Robert Mitchum as Lucas “Luke” Doolin, moonshine driver and Korean War veteran
Rillow Valley, Tennessee, Fall 1957
Film: Thunder Road
Release Date: May 10, 1958
Director: Arthur Ripley
Wardrobe Credit: Oscar Rodriguez
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
There’s a Treasury agent down the line someplace with three bumpers hangin’ on his car.
For the first Car Week post of this year, and just in time for the fourth of July, BAMF Style celebrates the all-American tradition of car-racing and its moonshine-running origins with the 1958 action film Thunder Road.
Paul Newman as Lucas “Luke” Jackson, chain gang inmate, war veteran, and “natural-born world-shaker”
Florida Road Prison 36, summer, early 1950s
Film: Cool Hand Luke
Release Date: November 1, 1967
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup
What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach.
The iconic “failure to communicate” line in Cool Hand Luke is first uttered by Strother Martin as the stern, insensitive captain in charge of Road Prison 36 where most of the film is set. Lucas “Luke” Jackson (Paul Newman), recently sentenced to the facility after a drunken night of vandalizing parking meters, is proud to be one of the men that the captain can’t reach.
Just in time for the stifling midsummer heat, I’m focusing on Cool Hand Luke, voted one of the sweatiest movies of all time by the patrons of Cheers… in addition to various other accolades.
Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, unscrupulous publicity agent
New York City, Fall 1956
Film: Sweet Smell of Success
Release Date: June 27, 1957
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Costume Designer: Mary Grant
Happy birthday to Tony Curtis, born 93 years ago today on June 3, 1925. The actor will always hold a special place for me as one of my earliest brushes with a known celebrity.
It occurred in the summer of 1998, during a vacation with my family to Las Vegas. We were approaching the exit to the MGM Grand as we came face-to-face with another entourage striding through the entrance. Flanked by two tall, voluptuous blondes at the front of the formation was a tuxedoed man with messy gray hair, considerably energetic for his age.
“That was Tony Curtis!” my family began murmuring to each other. Being only 9 years old at the time, I was concerned about feeling left out of the gossip until my grandma leaned in and explained to me that this was “Josephine” from Some Like It Hot, one of our favorite movies to watch together at the time.
Some Like It Hot will always have a place on my personal cinematic Mount Rushmore, but my favorite Tony Curtis performance is likely in Alexander Mackendrick’s atmospheric 1957 noir Sweet Smell of Success. Curtis stars as a Manhattan publicity agent oozing with opportunistic sleaze.
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, Late Summer 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, Purple Noon put French actor Alain Delon on the international map. Only 24 years old when Purple Noon was released, Delon earned the endorsement of Ms. Highsmith herself for his performance as the smooth and wily young con artist whose petty crimes and deceptions graduate to multiple murders over the course of the film.
“It’s insidious, the way Highsmith seduces us into identifying with him and sharing his selfishness,” Roger Ebert wrote of both the novel and this cinematic adaptation in his 1996 review. “Ripley believes that getting his own way is worth whatever price anyone else might have to pay. We all have a little of that in us.” Continue reading
Robert Redford as Jack Weil, smooth gambler and U.S. Navy veteran
Havana, December 1958
Release Date: December 14, 1990
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack
As Memorial Day is often considered the start of the American summer fashion season, today’s post explores an example of timeless warm-weather apparel sported by Robert Redford in Havana.
Havana, Sydney Pollack’s 1990 ode to Casablanca, stars Redford as a cynical American gambler who finds romance in the Cuban capital on the eve of the country’s revolution. The object of his affection is Roberta “Bobby” Duran (Lena Olin), a revolutionary sympathizer who is forced to determine if her heart remains with her husband and the revolution or the chance of a life in America with Redford’s Jack Weil. Continue reading
Dominic Cooper as Ian Fleming, former British Secret Service agent and aspiring author
Goldeneye, Jamaica, March 1952
Series: Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond
Episode: Episode 1
Air Date: January 29, 2014
Director: Mat Whitecross
Costume Designer: Caroline Harris
This Monday, May 28, marks the 110th birthday of Ian Fleming, the author who created James Bond based on his own experiences in British naval intelligence during World War II. Fleming’s works have famously been adapted to the screen in one of the most successful film franchises to date, while the man’s own life has been adapted a few times as well.
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, is the most recent visual retelling of Fleming’s life, focusing on the period of 1938 to 1952 that included Commander Fleming’s service in the British Naval Intelligence Division during World War II and much of the gambling, girls, and gin that would become a hallmark for both Fleming and his fictional creation. Continue reading
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 60th anniversary of the release of Vertigo, Hitchcock’s noir-esque thriller and the last of his collaborations with James Stewart. Hitch blamed Jim for the film’s lack of success at the box office, but history would give Jim the last laugh as a 2012 reevaluation for BFI’s Sight & Sound led to a poll of critics choosing Vertigo as the greatest film of all time, beating out long-standing #1 choice Citizen Kane. Continue reading