Elvis Presley as “Lucky” Jackson, mechanic and aspiring race car driver
Las Vegas, Summer 1964
Film: Viva Las Vegas
Release Date: May 20, 1964
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
Regarded as one of the better movies of Elvis Presley’s acting career, Viva Las Vegas stars the singer opposite Ann-Margret, and it’s reported that the very real chemistry between the two was indicative of their off-screen friendship that briefly grew into romance.
On screen, however, Elvis played “Lucky” Jackson, a mechanic who wins – then literally loses – the money he had hoped to use to finance his own race car. To raise the money back, he takes a part-time gig in the Fabulous Flamingo casino in Las Vegas, where he meets sultry swimming instructor Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret, of course).
To commemorate the 39th anniversary of the legendary John Wayne’s passing on June 11, 1979, please enjoy this submission from the estimable pen of BAMF Style reader and contributor “W.T. Hatch.”
John Wayne as John Bernard Books, aging gunfighter
Carson City, Nevada, January 1901
Film: The Shootist
Release Date: August 20, 1976
Director: Don Siegel
Wardrobe Credit: Luster Bayless
I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.
The Shootist was John Wayne’s final movie role and no actor, before or since, had a more fitting last appearance on the silver screen. Wayne plays John Bernard “J.B.” Books, the most “celebrated shootist extant,” in turn-of-the-century Carson City, Nevada. The film opens with a montage from the Duke’s earlier pictures providing Books’ background as a gunman and occasional lawman in the Old West. Now the last of his kind, Books travels to Carson City seeking assistance from his physician in what may be his final battle against cancer. This deeply compelling story is revealed as Books confronts the consequences of both his life and his own pending mortality. Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence officer
Casablanca, Morocco, Fall 1942
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
On the eve of D-Day, when Allied forces landed on the beaches of France 74 years ago to turn the tide of World War II, I’m taking a look at a stylish wartime thriller that received plenty of attention for its sartorial sapience.
Allied begins as Wing Commander Max Vatan (Brad Pitt), an intelligence officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, parachutes into Morocco. The first step in his mission to assassinate a German ambassador is to make contact with a French Resistance agent, Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), who will be posing as his wife. After changing out of his khaki field jacket and into a snazzy suit befitting his cover and his warm surroundings, Max strolls into a nightclub to the tune of a boozy, contemporary take on “The Sheik of Araby” and meets his pseudo-wife. Continue reading
Tony Curtis as Sidney Falco, unscrupulous publicity agent
New York City, Fall 1956
Film: Sweet Smell of Success
Release Date: June 27, 1957
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Costume Designer: Mary Grant
Happy birthday to Tony Curtis, born 93 years ago today on June 3, 1925. The actor will always hold a special place for me as one of my earliest brushes with a known celebrity.
It occurred in the summer of 1998, during a vacation with my family to Las Vegas. We were approaching the exit to the MGM Grand as we came face-to-face with another entourage striding through the entrance. Flanked by two tall, voluptuous blondes at the front of the formation was a tuxedoed man with messy gray hair, considerably energetic for his age.
“That was Tony Curtis!” my family began murmuring to each other. Being only 9 years old at the time, I was concerned about feeling left out of the gossip until my grandma leaned in and explained to me that this was “Josephine” from Some Like It Hot, one of our favorite movies to watch together at the time.
Some Like It Hot will always have a place on my personal cinematic Mount Rushmore, but my favorite Tony Curtis performance is likely in Alexander Mackendrick’s atmospheric 1957 noir Sweet Smell of Success. Curtis stars as a Manhattan publicity agent oozing with opportunistic sleaze.
Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin, mob enforcer
Kansas City (and Chicago), summer 1972
Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The beginning of Prime Cut follows a mysteriously packed package of meat as it journeys from Kansas City to Chicago, where it is received by Jake (Eddie Egan), the head of the Windy City’s Irish mob. The delivery’s significance is not lost on Jake, who promptly seeks out and recruits enforcer Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin) to head to Kansas and set things straight.
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 60th anniversary of the release of Vertigo, Hitchcock’s noir-esque thriller and the last of his collaborations with James Stewart. Hitch blamed Jim for the film’s lack of success at the box office, but history would give Jim the last laugh as a 2012 reevaluation for BFI’s Sight & Sound led to a poll of critics choosing Vertigo as the greatest film of all time, beating out long-standing #1 choice Citizen Kane. Continue reading
Ted Danson as Michael, afterlife “architect”
The Good Place, present day
Series: The Good Place
– “Jason Mendoza” (Episode 1.04), dir. Payman Benz, aired 9/29/2016
– “What’s My Motivation” (Episode 1.11), dir. Lynn Shelton, aired 1/12/2017
– “Mindy St. Claire” (Episode 1.12), dir. Dean Holland, aired 1/19/2017
– “Michael’s Gambit” (Episode 1.13), dir. Michael Schur, aired 1/19/2017
Creator: Michael Schur
Costume Designer: Kirston Mann
WARNING! Possible spoilers ahead…
NBC’s The Good Place is one of my favorite recent network TV shows, blending an infectiously funny ensemble cast with razor-sharp writing that makes moral philosophy not only interesting but accessible and entertaining.