Tagged: 1950s

La Dolce Vita: Mastroianni’s Black Suit

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (1960)

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (1960)

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Marcello Mastroianni as Marcello Rubini, playboy gossip journalist

Rome, Spring 1959

Film: La Dolce Vita
Release Date:
February 5, 1960
Director: Federico Fellini
Costume Designer: Piero Gherardi
Tailor: Brioni

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The two headlining stars of Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita would have celebrated their birthdays this week—Marcello Mastroianni tomorrow (September 28, 1924) and Anita Ekberg the following day (September 29, 1931)—and watching these two Libras glide together through the Trevi Fountain at daybreak has become one of the most enduring images of Italian cinema.

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Goodfellas: 30 Significant Style Moments

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Film: Goodfellas
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today marks the 30th anniversary since my favorite movie, Goodfellas, was released, ten days after it premiered to rave reviews at the 47th International Venice Film Festival. Based on the true story told in Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, this Martin Scorsese-directed mob epic details a life in organized crime as recalled by Lucchese Mafia family associate-turned-informant Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), from his teenage years in the 1950s through adulthood until his arrest on May 11, 1980.

The ensemble cast includes Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, and Frank Sivero as Henry’s criminal colleagues and Lorraine Bracco as his wife and eventual accomplice.

Pesci, Liotta, and De Niro in Goodfellas.

Pesci, Liotta, and De Niro in Goodfellas.

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A Place in the Sun: Montgomery Clift’s Labor Day Glen Plaid Sports Coat

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951)

Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951)

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Montgomery Clift as George Eastman, dangerously ambitious factory executive

“Loon Lake”, Missouri, Labor Day 1950

Film: A Place in the Sun
Release Date: August 14, 1951
Director: George Stevens
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

With Labor Day weekend ahead, today’s post explores the style from one of my favorite movies set across the late summer holiday. A Place in the Sun was adapted by Michael Wilson and Harry Brown from Theodore Dreiser’s novel An American Tragedy, which was itself based on Chester Gillette’s 1906 murder of his pregnant partner Grace Brown in the Adirondacks.

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Elliott Gould’s Aloha Shirt as Trapper John in MASH

Elliott Gould as Captain "Trapper John" McIntyre in M*A*S*H (1970)

Elliott Gould as Captain “Trapper John” McIntyre in M*A*S*H (1970)

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Elliott Gould as Capt. “Trapper John” McIntyre, irreverent U.S. Army chest surgeon

Korea, Summer 1951

Film: M*A*S*H
Release Date: January 25, 1970
Director: Robert Altman

Background

Before there was Magnum, there was M*A*S*H, in which Elliott Gould set the “Gould standard” for effectively pairing a prolific mustache with an Aloha shirt. Robert Altman’s film was based on the then-recently published MASH: A Novel of Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker, which would in turn be adapted into a long-running TV series that would last almost four times as long as the Korean War itself.

While maverick Army doctor “Hawkeye” Pierce was arguably the central figure (and increasingly the show’s moral fiber, under Alan Alda’s creative direction), I was also fond of his cinematic sidekick, Captain “Trapper John” McIntyre as portrayed by Elliott Gould, born 82 years ago today on August 29, 1938.

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Bonjour Tristesse: David Niven’s Coral Shirt and Sunglasses

David Niven as Raymond in Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

David Niven as Raymond in Bonjour Tristesse (1958)

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David Niven as Raymond, bon vivant widowed father

French Riviera, Summer 1957

Film: Bonjour Tristesse
Release Date: January 15, 1958
Director: Otto Preminger
Costume Coordinator: Hope Bryce

Background

Secluded for the summer at their villa in the Côte d’Azur, libertine Raymond and his equally free-spirited daughter Cécile (Jean Seberg) enjoy a comfortable and carefree season living la belle vie by the sea. In fact, Raymond and Cécile would have fared quite well had they needed to spend their summer in quarantine, as few outsiders enter their lives aside from whichever mistress (or two) Raymond is entertaining at the moment. These young women are typically no more than a few years older than Cécile, who grows particularly attached to his latest paramour, Elsa (Mylène Demongeot), to the extent that she joins Raymond in waking the vivacious blonde from her nude slumber and helps her apply sunscreen during one of their typical days spent on the beach.

While all may be cordial and close, there’s no getting between the fiercely intimate bond between Cécile and her father, of which Elsa comments: “You do not even need words… the perfect marriage!”

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Troy Donahue’s Beach Cardigan in A Summer Place

Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee in A Summer Place (1959)

Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee in A Summer Place (1959)

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Troy Donahue as Johnny Hunter, college student and “silly sentimentalist”

New England, Spring 1959

Film: A Summer Place
Release Date: November 18, 1959
Director: Delmer Daves
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup

Background

Sixty years after shaking up more genteel audiences with its frank but ultimately tame depictions of adultery and sexuality, A Summer Place may be most widely remembered for its serene theme song. Originally written by Max Steiner, it was Percy Faith’s arrangement of “Theme from A Summer Place” that transformed the instrumental ballad into a #1 hit that took the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-breaking nine consecutive weeks in early 1960.

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Desi Arnaz’s Flight Jacket and Jeans in The Long, Long Trailer

Lucy, Desi, and Liz. Elizabeth Taylor dropped by the MGM lot for a photo op with the two stars of The Long, Long Trailer (1954). Arnaz had reportedly bet MGM that The Long, Long Trailer would make more than its then-highest grossing comedy, Father of the Bride, starring Taylor. Arnaz won the $25,000 bet.

Lucy, Desi, and Liz.
Elizabeth Taylor dropped by the MGM lot for a photo op with the two stars of The Long, Long Trailer. Arnaz had reportedly bet MGM that The Long, Long Trailer (1954) would make more than its then-highest grossing comedy, Father of the Bride, starring Taylor. Arnaz won the $25,000 bet.

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Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer

Northern California, Late Summer 1953

Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose

Background

As this year’s summer travel season in the U.S. looks to be more centered around road trips in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RV rentals and purchases have been surging at an unprecedented rate that recalls the heyday of “the great American road trip” as depicted in The Long, Long Trailer. Adapted from Clinton Twiss’ novel of the same name, this Lucy and Desi vehicle zaps into the wanderlust zeitgeist that captured the imagination of Americans during the fabulous fifties as everyone from Harry Truman to Jack Kerouac hit the newly expanded network of highways and byways as they explored the continental United States.

Were I transported back to the 1950s with the mission of taking in the country from the road, I’d likely be piloting a ’57 Chevy Nomad with a Super Turbo Fire V8 across Route 66 from Missouri to California, though it’s solely this latter state that hosts newlyweds Nicky and Tacy Collini as they plot their new nomadic life in a homey silver-and-yellow Redman New Moon hauled up the coast by a cream-colored Mercury convertible.

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The Talented Mr. Ripley: Dickie’s White Polo and Pink Shorts

Jude Law with co-stars Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Jude Law with co-stars Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

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Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, narcissistic profligate playboy

Italy, October 1958

Film: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Release Date: December 25, 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Costume Design: Ann Roth & Gary Jones

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

After exploring some of Alain Delon’s sharply tailored style in Plein soleil (Purple Noon) earlier this week, today’s post shifts attention to the 1999 adaptation of the same source material, Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley set on the sunny Italian coast.

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Purple Noon: Alain Delon Tailored in Summer-Weight Gray

Alain Delon as Tom Ripley in Purple Noon (1960)

Alain Delon as Tom Ripley in Purple Noon (1960)

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Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath

Italy, August 1959

Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Few movies so stylishly capture the intriguing possibilities of summer as Plein soleil, balancing a sun-drenched travelogue of beautiful coastal Italy with the provocative thrills and deception to be expected from the dangerous mind of Patricia Highsmith, whose 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley formed the basis for this lush and haunting adaptation.

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The Rum Diary: Kemp’s Off-White Corduroy Trucker Jacket

Johnny Depp in costume as Paul Kemp on the set of The Rum Diary (2009)

Johnny Depp in costume as Paul Kemp on the set of The Rum Diary (2009)

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Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, expatriate American journalist

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Summer 1960

Film: The Rum Diary
Release Date: October 28, 2011
Director: Bruce Robinson
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood

Background

The end of this week means the start of summer, arguably the strangest summer I’ll have experienced in my thirty years. The global coronavirus pandemic has seen the cancellation of sunny getaways, a halt in peanut or crackerjack sales at old ballgames, and consumers foregoing bathing suit deals in favor of fashionable face masks (like these Magnum, P.I.-inspired masks made by my friends at Aloha Funwear!)

In the spirit of what promises to be a surreal summer, I’m exploring a functional look extracted from the chaos of The Rum Diary, adapted from Hunter S. Thompson’s semi-roman à clef inspired by his brief career with the Puerto Rican sporting magazine El Sportivo. More than a decade after he portrayed HST surrogate Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp returned to star in this somewhat less successful adaptation of a chapter from his late friend’s life.

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