Tagged: 1950s

The Irishman: De Niro’s Brown Leather Jacket

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman (2019)

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman (2019)

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Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough truck driver-turned-Mafia enforcer

Philadelphia, winter 1956 through spring 1961

Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson

Background

Martin Scorsese’s latest crime epic, The Irishman, has been the subject of several requests since it was released on Netflix at the beginning of November. With one of my favorite directors helming some of my favorite actors in a subject and setting that held personal interest for me, The Irishman had been eagerly anticipated by me since the project was first announced… though I admit that I did have some hesitations about the running time and the advanced ages of all involved. As it turns out, the very factors I was most concerned about are what arguably contributed to the film being a modern masterpiece.

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White Christmas: Bing’s Brown Striped Suit

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Vitals

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner and World War II veteran

Pine Tree, Vermont, December 1954

Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Happy December! To some, the start of December after Thanksgiving marks the start of the Christmas season, while others (like Mariah Carey) kick off their holiday season a month earlier as soon as Halloween is over. To compromise, today’s post for December 1 explores Bing Crosby’s style in White Christmas, arguably a holiday classic, though the outfit in question is his only on-screen ensemble (aside from his army uniforms) that doesn’t include a single piece of holiday red.

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Brad Pitt in Black as Benjamin Button

Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

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Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, reverse-aging adventurer

Paris, Spring 1954

Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Release Date: December 25, 2008
Director: David Fincher
Costume Designer: Jacqueline West

Background

As holiday shoppers are lining up (or logging in) on Black Friday this year, let’s take a look at a creative approach to wearing black as sported by Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Benjamin looks just a little too dashing as he arrives at a Parisian hospital to visit the childhood friend he has grown to love, Daisy Fuller (Cate Blanchett), who is convalescing from a car accident that crushed her leg and thus ruined her dancing career. Continue reading

Desi’s Sky Blue Nylon Jacket and Jeans in The Long, Long Trailer

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

Vitals

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

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.

Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.

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The Wild One: Brando’s Motorcycle Jacket

Marlon Brando as Johnny Stabler in The Wild One (1953)

Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler in The Wild One (1953)

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Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, outlaw motorcycle club leader

Central California, Summer 1953

Film: The Wild One
Release Date: December 30, 1953
Director: László Benedek

Background

“Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”

“Whaddaya got?”

This famous exchange originated among the actual biker gangs that producer Stanley Kramer had brought on set to play themselves. When Kramer asked what it was they were “rebelling” against, a member cracked back to him, “Well, whaddaya got?” The line so encapsulated the culture and attitude of bikers during the era that it was incorporated into The Wild One, though the question is posed by Mildred, the platinum blonde beauty salon operator that one of Johnny’s boys picked up in a bar.

Inspired by actual events over a rambunctious fourth of July weekend in Hollister, California, in 1947, The Wild One was based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid” that appeared in Harper’s magazine in January 1951. It was swiftly adapted for the screen, though the locations involved were changed to the fictional California burgs of Carbondale and Wrightsville, the latter being the “screwball town”—according to Dextro (Jerry Paris)—where most of the action takes place.

The credits are a bit misleading, introducing Marlon Brando to us as The Wild One, though his character Johnny Strabler turns out to be the most restrained of his hell-raising confederates, particularly when compared to the obnoxious pipsqueak Mouse (Gil Stratton), the larcenous, simple-minded Pigeon (Alvy Moore), or rival gang leader Chino (Lee Marvin). Continue reading

Dennis Haysbert’s Yellow Plaid Coat in Far From Heaven

Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan in Far From Heaven (2002)

Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan in Far From Heaven (2002)

Vitals

Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan, affable gardener and widowed father

Suburban Connecticut, Fall 1957

Film: Far From Heaven
Release Date: November 8, 2002
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell

Background

A recent Instagram post from my friend @chimesatmidnight reminded me of the fantastic fall style and autumnal aesthetic in Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes’ tribute to the incandescent melodramas directed by Douglas Sirk in the 1950s. Influenced by movies like All that Heaven Allows, Imitation of Life, and Written on the Wind, Haynes employed techniques from the era to provide the same idyllic mid-century look, feel, and sound, with the help of Elmer Bernstein’s original score, Kelley Baker’s sound, the richly detailed world created by production designer Mark Friedberg, and Edward Lachman’s thoughtful cinematography.

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William Holden in Picnic

William Holden as Hal Carter in Picnic (1955)

William Holden as Hal Carter in Picnic (1955)

Vitals

William Holden as Hal Carter, aimless former college football star and Army veteran

Kansas, Labor Day 1955

Film: Picnic
Release Date: February 16, 1956
Director: Joshua Logan
Costume Designer: Jean Louis

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This Labor Day, we celebrate one of the lesser-recognized cinematic holidays with a look at the Academy Award-nominated Technicolor hit Picnic. Continue reading

The Barefoot Contessa: Bogie’s Olive Suit and Bow Tie

Humphrey Bogart as Harry Dawes in an MGM studio portrait for The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

Humphrey Bogart as Harry Dawes in an MGM studio portrait for The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

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Humphrey Bogart as Harry Dawes, Hollywood director and screenwriter

Madrid, Spring 1951

Film: The Barefoot Contessa
Release Date: September 29, 1954
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Costume Designer: Rosi Gori (uncredited)

Background

August 28 is National Bow Tie Day, believe it or not, so today’s post commemorates one of the most badass bow tie wearers of classic Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart.

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Jimmy Stewart’s Brown Tweed Sports Coat in Vertigo

James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo (1958)

James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo (1958)

Vitals

James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective

San Juan Bautista, California, Fall 1957

Film: Vertigo
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Let’s wrap up this week’s commemoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s 120th birthday with another exploration of the style in Vertigo, now considered one of the Master of Suspense’s masterpieces though it may have been overlooked during his lifetime and resulted in the end of his successful collaborations with James Stewart.

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To Catch a Thief: Cary Grant’s Casual Riviera Style

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on location for To Catch a Thief (1955)

Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on location for To Catch a Thief (1955)

Vitals

Cary Grant as John Robie, retired cat burglar and jewel thief

French Riviera, Summer 1954

Film: To Catch a Thief
Release Date: August 5, 1955
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

In commemoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s 120th birthday on August 13, this week continues with a look at one of the Master of Suspense’s most stylish movies, the 1955 romantic caper To Catch a Thief.

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