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
“In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy,” heralded Hunter S. Thompson’s honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force in November 1957, a considerable understatement given the iconic writer’s eventual symbolic anti-authoritarian status.
Following his discharge, Thompson tried a few journalistic stints in New York but was fired by Time (for insubordination) and the Middletown Daily Record (for damaging a candy machine) and moved to Puerto Rico in 1960.
Having failed to procure a position with the San Juan Star, Thompson wrote for the El Sportivo sporting magazine… though it folded quickly after his arrival. His experiences in San Juan formed the basis of The Rum Diary, a novel that he penned shortly after his return to the U.S. the following year, although it wasn’t published for more than three decades.
While it would be inaccurate to describe The Rum Diary as a strict roman à clef, its morose, restless narrator Paul Kemp is clearly modeled on Thompson himself, and Thompson’s friend Johnny Depp was naturally tapped to play the role in the film adaptation. Continue reading
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard, petty thief and killer on the run
Paris, August 1959
(French title: À bout de souffle)
Release Date: March 16, 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard from an original treatment by François Truffaut, À bout de souffle (or Breathless to us Americans) marked a defining moment in the evolution of French New Wave cinema. The lanky, youthful, and energetic Jean-Paul Belmondo shot to cinematic stardom as he became the new face of French New Wave, a term to which he charmingly admitted his own ignorance to P.E. Schneider of New York Times Magazine.
In that 1961 piece, Schneider was profiling Belmondo for a piece called “A Punk With Charm,” referring to the actor’s role in Breathless as the Bogart-idolizing Michel Poiccard, a swaggering and sociopathic walking id. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornhill, Madison Avenue ad man mistaken for an international spy
Mount Rushmore, Fall 1958
Film: North by Northwest
Release Date: July 28, 1959
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Department: Harry Kress
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Appropriately timed for Casual Friday, today’s post examines the off-the-rack casual duds that Cary Grant’s “mistaken man” Roger O. Thornhill wears during the climactic chase across Mount Rushmore during the film’s finale. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Jack Weil, smooth, cynical gambler and U.S. Navy veteran
Havana, December 1958
Release Date: December 14, 1990
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack
Gambling is Jack Weil’s raison d’être. Having arrived in Havana on Christmas Day 1958 to make the most of the city’s poker scene, Weil never anticipated getting caught up in the throes of the Cuban Revolution… unless it would get him laid or make him an extra buck.
Of course, his chance meeting with Roberta Duran (Lena Olin) made both possibilities an enticing reason to help the cause. Continue reading
Jean Dujardin as Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, suave French agent OSS 117
Cairo, Spring 1955
Film: OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
(French title: OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d’espions)
Release Date: April 19, 2006
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Costume Designer: Charlotte David
Tailor: Joseph Kergoat
After exploring the handsome blue suit worn by Sean Connery in that most parodied of 007 flicks, You Only Live Twice, BAMF Style is continuing its theme of debonair international spies in blue suits with a look at Jean Dujardin’s tailored suit in OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. Continue reading
Frank Sinatra as Macauley “Mike” Connor, swaggering tabloid reporter
Newport, Rhode Island, Summer 1956
Film: High Society
Release Date: July 17, 1956
Director: Charles Walters
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
BAMF Style is fulfilling a timely request from Ryan to explore the puppytooth jacket, pink shirt, and tie worn by Frank Sinatra for his early scenes in High Society, the 1956 remake of The Philadelphia Story that found Sinatra acting with his idol, Bing Crosby. The film lives up to its title with an abundance of luxury cars, opulent homes, and plenty of champagne.
Though set in summer, Sinatra’s ensemble is a nice bold springtime look as the April showers turn to May flowers. Continue reading
Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker, powerful and domineering newspaper columnist
New York City, Fall 1956
Film: Sweet Smell of Success
Release Date: June 27, 1957
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Costume Designer: Mary Grant
One of my favorite movies is Sweet Smell of Success, the atmospheric film noir starring Burt Lancaster as a Walter Winchell-like columnist and Tony Curtis as the opportunistic young PR flack desperate to get in good with him.
Ernest Lehman, who contributed to the screenplay based on his own novelette, declined to direct the film due to his fear of Lancaster, but the actor’s aggressive and volatile temperament paid off to create the needed aura of his intimidating character, the sort of man who could and would destroy an enemy’s career on a whim. Continue reading