Sidney Poitier as Matt Younger, widowed father and clinic physician
London, Summer 1972
Film: A Warm December
Release Date: May 23, 1973
Director: Sidney Poitier
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
Happy birthday to screen legend Sidney Poitier, born 94 years ago today on February 20, 1927 in Miami. After two decades of screen success that landed him the Academy Award for Best Actor (and he remains both the oldest living and longest surviving recipient), Poitier began directing his own movies in the early 1970s, beginning with the groundbreaking 1972 Western Buck and the Preacher.
Poitier proved the diversity of his directorial talent by sliding to the other end of the genre spectrum the following year when he released the romantic drama A Warm December, in which he also starred as a recently widowed doctor who finds love across the Atlantic when he meets the magnetic Catherine (Esther Anderson) during an extended trip to London with his daughter.
Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka, disciplined ex-Yakuza
Kyoto, Japan, Spring 1974
Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Today would have been the 90th birthday of Ken Takakura, the Nakama-born actor with a record four Japan Academy Prizes for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. His presence in yakuza films through the 1960s brought him to the attention of screenwriting brothers Leonard and Paul Schrader, who wrote their action drama The Yakuza with Takakura in mind. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Reverend Frank Scott, fiery, independent-minded minister
aboard the S.S. Poseidon en route Athens, New Year’s Eve 1972
Film: The Poseidon Adventure
Release Date: December 12, 1972
Director: Ronald Neame
Costume Designer: Paul Zastupnevich
Happy New Year’s Eve… and #TurtleneckThursday? After this disaster of a year, I can’t think of a better movie to bid good riddance to 2020 than one of the most famous disaster movies of the ’70s.
Produced by “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen, The Poseidon Adventure followed the Airport template of a star-studded cast fighting to survive a perilous disaster while tackling their own personal issues. While Airport had originated the disaster film boom of the ’70s, The Poseidon Adventure proved its enduring box office power, recouping more than 25 times its initial budget and paving the way for a decade’s worth of similar stories set amidst tropical storms, within fire-prone skyscrapers, and even aboard a famous airship.
Unlike the ill-fated Titanic which sank during its maiden voyage in 1912, the fictional S.S. Poseidon—partially filmed aboard the decommissioned Cunard liner RMS Queen Mary—is making one last run before it will be scrapped in Athens. The cautious Captain Harrison (Leslie Nielsen) finds his authority challenged by the ship’s aggressive owner Linarcos (Fred Sadoff), establishing the dangers of hubris that would remain a consistent theme throughout the disaster sub-genre.
Down in the ship’s elegant dining room, the Poseidon‘s glamorous passengers are celebrating New Year’s Eve amidst their own personal dramas or crises of faith. Seated at the captain’s table are New York detective Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), his ex-prostitute wife Linda (Stella Stevens), and Reverend Frank Scott (Gene Hackman), a controversial cleric yet popular passenger who had captivated a congregation earlier that day with his religious philosophy said to be based on director Ronald Neame’s own hybrid of Christian, Buddhist, and New Age spiritualist beliefs.
While the champagne pops and auld acquaintances be forgot, the crew learns of a massive undersea earthquake that results in a rare wave that strikes the ship broadside, capsizing the S.S. Poseidon and quite literally turning the lives of its passengers upside down.
We’re floating upside-down… we’ve gotta climb up.
Al Pacino as Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero, washed-up Mafia soldier
New York City, Christmas 1978
Film: Donnie Brasco
Release Date: February 28, 1997
Director: Mike Newell
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard & David C. Robinson
Like The Godfather and Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco follows the tradition of great Mafia movies by featuring some Cosa Nostra Christmas celebrations. The frequency with which the holidays appear in mob cinema is no coincidence, as Catholic traditions are very important to we Italian-Americans.
Donnie Brasco features a casual Christmas on Mulberry Street, perhaps more reflective than the Phil Spector-scored Goodfellas party of how many yuletide observances will look in 2020. Continue reading
Andy Garcia as Vincent Mancini, hotheaded mob enforcer
New York City, Spring 1979
Film: The Godfather Part III
Release Date: December 25, 1990
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Speed 2: Cruise Control.
Jaws 4: The Revenge.
The Godfather, Part III.
Francis Ford Coppola’s conclusion to the saga of the Corleone family may not be as bad as its fellow reviled franchise continuations, but it was certainly among the more disappointing given the quality and prestige of The Godfather‘s first two installments. Coppola sought to rectify its reputation with Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, a recut and restructured version released this month to coincide with the 30th anniversary of The Godfather, Part III‘s original theatrical release. The limited theatrical run of Coda began on Friday, December 4, and will be scheduled to release to streaming services and home video on Tuesday, December 8.
“In musical term, a coda is sort of like an epilogue, a summing up, and that’s what we intended the movie to be,” explained Coppola. “You’ll see a film which has a different beginning and ending, many scenes throughout have been repositioned, and the picture has been given, I think, a new life.” Continue reading
Steven Keats as Jackie Brown, swaggering street-level arms dealer
Boston, Fall 1972
Film: The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Release Date: June 26, 1973
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Eric Seelig
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
A year after The Godfather introduced the cinematic world to the prestigious “honor among thieves” world of the Corleone crime family, The Friends of Eddie Coyle shined a gritty spotlight on the other side of the criminal spectrum: the unscrupulous robbers, rats, and gun-runners who would just as soon double-cross an erstwhile partner-in-crime if it meant an extra twenty bucks in their pocket.
There are no wood-paneled mansions, dramatic monologues, or swanky long-wheelbase limousines in Eddie Coyle’s world, a polluted Boston where our profane crooks conduct their business in dive bars and out of the trunks of the latest Detroit gas guzzler. At the surprising epicenter of these enterprises sits Eddie “Fingers” Coyle (Robert Mitchum), a long-in-the-tooth three-time loser far more at home warming his favorite saloon stool than helming an ambitious heist.
Enter Jackie Brown, an opportunistic twentysomething arms dealer motoring through the Beantown suburbs in a Plymouth Road Runner, dropping platitudes of “wisdom” about how hard life is to any of the scumbag suppliers or customers who will buy his guns. He prides himself on his caution but doesn’t recognize the irony of touting his illegal wares from his hardly unobtrusive electric green muscle car while boasting about his success to crooks all just one pinch away from spilling the proverbial beans to Boston’s finest.
After I shared some of my favorite budget-friendly movie and TV-inspired summer shirts this year, I also received some interest in a similar post for the autumn so my thoughts immediately went to rounding up some fall-friendly flannel shirts, jackets, and shackets based on my favorite types of movies to watch around this time of year.
My taste in fall movies runs from the rough to the refined. Having grown up watching The Dukes of Hazzard, I always had a soft spot for the low-budget “hick flicks” (and I use the term endearingly) often rolled out during the ’70s by groups like American International Pictures or New World Pictures. The latter distributed Moonshine County Express, one of many movies I saw for the first time while under quarantine this year, and a clear bridge between Burt Reynolds’ early fare like White Lightning and the more formulaic world of the Duke boys in Hazzard County.
Of course, it also wouldn’t be fall without the melodramatic sophistication of Douglas Sirk or his romantic heroes with a taste for flannel as modeled by Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows or by his spiritual successor Dennis Haysbert in the autumnal drama Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes’ 2002 ode to Sirk.
Finally, the holidays means we’re in Die Hard season with both the 1988 original film and its 1990 sequel each set during an action-packed Christmas Eve. Bruce Willis’ cynical hero may be tragically underdressed for his adventure in Nakatomi Tower, but he makes up for it two years later by keeping his shirt and shoes while battling baddies in the snow.
Please feel free to add your own observations or flannel favorites in the comments! Continue reading
Alain Delon as Jean Laurier, aka “Scorpio”, dangerous freelance assassin, former French paratrooper, and cat lover
Washington, D.C., and Vienna, Spring 1973
Release Date: April 19, 1973
Director: Michael Winner
Wardrobe Master: Philippe Pickford
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy 85th birthday to French cinema icon Alain Delon, whose November 8, 1935 birthday makes him a Scorpio and thus a fitting choice for the title role in Michael Winner’s 1973 espionage thriller Scorpio. (Interestingly, Delon was re-teamed with The Leopard co-star Burt Lancaster, whose November 2, 1913 birthday makes him a Scorpio as well!) The astrological overtones sneak into the script as well as a CIA officer suggests to Delon’s character Jean Laurier that his codename “Scorpio” suits him:
We named you well, you’re a perfect Scorpio! You have a penchant for intrigue, violence…
Robert Redford as Bill McKay, charismatic lawyer-turned-senatorial candidate
San Francisco to Los Angeles, Summer through Fall 1972
Film: The Candidate
Release Date: June 29, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Design: Patricia Norris
Costume Supervisor: Bernie Pollack
Tomorrow is Election Day here in the United States… though I doubt anyone has missed the memo given the barrage of emails, texts, social media posts, and more designed to serve as reminders and instructions.
Avoiding any discussion of this year’s contentious political arena, let’s step back nearly 50 years to the early 1970s when Robert Redford was seeking to work again with director Michael Ritchie after their first collaboration in Downhill Racer (1969). The duo reportedly former political writer Jeremy Larner to pen what would become an Academy Award-winning screenplay chronicling “a candidate who sold his soul.” Larner had worked as a speechwriter for Senator Eugene McCarthy during McCarthy’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, using this experience to draft the story of Bill McKay, the activist lawyer from California tapped to challenge the popular Republican incumbent in the battle for a U.S. Senate seat.
Peter Cushing as Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing, occult researcher and descendant of the famous vampire hunter
London, Fall 1972… A.D. 1972, that is
Film: Dracula A.D. 1972
Release Date: September 28, 1972
Director: Alan Gibson
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Just days away from Halloween, today’s post responds to a request received earlier this year from BAMF Style reader Alan, who suggested the “extremely cheesy and, at times, ridiculous” Hammer production Dracula A.D. 1972, starring horror maestros and real-life pals Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing reprising their usual roles as Count Dracula and Van Helsing, respectively.