Brown on a night that proves to be pivotal for all four icons. Continue reading →
Humphrey Bogart as Roy Earle in High Sierra (1941)
Humphrey Bogart as Roy “Mad Dog” Earle, professional armed robber on parole
Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, Spring 1940
Film: High Sierra Release Date: January 21, 1941 Director: Raoul Walsh Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Tomorrow marks the 80th anniversary of the release of High Sierra, arguably the movie that launched Humphrey Bogart from a Warner Bros. background player in the ’30s to superstardom in the ’40s. A violent criminal with an earnest streak, Roy Earle was the ideal role for Bogie to transition from the secondary sniveling bastard in movies like The Petrified Forest and The Roaring Twenties to the tilted-hat heroes we love in The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and more.
Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)
Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner, witty divorcee
New York, Fall 1937
Film:The Awful Truth Release Date: October 21, 1937 Director: Leo McCarey Costume Designer: Robert Kalloch
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Archibald Leach was born 117 years ago today on January 18, 1904. Though he’d established his now-iconic stage name just before his film debut in This is the Night (1932), I consider Leo McCarey’s 1937 screwball comedy The Awful Truth to be the symbolic start of Cary Grant’s screen persona as a stylish yet self-deprecating gentleman with a remarkable penchant for physical comedy as well as wit. Continue reading →
Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020). Photo by David Lee/Netflix.
Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green, ambitious blues cornetist
Chicago, Summer 1927
Film: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Release Date: November 25, 2020 Director: George C. Wolfe Costume Designer: Ann Roth
The late Chadwick Boseman was being named as an Oscar contender for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on the August Wilson play of the same name, even before it came out. We’re still two months away from the Academy Award nominations being announced, but Boseman has already received posthumous Best Actor wins from the Chicago Film Critics Association, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and Music City Film Critics’ Association for what turned out to be his final screen role.
The praise is well-deserved as the actor delivered a powerhouse performance as the hotheaded horn-blower Levee Green, an ambitious (and fictional) member of a four-piece band backing Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), the Mother of the Blues herself. The North Side neighborhood in my hometown of Pittsburgh was transformed to resemble roaring ’20s Chicago when production came to the Steel City two summers ago; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the only one of the ten plays in the Hill District-born Wilson’s “Century Cycle” not actually set in Pittsburgh.
Chadwick Boseman had been diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, never speaking publicly about his illness all the while delivering some of his most iconic performances in Marshall, Black Panther, and the two Avengers films to follow. Indeed, Boseman’s vigorous performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom belies his health at the time, and his fellow cast members remained unaware of his ongoing treatment for the cancer that would progress to stage IV before it ended his life at the age of 42 on August 28, 2020. Continue reading →