Tagged: 1960s

The Misfits: Marilyn Monroe’s Denim Western Wear

Marilyn Monroe as Roslyn Tabor in The Misfits (1961)

Marilyn Monroe as Roslyn Tabor in The Misfits (1961). Photo by Eve Arnold.

Vitals

Marilyn Monroe as Roslyn Tabor, recent divorcée

Nevada desert, Summer 1960

Film: The Misfits
Release Date: February 1, 1961
Director: John Huston

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Sixty years after her fatal overdose on August 4, 1962, Marilyn Monroe remains a major figure in pop culture, the subject of countless books, art, music, and movies, including Blonde, scheduled to release next month starring Ana de Armas as the actress. Monroe’s final completed film was John Huston’s The Misfits, an elegiac contemporary Western written by her then-husband Arthur Miller that afforded the actress with the opportunity to provide her arguably best performance, which earned her the 1961 Golden Globe Award for “World Film Favorite” despite her own reported contempt for her performance. Continue reading

The Swimmer: Donald’s Suburban Poolside Style

Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy in The Swimmer

Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy in The Swimmer (1968)

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Tony Bickley as Donald Westerhazy, affable and affluent advertising executive

Suburban Connecticut, Summer 1966

Film: The Swimmer
Release Date: May 15, 1968
Director: Frank Perry
Wardrobe Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

Background

It was one of those midsummer Sundays when everyone sits around saying, “I drank too much last night.”

… begins John Cheever’s 1964 short story “The Swimmer”, which was adapted by the husband-and-wife team of director Frank Perry and screenwriter Eleanor Perry into a hallucinatory drama starring Burt Lancaster as the eponymous Ned Merrill, a well-tanned embodiment of the failed American dream.

The focus of today’s post is a little more esoteric than usual, not necessarily because of the movie—which is relatively well-known, if offbeat—but more the relatively minor character and his little-known portrayer, Tony Bickley. The Swimmer was Bickley’s fifth and final screen credit and his only significant movie role, more than a decade after his four sporadic appearances in TV anthologies during the early 1950s.

Bickley co-starred in The Swimmer as Donald Westerhazy, a gregarious suburbanite whose palatial home is Ned’s first stop on what becomes his route to “swim home” through the backyard pools of his neighbors. Donald and his wife Helen (Diana Van der Vlis) are nursing hangovers from the previous evening’s party… with the help of martinis, of course. Continue reading

Harrison Ford in American Graffiti

Harrison Ford as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti

Harrison Ford as Bob Falfa in American Graffiti (1973)

Vitals

Harrison Ford as Bob Falfa, confident street cruiser

Modesto, California, Summer 1962

Film: American Graffiti
Release Date: August 11, 1973
Director: George Lucas
Costume Designer: Aggie Guerard Rodgers

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy 80th birthday, Harrison Ford! Before his star-making performances as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, one of the Chicago-born actor’s most visible roles was in American Graffiti, George Lucas’ nostalgic coming-of-age comedy set one late summer night in 1962.

American Graffiti primarily centers around four friends and recent high school graduates enjoying one last Saturday night of R&R… rock ‘n roll and road races. Among the four, the ’32 Ford-driving John Milner (Paul Le Mat) is arguably the most prolific racer, called out when one of his fellow hot-rodding friends warns him that “there’s a very wicked ’55 Chevy looking for you.” Continue reading

The Irishman: De Niro’s Golden Suit

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman

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

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Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough Mafia enforcer

New Castle, Delaware, Summer 1962

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

Background

I recently had the pleasure to rejoin my friends Pete Brooker and Ken Stauffer (@oceansographer) on Pete’s podcast From Tailors With Love, discussing The Irishman with master tailor Leonard Logsdail, who crafted many suits for the movie’s principals.

While recording the episode—released today and available to download via iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify—I had the opportunity to ask Leonard firsthand about one of my favorite sartorial moments from the film, the gold-suited reveal of a newly elevated Frank Sheeran as president of his local union, Teamsters #326, headquartered about 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia in New Castle, Delaware.

The Irishman dramatizes the decades-long association between Sheeran, labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, and the mob, uniting cinematic tough guys Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel with director Martin Scorsese in a movie that’s less a flashy chronicle of mob history (like Goodfellas and Casino) and more a meditation on age and loyalty in a violent world. Continue reading

Fun in Acapulco: Elvis’ Lido-collar Shirts and Swimwear

Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco

Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco (1963)

Vitals

Elvis Presley as Mike Windgren, expat singer, part-time lifeguard, and former circus performer

Acapulco, Summer 1963

Film: Fun in Acapulco
Release Date: November 27, 1963
Director: Richard Thorpe
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Tailor: Sy Devore

Background

This weekend, I saw Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis chronicling the life of the King of Rock and Roll with Baz’s characteristic splendor. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, most likely due to Austin Butler’s revelatory performance. (I’d need some more dedicated Elvis experts to confirm for me whether or not Colonel Tom Parker actually sounded as much like Goldmember as Tom Hanks’ performance portrayed.)

Elvis addressed the King’s cinematic ambitions, hoping to follow in James Dean’s footsteps but arguably ill-treated by his frequently banal material, as illustrated by the 1963 vehicle Fun in Acapulco. Continue reading

The Beach Boys in Pendleton Board Shirts, 1962

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys, clockwise from left: Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, David Marks, Dennis Wilson. Photo by Ken Veeder, 1962.

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The Beach Boys: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and David Marks

Malibu, California, Summer 1962

Photographs by Ken Veeder

Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars and style icons rather than from specific productions.

Background

Sixty years ago this month, The Beach Boys debuted their first arguable hit single, “Surfin’ Safari” (with “409” on the B side) for Capitol Records in June 1962. The group of southern California youngsters had released their first single (“Surfin'”) with the short-lived Candix Records the previous fall… and the resulting regional success essentially bankrupted the fledgling record company, who could barely afford to pay the group a thousand dollars in royalties for a single that had charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

After signing with Capitol Records, the teens realized they were now in the big leagues. When Brian Wilson turned 20 in June 1962, “Surfin’ Safari”—the simple song he’d written years earlier with his cousin Mike Love—was now rising up the Billboard charts to peak at #14. The lineup now consisted of Wilson and Love with Wilson’s younger brothers Dennis and Carl as well as the 13-year-old David Marks, who had replaced their friend Al Jardine in February, though Jardine—who had left the group to attend dental school—would be back to replace Marks within the year.

On October 1, 1962, Capitol released the first full-length Beach Boys album, named Surfin’ Safari after the hit single that led the album. As their song titles implied, the Beach Boys were heavily influenced by surf music pioneers like Dick Dale, adding harmonies that provided more mainstream pop appeal and popularized what came to be known as the “California sound”.

To visually communicate this West Coast spirit, Capitol photographer joined the Wilsons, Love, and Marks on the seaside sands of Paradise Cove in Malibu for an album cover shoot that would visually communicate the spirit of California with the boys, complete with Dennis’ nine-foot Hermosa surfboard and a palm frond-decorated yellow 1929 Ford Model A pickup truck that Capitol art director Ed Thrasher rented for $50 from a local “beach contractor” known as “Calypso Joe”. In the tradition of all the rising young bands of the day, the Beach Boys dressed identically for that overcast August afternoon in the surf, all clad in woolen board shirts that evoked the band’s original name: the Pendletones. Continue reading

JFK at Sea, 1962

John F. Kennedy, 1962. Photo by Robert Knudsen.

John F. Kennedy, 1962. Photo by Robert Knudsen.

Vitals

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States and U.S. Navy veteran

Off the New England coast, August 1962

Photographs by Robert Knudsen

Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars and style icons rather than from specific productions.

Background

On the anniversary of his May 29, 1917 birthday, I wanted to revisit the 35th President of the United States, who has often been credited as the man who brought a new sense of style to the White House during the brief Age of Camelot.

One of my most visited posts on this page was a comprehensive look at John F. Kennedy’s style, from suits and sport jackets to white tie and windbreakers, which I had published to commemorate his legacy on the 50th anniversary of his November 1963 assassination… and which I imagine is in dire need of revision after nearly a decade.

Kennedy once said: “Sailing has given me some of the most pleasant and exciting moments of my life. It also has taught me something of the courage, resourcefulness, and strength of men who sail the seas in ships.” Continue reading

Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider

Dennis Hopper as Billy in Easy Rider

Dennis Hopper as Billy in Easy Rider (1969)

Vitals

Dennis Hopper as Billy, cowboy-styled biker and cocaine smuggler

Across the southern United States from Los Angeles through Louisiana, February 1968

Film: Easy Rider
Release Date: July 14, 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The late Dennis Hopper was born 86 years ago today on May 17, 1936. The iconoclastic filmmaker had been acting on screen since the ’50s before he made his directorial debut with the groundbreaking Easy Rider.

Filmed early in 1968 but not released until the tumultuous summer of ’69, Easy Rider had been conceptualized by Hopper with screenwriter Terry Southern and fellow actor Peter Fonda, who would join Hopper on screen as the pair of freedom-loving bikers we follow across the country following a lucrative cocaine sale. There’s plenty more drug use along the way, from a few LSD tabs scored from a fellow traveler to introducing the wild-eyed lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson) to marijuana, but the substances are secondary as Easy Rider allegorizes the death—or, perhaps, the contemporary redefinition—of the American dream. Continue reading

Goodfellas: Tommy’s Gray Suit for Mob Mayhem and Mom Visits

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (1990)

Vitals

Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, volatile and violent Mafia associate

New York, Spring 1970

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

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy Mother’s Day! One of my favorite cinematic sequences depicting the relationship between a son and his mother comes by way of my favorite movie, in which master auteur Martin Scorsese cast his own mother Catherine as the charming Mrs. DeVito, mother to the psychotic gangster Tommy (Joe Pesci) who brings his cohorts Henry (Ray Liotta) and Jimmy (Robert De Niro) seeking a shovel in a covert night-time stop to fetch a shovel… only to be sweet-talked into an early breakfast.

Catherine Scorsese endearingly embodies the familiar archetype of the aging Italian-American matriarch with her plastic-covered furniture, the gift to effortlessly slip between American English and Italian dialects, and the fierce desire to feed her children and their friends… regardless of whether they’re hungry or not. Continue reading

Roscoe Lee Browne in Topaz

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois in Topaz

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois in Topaz (1969)

Vitals

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois, smooth-talking Martinican-American sleeper agent

New York City, Fall 1962

Film: Topaz
Release Date: December 19, 1969
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Following last month’s look at a “hero costume” from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 thriller Saboteur, I want to continue exploring style from the lesser-known entries in the Master of Suspense’s oeuvre. Loosely based on the “Martel affair” and events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Topaz was Hitch’s final movie centered around espionage, though I consider it to lack much of the spark that fueled his earlier successes like North by Northwest.

The single exception in Topaz may be a brief scene made more memorable by the appearance of Martinican agent Philippe Dubois, portrayed by Roscoe Lee Browne, the multi-talented star of stage and screen born 100 years ago today on May 2, 1922. Continue reading