Robert Shaw as Donald “Red” Grant, lethal SPECTRE assassin
Istanbul, Spring 1963
Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards
Robert Shaw set the Bond franchise standard as the dangerous Donald “Red” Grant in From Russia With Love, one of the most memorable antagonists in the series.
Grant is arguably the archetype for subsequent villains that followed his laconic, icy blond example like Vargas in Thunderball, Necros in The Living Daylights, and Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies, though none could ever match Robert Shaw’s truly menacing presence on screen. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious ad exec and suburban dad
Ossining, New York, April 1960
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Marriage of Figaro” (Episode 1.03)
Air Date: August 2, 2007
Director: Ed Bianchi
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
In addition to Mad Men‘s first mention of Dick Whitman, “Marriage of Figaro” includes a snazzy casual outfit for a slick spring weekend in the suburbs.
The first two episodes certainly hinted at the deep layers lurking beneath the man first introduced to us as Don Draper, but it is “Marriage of Figaro” that breaks Mad Men‘s ground in exploring our ostensible protagonist’s isolation and loneliness… a quality that Todd VanDerWerff of The AV Club described as “his essential unhappiness.” Continue reading
Michael Caine as Alfie Elkins, charming part-time car service driver and full-time cad
London, Summer 1965
Release Date: March 24, 1966
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Jean Fairlie
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
Make a married woman laugh and you’re halfway there with her.
Right off the bat, we learn that the titular Alfie Elkins is no gentleman.
Although he had already featured in several major British films through the ’60s, it was his Academy Award-nominated breakthrough role in Alfie that led Michael Caine to global stardom. Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire playboy and heist mastermind
Salem, New Hampshire, Summer 1968
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
In 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair, the titular millionaire is every bit the sportsman that you’d expect a Steve McQueen character to be. A brief scene shows Crown spending his weekend recreationally gliding a Schweizer SGS 1-23H through the skies over Salem… although it was actually local pilot Roy McMaster who rode in the cockpit during the actual scenes in flight.
This vignette also featured Steve McQueen sporting casual outerwear that was also a real-life favorite of his: a classic Harrington jacket. Continue reading
Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo, smooth CIA operative
Berlin and Rome, Spring 1963
Film: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Release Date: August 2, 2015
Director: Guy Ritchie
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is one of the more stylish films released in recent years, transporting audiences back to the oft-romanticized height of Cold War spying in mid-’60s Europe. The movie reboot serves as a prequel for the popular TV show, which starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as American spy Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, respectively.
Henry Cavill’s interpretation of Solo retains much of the easygoing efficiency and sophistication originated by Vaughn in the role, and I left the theater wishing I was heading directly to the shop of Timothy Everest, who tailored Cavill’s distinctive and debonair suits for the film.
For my inaugural Solo post, in response to requests from readers Noel and Andrew, I am choosing to focus on a flashy suit that gets plenty of screen time. Continue reading
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, groundbreaking R&B musician
Indianapolis, Fall 1961
Release Date: October 29, 2004
Director: Taylor Hackford
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis
On a suggestion from a great reader of this blog, I revisited Jamie Foxx’s Academy Award-winning performance as Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray and noticed the abundance of excellent period costumes that Foxx wears as the titular virtuoso.
In addition to Foxx’s Oscar for acting, the 2005 Academy Awards also gave a well-deserved nod to costume designer Sharen Davis, who beautifully recreated the era through Ray’s natty attire both on and off the stage. One outfit that particularly stood out was the black satin-trimmed stage suit in blue flecked silk that Ray wears during a couple of early 1960s gigs across the Midwest. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Brian Cruikshank (aka Peter Joshua, Alexander Dyle, or Adam Canfield), U.S. Treasury agent
Paris, April 1963
Release Date: December 5, 1963
Director: Stanley Donen
Heading back to business for the first day in the new year, nothing is more appropriate for a winter’s day in the office than a charcoal flannel suit similar to the one that Cary Grant’s multi-named hero wore to the office for the finale of Charade. Continue reading