Tagged: 1910s

East of Eden: James Dean’s 1917 Sport Jacket

James Dean and Julie Harris in East of Eden

James Dean and Julie Harris in East of Eden (1955)

Vitals

James Dean as Caleb “Cal” Trask, angsty and entrepreneurial farmer’s son

Salinas, California, Fall 1917

Film: East of Eden
Release Date: March 9, 1955
Director: Elia Kazan
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

Background

James Dean’s first of only three major credited screen roles also resulted in his first of two posthumous Academy Award nominations, starring as the moody Cal Trask in Elia Kazan’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden, itself a loose retelling of the story of Cain and Abel set in California’s Salinas Valley around the time of America’s entry into World War I.

Cal and his brother Aron (Richard Davalos) vie for the affections of their father Adam (Raymond Massey), a prominent farmer and draft board chairman, whom Cal hopes to impress by growing beans to raise funds that would support the family and supplant some of Adam’s own financial losses. As Cal’s success in the bean-fields grows, his competition with his brother extends to Aron’s girlfriend Abra (Julie Harris), growing closer to her after they meet up at a county fair. Continue reading

Titanic – Jack Dawson’s Steerage Style

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic (1997)

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson, charismatic American artist

North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912

Film: Titanic
Release Date: December 19, 1997
Director: James Cameron
Costume Designer: Deborah Lynn Scott
Tailor: Dominic Gherardi

Background

110 years ago today, the sinking of the RMS Titanic resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 passengers and crew. The global mourning and focus on transportation safety in the tragedy’s aftermath was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, so to speak, as the disaster and those involved have continued to be mythologized in countless books, movies, plays, songs, and more.

Continue reading

Sam Neill’s Half-Norfolk Jacket as Sidney Reilly

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 9: "After Moscow")

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 9: “After Moscow”)

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik

London, Fall 1918

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “After Moscow” (Episode 9)
Air Date: October 26, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

I consider Sidney Reilly to be one of the most fascinating and mysterious figures of the 20th century. There’s little consensus on when he was born, when he died, or how he exactly spent he spent the fifty-odd years in between, though his oft-exaggerated exploits as a shadowy agent of the British secret service has established his enduring reputation as “the Ace of Spies”, aided by his own memoirs and an excellent 1983 twelve-part mini-series starring Sam Neill in the eponymous role of the Russian-born adventurer. Continue reading

A Night to Remember: Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews

Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews in A Night to Remember (1958)

Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews in A Night to Remember (1958)

Vitals

Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews, shipbuilder

North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912

Film: A Night to Remember
Release Date: July 3, 1958
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Costume Designer: Yvonne Caffin

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

109 years ago, around 11:40 p.m. on the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, the celebrated luxury liner RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, sinking within three hours, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 of the 2,200 on board.

Among the dead were many instrumental in the ship’s operations including its captain Edward J. Smith, three of his officers, and Irish-born shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, who oversaw the design of the Titanic and her two sister ships from the time they were conceptualized for the White Star Line five years earlier. Continue reading

Gary Cooper’s Aviator Uniform in Wings (1927)

Gary Cooper as Cadet White in Wings (1927)

Gary Cooper as Cadet White in Wings (1927)

Vitals

Gary Cooper as Cadet White, U.S. Army Aviation Section, Signal Corps aviator

Camp Kelly (San Antonio, Texas), Spring 1917

Film: Wings
Release Date: August 12, 1927
Director: William A. Wellman
Costume Design: Travis Banton & Edith Head (uncredited)

Background

Ninety years ago today, Wings won the first Academy Award for Best Picture—more accurately, the award read “Academy Award for Outstanding Picture.” Though silent movies were still the norm at the time of Wings’ release in August 1927, The Jazz Singer introduced recorded sound to film upon its release two months later, and Wings remains the only true silent film (unless you include The Artist) to take home the Best Picture prize.

Continue reading

Clifton Webb’s Blazer in Titanic (1953)

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges in Titanic (1953)

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges in Titanic (1953)

Vitals

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges, millionaire, estranged family man, and fastidious dresser

RMS Titanic, April 1912

Film: Titanic
Release Date: April 16, 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

Background

Julia: You’re up early.
Richard: I had to scratch around for something to wear. Not a bad shop, they have everything.
Julia: Dinner jackets, I trust.
Richard: Naturally. It will be ready tonight. So… life can go on.

This exchange summarizes the 1953 melodrama Titanic, one of the first attempts to tell the now-infamous story of the real-life sinking of the White Star Line’s premiere ocean liner during its maiden voyage in April 1912, sending more than 1,500 passengers and crew to their deaths as a few more than 700 spend a chilly night in uncovered lifeboats, waiting for help to arrive.

Released 66 years ago tomorrow, 20th Century Fox’s Titanic focuses more on the personal drama of the fictional Sturges family: pretentious and aloof patriarch Richard (Clifton Webb) and his strong-willed, responsible wife Julia (Barbara Stanwyck) who tries to protect their children from taking after their profligate father. Cut from the same cloth as his wickedly snobbish Waldo Lydecker character in Laura, Richard Ward Sturges delights in his children’s obvious preference for him as he showers them with a decadent lifestyle that would no doubt spoil them as adults if not for their more practical mother’s interventions. Continue reading

Cagney’s Cardigan in The Public Enemy

James Cagney as Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)

James Cagney as Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)

Vitals

James Cagney as Tom Powers, petty criminal

Chicago, Fall 1915

Film: The Public Enemy
Release Date: April 23, 1931
Director: William A. Wellman
Costume Designer: Edward Stevenson
Wardrobe Credit: Earl Luick

Background

In the waning years of Prohibition, Warner Brothers met the public demand for bringing the violent daily headlines to the screen with a succession of films that firmly established the genre of American gangster cinema. One of the most enduring of these pre-Code hits is The Public Enemy, the 1931 movie that made an instant star out of James Cagney.

Continue reading

Reilly, Ace of Spies: A Notch-Lapel Dinner Jacket

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 6: "Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses")

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 6: “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses”)

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik

St. Petersburg, Russia, October 1910, and
London, November 1918

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episodes:
– “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses” (Episode 6), dir. Jim Goddard, aired 10/5/1983
– “After Moscow”(Episode 9), dir. Martin Campbell, aired 10/26/1983
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

Reilly: Ace of Spies fictionalizes the exploits of Russian-born spy Sidney Reilly, often cited as a real-life basis for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. While the showrunners must have been cognizant of the need to place their suave British secret agent in a tuxedo, the series’ narrative also coincided with the rise of the dinner jacket over the first quarter of the 20th century.

Continue reading

Clifton Webb’s Tuxedo in Titanic (1953)

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges in Titanic (1953)

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges in Titanic (1953)

Vitals

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges, millionaire and estranged family man

RMS Titanic, April 1912

Film: Titanic
Release Date: April 16, 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Before there was Kate and Leo, there was Barbara and Clifton.

To know me is to know my obsession with the Titanic and other maritime disasters of the early 20th century. SS ValenciaEmpress of IrelandLusitaniaPrincess SophiaTitanic‘s hospital sister ship Britannic… chances are that if it sank in the first few decades of last century, I know a thing or two about it.

It was today in 1912 that the RMS Titanic actually struck the iceberg that sank her. The collision happened around 11:40 p.m., North Atlantic time, on the night of Sunday, April 14. Compared to most of the other disasters in the previous paragraph, it took considerable time to sink, finally settling under the waves at 2:20 a.m. on the morning of Monday, April 15, 1912, ending more than 1,500 lives of the roughly 2,200 that had been aboard.

Continue reading

Peaky Blinders – Tommy’s Charcoal Herringbone Suit and Model T

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby on Peaky Blinders (Episode 2), stepping out of his Ford Model T in charcoal tweed suit and overcoat.

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby on Peaky Blinders (Episode 2), stepping out of his Ford Model T in charcoal tweed suit and overcoat.

Vitals

Cillian Murphy as Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, cunning Peaky Blinders gang leader and jaded WWI veteran

Birmingham, England, Fall 1919

Series: Peaky Blinders
Season: 1
Air Dates: September 12, 2013 – October 17, 2013
Directors: Otto Bathurst (Episodes 1.01 – 1.03) & Tom Harper (Episode 1.04 & 1.06)
Creator: Steven Knight
Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie
Tailor: Keith Watson

Background

The fourth season of BBC Two’s brutally entertaining Peaky Blinders premiered last month in the U.K. and should arrive on Netflix just in time for Christmas for American fans eager to see Birmingham’s favorite crime family boozing and bleeding its way through the 1920s.

Car Week thus begins with a flashback to the show’s first season as Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his brothers roll up to a rendezvous with the Lee family in their flivver, a beautiful black Ford Model T that coordinates with Tommy’s dark three-piece suit and overcoat. Continue reading