Jack Lord and Steve McGarrett, Hawaii state police “Five-O” task force commander
Honolulu, Fall 1967
Series: Hawaii Five-O
Episode: “Cocoon” (Episode 1.01)
Air Date: September 20, 1968
Director: Paul Wendkos
Creator: Leonard Freeman
Costume Designer: Richard Egan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Book ’em, Danno! Today is the 55th anniversary of when the original Hawaii Five-O series premiered with the TV movie “Cocoon” on Friday, September 20, 1968. Conceptualized by creator Leonard Freeman, Hawaii Five-O set new records for TV longevity by lasting twelve seasons, all of which were almost entirely set and filmed in the Hawaiian islands.
The series centers around the Five-O Task Force, a fictional state police agency commanded by Detective Captain Steve McGarrett, who reports directly to the governor. Despite the pivotal role, McGarrett wasn’t cast until less than a week before filming began when Freeman called on Jack Lord. Continue reading
Warren Beatty as John Silas “Jack” Reed, radical journalist and activist
Provincetown, Massachusetts, Summer 1916
Release Date: December 4, 1981
Director: Warren Beatty
Costume Designer: Shirley Ann Russell
Whether it’s because Labor Day is considered by some sartorial purists to be the last acceptable day for wearing summer whites or because the holiday originated to recognize the American labor movement, it feels appropriate for today’s post to explore Warren Beatty’s off-white summer suit as labor activist Jack Reed in his 1981 historical epic Reds.
Reds won three of the 12 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including Beatty for Best Director, Maureen Stapleton for Best Supporting Actress, and Vittorio Storaro for Best Cinematography, though it had also been nominated for Best Picture and—of significant interest for this blog’s focus—Best Costume Design. Continue reading
Edward Fox as “The Jackal”, mysterious professional assassin
Europe, Summer 1963
Film: The Day of the Jackal
Release Date: May 16, 1973
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Costume Design: Joan Bridge, Rosine Delamare, and Elizabeth Haffenden
The Day of the Jackal culminated 60 years ago today on August 25, 1963 in Paris, commemorating the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany during World War II. Frederick Forsyth’s excellent 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal was hardly two years old before it was adapted for the screen by screenwriter Kenneth Ross and director Fred Zinnemann, who reportedly wanted to make the film after reading Forsyth’s yet-unpublished manuscript all in one night.
Zinnemann didn’t want a recognizable major star to distract from the intrigue on screen, and—despite Universal Studios pushing for Jack Nicholson—cast Edward Fox as the eponymous “Jackal”, whose codename is determined in the book after he was “speaking of hunting” with his handlers. In addition to the film benefiting from faithfully following Forysth’s narrative and structure, a highlight is Fox’s performance as the enigmatic and oft-elegantly dressed assassin, whose demeanor can shift from affable to icily dangerous as needed. Continue reading
Al Pacino as Sonny Wortzik, desperate Army veteran-turned-bank robber
Brooklyn, Summer 1972
Film: Dog Day Afternoon
Release Date: September 21, 1975
Director: Sidney Lumet
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
51 years ago yesterday on August 22, 1972, Brooklyn was abuzz with activity as John “Sonny” Wojtowicz and Salvatore “Sal” Naturile attempted to rob a Gravesend branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank. Having expected up to $200,000 to be delivered that morning, the two hapless heisters had their information wrong—the money had actually been removed from the branch that morning.
After their accomplice Robert “Bobby” Westenberg successfully got away, Sonny and Sal remained inside the bank with a fraction of the money they expected to steal and a handful of bank employees that they took hostage once they learned that the police had surrounded the bank… and what started as a dog day afternoon descended into 14 hours of chaos. Continue reading
Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, vengeful insurance investigator with anterograde amnesia
Los Angeles, Summer 1999
Release Date: September 5, 2000
Director: Christopher Nolan
Costume Designer: Cindy Evans
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
I have no short-term memory. I know who I am, I know all about myself, I just—since my injury, I can’t make new memories. Everything fades. If we talk for too long, I’ll forget how we started. The next time I see you, I’m not gonna remember this conversation.
Memento stars Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a former insurance claims investigator out for revenge after an attack on his wife that left him with a rare form of short-term memory loss. Appropriate for today (July 17th) being National Tattoo Day, Leonard covers his body with tattoos to help him instantly recall his understanding of the facts of what happened and who he must target for revenge. Continue reading
Austin Butler as Elvis Presley, country rock guitarist and singer
Memphis, Tennessee, July 4, 1956
Release Date: June 23, 2022
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin
Tailor: Gloria Bava
It doesn’t get much more American than Elvis.
Austin Butler went all out in his performance as the King of Rock and Roll in Baz Lurhmann’s characteristically flamboyant biopic, released last summer. Butler’s performance received particular praise—including endorsements from the Presley family—and Elvis would be nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Costume Design.
Elvis follows Presley’s brief life from boyhood through the various levels of stardom, particularly through the lens of his complicated relationship with his domineering manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). In the early years of his fame, Presley’s hip-swinging celebration of Black music is shown to so enrage the bigoted establishment that he’s being threatened with legal trouble.
The film presents his July 4, 1956 concert in Memphis as an opportunity for Presley to maintain the cleaned-up “New Elvis” image he had introduced three days early while performing “Hound Dog” on The Steve Allen Show three days earlier, stuffed into a white tie and tails as he crooned to an actual basset hound. Instead, having rediscovered the meaning behind his music among the blues joints on Beale Street, Elvis delivers a sweltering performance of “Trouble”—and lands himself right in it, arrested by the Memphis vice squad when he soundly disobeys being told to not “so much as wiggle a finger.” To avoid prosecution, Colonel Tom devises a plan for Elvis to swap out his blue suede shoes for spit-shined service derbies: “It’s either the Army or jail.”
Except that isn’t quite what really happened. Continue reading
Larry David as himself, a neurotic comedy writer
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Summer 2019
Series: Curb Your Enthusiasm
Episode: “You’re Not Going to Get Me to Say Anything Bad About Mickey” (Episode 10.04)
Air Date: February 9, 2020
Director: Jeff Schaffer
Creator: Larry David
Costume Designer: Leslie Schilling
Happy birthday to Larry David! Born 76 years ago today on July 2, 1947, LD grew successful as a co-creator of Seinfeld in the 1990s before becoming more visibly famous as an exaggeratedly neurotic version of himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is currently producing its twelfth (and possibly final) season.
The tenth-season episode “You’re Not Going to Get Me to Say Anything Bad About Mickey” begins with Larry consulting with the ubiquitous Leon (J.B. Smoove) amidst construction of Latte Larry’s, the “spite store” he’s building to steal business from his rival Mocha Joe (Saverio Guerra), who stops in to remind him that “good coffee is all about the beans.”
At the same time, Larry’s coterie is planning a plane trip to Cabo San Lucas for their friend Mickey’s wedding, despite Larry grumbling about having to travel two hours for a wedding, prompting his manager Jeff (Jeff Garlin) to utter the episode’s title in the unseen Mickey’s defense… and who could portray such a widely revered friend but the absurdly charismatic Timothy Olyphant? Continue reading
Logan Lerman as Charlie Kelmeckis, anxious high school freshman
Pittsburgh, Christmas 1991 through Spring 1992
Film: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Release Date: September 21, 2012
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Costume Designer: David C. Robinson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
If you read my last post about Jonah Hill’s party gear in Superbad, you know I’ve been on a bit of a high school nostalgia kick lately. And I’m keeping that going with a look at the very significant suit gifted to our sensitive narrator in the book and movie adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Continue reading
Tom Ewell as Richard Sherman, imaginative publishing executive and a self-described “foolish, well-to-do married man”
New York City, Summer 1955
Film: The Seven Year Itch
Release Date: June 3, 1955
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Travilla
Wardrobe Director: Charles Le Maire
Men’s Wardrobe: Sam Benson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Born 97 years ago today on June 1, 1926, Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe may be indelibly associated with the iconic image of the star’s white dress being blown upwards by a subway grate on Lexington Avenue. The much-photographed moment was part of a scene in The Seven Year Itch, which premiered on Monroe’s 29th birthday before its wider release later that month.
The title and concept were inspired by a then-common psychological term for the period in a marriage when a partner’s eye supposedly begins to wander, aligned with the mid-20th century practice of wives and children traveling to the country or seaside for the summer while their husbands remain in the city to work… though The Seven Year Itch proposes that their work was more focused on bedrooms than boardrooms. (Mad Men fans may recall a relevant plot from the first season episode “Long Weekend”, set during Labor Day 1960.)
After shipping his wife Helen and son Ricky up to Maine, our protagonist Richard Sherman seems to think he’s above that level of sleaze… until a falling tomato plant introduces him to The Girl, a voluptuous blonde living upstairs in a neighboring couple’s apartment for the summer:
Boy, if anybody were to walk in here right now, would they ever get the wrong idea… cinnamon toast for two, strange blonde in the shower, you go explain that to someone. Don’t tell ’em you spent the whole night wrapping a paddle!
Inexplicably billed as “Tommy Ewell”, Tom Ewell reprised the role he originated on Broadway as Richard Sherman. Viennese-born actress Vanessa Brown (who had an IQ of 165 and whose family fled Europe in 1937 to avoid Nazi persecution) had played The Girl on stage, but the part was recast for the screen, in turn providing Marilyn Monroe with one of her most enduring performances. Interestingly, there were several actors considered to play Richard before the part went to Ewell, who had already won a Tony for his stage portrayal and wasn’t expecting to be cast. Despite that, there was never any question that The Girl would be played on screen by anyone but Monroe. Continue reading
Colin Farrell as James “Sonny” Crockett, maverick Miami-Dade PD undercover detective
Miami to Havana, Summer 2005
Film: Miami Vice
Release Date: July 28, 2006
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Design: Michael Kaplan & Janty Yates
Colin Farrell’s Costumer: Jody Felz
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Ahead of Colin Farrell’s birthday tomorrow, I want to take a much-requested look at his style in Miami Vice, Michael Mann’s cinematic adaptation of the iconic TV show he had executive-produced in the 1980s.
The mid-2000s had been full of movies inspired by TV shows of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s… just off the top of my head, Bewitched, The Dukes of Hazzard, Get Smart, I Spy, and Starsky & Hutch come to mind. Rather than these nostalgia-driven quasi-parodies, Miami Vice surprised audiences as more of a gritty reimagining than the pastel pastiche they may have been expecting. Though critical and audience reception was lukewarm at the time, the movie has grown a more positive reputation over the years, thanks in part to a dedicated cult following.
The 2006 update maintained the core essence, characters, and overall concept, though the vibes were updated from the vibrant ’80s aesthetic to match the darker tones of a decade that also rebooted larger-than-life characters like Batman and James Bond in more serious movies like Batman Begins and Casino Royale, respectively. Instead of Gotham’s Dark Knight and agent 007, our heroes are the ice-cool undercover cops James “Sonny” Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, played by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in the roles originated by Don Johnson and EGOT hopeful Philip Michael Thomas. Continue reading