James Caan as Walter Hobbs, workaholic children’s book publisher
New York City, December 2003
Release Date: November 7, 2003
Director: Jon Favreau
Costume Designer: Laura Jean Shannon
The late James Caan effectively subverted his screen image when he starred in Elf, a family-friendly comedy that’s already established as a modern holiday classic. Of course, as one of the big screen’s most famous tough guys, Caan’s Walter Hobbs begins the story on Santa Claus’ notorious “naughty list” as a children’s book publisher too focused on his bottom line to care about his family or even the minutae of his job, overlooking the last two pages of his latest book that leave the fate of a beloved puppy and pigeon too ambiguous for its young readers. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Walter Eckland, crude and reluctant wartime coast-watcher
Pacific Islands, Spring 1942
Film: Father Goose
Release Date: December 10, 1964
Director: Ralph Nelson
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (uncredited)
Last month, I reflected on the elegant white suit that Cary Grant wore at the start of his stylish career in the pre-Code drama Hot Saturday. More than 30 years later, Grant was firmly established as one of the most charming—and enduringly best-dressed—stars of the era, subverting his screen reputation for his penultimate movie, the World War II-set comedy Father Goose opposite Leslie Caron. Continue reading
Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, volatile and violent Mafia associate
New York, Spring 1970
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy Mother’s Day! One of my favorite cinematic sequences depicting the relationship between a son and his mother comes by way of my favorite movie, in which master auteur Martin Scorsese cast his own mother Catherine as the charming Mrs. DeVito, mother to the psychotic gangster Tommy (Joe Pesci) who brings his cohorts Henry (Ray Liotta) and Jimmy (Robert De Niro) seeking a shovel in a covert night-time stop to fetch a shovel… only to be sweet-talked into an early breakfast.
Catherine Scorsese endearingly embodies the familiar archetype of the aging Italian-American matriarch with her plastic-covered furniture, the gift to effortlessly slip between American English and Italian dialects, and the fierce desire to feed her children and their friends… regardless of whether they’re hungry or not. Continue reading
James Caan as Axel Freed, gambling-addicted English professor
New York City, Fall 1973
Film: The Gambler
Release Date: October 2, 1974
Director: Karel Reisz
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
A meditation on self-destruction, The Gambler was based on James Toback’s semi-autobiographical script that was the first to be produced from the soon-to-be-prolific screenwriter. Toback had incorporated his own gambling addiction that plagued him while he lectured at City College of New York. Robert De Niro was an early contender for the leading role of Axel Freed, but director Karel Reisz opted to cast another Corleone: James Caan, who explained the challenge of the role that would reportedly be one of his favorites from own his filmography: “It’s not easy to make people care about a guy who steals from his mother to pay gambling debts.” Continue reading
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, smug and successful corporate raider
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: Wall Street
Release Date: December 11, 1987
Director: Oliver Stone
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
Happy birthday to Michael Douglas, the actor, producer, and activist born September 25, 1944, who may be most famous for his iconic Academy Award-winning performance as ruthless financier Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
William Hurt as Ned Racine, unscrupulous attorney
Palm Beach, Florida, Summer 1981
Film: Body Heat
Release Date: August 28, 1981
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Costume Designer: Renié
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
I couldn’t let the hottest summer of my lifetime end without talking about Body Heat, especially as Lawrence Kasdan’s sweaty directorial debut will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its release in two days.
The term “neo-noir” has often been used—and, indeed, overused—to describe stylish, shadowy, and sexy crime dramas with elements recalling film noir’s golden era in the ’40s and ’50s, though Body Heat struck me as one of the prized handful of movies most deserving of the description, perfectly balancing the spirit of classic noir with contemporary cinematic expectations without falling too far in either direction. Continue reading
Robert Redford as John Gage, smooth billionaire and proposer of indecency
Off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, Summer 1993
Film: Indecent Proposal
Release Date: April 7, 1993
Director: Adrian Lyne
Costume Design: Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, Bernie Pollack, & Bobbie Read
Happy birthday, Robert Redford! To celebrate the screen legend and style icon turning 85 today, I asked my Instagram followers a few weeks ago which of Redford’s yet-uncovered looks I should cover in today’s post: his black tuxedo for his on-screen introduction in 1974’s The Great Gatsby or the cream Cerruti suit he wears for consummation of the eponymous Indecent Proposal. With more than 3,000 votes cast, it was a close race, but Indecent Proposal won by just over 70 votes.
For those who haven’t seen Indecent Proposal, Redford stars as super-billionaire John Gage who—rather than launching himself into space—offers to provide a struggling young couple, David and Diana, with one million dollars… in exchange for one night with Diana. Continue reading
Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn, ineffective mayor of Amity Island
Amity Island, July 1974
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Design: Louise Clark, Robert Ellsworth, and Irwin Rose
“You open the beaches on the fourth of July, it’s like ringing the dinner bell, for chrissakes!” implores police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) to the mayor of Amity Island in the wake of the deadly threat of Bruce the Shark lurking offshore.
Unfortunately for the residents of Amity—which, as you know, means friendship—our charming mayor is the kind of odious self-promoter who thinks idealists like Hooper only share his self-absorbed goal of fame and glory, or a “you’d love to make it into the National Geographic!” moment, unable to comprehend that some people do their jobs or take public office for the sake of serving the public and not for good PR or cutthroat ambition.
Jack Hedley as Sir Timothy Havelock, marine archaeologist contracted by the British Secret Service
Ionian Sea off the Albanian coast, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Wardrobe Master: Tiny Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
For Your Eyes Only, my favorite James Bond movie of the Roger Moore era, was released 40 years ago today! To celebrate, I wanted to shift focus from 007 to the stylish and significant—but only briefly seen—character of Sir Timothy Havelock.
Paul Newman, acclaimed actor, activist, and Navy veteran
Florida Keys, Summer 1967
Photographs by Mark Kaufmann
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars rather than from specific productions.
June 18 is annually celebrated as “National Go Fishing Day”, an observance encouraging Americans to take some time to take a break and cast a line.
Following his acclaimed performance in Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman turned to the comfort of rod and reel on a friend’s fishing boat off the Florida Keys. The actor was in the midst of his directorial debut—directing his wife Joanne Woodward in Rachel, Rachel—but looks as stress-free as it gets as he stands top side with a beer in one hand and rod in the other.