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Kenneth Ross and director Fred Zinnemann, who reportedly wanted to make the film after reading Forsyth’s yet-unpublished manuscript all in one night.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
Ethan Hawke as Jesse Wallace, itinerant American
Vienna, June 16-17, 1994
Film: Before Sunrise
Release Date: January 27, 1995
Director: Richard Linklater
Costume Designer: Florentina Welley
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy Valentine’s Day! While I’ve occasionally used this holiday to feature style from movies depicting gangland violence (think Jimmy Hoffa’s February 14th birthday or the 1967 movie The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre about the real-life 1929 event), this marks my first Valentine’s Day as a married man, so I’m feeling romantic and thus wanted to write about one of my favorite romance-themed movies: Before Sunrise.
For his fourth feature film, director Richard Linklater took inspiration from his chance meeting with a woman in a Philadelphia toy shop that led to the two walking through the city and conversing well into the night. Linklater collaborated with Kim Krizan on a screenplay that would focus heavily on dialogue between a man and a woman who had just met, with their conversations realistically balanced between casual and deep as they get to know each other… and learn more about themselves in the process. Continue reading
Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, widowed ex-Imperial Austro-Hungarian Navy officer
Salzburg, Austria, Spring 1938
Film: The Sound of Music
Release Date: March 2, 1965
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Happy birthday, Christopher Plummer! Born 91 years ago in Toronto, the distinguished actor continues to be a familiar face on screen, most recently as the doomed mystery writer at the center of Knives Out (2019). Plummer’s most recognizable performance remains arguably that of Georg von Trapp, the Austro-Hungarian patriarch whose family of young singers was depicted in The Sound of Music.
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…