Fred Astaire’s Stone “Girl Hunt” Suit in The Band Wagon

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon (1953)

Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in The Band Wagon (1953)

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Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star

New York, Spring 1953

Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg

Background

Today marks what would have been the 120th birthday of Fred Astaire, the renowned Nebraska-born dancer and singer whose prolific career on stage and screen extended more than three quarters of a century.

The Band Wagon (1953) is considered a highlight of the entertainer’s career, starring Astaire as a once-famous musical star who hopes to revive his career with a major Broadway production. Even if you’re not into musicals, it’s hard not to appreciate Astaire’s elegant footwork as he masterfully dances through the film’s culminating number, “Girl Hunt”, based on the novels of Mickey Spillane. Continue reading

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From Russia With Love – Kerim Bey’s Beige Suit

Pedro Armendáriz as Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love (1963)

Pedro Armendáriz as Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love (1963)

Vitals

Pedro Armendáriz as Ali Kerim Bey, gregarious MI6 station chief

Istanbul, Turkey, Spring 1963

Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Kerim Bey, the gregarious head of MI6’s Station T (T for Turkey), is one of the more memorable characters from the early films of the James Bond franchise. A proudly streetwise counter to the taciturn and sophisticated agent 007, the two got on like gangbusters. It’s tragic that Kerim was designated by Ian Fleming as the story’s “sacrificial lamb” as it would have been satisfying to follow his interactions with Bond across multiple adventures à la Felix Leiter or even René Mathis, who actually returned in Fleming’s novel version of From Russia With Love, though Armendáriz’s death would have prevented this anyway. Today’s 00-7th of May post is a tribute to this charismatic character. Continue reading

Lando Calrissian

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, smooth administrator of Cloud City and former “card player, gambler, scoundrel”

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away

Film: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date: May 21, 1980
Director: Irvin Kershner
Costume Designer: John Mollo

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

After the recent release of the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker teased Billy Dee Williams’ return as Lando Calrissian,  I wanted to celebrate the character’s debut nearly 40 years ago in The Empire Strikes Back for this post on May the 4th, casually observed as “Star Wars Day”.

With movies like Brian’s Song and Lady Sings the Blues among his filmography, Billy Dee Williams was a popular star when he first auditioned for the role of Han Solo in the first Star Wars movie released in 1977. Three years later, Williams finally found his place in the Star Wars saga with the role of Cloud City’s charismatic administrator—and Solo’s one-time pal—Lando Calrissian.

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American Gigolo: Stone Jacket and Jeans

Richard Gere as Julian Kaye in American Gigolo (1980)

Richard Gere as Julian Kaye in American Gigolo (1980)

Vitals

Richard Gere as Julian Kaye, high-price L.A. escort

Los Angeles, Spring 1980

Film: American Gigolo
Release Date: February 8, 1980
Director: Paul Schrader
Costumer: Bernadene C. Mann
Costume Coordinator: Alice Rush
Richard Gere’s Costumes: Giorgio Armani

Background

Strut into spring like Richard Gere’s confident Julian Kaye, the titular American gigolo of Paul Schrader’s 1980 thriller.

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Tony Soprano’s Copper Tweed Jacket at the Track

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano with Joe Pantoliano as Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos (Episode 4.05: "Pie-o-My")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano with Joe Pantoliano as Ralph Cifaretto on The Sopranos (Episode 4.05: “Pie-o-My”)

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James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

Monmouth Park, Oceanport, NJ, Fall 2001

Series: The Sopranos
Episodes:
– “Pie-o-My” (Episode 4.05, dir. Henry J. Bronchtein, aired 10/13/2002)
– “Eloise” (Episode 4.12, dir. James Hayman, aired 12/1/2002)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

In the spirit of the upcoming Kentucky Derby, today’s #MafiaMonday post features a day at the races for Jersey wiseguys Tony Soprano, Silvio Dante, Carlo Gervasi, Hesh Rabkin, and Ralph Cifaretto, whose recent purchase—a racehorse named Pie-O-My—delights the guys by coming from behind to win.

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Gig Young in That Touch of Mink

Gig Young as Roger in That Touch of Mink (1962)

Gig Young as Roger in That Touch of Mink (1962)

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Gig Young as Roger, neurotic financial advisor

New York City, Spring 1962

Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann

Background

Though not regarded among the best of either Cary Grant or Doris Day’s filmographies, That Touch of Mink will always have a special place for me as one of the movies I used to watch with my grandma, who introduced me to many classic stars from the era through her collection of VHS tapes that we watched nearly to oblivion.

In this romantic comedy, it’s the leads’ best friends who are the most fun to watch, both Audrey Meadows (who Grant—a fan of her work on The Honeymooners—campaigned to have added to the cast) and Gig Young as Grant’s right-hand man.

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Richard Burton’s Gray Tweed Jacket in The Sandpiper

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt in The Sandpiper (1965)

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt in The Sandpiper (1965)

Vitals

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt, self-righteous Episcopal boarding school headmaster

Big Sur, California, Spring 1965

Film: The Sandpiper
Release Date: June 23, 1965
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

Background

Seventy years ago today, more than 500 gathered on a picturesque terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean for the grand opening of Nepenthe, a restaurant named for the medicine of ancient Greek mythology that helped one forget their sorrows.

Development on the land began in 1925 with the construction of a log cabin. Two decades later, Hollywood royalty Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth purchased the cabin on a whim but never did anything further, selling it in 1947 to Bill and Madelaine “Lolly” Fassett. The Fassetts hired Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Rowan Maiden to expand the area into a large terrace with room for dancing, dining, built-in bleachers, and a fire pit.

After the restaurant opened on April 24, 1949, Nepenthe became renowned for its stunning panoramic views of 50 miles of Big Sur’s south coast as well as Graves Canyon and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Artists, writers, and celebrities flocked to the iconic restaurant in the decades to follow, with newlyweds Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton a frequent presence during the production of their Big Sur-set melodrama, The Sandpiper. Continue reading