Steve McQueen as Steve Andrews, headstrong teenager
Chester County, Pennsylvania, Summer 1957
Film: The Blob
Release Date: September 12, 1958
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
As today would have been Steve McQueen’s 90th birthday, let’s take a look at his first starring role, a sci-fi/horror drive-in favorite called The Blob. A personal favorite of producer Jack H. Harris, The Blob was filmed on location in southeastern Pennsylvania on a low budget that, depending on the source, has been quoted as anywhere between $110,000 and $240,000, a cost kept low thanks in part to the low $3,000 salary that the then-struggling actor McQueen had accepted to afford short-term expenses like food and rent.
After two uncredited movie roles and scattered TV bit parts across the mid-1950s, McQueen’s credited feature film debut was in Robert Stevens’ 1958 crime drama Never Love a Stranger, which also featured his future Bullitt co-star Felice Orlandi. Less than a week after the premiere episode of Wanted Dead or Alive aired on CBS in September 1958, The Blob was released in theaters with “Steven McQueen” first-billed.
Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer
Northern California, Late Summer 1953
Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.
Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.
Clint Eastwood as Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, college art professor and former assassin
Switzerland, Summer 1974
Film: The Eiger Sanction
Release Date: May 21, 1975
Director: Clint Eastwood
Costume Supervisor: Glenn Wright
Happy birthday to Clint Eastwood, the actor and director who combined his talents in dozens of films, beginning with Play Misty for Me in 1971. Based on Trevanian’s 1972 novel, The Eiger Sanction was Eastwood’s third directorial effort. While criticized for his story, the thrilling climbing scenes and stunning mountain cinematography—namely, Monument Valley and Zion National Park—remain standouts of the espionage thriller.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself
Oklahoma to California, Fall 1970
Series: Mad Men
– “The Milk and Honey Route” (Episode 7.13), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 5/10/2015
– “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 5/17/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
To honor the anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, published today in 1957, I’m taking a look at “The Milk and Honey Route,” the penultimate episode of Mad Men in which Don Draper’s journey to find himself drives him through the heart-land of darkness.
Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Tangier, Morocco, Fall 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
BAMF Style is sticking around in Morocco for the 00-7th of June after this week’s earlier post about the beige linen suit that Brad Pitt’s character wears in a Casablanca-set scene in the World War II thriller Allied (2016).
Thanks to a suggestion from a great BAMF Style reader, Sonny, today’s post takes a look at another famous spy famous for his sartorial savvy… although Timothy Dalton’s James Bond has a relatively dressed-down approach for his mission in Tangier during the actor’s first 007 film, The Living Daylights (1987).
Steve McQueen as Ralph “Papa” Thorson, real-life bounty hunter
Los Angeles (among other locales), Fall 1979
Film: The Hunter
Release Date: August 1, 1980
Director: Buzz Kulik
Costume Designer: Thomas Welsh
On the anniversary of Steve McQueen’s passing, I’d like to explore his style in the final film he made before his untimely death at the age of 50 on November 7, 1980.
The Hunter starred McQueen as Ralph “Papa” Thorson, a colorful real-life bounty hunter who had reportedly logged more than 5,000 cases throughout his career including the capture of would-be presidential assassin and Manson family follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme.
The concept of a bounty hunter conjures the image of a deadly serious and dangerous enforcer. The real Ralph Thorson certainly looked the part at 310 pounds and 6’2″ though Christopher Keane’s 1976 biography counters this image by describing Thorson’s many roles and talents as “a church bishop, Master bridge champion, renowed astrology, criminology alumnus of the University of California Berkeley, child nutritionist, [and] aficionado of classical music.” Continue reading
Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, suspended homicide detective
San Francisco, April 1991
Film: Basic Instinct
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
The nylon bomber jacket has made a comeback in recent years with few knowing the story of its all-too appropriate name, developed as the “MA-1” in the 1950s for American bomber pilots to replace the older B-15 flight jacket. Two decades later, the bomber jacket hit the civilian market with manufacturers like Alpha Industries introducing it to new audiences in colors other than the standard military olive drab. It was further popularized in TV and movies, including the almost ubiquitous appearance of an Alpha Industries MA-1 worn by Steve McQueen in The Hunter (1980).
Though the MA-1 bomber jacket was being phased out of active military use by the early ’90s, it still remained a staple of men’s casual wear and was a fitting choice as the go-to off-duty jacket worn by Michael Douglas’ fashionably tailored homicide detective Nick Curran in Basic Instinct. Continue reading
Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge, tough, taciturn boxer
Los Angeles, Summer 1992
Film: Pulp Fiction
Release Date: October 14, 1994
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
There have been several requests to see Butch Coolidge’s bomber jacket ensemble from Pulp Fiction get a proper BAMF Style analysis, so what better occasion would there be than Bruce Willis’ birthday? Happy 62nd, Bruce!
Like many classic fictional boxing stories before him, Butch Coolidge finds himself in a hard place between his pride and the mob…and ultimately decides that it’s the latter that should suffer. Continue reading