Tagged: 1930s

The Awful Truth: Cary Grant’s White Tie and Tails

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)

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Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner, witty divorcee

New York, Fall 1937

Film: The Awful Truth
Release Date: October 21, 1937
Director: Leo McCarey
Costume Designer: Robert Kalloch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Archibald Leach was born 117 years ago today on January 18, 1904. Though he’d established his now-iconic stage name just before his film debut in This is the Night (1932), I consider Leo McCarey’s 1937 screwball comedy The Awful Truth to be the symbolic start of Cary Grant’s screen persona as a stylish yet self-deprecating gentleman with a remarkable penchant for physical comedy as well as wit. Continue reading

After the Thin Man: Nick Charles’ Light Double-Breasted Suit for the New Year

William Powell and Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man (1936)... with Skippy as Asta

William Powell and Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man (1936)… with Skippy as Asta

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William Powell as Nick Charles, retired private detective

San Francisco, New Year’s Eve 1936

Film: After the Thin Man
Release Date: December 25, 1936
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Wardrobe Credit: Dolly Tree

Background

Happy New Year! Dashiell Hammett and “One-Take Woody” Van Dyke continued the runaway success of The Thin Man by reuniting William Powell and Myrna Loy as crime-solving power couple Nick and Nora Charles, coming home to San Francisco after solving the famous “Thin Man” case during their holiday in New York. The three-day train ride returns Nick and Nora to the City by the Bay just in time for New Year’s Eve, where they find their home commandeered by revelers that have already kicked off their celebrations.

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The Sound of Music: Christopher Plummer’s Flap-Pocket Country Suits

Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965)

Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965)

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Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, widowed ex-Imperial Austro-Hungarian Navy officer

Salzburg, Austria, Spring 1938

Film: The Sound of Music
Release Date: March 2, 1965
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

Background

Happy birthday, Christopher Plummer! Born 91 years ago in Toronto, the distinguished actor continues to be a familiar face on screen, most recently as the doomed mystery writer at the center of Knives Out (2019). Plummer’s most recognizable performance remains arguably that of Georg von Trapp, the Austro-Hungarian patriarch whose family of young singers was depicted in The Sound of Music.

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Death on the Nile: Peter Ustinov’s Tropical Norfolk Suit as Poirot

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978)

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Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, eccentric Belgian detective

Egypt, September 1937

Film: Death on the Nile
Release Date: September 29, 1978
Director: John Guillermin
Costume Designer: Anthony Powell

Background

In his adaptation of perhaps the best-known Hercule Poirot mystery from Agatha Christie’s prolific canon, Kenneth Branagh all but confirmed at the end of Murder on the Orient Express that his follow-up film would find the fussy Belgian detective solving a murder “right on the bloody Nile!”

Indeed, just weeks after Murder on the Orient Express was released in November 2017, it was officially announced that Death on the Nile would be entering production as the third major adaptation of Christie’s 1937 novel. Even after the intended December 2019 release was postponed to October 9, 2020, Death on the Nile joined the ranks of films like The Many Saints of NewarkNo Time to Die, and Tenet whose release dates were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The October date was optimistically shifted forward two weeks to October 23 (today!) before the perhaps more realistic release date of December 18 was announced.

Of course, Christie fans looking to get their Nile fix have long had a very watchable solution available with the 1978 adaptation of Death on the Nile, the first of six films to star two-time Academy Award winner Peter Ustinov as the detail-oriented detective.

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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)

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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)

Vitals

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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