Cary Grant as C.K. Dexter Haven, cheeky socialite yacht designer
Philadelphia, summer 1940
Film: The Philadelphia Story
Release Date: December 26, 1940
Director: George Cukor
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Many weddings are elaborate events planned out months, if not years, in advance. In The Philadelphia Story, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and Tracy Samantha Lord (Katharine Hepburn) have only a few minutes before taking their place [back] at the altar for a memorable wedding that results in an appropriately informal “casual Friday” post to conclude BAMF Style’s Week of Weddings. Continue reading
Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin, American government agent
Miami and Rio de Janeiro, Spring 1946
Release Date: September 6, 1946
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
It’s impossible to over-celebrate the elegant yet understated sartorialism of Cary Grant, born this day in 1904. One of my favorite of Grant’s movies is Notorious, the 1946 espionage adventure that paired him with Ingrid Bergman as a pair of American spies tasked with exposing Alexander Sebastian, a former Nazi played with charmingly evil affability by Claude Rains.
Notorious was the second collaboration between Grant and director Alfred Hitchcock, and it marked the start of a string of wildly successful and ultimately timeless movies that Hitch would direct over the next two decades. Continue reading
James Stewart as George Bailey, banker and depressed family man
Bedford Falls, NY, Christmas Eve 1945
Film: It’s a Wonderful Life
Release Date: December 20, 1946
Director: Frank Capra
Costume Designer: Edward Stevenson
Jimmy Stewart and director Frank Capra have both called It’s a Wonderful Life the favorite film of each of their prolific careers. Stewart cites George Bailey as his favorite character that he’s played, and Capra would annually screen the film for his own family each Christmas.
First released 60 years ago this week, the film earned mixed reviews and was ultimately considered a financial disappointment, earning only $3.3 million during its initial box office run against its considerably expensive $3.7 million budget. (It also earned the ire of the FBI for its “Communist tricks” of “represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture,” but that’s a whole different story.) Continue reading
Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, archetypal hard-boiled private detective
Los Angeles, Fall 1945
Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: August 23, 1946
Director: Howard Hawks
Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is a pretty special day for me, and I’d like to celebrate the woman who is the Bacall to my Bogie by reflecting on The Big Sleep, which was originally released in theaters 70 years ago tomorrow, eight days after its premiere on August 23, 1946.
The Big Sleep was the second of four films starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The had originally met while filming her cinematic debut, To Have and Have Not, which was released on October 11, 1944, the very day after production began on The Big Sleep. (To Have and Have Not is also the first movie that my girlfriend and I watched together!) Continue reading
Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, “celebrity” gangster and casino builder
Las Vegas to L.A., August 1946
Release Date: December 13, 1991
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
The second warm-weather Mafia Monday in a row transports us from the glamour of 1950s Miami to the barrenness of the post-war Mojave Desert.
Bugsy Siegel has been dealing with a lot of professional issues. Construction of his “oasis in the desert” – the Flamingo Hotel and Casino – is going way over budget, and he’s just been arrested for the murder of his old pal Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg (Elliott Gould). What’s a volatile celebrity mobster to do? Continue reading
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, Mafia son and World War II hero
New York City, January 1946
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
Happy birthday to Al Pacino, born this day in 1940. It was The Godfather that arguably catapulted Pacino into public consciousness as one of the greatest actors of his generation, an impressive feat for an actor with only two preceding film credits. Although Paramount production chief Robert Evans had more box office-oriented names in mind for its central role ranging from Jack Nicholson to Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola insisted on Pacino who delivered in spades and received both an Academy Award nomination as well as a massive salary increase (from $35,000 to $600,000) to return as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II only two years later.
Although all of The Godfather is an acting tour de force for Pacino, there is one monumental scene often cited as the moment that truly established him as one of the most talented stars in the industry. An outsider to his family’s illegitimate business, Michael Corleone surprised everyone by offering to retaliate for the attempt on his father’s life by personally gunning down both the drug-peddling gangster and the corrupt police captain. Armed with the family’s blessing, an escape route, and a .38 taped behind an old toilet, Michael finds himself sitting across from these two criminals for – ostensibly – a peace meeting. Continue reading
Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, cynical “gin joint” manager and former arms dealer
Casablanca, Morocco, December 1941
Release Date: November 26, 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz
Although remembered today as one of the greatest romances to grace the screen, the Los Angeles Times‘s Bob Strauss was most accurate when he declared Casablanca a “near-perfect entertainment balance” of comedy, romance, and suspense. In fact, the movie has become so engrained as a romance classic that few recall just how badass it actually is.
Take the leading male: Rick Blaine. Played by Humphrey Bogart (which already lends plenty of BAMF credibility), Rick is more cynical than any of the private eyes that Bogie ever played on screen. He owns a bar with an illegal gambling den and maintained a successful side racket of running guns to Ethiopia, in addition to packing his own pistol on most occasions.
When Ilsa, the love of his life, walks back into his bar after nearly two years, he takes to the bottle… and he does so with gusto. The bitter Rick refuses to help Ilsa’s crusading resistance leader husband, to which she responds by drawing her own gun. After sorting out conflicted feelings, old flames, and a bullet or two in the gut of a Nazi, Rick finally manages to find closure with his old love while paving the way for further shady business ventures. The end.
With just over a week left until Valentine’s Day, Rick Blaine provides a classic, dapper look sure to make your special lady swoon on this most hated of holidays. Good luck, fellas. Continue reading