Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in This Gun for Hire (1942)

Vitals

Alan Ladd as Philip Raven, cold-blooded, cat-loving contract killer

San Francisco to Los Angeles, Spring 1942

Film: This Gun for Hire
Release Date: April 24, 1942
Director: Frank Tuttle
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

I had already been planning to write about This Gun for Hire this month when I realized that today would have been the 100th birthday of Veronica Lake, who was born in Brooklyn on November 14, 1922 with the decidedly less glamorous name of Constance Ockelman. Lake was still in her teens when cast in her first starring role in Sullivan’s Travels (1941), the success of which convinced Paramount to cast her in their upcoming thriller, which would also be a vehicle to launch their next up-and-comer, Alan Ladd. Continue reading

Yellowstone: Kevin Costner’s Western Ski Jacket

Kevin Costner as John Dutton on Yellowstone

Vitals

Kevin Costner as John Dutton, wealthy ranch patriarch and Montana Livestock Association commissioner

Western Montana, Fall 2017

Series: Yellowstone
Episodes:
– “Daybreak” (Episode 1.01, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 6/20/2018)
– “Kill the Messenger” (Episode 1.02, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 6/27/2018)
– “The Remembering” (Episode 1.06, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 8/1/2018)
– “A Monster Is Among Us” (Episode 1.07, dir. Taylor Sheridan, aired 8/8/2018)
– “A Thundering” (Episode 2.01, dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/19/2019)
– “New Beginnings” (Episode 2.02, dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/26/2019)
Creator: Taylor Sheridan & John Linson
Costume Designers: Ruth E. Carter & Brit Ellerman (Season 1) & Johnetta Boone (Season 2 onward)

Background

Tomorrow night, the Dutton family returns to TV with the fifth season premiere of Yellowstone, Taylor Sheridan and John Linson’s modern-day Western series chronicling the fictional conflicts of a cattle ranch, an Indian reservation, and land developers against a lush Montana landscape.

The series centers around the widowed Yellowstone Ranch patriarch, John Dutton III (Kevin Costner), who puts considerable thought into his words and actions and whose primary motivation seems to be proudly maintaining his ranch to continue his family’s legacy to his now-adult children. Continue reading

Far From Heaven: Dennis Haysbert’s Green Work Jacket and Red Plaid Shirt

Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan in Far From Heaven (2002)

Vitals

Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan, affable gardener and widowed father

Suburban Connecticut, Fall 1957

Film: Far From Heaven
Release Date: November 8, 2002
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell

Background

Far From Heaven premiered twenty years ago this week, a smart, sincere, and stylish drama that stands alone as a thoughtful story beyond its oft-discussed intentional parallels to the Douglas Sirk melodramas of a half-century prior.

The Sirk homages are evident not just in the autumnal photography but also the plot, recalling the romance between a woman and her gardener in All That Heaven Allows (1955) as well as the racial themes driving Imitation of Life (1959). In this case, the woman is housewife Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), who raises her friends’ eyebrows through her growing bond with Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), a kind gardener taking over his late father’s accounts. Continue reading

Desert Fury: Wendell Corey’s Herringbone Tweed Suit

Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan in Desert Fury (1947)

Vitals

Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan, stone-cold mob enforcer

Nevada, Spring 1947

Film: Desert Fury
Release Date: August 15, 1947
Director: Lewis Allen
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

In the spirit of #Noirvember, I want to celebrate an entry in the relatively rare “color noir” category as well as the career of Wendell Corey, the Massachusetts-born actor and one-time AMPAS President who died on this day in 1968.

Corey was a familiar face in classic film noir like I Walk Alone (1948), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), and The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) before his perhaps most recognized performance as the skeptical Detective Tom Doyle assisting Jimmy Stewart‘s peeping amateur crime-solver in Rear Window (1954). It had been an impressive rise for an actor whose feature film debut had only been a few years earlier, appearing in Desert Fury (1947) as the gay-coded mob killer Johnny Ryan, right-hand man to smooth racketeer Eddie Bendix (John Hodiak).

Also starring Lizabeth Scott and Burt Lancaster, with whom Corey would again co-star in I Walk AloneDesert Fury joins contemporaries like Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and Niagara (1953) as the rare examples of full-color movies that maintain enough of the themes, style, and sinister story elements of traditional film noir to still qualify for this classification. Continue reading

The Candidate: Robert Redford’s Tweed Sport Jacket

Robert Redford and Karen Carlson in The Candidate (1972)

Robert Redford and Karen Carlson in The Candidate (1972)

Vitals

Robert Redford as Bill McKay, charismatic lawyer-turned-senatorial candidate

California, Spring through Fall 1972

Film: The Candidate
Release Date: June 29, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
Costume Supervisor: Bernie Pollack

Background

In case my fellow Americans’ phones haven’t been buzzing with incessant reminders about it… this Tuesday is Election Day!

Fifty years ago, American electoral politics were lampooned in The Candidate, starring Robert Redford as Bill McKay, an idealistic California lawyer tapped to run for a supposedly unwinnable seat in the U.S. Senate.

Inspired by screenwriter Jeremy Larner’s own experiences working on Senator Eugene McCarthy’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in ’68, The Candidate chronicles the unpredictable insanity of American politics ranging from the mundane to the dramatic. Continue reading

Roddy Piper in They Live

Roddy Piper in They Live (1988)

Vitals

Roddy Piper as “Nada”, tough drifter and anti-alien vigilante

Los Angeles, Spring 1988

Film: They Live
Release Date: November 4, 1988
Director: John Carpenter
Costume Supervisor: Robin Michel Bush

Background

Released on this day in 1988, They Live followed the example of most of John Carpenter’s work by finding a cult following considerably after it came out, though it debuted at the top of the North American box office.

Adapted from Ray Nelson’s 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”, They Live stars Canadian-born wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as an unnamed drifter who arrives in Los Angeles looking for work… and finds a box of sunglasses that literally open his eyes to the fact that an alien ruling class has been subliminally manipulating the public to conform, consume, and reproduce. Continue reading

From Dusk till Dawn: Tom Savini as Sex Machine

Tom Savini as "Sex Machine" in From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Tom Savini as “Sex Machine” in From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Vitals

Tom Savini as “Sex Machine”, whip-snapping biker

Mexico, Summer 1995

Film: From Dusk till Dawn
Release Date: January 17, 1996
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Costume Designer: Graciela Mazón

Background

Though it may be a few days late to celebrate Halloween, it’s always the right time to celebrate Tom Savini, my fellow Pittsburgher who turns 76 tomorrow!

Born November 3, 1946, Savini grew up in the Bloomfield neighborhood and served in the Vietnam War before following his cinematic passion to become an iconic figure in horror movies, working extensively on both sides of the lens as a prosthetic makeup artist, stunt performer, actor, and director. (Non-horror fans may recognize Savini as the beleaguered shop teacher Mr. Callahan in the Pittsburgh-filmed The Perks of Being a Wallflower.)

Perhaps best known for his six (to date) collaborations with George A. Romero, Savini memorably appeared in From Dusk till Dawn, perhaps one of his earliest prominent roles in which he was solely credited as an actor. Savini co-stars as “Sex Machine”, a biker who becomes one of only a half-dozen initial survivors after the vampiric employees of a rowdy bar in the Mexican desert turn on its customers. Continue reading

Dracula A.D. 1972: Peter Cushing’s Vampire-Killing Suede

Peter Cushing as Lorrimer Van Helsing in Dracula A.D. 1972

Peter Cushing as Lorrimer Van Helsing in Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)

Vitals

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

Background

Happy Halloween! Today’s post takes us back fifty years to 1972—A.D. 1972, to be exact—when Hammer Film Productions reunited Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the debonair vampire Count Dracula and his nemesis Van Helsing, respectively, for the first time since Dracula (1958), a.k.a. Horror of Dracula.

I was first made aware of Dracula A.D. 1972 by BAMF Style reader Alan, who had suggested Cushing’s wardrobe that remained timelessly tasteful despite the film’s setting at the dawn of the disco era. Continue reading

Bull Durham: Kevin Costner’s Green Bomber Jacket

Kevin Costner as Crash Davis in Bull Durham

Kevin Costner as Crash Davis in Bull Durham (1988)

Vitals

Kevin Costner as Lawrence “Crash” Davis, minor league baseball catcher

North Carolina, Spring and Summer 1987

Film: Bull Durham
Release Date: June 15, 1988
Director: Ron Shelton
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley

Background

Tonight is game 1 of the World Series! One of my favorite baseball movies, Bull Durham, shines a light on Minor League Baseball, based on writer and director Ron Shelton’s own experiences as a Minor League infielder.

When not following the national pastime and registry discussions out on the baseball diamond, the extremely quotable Bull Durham follows a romantic triangle with “Church of Baseball” groupie Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) balancing her seductions between the Durham Bulls’ rookie pitcher Ebby “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) and catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), a veteran with 12 years in the minor leagues who’s been recruited onto the team to help temper LaLoosh’s wild pitching. (Crash’s name was inspired by real-life second baseman Lawrence “Crash” Davis, who played for the Durham Bulls in the late 1940s and befriended Shelton after the production.) Continue reading

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Christopher Lee as Dracula in Horror of Dracula (1958)

Christopher Lee as Dracula in Horror of Dracula (1958)

Vitals

Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, debonair and deadly vampire

Transylvania, Spring 1885

Film: Dracula, aka Horror of Dracula
Release Date: May 7, 1958
Director: Terence Fisher
Wardrobe Credit: Molly Arbuthnot

Background

With less than a week until Halloween, I was inspired by a request from BAMF Style reader Jonathan last month to bite into the Hammer horror films, specifically Christopher Lee’s iconic debut as Count Dracula in the 1958 adaptation of Dracula, also released as Horror of Dracula in the United States to avoid confusion with the 1931 movie starring Bela Lugosi.

Lee makes the most of his scant seven minutes of screen-time, speaking only sixteen lines for the entirety but re-establishing Bram Stoker’s famous vampire as a tragic romantic anti-hero, albeit still the embodiment of evil that Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) and Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) seek to destroy. Continue reading