George Lazenby as James Bond, smooth British secret agent
Estoril, Portugal, September 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Tailor: Dimi Major
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
On the 00-7th of December, this Car Week post is focused on James Bond’s sole Christmastime adventure, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby as the suave secret agent.
The film opens with a scene straight out of the source novel as a competitive Bond engages in a playful “race” against a beautiful young woman speeding toward the beach in her convertible. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Nicolò “Nickie” Ferrante, socialite playboy
French Riviera, December 1956
Film: An Affair to Remember
Release Date: July 2, 1957
Director: Leo McCarey
Executive Wardrobe Designer: Charles Le Maire
As many folks across the United States are wrapping up Thanksgiving travel arrangements home to be with family, I wanted to take a look at some classic films where characters are making the own familial visitations.
An Affair to Remember finds Cary Grant on a transatlantic journey with Deborah Kerr. When the SS Constitution anchors in the French Riviera, Grant takes the opportunity to introduce his new traveling companion to his aging Italian grandmother at her villa in the picturesque seaside commune of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Continue reading
Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber
Indiana, Fall 1933
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George
Eighty four years ago tonight – November 15, 1933. Four police cars converge on a small office building on Irving Park Boulevard in the Chicago Loop. In an upstairs doctor’s office, one of the most wanted men in the tri-state area is being treated for either a ringworm infection or “barber’s itch,” an inflammation of hair follicles, depending on which account you read. On the floor below, a cagey informant named Art McGinnis is signaling desperately to police that their quarry is upstairs. Fate, however, is on the side of the outlaw, a thirty-year-old bank robber named John Dillinger. Continue reading
Burt Lancaster as J.J. Hunsecker, powerful and domineering newspaper columnist
New York City, Fall 1956
Film: Sweet Smell of Success
Release Date: June 27, 1957
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Costume Designer: Mary Grant
In commemoration of Burt Lancaster’s birthday today, I’m exploring my favorite of his films, the atmospheric 1957 noir Sweet Smell of Success that starred Lancaster as acerbic columnist J.J. Hunsecker to Tony Curtis’ unscrupulous PR flack Sidney Falco.
J.J. Hunsecker is a man whose legendary power and mercurial temper is meant to intimidate nearly all in his orbit. Continue reading
John Alexander as “Teddy Roosevelt” Brewster
Brooklyn, Halloween 1941
Film: Arsenic and Old Lace
Release Date: September 23, 1944
Director: Frank Capra
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, was born this day 159 years ago on October 27, 1858. A son of New York City, the timid Theodore overcame his childhood asthma with his robust physical pursuits matched only by his professional ambition as a career soldier, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, and finally the youngest President of the United States when he assumed office at the age of 42 after the assassination of William McKinley.
The proximity of T.R.’s birthday to Halloween always makes me think of Arsenic and Old Lace, the Frank Capra-directed dark comedy set one Halloween in Brooklyn involving Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), his two dangerous but darling elderly aunts, and – like all of the best movies of the 1940s – Peter Lorre being Peter Lorre.
Originally a play (and doubtlessly one that your high school has performed), actor John Alexander reprised his role from the stage as “Teddy” Brewster, Mortimer’s delusional but harmless brother who believes that he is Teddy Roosevelt.
“So what?” says a friendly local cop who visits the Brewsters on his beat. “There’s a lot worse guys he could think he was.” Continue reading
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd anti-Bolshevik and former British agent
London, Fall 1925
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “The Last Journey” (Episode 11)
Air Date: November 9, 1983
Director: Jim Goddard
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Sidney Reilly is just settling into life with his latest – and final – wife, the glamorous actress Nelly “Pepita” Bobadilla (Laura Davenport), when he is visited by Georgi and Maria Schulz, the Soviet double agents who have come to ensure him of his safe passage through Russia to meet with The Trust. Continue reading
Derrick De Marney as Robert Tisdall, wrongly accused man
Keenthorne, England, Fall 1937
Film: Young and Innocent
(American title: The Girl Was Young)
Release Date: November 1937
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Credit: Marianne
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Alfred Hitchcock explored one of his favorite sub-genres, the innocent “man on the run” thriller, throughout his career. The trope was prominent in many of his early works, including The Lodger (1927), The 39 Steps (1935), and Young and Innocent (1937, released in the United States as The Girl Was Young.) Continue reading