Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas, heroin kingpin
Harlem, Summer 1971
Film: American Gangster
Release Date: November 2, 2007
Director: Ridley Scott
Costume Designer: Janty Yates
Tailor: Leonard Logsdail
For BAMF Style, the week leading up to Valentine’s Day always means a Week of Weddings, focusing on how some of the greatest on-screen tough guys dress up for their big day.
American Gangster depicts the rise and fall of heroin trafficker Frank Lucas and his disputed claims of smuggling dope home in the caskets of American servicemen who had died during the Vietnam War. He meets the Puerto Rican beauty queen Eva (her real name was Julianna) at his nightclub, and the two are soon married. Continue reading
Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, old school Deputy U.S. Marshal
Harlan County, Kentucky, Spring 2010
– “Fixer” (Episode 1.03, Director: Fred Keller, Air Date: March 30, 2010)
– “The Hammer” (Episode 1.10, Director: John Dahl, Air Date: May 18, 2010)
– “The Moonshine War” (Episode 2.01, Director: Adam Arkin, Air Date: February 9, 2011)
– “Cottonmouth” (Episode 2.05, Director: Michael Watkins, Air Date: March 9, 2011)
– “The Spoil” (Episode 2.08, Director: Michael Watkins, Air Date: March 30, 2011)
– “Reckoning” (Episode 2.12, Director: Adam Arkin, Air Date: April 27, 2011)
Creator: Graham Yost
Costume Designers: Ane Crabtree (Season 1) & Patia Prouty (Season 2)
A laconic, black-suited lawman with a troubled personal life and deadly accuracy with a firearm. The first name that would come to mind for most people is Wyatt Earp. It’s no coincidence that Justified‘s showrunners also ensured that the description would fit Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to a T.
You are every inch the goddamn gunslinger I’ve heard.
…is Judge Mike Reardon’s praise for Raylan in “The Hammer”, and it is a very apt description given the lawman’s throwback tendencies to an era when gunslingers roamed the dusty streets of the old west. Continue reading
William Holden as Pike Bishop, grizzled bandit gang leader
Coahuila, Mexico, Spring 1913
Film: The Wild Bunch
Release Date: June 18, 1969
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Costume Designer: James R. Silke
We’ve got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast.
…is what Pike Bishop wisely tells his men, an aging group of outlaws still anachronistically robbing banks and trains on horseback with a six-shooter on their hips. Pike knows the times are changing, and it doesn’t take a water-cooled machine gun or a Mexican general’s Packard to drive the point home to them.
Today would have been the 97th birthday of William Holden, who starred in classics like Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Sabrina, The Bridge on the River Kwai before taking on the role of the anachronistically self-aware Pike Bishop. Holden was one of many actors considered by Sam Peckinpah for the role; Lee Marvin had actually been cast but then turned it down to accept the higher-paying lead in Paint Your Wagon. It turned out well for Holden, who developed the character into one of the greatest movie badasses of all time… as even that sterling news source MTV agreed. Continue reading
Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, badass but troubled country rock musician
Los Angeles, January 1968
Film: Walk the Line
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Director: James Mangold
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Pam Lisenby
Columbia Exec: Your fans are church folk, Johnny. Christians. They don’t wanna hear you singing to a bunch of murderers and rapists, tryin’ to cheer ’em up.
Johnny Cash: Well, they’re not Christians, then.
The terrific 2005 biopic Walk the Line features a great scene of Cash rebooting his career as a prison performer (and reformer) when he confidently strides into Columbia Records and announces his plan to record an album live from Folsom Prison. He dudes himself up appropriately in all black and is the most self-assured as we’ve seen him throughout the film.
To honor Johnny Cash’s birthday (he would have been exactly 83 years old today), here’s a look at Joaquin Phoenix’s take on “the Man in Black”. Continue reading
Ryan O’Neal as “The Driver”, professional getaway driver
Los Angeles, Spring 1978
Film: The Driver
Release Date: July 10, 1978
Director: Walter Hill
Costume Designers: Jack Bear, Robert Conwall, and Jennifer L. Parsons
The Driver is a perfect example of European-influenced, American-made, existential ’70s cinema featuring the male anti-hero so frequently seen throughout the decade. A laconic criminal not without his own set of ethics set in a bleak world filled with morally questionable characters, Ryan O’Neal’s unnamed protagonist follows in the footsteps of guys like Vanishing Point‘s Kowalski.
Writer, director, and all-around tough guy Walter Hill’s auteurism clearly shows through in this terrific and über-cool neo-noir where talk is cheap, and those doing the most of it typically have the least to say. Continue reading
Harvey Keitel as Larry Dimmick, aka “Mr. White”, professional armed robber
Los Angeles, Summer 1992
Film: Reservoir Dogs
Release Date: October 23, 1992
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
If you’ve never heard of Reservoir Dogs, you’ve either:
a) Chosen to live under a rock
b) Never stepped into a college dorm room inhabited by at least one male (see also: The Boondock Saints)
Once again, I turn to the pros at Clothes on Film to help express the importance of this film’s costuming. Chris Laverty, who interviewed the film’s costumer Betsy Heimann, states:
Betsy Heimann’s costume design for Reservoir Dogs spawned a legacy in pop culture and fashion that is still being felt today. Heimann and director Quentin Tarantino determined a cinematic sub-genre by redefining the appearance of the petty gangster. From shambolic to symbolic; a man in a black suit, white shirt and black tie walking in slow motion is possibly the single most memorable costume image of the nineties.
Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai Luzhin, Russian Mafiya “undertaker” and chauffeur with a few secrets of his own
London, Christmas 2006
Film: Eastern Promises
Release Date: September 8, 2007
Director: David Cronenberg
Costume Designer: Denise Cronenberg
WARNING! Spoilers possible!
Eastern Promises is a great film, but there is a noteworthy twist that is hard to ignore when discussing the main character. If you haven’t seen it, please watch it before reading the post! Continue reading
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, New York mob associate and briefly-loyal husband
New York, Summer 1964
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
After years of introspection and deep, deep soul-searching, I have determined that Goodfellas is my favorite film. Thus, when my inevitable wedding day is here, I’ll invite every Peter, Paul, and Marie I know and get a huge bag ready for envelopes that better be filled with cash. I’ll also invite Joe Pesci, just for good measure. Continue reading
Johnny Cash, badass country rock musician (later played by Joaquin Phoenix in 2005’s Walk the Line)
Folsom, CA, January 1968
46 years ago today, Johnny Cash made music history by recording a live album from inside the walls of Folsom State Prison. Although he wrote the song “Folsom Prison Blues” while serving in the Air Force in the early ’50s, it wasn’t until fifteen years later that he actually performed at the titular prison. Many don’t know that he had performed in prisons before, beginning with gigs at Huntsville State Prison in 1957 and at San Quentin on New Year’s Day 1958, but At Folsom Prison was the first album Cash released that was actually recorded from a live prison concert. By the time of his Folsom gig, he had actually served some jail time. Continue reading
Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47, freelance hitman
Turkey, Fall 2007
Release Date: November 21, 2007
Director: Xavier Gens
Costume Designer: Olivier Bériot
Timothy Olyphant’s Personal Dresser: Anna Gelinova
A black suit is typically acceptable for funerals and special occasions. These occasions may include a wedding, a semi-formal evening event, or being a badass. 47 would fit into the latter category here. However, being as it’s nearly Christmas, 47’s black suit and red tie would be the perfect attire for a holiday gathering. It would be even more perfect if you have to cut the holiday gathering short to go assassinate a few bad guys, but that might dampen your senile aunt’s holiday spirit.
Many would agree that, especially in the age of Hawaiian-shirted heroes in the Grand Theft Auto series, Hitman‘s Agent 47 has always remained one of the best-dressed video game characters. Continue reading