Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins in Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
Denzel Washington as Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, former aircraft mechanic and World War II veteran
Los Angeles, Summer 1948
Film:Devil in a Blue Dress Release Date: September 29, 1995 Director: Carl Franklin Costume Designer: Sharen Davis
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
#Noirvember continues with Devil in a Blue Dress, adapted from Walter Mosley’s excellent 1990 novel of the same name introducing readers to Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, an Army veteran making his way in postwar Los Angeles. Though he would later transform into a full-time private detective, Devil in a Blue Dress establishes Easy as a neo-Hitchockian hero, an everyman who finds himself at the center of a dangerous mystery after losing his job at an aircraft assembly plant.
James Shigeta as Detective Joe Kojaku in The Crimson Kimono (1959)
James Shigeta as Joe Kojaku, LAPD homicide detective
Los Angeles, Summer 1959
Film:The Crimson Kimono Release Date: October 1959 Director: Samuel Fuller Costume Supervisor: Bernice Pontrelli
Are you among the many movie buffs who observe #Noirvember, the month-long celebration of shadowy cinema often set in worlds populated by gumshoes, gunsels, and femmes fatale. Defining film noir is often as murky as the outlines of the shadows in some of its seminal works, though even applying the infamous Potter Stewart rule yields at least dozens of crime dramas produced within and beyond the United States during the 1940s and ’50s.
Earlier this year, the Criterion Channel again showcased a collection of noir from Columbia Pictures, the erstwhile Poverty Row studio that churned out some of the most quintessential high-talent noir in including Gilda (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), and In a Lonely Place (1950) as well as an array of criminally underseen B-movies that balanced their low budgets with high quality. One of my favorites from the collection was The Crimson Kimono (1959), directed by former crime reporter and World War II veteran Samuel Fuller.
Modern audiences may recognize James Shigeta as the patient and ultimately doomed Nakatomi executive in Die Hard. Here, a considerably younger Shigeta plays the charismatic Joe Kojaku, an apple-munching, piano-playing Japanese-American homicide detective called in with his partner Charlie Bancroft (Glenn Corbett) to investigate the murder of burlesque dancer Sugar Torch (Gloria Pall) on L.A.’s” Main Street” one brightly lit, jazz-filled night in August 1959. Continue reading →
Robert Redford as Bill McKay in The Candidate (1972)
Robert Redford as Bill McKay, charismatic lawyer-turned-senatorial candidate
San Francisco to Los Angeles, Summer through Fall 1972
Film:The Candidate Release Date: June 29, 1972 Director: Michael Ritchie Costume Design: Patricia Norris Costume Supervisor: Bernie Pollack
Tomorrow is Election Day here in the United States… though I doubt anyone has missed the memo given the barrage of emails, texts, social media posts, and more designed to serve as reminders and instructions.
Avoiding any discussion of this year’s contentious political arena, let’s step back nearly 50 years to the early 1970s when Robert Redford was seeking to work again with director Michael Ritchie after their first collaboration in Downhill Racer (1969). The duo reportedly former political writer Jeremy Larner to pen what would become an Academy Award-winning screenplay chronicling “a candidate who sold his soul.” Larner had worked as a speechwriter for Senator Eugene McCarthy during McCarthy’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, using this experience to draft the story of Bill McKay, the activist lawyer from California tapped to challenge the popular Republican incumbent in the battle for a U.S. Senate seat.
George Clooney as Seth Gecko in From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
George Clooney as Seth Gecko, dangerous fugitive bank robber and “real mean motor scooter”
Texas to Mexico, Summer 1995
Film:From Dusk till Dawn Release Date: January 17, 1996 Director: Robert Rodriguez Costume Designer: Graciela Mazón
Happy Halloween, BAMF Style readers! Over the last few years, I’ve received a few requests to explore George Clooney’s garb in From Dusk till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez and penned by Quentin Tarantino from a story by Robert Kurtzman.
The action horror thriller marked a significant departure for Clooney— then popular as the charismatic pediatrician Doug Ross on ER, playing against type as the ruthless, Caesar-cut baddie terrorizing the southern plains with his psychotic brother on the road to El Rey.
Film:Targets Release Date: August 15, 1968 Director: Peter Bogdanovich Production and Costume Design: Polly Platt
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“Everybody’s dead… I feel like a dinosaur,” former horror icon Byron Orlok describes himself in a candid moment with Sammy Michaels (Peter Bogdanovich), an ambitious director and screenwriter played by Targets‘ own director and co-writer himself. Bogdanovich had written Orlok as a thinly disguised version of Boris Karloff, the elder statesman of horror cinema who was pushing 80 at the time of the film’s production. An embittered Byron shares with Sammy that his old-fashioned cinematic monsters—i.e. Frankenstein’s monster—are hardly the stuff to scare contemporary audiences as the local news horrifying enough with tales of senseless murder and random violence.
Peter Cushing as Lorrimer Van Helsing in Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
Peter Cushing as Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing, occult researcher and descendant of the famous vampire hunter
London, Fall 1972… A.D. 1972, that is
Film:Dracula A.D. 1972 Release Date: September 28, 1972 Director: Alan Gibson Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Just days away from Halloween, today’s post responds to a request received earlier this year from BAMF Style reader Alan, who suggested the “extremely cheesy and, at times, ridiculous” Hammer production Dracula A.D. 1972, starring horror maestros and real-life pals Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing reprising their usual roles as Count Dracula and Van Helsing, respectively.
Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, former United Nations investigator-turned-zombie fighter
Cardiff, Wales, Fall 2012
Film:World War Z Release Date: June 21, 2013 Director: Marc Forster Costume Designer: Mayes C. Rubeo
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
With the world under siege by a rapidly spreading virus, the need for a vaccine grows more desperate each day… and only Brad Pitt can save us.
Until that last line, you may have thought I was beginning an essay on life in 2020 (and who knows, maybe the star somehow will become a crucial figure in discovering a vaccine!) World War Z may be the perfect movie to watch during the Halloween season this year, tapping into this year’s zeitgiest of viruses and vaccines dominating headlines.
Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978)
Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, eccentric Belgian detective
Egypt, September 1937
Film:Death on the Nile Release Date: September 29, 1978 Director: John Guillermin Costume Designer: Anthony Powell
In his adaptation of perhaps the best-known Hercule Poirot mystery from Agatha Christie’s prolific canon, Kenneth Branagh all but confirmed at the end of Murder on the Orient Express that his follow-up film would find the fussy Belgian detective solving a murder “right on the bloody Nile!”
Indeed, just weeks after Murder on the Orient Express was released in November 2017, it was officially announced that Death on the Nile would be entering production as the third major adaptation of Christie’s 1937 novel. Even after the intended December 2019 release was postponed to October 9, 2020, Death on the Nile joined the ranks of films like The Many Saints of Newark, No Time to Die, and Tenet whose release dates were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The October date was optimistically shifted forward two weeks to October 23 (today!) before the perhaps more realistic release date of December 18 was announced.
Of course, Christie fans looking to get their Nile fix have long had a very watchable solution available with the 1978 adaptation of Death on the Nile, the first of six films to star two-time Academy Award winner Peter Ustinov as the detail-oriented detective.
Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey in Death Wish (1974)
Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, architect and soon-to-be vigilante
Tucson, Arizona, and New York City, Winter 1974
Film: Death Wish Release Date: July 24, 1974 Director: Michael Winner Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
After a wave of films celebrating outlaws during the counterculture era of the late ’60s (i.e. Bonnie and Clyde and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), an opposing wave crashed through American cinema at the start of the following decade, centered around a philosophy of vigilantism. The trend arguably kicked into high gear with Clint Eastwood’s renegade detective in Dirty Harry who despised the proverbial red tape preventing him from bringing deadly criminals to justice with his famed .44 Magnum. Within five years, Martin Scorsese had already evolved the focus from an endorsement of vigilantism into a cautionary tale with the release of Taxi Driver. Before the troubled Travis Bickle took it upon himself to “wash all this scum off the streets” of New York City, there was Paul Kersey.
John Slattery as Roger Sterling on Mad Men (Episode 7.14: “Person to Person”)
John Slattery as Roger Sterling, aging ad man
New York City, Fall 1970
Series:Mad Men Episode: “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14) Air Date: May 17, 2015 Director: Matthew Weiner Creator: Matthew Weiner Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Mad Men style typically evokes thoughts of men in sleek, ’60s-cut business suits, raising a glass of whiskey behind a veil of Lucky Strike smoke while juggling accounts and affairs. Of course, even a Madison Avenue man dresses down on the weekends.