The Nice Guys: Russell Crowe’s Blue ’70s Leather Jacket

Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy in The Nice Guys (2016)

Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy in The Nice Guys (2016)

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Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy, unlicensed private detective

Los Angeles, Fall 1977

Film: The Nice Guys
Release Date: May 20, 2016
Director: Shane Black
Costume Designer: Kym Barrett

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

I was pleased to again join my friends Pete Brooker and Ken Stauffer on another episode of Pete’s podcast From Tailors With Love, this time discussing the fun ’70s style of Shane Black’s action comedy The Nice Guys.

For those unfamiliar, the “nice guys” in question are Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, bringing back Black’s signature buddy comedy style in a big way as competing private eyes Jackson Healy and Holland March, respectively.

The older and worldlier yet paunchier Jack is more an enforcer than investigator, balancing his limb-breaking toughness with at least some remaining scruples, particularly when compared to the younger and less experienced Holly, who’s not above taking a case agreeing to help an aging woman track down her “missing” husband… whose ashes rest in an urn just a few feet away from them.

Like Crowe’s star-making turn almost twenty years earlierThe Nice Guys’ conspiratorial heartbeat is driven by Kim Basinger’s role at the intersection of corruption and porn in the City of Angels forty years prior, but the villains’ overcomplicated scheme are certainly secondary to the comedic chemistry between Crowe and Gosling, whom I—and Crowe himself—would love to see re-team for a follow-up… and with a built-in sequel title like The Nicer Guys, what’s stopping them? Continue reading

Paul Muni’s 1932 Tuxedo in Scarface

Paul Muni in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni as Tony Camonte in Scarface (1932)

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Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer

Chicago, Summer 1929

Film: Scarface
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Several years ago, I published a high-level overview of the various black tie ensembles across the male cast of the original 1932 version of Scarface, adapted from Armitage Trail’s pulp novel of the same name, which had been inspired by the then-contemporary exploits of the infamous Al Capone.

Now, after eight more years of learning, I want to focus specifically on the evening-wear worn by the eponymous Tony Camonte, portrayed by Paul Muni—who was born on this day in 1895—as Tony’s tuxedo had long been one of the driving sartorial influences in my choice to have a double-breasted dinner jacket made for my wedding, which will be one month from today. Continue reading

L.A. Confidential: Ed Exley in Donegal Tweed

Guy Pearce as Ed Exley in L.A. Confidential (1997)

Guy Pearce as Ed Exley in L.A. Confidential (1997)

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Guy Pearce as Ed Exley, by-the-book LAPD detective-lieutenant

Los Angeles, Spring 1953

Film: L.A. Confidential
Release Date: September 19, 1997
Director: Curtis Hanson
Costume Designer: Ruth Myers

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today is the 25th anniversary since the official release of L.A. Confidential, which premiered at Cannes in May 1997 but would finally hit theaters four months later on September 19, introducing audiences to James Ellroy’s murky world of corrupt cops, crooks, celebrities, and courtesans in ’50s Los Angeles.

Among its ensemble cast, L.A. Confidential centers around three LAPD officers: the tough but unsophisticated “Bud” White (Russell Crowe), the smooth yet morally compromised Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey), and the ambitious and stubbornly upright Ed Exley (Guy Pearce). Not to spoil too much of the plot for those who have missed this gem in the last quarter-century, but one of my favorite Letterboxd reviews—submitted by user David Sims—compares the movie to The Wizard of Oz as “Bud gets a brain, Jack gets a heart, Ed gets the courage.” Continue reading

Sam Neill’s Peacoat as Sidney Reilly

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 3: “The Visiting Fireman”)

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Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd and opportunistic Russian-born British agent

Hamburg, Germany, Spring 1905

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “The Visiting Fireman” (Episode 3)
Air Date: September 14, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

In honor of Sam Neill’s 75th birthday this week, I want to revisit one of my favorite roles for the New Zealand actor. Almost a decade before his starring role in the groundbreaking groundshaking blockbuster Jurassic Park, Neill had been one of the contenders suggested to replace Roger Moore as James Bond, though the actor himself had been reluctant to take what he’s since called a “mortifying” audition and was likely grateful when the role went to Timothy Dalton instead. Neill may have been considered after his excellent performance earlier in the ’80s as Sidney Reilly, a real-life spy whose early 20th century exploits had been cited by Ian Fleming as one of his inspirations for the literary 007. Continue reading

Battle of Britain: Ian McShane’s RAF Uniforms

Ian McShane as Flight Sergeant Andy Moore in Battle of Britain (1969)

Ian McShane as Flight Sergeant Andy Moore in Battle of Britain (1969)

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Ian McShane as Flight Sergeant Andy Moore, Royal Air Force pilot

England, Summer 1940

Film: Battle of Britain
Release Date: September 15, 1969
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today commemorates the anniversary of a decisive aerial battle in the skies over England that marked one of the first substantial Allied victories in World War II. Luftwaffe attacks on British ports and fleets had launched the Battle of Britain in June 1940, followed by sporadic and deadly raids that culminated with a German attempt to essentially eradicate any British defenses to clear the way for Operation Sea Lion, Hitler’s intended invasion of England.  On September 15, two waves of German attacks on London were successfully repelled by the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, primarily the No. 11 Group RAF, a decisive defense that prompted then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill to famously declare: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

29 years later to the day, Battle of Britain was released in the grand tradition of star-studded war epics, boasting a talented cast that included Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer, Robert Shaw, and a relative newcomer named Ian McShane. Continue reading

A Star is Born: Bradley Cooper’s Tan Trucker Jacket

Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine in A Star is Born (2018)

Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine in A Star is Born (2018)

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Bradley Cooper as Jackson Maine, charismatic country-rock star

Los Angeles, Spring 2017

Film: A Star is Born
Release Date: October 5, 2018
Director: Bradley Cooper
Costume Designer: Erin Benach

Background

My friend @thestyleisnotenough recently recommended writing about Bradley Cooper’s style in his directorial debut A Star is Born, in which he starred as Jackson Maine, a rock star with an outlaw country image that belies his self-esteem and substance abuse issues. Continue reading

Cary Grant in Father Goose

Cary Grant as Walter Eckland in Father Goose (1964)

Cary Grant as Walter Eckland in Father Goose (1964)

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Cary Grant as Walter Eckland, crude and reluctant wartime coast-watcher

Pacific Islands, Spring 1942

Film: Father Goose
Release Date: December 10, 1964
Director: Ralph Nelson
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (uncredited)

Background

Last month, I reflected on the elegant white suit that Cary Grant wore at the start of his stylish career in the pre-Code drama Hot Saturday. More than 30 years later, Grant was firmly established as one of the most charming—and enduringly best-dressed—stars of the era, subverting his screen reputation for his penultimate movie, the World War II-set comedy Father Goose opposite Leslie Caron. Continue reading

Sid Caesar in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Sid Caesar in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

Sid Caesar in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

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Sid Caesar as Melville Crump, honeymooning dentist

Southern California, Summer 1962

Film: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Release Date: November 7, 1963
Director: Stanley Kramer
Costume Designer: Bill Thomas

Background

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Sid Caesar, the pioneering comic actor whose influential variety series Your Show of Shows set a new standard during what some call the first “Golden Age of Television”, though I first knew Caesar for his part among the ensemble cast of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Continue reading

On the Road: Dean Moriarty’s Fur-collar Flight Jacket

Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty in On the Road (2012)

Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty in On the Road (2012)

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Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty, impulsive drifter based on Beat Generation figure Neal Cassady

New York to San Francisco, via New Orleans, Winter 1949

Film: On the Road
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Director: Walter Salles
Costume Designer: Danny Glicker

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Yesterday was the 65th anniversary of when On the Road was published on September 5, 1957. Jack Kerouac’s seminal Beat Generation novel had been years in the making, beginning with his continuous, single-spaced 120-page “scroll” that he typed across three weeks in April 1951, almost immediately after returning from the last of the book’s depicted travels.

With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles.

Though Kerouac hardly shied away from including seedier details of his friend’s life, On the Road became something of a hagiography centered around Dean Moriarty, the alter ego he developed for his real-life pal Neal Cassady. With the same excitement of the Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton, and George Shearing performances they celebrate, the impulsive Dean steals the spotlight much as he and his fellow travelers steal to support their travels, or offset “the cost of living”, as they rationalize.

Despite considerable interest—including from the author himself—in cinematic adaptations, it wouldn’t be until more than a half-century passed that cameras would finally roll on bringing On the Road to the screen. Francis Ford Coppola had held the rights since 1979, holding on through decades of development hell until the artistic critical success of The Motorcycle Diaries encouraged him to hand over the reins to director Walter Salles and writer José Rivera. Salles again collaborated with cinematographer Éric Gautier, whose photography brought mid-century America back to life across the small towns, sandy deserts, and snowy hillsides that resisted generations of change.

Garrett Hedlund’s appropriately kinetic performance as the dangerously charismatic Dean also emerged as one of the strongest aspects of Salles’ On the Road adaptation, with Owen Gleiberman writing for Entertainment Weekly that “the best thing in the movie is Garrett Hedlund’s performance as Dean Moriarty, whose hunger for life—avid, erotic, insatiable, destructive—kindles a fire that will light the way to a new era.” Continue reading

The Great Gatsby: Sam Waterston’s Beige Linen Birthday Suit

Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby (1974)

Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby (1974)

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Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway, impressionable bachelor and bond salesman

Long Island to New York City, Late Summer 1925

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: March 29, 1974
Director: Jack Clayton
Costume Designer: Theoni V. Aldredge
Clothes by: Ralph Lauren

Background

Just as the summer began with a look at Nick Carraway’s white linen suit as his portrayer Sam Waterston narrated his arrival at a pivotal dinner with the Buchanans in the 1974 cinematic adaptation of The Great Gatsby, let’s bring it to a close by looking at how Nick dresses when returning to their estate on the climactic afternoon of his 30th birthday, which likely would have been sometime around Labor Day. (The movie updated the setting to 1925, though F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel was set throughout the summer of 1922, which would have placed Nick’s birthday around 100 years ago today on Monday, September 4.)

Continue reading