Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr, disillusioned British spy
Istanbul, Fall 1973
Film: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Release Date: September 16, 2011
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Costume Designer: Jacqueline Durran
Happy birthday to Tom Hardy, born September 15, 1977. Following his debut in Black Hawk Down (2001), Hardy’s steady work through the decade established his stardom by the time he joined the ensemble cast of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on John le Carré’s famous 1974 spy novel of the same name. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Harry Moseby, private detective and former professional football player
Los Angeles to New Mexico, Fall 1973
Film: Night Moves
Release Date: June 11, 1975
Director: Arthur Penn
Costumer: Arnie Lipin
Costume Supervisor: Rita Riggs
He may wear rollnecks and drive a green ’68 Mustang, but Harry Moseby ain’t no Frank Bullitt. Five years earlier, this type of character may have been styled in the manner of the cooler-than-cool Steve McQueen archetype, but the tumultuous half-decade that passed between the production of Bullitt and Night Moves saw waves of political assassinations, civil unrest, disillusionment in Vietnam, and post-Watergate paranoia that shifted the zeitgeist to a pessimistic cynicism that permeated much of ’70s cinema.
A decade after his career with the Oakland Raiders, Harry Moseby’s best days are well behind him as he continues eking out a living as a shabby Hollywood private eye, entertaining himself by playing chess on the passenger seat of his Mustang. Continue reading
Joaquin Phoenix as Larry “Doc” Sportello, hippie private investigator
Los Angeles County, Fall 1970
Film: Inherent Vice
Release Date: December 12, 2014
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges
One of my favorite “new watches” over the last year was Inherent Vice, adapted from the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. Inherent Vice follows “Doc” Sportello, a stoner private eye dwelling in the fictional hippie enclave of Gordita Beach in southern California at the end of the ’60s. Like the best of P.I. pulp fiction, Doc’s case begins with a late visit from a young woman, in this case his ex-girlfriend Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston) seeking his help investigating land developer Mickey Wolfmann. When another client’s request also intersects with Wolfmann, Doc’s “paranoia alert” is triggered as he’s set on a path that intersects him with an aggressive detective, a plum-suited dentist, and a drug counselor who “[tries] to talk kids into sensible drug use.”
Don Cheadle as Buck Swope, porn actor and aspiring electronics store owner
San Fernando Valley, Summer 1977
Film: Boogie Nights
Release Date: October 10, 1997
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges
In the mood for some midweek summer leisure looks, I was inspired by the parade of ’70s style in Boogie Nights. As with so many period productions set during the disco era, Boogie Nights features plenty of the big collars, flashy jewelry, and polyester we’ve come to associate with that decade, and its focus on the porn industry—despite Jack Horner’s insistence that his “pictures” may be a higher art than the era’s run-of-the-mill smut—takes us through the tackier side of a decade already oft reviled for its sartorial excess.
Among the sprawling ensemble cast, I’ve always enjoyed Don Cheadle’s performance as Buck Swope, the conflicted actor in Horner’s troupe constantly wrangling with his identity. Continue reading
Alexander Skarsgård as Gadi Becker, aka “Peter”, mysterious Mossad agent
Naxos, Greece, Spring 1979
Series: The Little Drummer Girl (Episode 1)
Air Date: October 28, 2018
Director: Park Chan-wook
Costume Design: Sheena Napier & Steven Noble
Today marks the start of my beach vacation, an annual getaway that finds me clad almost exclusively in tropical-printed or terry cloth shirts as I laze about in the sun and sand with tequila in hand, trying not to think about the hundreds of emails amassing to greet me when I open my inbox exactly one week from now.
And then there are those lucky enough who actually get to do this for a living, particularly the globe-trotting super-spies penned by the likes of Ian Fleming and John le Carré, whose 1983 novel The Little Drummer Girl was recently re-adapted for the screen via a stylish six-part miniseries starring Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård. Continue reading
Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn, ineffective mayor of Amity Island
Amity Island, July 1974
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Design: Louise Clark, Robert Ellsworth, and Irwin Rose
“You open the beaches on the fourth of July, it’s like ringing the dinner bell, for chrissakes!” implores police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to the mayor of Amity Island in the wake of the deadly threat of Bruce the Shark lurking offshore.
Unfortunately for the residents of Amity—which, as you know, means friendship—our charming mayor is the kind of odious self-promoter who thinks idealists like Hooper only share his self-absorbed goal of fame and glory, or a “you’d love to make it into the National Geographic!” moment, unable to comprehend that some people do their jobs or take public office for the sake of serving the public and not for good PR or cutthroat ambition.
Charlton Heston as Colonel Robert Neville, MD, former military scientist and resourceful survivor
Los Angeles, August 1977
Film: The Omega Man
Release Date: August 1, 1971
Director: Boris Sagal
Costumers: Margo Baxley & Bucky Rous
Tailor: Albert Mariani
As #CarWeek continues, let’s check out the pair of Ford convertibles that a safari-clad Colonel Robert Neville commandeers as one of the last men in the world at the heart of The Omega Man, released 50 years ago in the summer of 1971.
Burt Lancaster as Lou Pascal, aging numbers runner
Atlantic City, Fall 1979
Film: Atlantic City
Release Date: September 3, 1980
Director: Louis Malle
Costume Designer: François Barbeau
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Burt Lancaster kicked off his final decade on the silver screen with Louis Malle’s well-received romantic crime drama, Atlantic City. In addition to securing Lancaster’s fourth and final Academy Award nomination, Atlantic City also earned nomination across all “Big Five” categories, though the film was shut out at the Oscars with Henry Fonda taking home the trophy for his performance in On Golden Pond.
Lancaster plays Lou Pascal, a long-in-the-tooth numbers runner who proudly walks the boardwalk of the titular town, waxing poetic to anyone who’ll listen about the golden age of gangsterdom in America’s Playground, when “it used to be beautiful, whatwith the rackets, whoring, guns.”
Atlantic City had floy floy coming out of its ears in those days. Now it’s all so goddamn legal. Howard Johnson running a casino. Tutti-frutti ice cream with craps don’t mix.
Lou’s comfort among criminality results in a botched cocaine deal that results in a dead dealer and plenty of blow left over for Lou to sell for his own profit as he endeavors to seduce the dealer’s estranged—and now widowed—wife, an attractive and ambitious casino waitress named Sally (Susan Sarandon). Continue reading
Nick Nolte as David Sanders, vacationing scuba diver
Off the Bermuda coast, Summer 1976
Film: The Deep
Release Date: June 17, 1977
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Ron Talsky
Okay, yes, I acknowledge that one of the few reasons anyone might still be talking about The Deep more than 40 years later is… well, the same reason anyone talked about it when it was released.
The Deep‘s enduring cultural significance indeed resulted from a costuming decision, though not related to anything Nick Nolte wore but rather Jacqueline Bisset’s simple but oh-so-memorable white tee during the underwater opening sequence.
Once I registered what all the fuss was about, I also observed that Nolte—playing Bisset’s partner, David Sanders—begins the movie wearing an aquatic-adjacent outfit appropriate for gents developing their spring-to-summer transitional wardrobe or dressing for any seagoing getaways over Memorial Day weekend. Continue reading
Ryan Gosling as Holland March, unscrupulous private detective and single dad
Los Angeles, Fall 1977
Film: The Nice Guys
Release Date: May 20, 2016
Director: Shane Black
Costume Designer: Kym Barrett
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Released five years ago this, week, The Nice Guys has been long overdue for some appreciation on here for its depiction of disco-era style and refreshing sense of humor.
The Nice Guys was directed and co-written by action cinema vet Shane Black, who explained to IndieWire that he wanted to make a playful tribute to the hardboiled detective thrillers he had grown up, choosing the ’70s to capitalize on the exuberance of the era and the “sense that we are all in it together… instead of all this divisiveness that we see now.” Anthony Bagarozzi, who co-wrote the script with Black, explained the irony of its title to Variety: “You know they’re two not-very-nice guys. One breaks arms for a living and the other cons old ladies out of money. It was literally the two worst people that we could think of and then trying to make that fun.”