Tagged: 1930s

Sean Connery’s Tweed Coat and Cardigan in The Untouchables

Sean Connery as Jim Malone in The Untouchables (1987)

Sean Connery as Jim Malone in The Untouchables (1987)

Vitals

Sean Connery as Jim Malone, tough and honest Chicago beat cop

Canadian border, September 1930

Film: The Untouchables
Release Date: June 3, 1987
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance

Background

Recently recruited off the streets of Chicago, aging beat cop Jim Malone is more than happy to bring his grizzled brand of tough justice to the Canadian border to assist federal agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and their small but effective band of “untouchable” lawmen in stopping an illegal shipment of liquor from making its way into the United States.

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Fred MacMurray’s Flannel Sport Suit in Double Indemnity

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity (1944)

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff in Double Indemnity (1944)

Vitals

Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff, slick insurance salesman

Los Angeles, May through July 1938

Film: Double Indemnity
Release Date: July 3, 1944
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

What’d you think I was, anyway? A guy that walks into a good-lookin’ dame’s front parlor and says, “Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands. You got one that’s been around too long, one you’d like to turn into a little hard cash? Just give me a smile and I’ll help you collect?”

Let’s finally kick off Noir-vember with the quintessential film noir, Double Indemnity, the quotable masterpiece from the pen of James M. Cain, adapted for Billy Wilder’s screen direction by pulp writer Raymond Chandler and photographed by inventive cinematographer John F. Seitz. Double Indemnity is the one that has it all: the seductive femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck), the wisecracking protagonist willing to murder for her (Fred MacMurray), and the intrepid investigator, though in this case it’s not a trench coated private detective but an energetic, experienced, and irascible insurance claims manager played by Edward G. Robinson at his best.

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Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Thompson’s Final Suit in “Eldorado”

Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 5.08: "Eldorado")

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 5.08: “Eldorado”)

Vitals

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, corrupt Atlantic City politician and bootlegger

Atlantic City, Late Spring 1931

Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Eldorado” (Episode 5.08)
Air Date: October 26, 2014
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary since the final episode of Boardwalk Empire aired. Set in 1931, the fifth and final season of HBO’s Prohibition-set crime drama took a seven-year leap to conclude the stories of Atlantic City’s corrupt ex-treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and those in his orbit, whether based on reality like “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) or fictional creations for the show like Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol). Nucky himself is based on Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, the colorful and indeed corrupt politician from Atlantic City’s heyday in the roaring ’20s.

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Scarface (1932) – Tony’s Brown Striped Suit

Paul Muni, flanked by Vince Barnett and Karen Morley, in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni, flanked by Vince Barnett and Karen Morley, in Scarface (1932)

Vitals

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

Chicago, Summer 1927

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

Background

Today’s #MafiaMonday post goes back to the Prohibition era, the age that gave rise to the modern American gangster… and the American gangster movie.

After Warner Brothers scored back-to-back hits with Little Caesar (1931) and The Public Enemy (1931), effectively establishing the subgenre of the gangster film, Howard Hughes entered the fray with Scarface, an explosive, influential, and fast-paced criminal epic adapted from Armitage Trail’s novel that had been based on the life of Al Capone. Hughes had been warned against taking on Warner’s dominance in the genre, so he packed his production with talent including screenwriter Ben Hecht, director Howard Hawks, and lead actor Paul Muni, who was born 124 years ago yesterday on September 22, 1895.

In the wake of movies like Little Caesar and The Public Enemy, the Hays Office had been increasing its efforts to censor what it deemed to be glamorization of criminal lifestyles in cinema, but its notoriously restrictive production code had yet to be put into place, giving Scarface full reign to arm its vaguely incestuous central character with a Thompson submachine gun, once dubbed “the gun that made the twenties roar,” as he rose the ranks of the criminal underworld in a series of violent vignettes paralleling the life and crimes of the infamous Capone.

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Robert Redford’s Turtleneck in The Way We Were

Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were (1973)

Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were (1973)

Vitals

Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner, privileged college student turned Hollywood screenwriter

Upstate New York, June 1937 and
Malibu, California, September 1947

Film: The Way We Were
Release Date: October 19, 1973
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins & Moss Mabry

Background

As students are settling back into school after Labor Day, let’s make the acquaintance of Hubbell Gardiner, a privileged college student in 1930s America for whom “everything came too easily to him… but at least he knew it,” apropos his short story “The All-American Smile”. Hubbell’s scribbling earned the young man literary attention not only from publishers willing to pay for his work but also from Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand), a radical classmate who puts the “active” in activist.

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The Aviator: Leo’s Fair Isle Vest for Golf

Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett in The Aviator (2004). Photo by Andrew Cooper.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett in The Aviator (2004)

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, eccentric and ambitious aviation and movie mogul

Los Angeles, Summer 1935

Film: The Aviator
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell

Background

Tomorrow is the final day of the TOUR Championship, the final event of the 2019 PGA Tour season with a purse of $9,250,000 awarded to the first place golfer. Golf and wealth culminated for a brief but stylish scene in The Aviator (2004), Martin Scorsese’s biopic of twenty momentous years in the life of aviation and movie mogul Howard Hughes.

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William Powell’s Chalkstripe Suit in Manhattan Melodrama

William Powell as Jim Wade in Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

William Powell as Jim Wade in Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Vitals

William Powell as Jim Wade, crusading assistant district attorney

New York City, Spring 1934

Film: Manhattan Melodrama
Release Date: May 4, 1934
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Costume Designer: Dolly Tree

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy birthday, William Powell! The suave actor was born July 29, 1892, in my hometown of Pittsburgh, though he moved to Kansas City as a teenager. He only stayed there three years before moving to New York at the age of 18 to pursue a career as an actor, eventually becoming one of the best known actors of Hollywood’s “golden era” with three Academy Award nominations for Best Actor recognizing his performances in The Thin Man (1934), My Man Godfrey (1936), and Life with Father (1947).

Powell’s chemistry with Myrna Loy, most famously showcased as detective couple Nick and Nora Charles in the “Thin Man” series, made them one of the most iconic on-screen duos, though their first of 14 cinematic collaborations was Manhattan Melodrama in 1934. Continue reading

The Last Tycoon: Monroe Stahr’s Green Printed Shirt

Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr on The Last Tycoon (Episode 8: "An Enemy Among Us")

Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr on The Last Tycoon (Episode 8: “An Enemy Among Us”)

Vitals

Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr, charming studio wunderkind

Hollywood, February 1937

Series: The Last Tycoon
Episode: “An Enemy Among Us” (Episode 8)
Streaming Date: July 28, 2017
Director:
Scott Hornbacher
Developed By: Billy Ray
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Do you celebrate Christmas in July? If so, do you struggle with finding just the right thing to wear for your holiday fun in the sun when celebrating with swimming pools and margaritas rather than snowmen and mulled wine?

On the much-too-short-lived Amazon original series The Last Tycoon, developed by Billy Ray from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished final novel, the young and dashing Hollywood hotshot Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer) is rarely seen in anything less than a beautifully tailored three-piece suit or white tie and tails, but he gives himself a sartorial break in the name of love and leisure for a warm February morning on the terrace with his new paramour, aspiring actress Kathleen Moore (Dominique McElligott).

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Gregory Peck’s Checked Summer Shirt in The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Gregory Peck as Harry Street in Ernest Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)

Gregory Peck as Harry Street in Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)

Vitals

Gregory Peck as Harry Street, expatriate writer and former newspaper reporter

French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Summer 1936

Film: The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Release Date: September 17, 1952
Director: Henry King
Wardrobe Supervisor: Charles Le Maire

Background

As I spend this week on vacation, I reflect on how my birthday buddy Ernest Hemingway—born 120 years ago this week on July 21, 1899—would have spent his daiquiri-soaked summers. A brief vignette from Henry King’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro, an adaptation of Papa’s short story of the same name, may shed some light on the life of a bored writer spending the warm season in the French Riviera.

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The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Tan Plaid Jacket

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Based on James Hadley Chase’s controversial novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, Robert Aldrich’s sweat-soaked Depression-set crime drama The Grissom Gang hardly features the finest or most inspiring of that elegant era’s sartorialism, but it does showcase unique and interesting approaches to 1930s menswear, particuarly in the wardrobe of the slick underworld dandy Eddie Hagan (Tony Musante).

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