Tagged: 1930s

The Aviator: Dressed to Test the H-1 Racer

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)

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

Los Angeles, September 1935

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

Background

85 years ago today on September 13, 1935, a sleek silver aircraft rocketed through the air over Santa Ana, California, at a record-breaking speed over 350 miles per hour, making four passes over Martin Field before a crash-landing that deposited its owner—one of the wealthiest and most ambitious men in America at the time—into a beet field, alive and hardly discouraged. As Howard Hughes’ colleagues ran over to extract the 29-year-old entrepreneur and aviator from the wreckage of the H-1 Racer, he hardly had his own safety in mind, issuing the command: “We can fix her, she’ll go faster!”

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Cary Grant’s Flight Jacket in Only Angels Have Wings

Cary Grant as Geoff Carter in Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

Cary Grant as Geoff Carter in Only Angels Have Wings (1939)

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Cary Grant as Geoff Carter, regional airline manager and pilot

South America, Spring 1939

Film: Only Angels Have Wings
Release Date: May 15, 1939
Director: Howard Hawks
Costume Designer: Robert Kalloch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Calling Barranca, calling Barranca…

Set in the fictional “port of call for the South American banana boats”, Only Angels Have Wings begins with the arrival of Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur), a Brooklyn musician who soon catches the eye of two American aviators, Joe (Noah Beery Jr.) and Les (Allyn Joslyn). While the daredevil duo gambles for the opportunity to take Bonnie to dinner, Cary Grant makes his swaggering introduction as Geoff Carter, a fellow pilot and manager of a regional mail carrier flying regular routes over the treacherous Andes Mountains.

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Robert Redford’s Colorful Fair Isle Sweater in The Way We Were

Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardner in The Way We Were (1973)

Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner in The Way We Were (1973)

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Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner, privileged college student

Upstate New York, Spring 1937

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

Background

Happy birthday, Robert Redford! As the actor celebrates his 84th birthday today, and college students prepare to go back to school under surreal conditions, it feels right to take another look at Redford’s style as Hubbell Gardiner, a popular and privileged scholar athlete at “Wentworth College” (filmed at Union College in Schenectady, New York.)

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The Snows of Kilimanjaro: Gregory Peck’s White Riviera Resortwear

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

Despite its wintry title, The Snows of Kilimanjaro was expanded significantly from Ernest Hemingway’s original short story for Henry King’s lush 1952 cinematic adaptation, featuring plenty of summertime fun in Côte d’Azur during its prewar heyday.

The rest of the world may have been suffering from the Great Depression, but Papa surrogate Harry Street has risen to literary stardom and is now living la belle vie, adrift in the Mediterranean while his latest paramour “Frigid Liz, the semi-iceburg of the semi-tropics” frolics in the warm sea around him. Though lovely, Countess Elizabeth (Hildegard Knef) is hardly the treasured Cynthia (Ava Gardner), and Harry admits he’s only attracted to Liz for her elusive qualities, describing in Papa-esque prose that “she was something to hunt down and trap and capture.”

In addition to today being the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, who entered the world July 21, 1899, today is also my 31st birthday!

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The Aviator: Leo’s Navy Jacket and White Slacks

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes 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

Almost five years after the success of his World War I epic Hell’s Angels, Howard Hughes lands his seaplane at the beach to the tune of Bing Crosby crooning the 1933 ballad “Thanks”, backed by “musical host of the coast” Jimmie Grier and his Orchestra. The graceful approach of the Sikorsky S-38 “Flying Boat” and the dapper Hughes deplaning from it dazzles the cast and crew of Sylvia Scarlett, Katharine Hepburn’s first of four films with director George Cukor and co-star Cary Grant.

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Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

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Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, principled Southern lawyer

Maycomb, Alabama, Summer 1932 and 1933

Film: To Kill a Mockingbird
Release Date: December 25, 1962
Director: Robert Mulligan
Costume Designer: Rosemary Odell
Tailor: H. Huntsman & Sons, London

Background

Today marks the birthday of Gregory Peck, born April 5, 1916. Peck’s arguably most iconic role was that of the patient, humble, and earnest defense attorney Atticus Finch, a portrayal that earned Peck the Academy Award and was voted the #1 screen hero of all time in a 2003 AFI poll, outranking cinematic badasses like James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Ellen Ripley and illustrating that the most heroic strength is strength of moral character.

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Walk on the Wild Side: Laurence Harvey’s Lee Rider Jacket

Laurence Harvey as Dove Linkhorn in Walk on the Wild Side (1962)

Laurence Harvey as Dove Linkhorn in Walk on the Wild Side (1962)

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Laurence Harvey as Dove Linkhorn, determined drifter

Texas to New Orleans, September 1933

Film: Walk on the Wild Side
Release Date: February 21, 1962
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Costume Designer: Charles Le Maire

Background

While this may not be the ideal weekend for an outdoors adventure, we can at least walk vicariously with Depression-era drifter Dove Linkhorn (Laurence Harvey), whose solo trek from Texas to New Orleans is interrupted by the arrival of the fiery and opportunistic runaway Kitty (Jane Fonda). The two hitchhike and hop trains together, though Dove turns down her advances as he sticks to his single-minded goal of tracking down the woman he had loved and lost, Hallie Gerard (Capucine). Continue reading

Lassiter: Tom Selleck’s Tweed Jacket

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter in Lassiter (1984)

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter in Lassiter (1984)

Vitals

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter, debonair jewel thief

London, June 1939

Film: Lassiter
Release Date: February 17, 1984
Director: Roger Young
Costume Designer: Barbara Lane

Background

While we’re still in the midst of tweed-friendly weather, I’d like to respond to a few requests I’ve had to focus on Tom Selleck’s gentlemanly style in Lassiter as an American thief in England, a far cry from the Aloha shirts he was famously wearing on Magnum, P.I. at the same time.

Released today in 1984, Lassiter starred Selleck as the titular jewel thief—Nick Lassiter—crafted in the daring and debonair tradition of cinematic cat burglars like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and David Niven’s “Phantom” in The Pink Panther. Much like his previous film, High Road to China, this movie compensated for the fact that Selleck had to pass on the role of Indiana Jones by giving him the role of a charismatic, resourceful, and risk-averse rogue facing danger from under the brim of a fedora in the years leading up to World War II.

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Murder on the Orient Express: Kenneth Branagh’s Navy Suit as Poirot

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

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Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, obsessive-compulsive Belgian detective

Orient Express, Winter 1934

Film: Murder on the Orient Express
Release Date: November 10, 2017
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Costume Designer: Alexandra Byrne

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Readers who have seen my posts focused on adaptations of And Then There Were NoneDeath on the Nile, and Evil Under the Sun are likely aware that I’ve been a fan of Agatha Christie’s mystery fiction since I was 10 years old. Thus, it’s a continued thrill to find her works thriving as studios on both sides of the pond continue to churn out lavish adaptations of her work a full century after she introduced the world to Hercule Poirot with the publication of her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920. In particular, David Suchet has been performing yeoman’s work as the quintessential Poirot across 70 episodes of an ITV-produced drama series that successfully—and relatively faithfully—adapted every novel and story that prominently featured Christie’s master detective.

In the spirit of contemporary BBC adaptations like The ABC MurdersAnd Then There Were NoneOrdeal by Innocence, and The Pale Horse, Kenneth Branagh helmed what’s now the fourth adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, arguably Christie’s best-known novel famous for its then-groundbreaking solution. Continue reading

Cagney’s Chalkstripe Suit 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, dangerous gangster and bootlegger

Chicago, Spring 1922

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

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

One hundred years ago at midnight tonight, on January 17, 1920, the Volstead Act went into effect, beginning a 13-year prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States… and kicking off what Herbert Asbury referred to in his informal history of the Chicago underworld as “the saturnalia of crime and corruption which has been called ‘a noble experiment’,” due to the resulting surge in organized crime that effectively gave rise to the modern gangster.

As moving pictures evolved as a popular medium in the waning years of Prohibition, so too did the gangster movie. Warner Brothers took the lead, exposing audiences to snarling violent hoodlums based on the real-life criminals who bloodied the streets of New York and Chicago. It was in the 1931 hit The Public Enemy that James Cagney made his star-making turn as the psychopathic gangster Tom Powers.

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