The Swimmer: Donald’s Suburban Poolside Style

Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy in The Swimmer

Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy in The Swimmer (1968)

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Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy, affable and affluent advertising executive

Suburban Connecticut, Summer 1966

Film: The Swimmer
Release Date: May 15, 1968
Director: Frank Perry
Wardrobe Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

Background

It was one of those midsummer Sundays when everyone sits around saying, “I drank too much last night.”

… begins John Cheever’s 1964 short story “The Swimmer”, which was adapted by the husband-and-wife team of director Frank Perry and screenwriter Eleanor Perry into a hallucinatory drama starring Burt Lancaster as the eponymous Ned Merrill, a well-tanned embodiment of the failed American dream.

The focus of today’s post is a little more esoteric than usual, not necessarily because of the movie—which is relatively well-known, if offbeat—but more the relatively minor character and his little-known portrayer, Tony Bickley. The Swimmer was Bickley’s fifth and final screen credit and his only significant movie role, more than a decade after his four sporadic appearances in TV anthologies during the early 1950s.

Bickley co-starred in The Swimmer as Donald Westerhazy, a gregarious suburbanite whose palatial home is Ned’s first stop on what becomes his route to “swim home” through the backyard pools of his neighbors. Donald and his wife Helen (Diana Van der Vlis) are nursing hangovers from the previous evening’s party… with the help of martinis, of course. Continue reading

Magnum, P.I.: The Black Jungle Bird Aloha Shirt

Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum on Magnum, P.I.

Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum on Magnum, P.I.

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Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, private investigator and former Navy SEAL

Hawaii, Summer 1981

Series: Magnum, P.I.
Episodes:
– “Skin Deep” (Episode 1.06, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 1/15/1981)
– “The Curse of the King Kamehameha Club” (Episode 1.11, dir. Winrich Kolbe, aired 2/19/1981)
Creator: Donald P. Bellisario & Glen Larson
Costume Designer: Charles Waldo (credited with first season only)
Costume Supervisor: James Gilmore

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy Aloha Friday!

Even those who have never seen Magnum, P.I. are familiar with its title character’s image: the cherry-red Ferrari, a mustache to rival Burt Reynolds, and—very frequently—the Hawaiian shirts, contextually appropriate given the series’ Hawaiian setting. In fact, Tom Selleck’s characterization of the Oahu-based private investigator arguably established Thomas Magnum as the most iconic Hawaiian shirt-wearer of all time. Continue reading

The Talented Mr. Ripley: Dickie’s Black and White at Sea

Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley

Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Vitals

Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, narcissistic profligate playboy

Italy, Summer 1958

Film: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Release Date: December 25, 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Costume Design: Ann Roth & Gary Jones

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Last year around this time, I finally read Patricia Highsmith’s thriller novel The Talented Mr. Ripley that provided the source material for two stylish adaptations: the lush French production Purple Noon (Plein soleil) released in 1960 and Anthony Minghella’s more faithful The Talented Mr. Ripley released on Christmas 1999.

The central drama follows a trio of American jet-setters cavorting on Italy’s scenic Amalfi Coast: spendthrift playboy Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), his charming on-and-off girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow), and their mysterious companion Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), who seems to have taken an obsessive interest in Dickie. Continue reading

The White Lotus: Shane’s Leafy Toweling Shirt

Jake Lacy as Shane Patton on The White Lotus

Jake Lacy as Shane Patton on The White Lotus (Episode 1.05: “The Lotus-Eaters”)

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Jake Lacy as Shane Patton, smug and spoiled newlywed

Maui, Hawaii, Summer 2020

Series: The White Lotus
Episode: “The Lotus-Eaters” (Episode 1.05)
Air Date: July 11, 2021
Director: Mike White
Creator: Mike White
Costume Designer: Alex Bovaird

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

While I’m on vacation this week, it feels appropriate to continue covering the Emmy-nominated resort style of The White Lotus, this time turning a sartorial eye onto the hotel’s arguably most troublesome guest: the frat-tastic newlywed Shane Patton. Continue reading

The White Lotus: Armond’s Pink Linen Suit

Murray Bartlett as Armond on The White Lotus

Murray Bartlett as Armond on The White Lotus (Episode 1.01: “Arrivals”)

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Murray Bartlett as Armond, frantic resort hotel manager and recovering addict

Maui, Hawaii, Summer 2020

Series: The White Lotus
Episode: “Arrivals” (Episode 1.01)
Air Date: July 11, 2021
Director: Mike White
Creator: Mike White
Costume Designer: Alex Bovaird

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This week, the Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced, with HBO’s limited series The White Lotus tied with Ted Lasso for the second-most nominations (20), behind only Succession‘s staggering 25 nominations. Most of The White Lotus‘ cast was nominated in the acting categories, with Murray Bartlett emerging as a favorite for his performance as Armond, the obsequious and increasingly distressed manager of the eponymous Hawaiian resort. Continue reading

Licence to Kill: Bond’s Tropical Navy Casual Jacket

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in Licence to Kill

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in Licence to Kill (1989). Photo sourced from thunderballs007.org archive.

Vitals

Timothy Dalton as James Bond, rogue British government agent

From Key West, Florida to Bimini, Bahamas, Summer 1989

Film: Licence to Kill
Release Date: July 14, 1989
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Jodie Lynn Tillen

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Timothy Dalton’s second James Bond movie, Licence to Kill, was released today in 1989, exactly a week before I was born. Dalton was still comfortably settling into the role, establishing a more serious characterization that echoed Ian Fleming’s literary creation more than Roger Moore’s witty romantic, but a series of legal disputes and cultural shifts resulted in Licence to Kill unexpectedly becoming Dalton’s swan song as 007. Continue reading

Harrison Ford in American Graffiti

Harrison Ford as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti

Harrison Ford as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti (1973)

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Harrison Ford as Bob Falfa, confident street cruiser

Modesto, California, Summer 1962

Film: American Graffiti
Release Date: August 11, 1973
Director: George Lucas
Costume Designer: Aggie Guerard Rodgers

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy 80th birthday, Harrison Ford! Before his star-making performances as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, one of the Chicago-born actor’s most visible roles was in American Graffiti, George Lucas’ nostalgic coming-of-age comedy set one late summer night in 1962.

American Graffiti primarily centers around four friends and recent high school graduates enjoying one last Saturday night of R&R… rock ‘n roll and road races. Among the four, the ’32 Ford-driving John Milner (Paul Le Mat) is arguably the most prolific racer, called out when one of his fellow hot-rodding friends warns him that “there’s a very wicked ’55 Chevy looking for you.” Continue reading

The Sopranos: Saying Goodbye to Paulie Walnuts

Tony Sirico as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in "Made in America", The Sopranos' series finale.

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in “Made in America”, The Sopranos‘ series finale.

Vitals

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran

Kearny, New Jersey, Late Fall 2007

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Made in America” (Episode 6.21)
Air Date: June 10, 2007
Director: David Chase
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This weekend, fans of The Sopranos mourned the death of Tony Sirico, who had played the eccentric gangster “Paulie Walnuts” in addition to appearances in movies like GoodfellasDead Presidents, and Cop Land.

Sirico was born July 29, 1942 in Brooklyn, beginning a colorful life that would be paralleled by his character’s succinct autobiography as shared in a third-season episode:

I was born, grew up, spent a few years in the Army, a few more in the can, and here I am: a half a wise guy.

Continue reading

Raging Bull: De Niro’s Two-Tone Loafer Jacket

Robert De Niro in Raging Bull

Robert De Niro in Raging Bull (1980)

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Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, ambitious middleweight boxing contender

The Bronx, Summer 1941

Film: Raging Bull
Release Date: December 19, 1980
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: John Boxer & Richard Bruno

Background

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Jake LaMotta, the tough middleweight boxer born July 10, 1922 who was cinematically immortalized by Robert De Niro’s Oscar-winning performance in Raging Bull. Now considered one of the best movies ever made, Raging Bull was adapted by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin from LaMotta’s similarly titled autobiography, inspired by his own nickname “the Bronx Bull”. Continue reading

The Hot Spot: Don Johnson’s Gray Linen Jacket and Studebaker

Don Johnson as Harry Madox in The Hot Spot

Don Johnson as Harry Madox in The Hot Spot (1990)

Vitals

Don Johnson as Harry Madox, drifter and used car salesman

Texas, Summer 1990

Film: The Hot Spot
Release Date: October 12, 1990
Director: Dennis Hopper
Costume Designer: Mary Kay Stolz

Background

I’m wrapping up this summer’s #CarWeek with the under-discussed neo-noir The Hot Spot, made among the wave of sweaty erotic crime dramas of the ’80s and ’90s exemplified by movies like Body Heat through Basic Instinct.

Don Johnson was nearing the end of his star-making tenure on Miami Vice when he was tapped for The Hot Spot‘s leading role as Harry Madox, an enigmatic drifter whose arrival in the quiet Texas berg of Landers sets forth a series of events straight out of James M. Cain or Jim Thompson’s poison pen.

The Hot Spot comes by its pulp credentials honestly, adapted from Charles Williams’ 1952 novel Hell Hath No Fury and originally intended to be adapted as a Robert Mitchum vehicle in the early ’60s. Though set in the present, The Hot Spot retains much of this retro style inspired by the era of its original conception, as seen in many of the costumes and cars, most specifically Harry’s black ’59 Studebaker Silver Hawk that he drives into town. Continue reading