Gabriel Byrne as Tom Reagan, pragmatic Irish mob fixer
Upstate New York, Fall 1929
Film: Miller’s Crossing
Release Date: September 21, 1990
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Miller’s Crossing is one of my favorite Coen Brothers movies as well as one of my favorite crime films. Perhaps overshadowed the year it was released by higher pedigree mob flicks like Goodfellas and, uh, The Godfather Part III, the Coens’ neo-noir black comedy has gained a cult following in the years since for its spirited tribute to the works of Dashiell Hammett, particularly Red Harvest (1929) and The Glass Key (1931). Continue reading
Cary Grant as Brian Cruikshank (aka Peter Joshua, Alexander Dyle, or Adam Canfield), U.S. Treasury agent
Paris, April 1963
Release Date: December 5, 1963
Director: Stanley Donen
Heading back to business for the first day in the new year, nothing is more appropriate for a winter’s day in the office than a charcoal flannel suit similar to the one that Cary Grant’s multi-named hero wore to the office for the finale of Charade. Continue reading
Robert De Niro as David “Noodles” Aaronson, mob bootlegger and violent ex-convict
New York City, December 1933
Film: Once Upon a Time in America
Release Date: May 23, 1984
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Gabriella Pescucci
83 years ago today, the 21st amendment was ratified to officially repeal Prohibition, delighting a thirsty American public but leaving many criminals who had made their fortunes from bootlegging effectively “unemployed”. This Mafia Monday post checks in with Robert De Niro as a mobster coming to terms with what that means for his career and personal life in 1984’s Once Upon a Time in America. Continue reading
George Clooney as Jack (aka “Edward”), weary hitman and gunsmith
Castel del Monte, Abruzzo, Italy, May 2010
Film: The American
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Director: Anton Corbijn
Costume Designer: Suttirat Anne Larlarb
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Many eyes around the world are on America right now, so I’m responding to a recent request to see George Clooney’s sharp suit from the ending of The American, the quiet 2010 drama that featured Clooney as a semi-retired assassin and gunsmith in a small Italian town for the proverbial “one last job”. Continue reading
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, Mafia son and World War II hero
New York City, January 1946
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
Happy birthday to Al Pacino, born this day in 1940. It was The Godfather that arguably catapulted Pacino into public consciousness as one of the greatest actors of his generation, an impressive feat for an actor with only two preceding film credits. Although Paramount production chief Robert Evans had more box office-oriented names in mind for its central role ranging from Jack Nicholson to Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola insisted on Pacino who delivered in spades and received both an Academy Award nomination as well as a massive salary increase (from $35,000 to $600,000) to return as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II only two years later.
Although all of The Godfather is an acting tour de force for Pacino, there is one monumental scene often cited as the moment that truly established him as one of the most talented stars in the industry. An outsider to his family’s illegitimate business, Michael Corleone surprised everyone by offering to retaliate for the attempt on his father’s life by personally gunning down both the drug-peddling gangster and the corrupt police captain. Armed with the family’s blessing, an escape route, and a .38 taped behind an old toilet, Michael finds himself sitting across from these two criminals for – ostensibly – a peace meeting. Continue reading
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, unscrupulously successful Wall Street businessman
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: Wall Street
Release Date: December 11, 1987
Director: Oliver Stone
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Tailor: Alan Flusser
BAMF Style is back to business on this Monday morning, taking a suggestion from commentors Jose, Andrey, and Ryan to heed the style – if not the business ethos – of Gordon Gekko, the corporate business raider of Wall Street who managed the task of making Charlie Sheen look like not such a bad guy.
“Greed…is good,” is how Wall Street is often best remembered, paraphrasing the famous speech given by Gekko while also summarizing his drive. Although frequently included in lists of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” (#57 by AFI and #70 by Premiere), it’s perhaps even more unnerving to know that it was inspired by the real words of stock trader Ivan Boesky. In 1986, the year before Wall Street was made, Boesky told the graduating class at the University of California:
Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.
Of course, Boesky became infamous for paying $100 million that year to the SEC to settle insider trading charges, but the damage was done and the dangerous “greed is good” mentality led to a generation redefining capitalism with unrestrained avarice. Two decades later, everyone from Australian PM Kevin Rudd to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone cited the “greed is good” ideology as a direct cause of the 2007 financial crisis. “It is perhaps time now to admit that we did not learn the full lessons of the greed-is-good ideology,” realized Rudd in a 2008 speech. “We are still cleaning up the mess of the 21st-century children of Gordon Gekko.” Continue reading
Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, ambitious New York mob associate
New York, Spring 1964
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, so BAMF Style is appropriating Mafia Monday for one of the most memorable scenes from Goodfellas, the impressive Steadicam shot that follows Henry and Karen’s date at their Copacabana. After leaving his Chrysler Newport with a doorman across the street (“It’s easier than leaving it at a garage”), the camera follows Henry as he spirits Karen through the labyrinth of hallways and kitchens into the famous nightclub, peeling off twenties for every hand that helps along the way. Continue reading
Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, shrewd German terrorist leader and self-described “excellent thief”
Los Angeles, Christmas 1987
Film: Die Hard
Release Date: July 15, 1988
Director: John McTiernan
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
Like surprisingly many others, Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie and no holiday season – no matter how hectic or bleak – is complete without a viewing of what is arguably the greatest action movie ever made.
For the first BAMF Style holiday season in 2012, I broke down the rugged (and eventually very sparse) style of Bruce Willis’ John McClane, but it feels like the time has come to look at what the film’s fashion-driven antagonist wore as he led his European gunslingers into Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve 1987.
Mr. Takagi, I could talk about industrialization and men’s fashion all day, but I’m afraid work must intrude…
What’d He Wear?
Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there.
Obviously, Hans Gruber knows a thing about clothes as he takes the time to compliment the Nakatomi Corporation’s soon-to-be martyr’s suit. Whether or not the dark suit sported by Hans himself is one of his two from the prestigious (but ultimately fictional) John Phillips.
Hans Gruber’s dark charcoal suit is very contemporary to its 1980s setting, not surprising for a man so interested in fashion and image. The jacket is cut short with a double-breasted 4-on-2 button stance. Continue reading
Kirk Douglas as John “Doc” Holliday, hot-tempered gambler, gunslinger, and ex-dentist
Tombstone, AZ, October 1881
Film: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
Release Date: May 30, 1957
Director: John Sturges
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Friday’s post focused on Raylan Givens, the dark-suited U.S. Marshal who would’ve been more at home in the Old West rather than the era of cell phones, electric cars, and Bieber. In fact, Raylan would have fit in perfectly 134 years ago today as Doc Holliday joined the Earps for their long walk toward the O.K. Corral and a showdown that would engrain them in western lore.
The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, as it became known, became a pop culture phenomenon almost instantly. Dime books, paintings, and sketches romanticized the showdown for half a century until 1934’s Frontier Marshal incorporated the events into it largely fictional showdown between fearless lawman Michael Wyatt (George O’Brien) and local crime boss Doc Warren. Half a dozen films and more than two decades later, filmmakers finally came close to getting the names and events straight with the 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, directed by John Sturges and starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, respectively. Continue reading
Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley, professional armed robber
Los Angeles, Spring 1995
Release Date: December 15, 1995
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Deborah Lynn Scott
De Niro’s Costumer: Marsha Bozeman
My last post looked at a bank robber who relied on his wits and a team of burglars to carry out a job. Neil McCauley is far more ruthless and traditional kind of cinematic bank robber; one that you would expect a no-nonsense great like Robert De Niro to portray. After months of planning and double-crosses, McCauley’s team is ready to take down a major bank in downtown L.A. Continue reading