Brad Pitt as John Smith, suburban assassin
New York City, Fall 2004
Film: Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Release Date: June 10, 2005
Director: Doug Liman
Costume Designer: Michael Kaplan
Pitt’s Costumer: Myron Baker
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
There have been quite a few requests from readers hoping to see some of Brad Pitt’s sharp attire from Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and I think enough time has passed since his notorious divorce from Angelina Jolie last fall that a post featuring the very movie that brought them together won’t look too opportunistic… although being posted a week after Valentine’s Day may look suspicious!
Mr. & Mrs. Smith stars Pitt and Jolie as the titular couple, a seemingly banal set of suburbanites shielding their secret side careers as professional contract killers from each other. Continue reading
Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow, bank robber with “second sight”
Northeast Texas, Spring 1932
Series Title: Bonnie and Clyde
Air Date: December 8, 2013
Director: Bruce Beresford
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
As an amateur criminal historian with a special interest in Depression-era desperadoes, I’d be remiss to let a year go by without commemorating the end of Bonnie and Clyde’s crime streak on May 23, 1934 when the now-famous duo was gunned down by a squad of expert lawmen on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Continue reading
Matthew McConaughey as Mud, mysterious fugitive and Arkansas River drifter
DeWitt, Arkansas, Summer 2012
Release Date: May 26, 2012
Director: Jeff Nichols
Costume Designer: Kari Perkins
As the weather’s getting warmer and days are getting more adventurous, BAMF Style is taking a look at the modern Mark Twain-style titular hero of 2012’s Mud.
Mud doesn’t give Matthew McConaughey the chance to show off any sharp clothes as any of his previous roles had, but it’s also part of the “McConnaissance” that has marked the complex roles of his more recent career. After a string of stupid romantic comedies and Kate Hudson vehicles, McConaughey decided to show the world he was a seriously talented actor with films like The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Killer Joe, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Interstellar as well as his Academy Award-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club and nihilistically stunning role in the first season of HBO’s mind-fucking True Detective.
In Mud, McConaughey plays a mysterious drifter living in a boat in the backwoods off the Arkansas River. Mud promises two adventurous boys, Ellis and the awesomely-named Neckbone, that he will give them the boat if they get him food and help him reunite with his troubled ex-girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). Continue reading
Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow, Depression-era bank robber and gang leader
Pilot Point, TX, Summer 1933
Film: Bonnie & Clyde
Release Date: August 13, 1967
Director: Arthur Penn
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
It was around this time in late November 1932 that an awkward and maladjusted Texas hoodlum decided he wanted to make the jump from armed robber and spree killer to big-time bank-robbing gang leader. Now 23 years old, Clyde Barrow already had numerous arrests dating back to an aborted attempt to steal a rental car and impress a girlfriend (not Bonnie, in case you’re curious.) He’d spent two years in prison, having endured sexual and physical abuse for most of it, and now graced headlines of small Texas newspapers with the notoriety of a gutless killer with the blood of two shopkeepers and a deputy sheriff attributed to him (not to mention that of the most abusive inmate from his prison stretch).
With the support of his vulnerable girlfriend, Bonnie Parker, and two Texas nobodies who shared his dreams of taking a major bank score, Clyde set out for the Farmers and Miners Bank in Oronago, Missouri on November 30, 1932. Bonnie had already visited the bank the previous day to case it, but the inexperienced girl drew only suspicious stares from its employees rather than a master plan for robbery. Undeterred by her lack of success, Clyde loaded his Browning Automatic Rifle – stolen from a Texas National Guard armory three months earlier – and charged into the bank around 11:30 a.m. with accomplice Frank Hardy. Things didn’t quite go according to plan. Continue reading
80 years ago today, Depression-era outlaw Charles Arthur Floyd was shot down by federal agents and local police in a farm outside East Liverpool, Ohio.
Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, charismatic but violent Depression-era outlaw
Clarkson, Ohio, October 1934
Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
After dedicating the majority of my life to researching the Depression-era crime wave that saw guys like John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Alvin Karpis roaming the American countryside with the support of the public and the rage of the government, I was elated when I learned that Bryan Burrough’s masterful docu-novel Public Enemies was finally being turned into a film. I wondered how a two-hour movie could capture the intricacies of each colorful individual in each of the various gangs over a two-year period, and I assumed that – like Burrough – director Michael Mann would focus primarily on Karpis, the lone survivor of the original batch of Public Enemies. Continue reading
Billy Zane as Caledon “Cal” Hockley, pompous heir to a Pittsburgh steel fortune
North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912
Release Date: December 19, 1997
Director: James Cameron
Costume Designer: Deborah Lynn Scott
Exactly 102 years today, the RMS Titanic saw land for the last time when it departed Queenstown, Ireland (now Cobh) at 1:30 PM (GMT) on April 11, 1912. The destination was New York City, but the ship foundered in the North Atlantic Ocean, taking with it more than 1,500 passengers and crew and leaving only a scattered 700 in the ship’s relatively few lifeboats.
Oh, you’ve heard of Titanic before? Okay, then, I doubt I need to say much more. Continue reading
Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber
Indiana, September 1934
Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
Once again, the best shots of Dillinger’s attire in this scene from Public Enemies are from production shots, as Michael Mann’s choice of a handheld camera and extreme close-ups just show close details. However, unlike the previous Public Enemies post, Dillinger was nowhere near the incident being portrayed on film.
While Dillinger did indeed engineer the breakout of his prison buddies from the Michigan City Penitentiary on September 26, 1933 – eighty years ago yesterday – he was nowhere to be found on the day in question. Was he being smart by avoiding the situation? Was he scared?
Neither. He was in jail himself.
About a week earlier, Dillinger had managed to smuggle three .45-caliber pistols, likely the gang’s favorite Colt semi-automatics. On September 26, Harry Pierpont and Charley Makley found the marked box with the guns inside. They dug them out and, with eight other yeggs, managed to get out of prison. Unlike the film adaptation, it was relatively bloodless with no fatalities. Some of the prisoners were quickly rounded up and either killed or returned to prison, but the nexus of the Dillinger Gang: Pierpont, Makley, Russell Clark, Walter Dietrich, and John “Red” Hamilton, were now back together again. The only problem was Dillinger himself. Continue reading
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti, recently “made” New Jersey gangster
New Jersey, January 2001
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Pine Barrens” (Episode 3.11)
Air Date: May 6, 2001
Director: Steve Buscemi
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
For a series arguably among the greatest shows of our time, it is difficult to pick out which episode of The Sopranos is truly the best. While some episodes are more polarizing than others, most everyone who has seen and appreciated the show can agree that season three’s “Pine Barrens” is one of the most enjoyable and rewatchable episodes of television.
Much of the particular episode’s humor comes from the byplay between Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) and Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico), two of my favorite characters of the show.
The two manage to play a pair of “bumbling” mobsters without being too over-the-top and comical. They’re efficient enough to survive in their jobs (especially in a career where the retirement policy is grim), but believably stupid enough to find themselves in this situation. Continue reading
Bruce Willis as John Smith, mysterious mob gun-for-hire
Texas, Summer 1931
Film: Last Man Standing
Release Date: September 20, 1996
Director: Walter Hill
Costume Designer: Dan Moore
Willis’ Costumer: Lori Stilson
Last Man Standing is one of many film adaptations of the classic “man-playing-two-corrupt-factions-against-the-other” story that originated in modern culture with Dashiell Hammett’s 1927 novel Red Harvest. The novel was loosely translated onto the screen for 1942’s The Glass Key and, soon, the story was soon standardized as a lone drifter of few words showing up in town, befriending a bartender, and taking on two criminal gangs. Continue reading
On January 17, 1920, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, making Prohibition the law of the land. Nobody benefited more from this stupid, moronic, totally brainless decision than organized crime.
Michael Pitt as Jimmy Darmody, rising figure in the Atlantic City underworld
Atlantic City and New York City, Spring/Summer 1921
Series: Boardwalk Empire
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
After rising from the “half a gangster” of the pilot episode, Jimmy Darmody finally attains his goal of taking control of Atlantic City in June 1921. He’s come a long way from the tweed Norfolk suit, ratty cardigan, and newsboy cap. Never seen without a three-piece suit, the attire of choice for Jimmy’s celebratory party at Babbette’s Supper Club is a classy dark blue pinstripe suit. Continue reading