Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, tough private detective
New York City, January 1971
Release Date: June 25, 1971
Director: Gordon Parks
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
Almost 50 years after Richard Roundtree first stepped out onto a busy New York City street, John Shaft remains a cultural icon with the release of the fifth and latest installment of the Shaft canon that arrived in theaters this weekend.
Roundtree made his cinematic debut in 1971’s Shaft, establishing the blaxploitation genre and rapidly followed by two sequel movies and a short-lived TV show that all starred the former model as the tough private eye from Ernest Tidyman’s series of novels. Roundtree would reprise his role as John Shaft I—uncle of Samuel L. Jackson’s character—in Shaft (2000) and Shaft (2019)… yes, that’s three films in one series all named Shaft.
Gregory Peck as David Pollock, American hieroglyphics professor
London, June 1965
Release Date: May 5, 1966
Director: Stanley Donen
Tailor: H. Huntsman & Sons, London
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today marks the 103rd birthday of Eldred G. Peck, better known to the world as Gregory Peck after dropping his first name in pursuit of his now legendary acting career. Peck received five Academy Award nominations over the course of his career, finally winning the Best Actor statue for his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Later in the decade, Peck starred opposite his friend Sophia Loren in Arabesque, Stanley Donen’s follow-up to Charade that—like its predecessor—blended elements of comedy, espionage, and romance into one Hitchcockian package, though even Donen had to admit that the film was more style than substance.
Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster
Kansas City, Summer 1931
Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch
The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.
Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.
The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.
Marcello Mastroianni as Renzo, Italian writer
Milan, Italy, October 1963
Film: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
(Italian title: Ieri, oggi, domani)
Release Date: December 19, 1963
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Costume Designer: Piero Tosi
Car Week continues with a focus on a classic Italian comedy released 55 years ago this month.
After four movies together in the 1950s, Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren reteamed in 1963 for Vittorio De Sica’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – released in Italy as Ieri, oggi, domani – a stylish anthology about life and love. The film is split into three segments that each star Loren and Mastroianni as a different couple.
The second segment, “Anna”, is the shortest of the three and stars Loren as an industrialist’s glamorous wife – dressed to the nines in Christian Dior – as she is forced to choose between her husband’s Rolls-Royce and her unassuming lover Renzo (Mastroianni).
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Let’s kick off the winter edition of BAMF Style’s semi-annual (or is that bi-annual) Car Week where I take an additional look at what these well-dressed characters are driving.
Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock’s noir-esque 1958 thriller and the last of his four collaborations with James Stewart, finds the actor behind the wheel of a white DeSoto coupe as he follows Kim Novak’s character around San Francisco from her Nob Hill apartment and the Podesta Baldocchi flower shop to Mission Dolores and their fateful meeting at Fort Point on the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious advertising creative director
New York City, Spring to Fall 1960
Series: Mad Men
– “Ladies Room” (Episode 1.02), dir. Alan Taylor, aired 7/26/2007
– “New Amsterdam” (Episode 1.04), dir. Tim Hunter, aired 8/9/2007
– “Shoot” (Episode 1.09), dir. Paul Feig, aired 9/13/2007
– “The Wheel” (Episode 1.13), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 10/18/2007
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
This particular suit makes sporadic appearances across the masterful debut season of Mad Men, AMC’s much-acclaimed drama set in the world of American advertising in the 1960s.
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 scene itself needs no introduction. Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) sits in a shadowy interrogation room full of detectives (including Newman!) with Hitchcockian ice-cold blonde Catherine Trammell (Sharon Stone) facing them. Continue reading