In recognition of POW/MIA Day, observed on the third Friday of September, let’s delve into one of the first major movies to shine a light on the POW experience.
William Holden as J.J. Sefton, USAAF Staff Sergeant and prisoner of war
“Somewhere on the Danube”, December 1944
Film: Stalag 17
Release Date: May 29, 1953
Director: Billy Wilder
Wardrobe Credit: J. Allen Slone
I don’t know about you, but it always makes me sore when I see those war pictures… all about flying leathernecks and submarine patrols and frogmen and guerrillas in the Philippines. What gets me is there never was a movie about POWs… about prisoners of war.
… and so Clarence Harvey Cook (Gil Stratton) begins his narration, setting the scene for the week leading up to Christmas 1944 when he and his fellow downed colleagues discovered a potential informant—er, a “dirty stinkin’ stoolie”—in their barracks.
After two airmen are shot trying to escape, suspicion eventually falls on J.J. Sefton, the cigarette-dealing but cigar-chomping staff sergeant whose cynicism has already rendered him unpopular with most of the Americans aside from Cookie, who serves as Sefton’s unofficial batman and describes him as “one of the most unforgettable ch-characters you’ve ever met.” Continue reading
Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner and World War II veteran
Pine Tree, Vermont, December 1954
Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Merry Christmas to all BAMF Style readers who celebrate! After a turbulent year, I know I’ve found comfort in the warm familiarity of the 1954 holiday classic White Christmas starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a pair of war buddies-turned-producers who stage yet another “yuletide clambake” to support their popular general (Dean Jagger)… as if you hadn’t already seen it!
Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza, neurotic (but inventive) retiree
Queens, New York, Tuesday, December 23, 1997
Episode: “The Strike” (Episode 9.10)
Air Date: December 18, 1997
Director: Andy Ackerman
Created by: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
Costume Designer: Charmaine Nash Simmons
Fed up with the materialism around the holidays? Do you wish the holidays were less about forgiveness and cheer and more about directly telling people what they’ve done to upset you over the past year? Happy Festivus!
Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough Mafia enforcer
Philadelphia, Christmas 1960
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
Last year’s holiday season, there was plenty of buzz around The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s latest mob epic which had been released to Netflix following a brief limited theatrical run. At 209 minutes, The Irishman clocked in as Scorsese’s longest movie to date, following real-life enforcer Frank Sheeran (Robert de Niro) through his connections to the mob via Philadelphia boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his friendship with outspoken labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
Everything seems to change for the boys after the Kennedy administration puts the mob in the government’s crosshairs, but they get one final moment of peace at Christmas 1960, just less than a month before JFK would take office. Frank and Russell gather with their families for an intimate holiday celebration where the only real tension is Frank’s 11-year-old daughter Peggy withholding her affection for the Bufalino patriarch, refusing to see him as a benevolent “Uncle Russell” despite his Christmas gift of skates lined with a C-note.
On #MafiaMonday with just a week until Christmas, let’s look a little deeper at Frank Sheeran’s seasonal style during this brief holiday scene. Continue reading
Al Pacino as Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero, washed-up Mafia soldier
New York City, Christmas 1978
Film: Donnie Brasco
Release Date: February 28, 1997
Director: Mike Newell
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard & David C. Robinson
Like The Godfather and Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco follows the tradition of great Mafia movies by featuring some Cosa Nostra Christmas celebrations. The frequency with which the holidays appear in mob cinema is no coincidence, as Catholic traditions are very important to we Italian-Americans.
Donnie Brasco features a casual Christmas on Mulberry Street, perhaps more reflective than the Phil Spector-scored Goodfellas party of how many yuletide observances will look in 2020. Continue reading
James Shigeta as Joe Takagi, Nakatomi Corporation executive
Los Angeles, Christmas 1987
Film: Die Hard
Release Date: July 15, 1988
Director: John McTiernan
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
My latest post focused on yet another chaotic Christmas party on The Office, though the drama of Dunder Mifflin’s holiday celebrations pale in comparison to how the employees of the Nakatomi Corporation are forced to spend Christmas Eve in Die Hard.
James Shigeta kicked off #Noirvember last month when I focused on his style in The Crimson Kimono so, in the spirit of the yuletide season, let’s revisit the actor via his arguably most memorable role as the stylish, unflappable, and ultimately doomed head of the Nakatomi Corporation.
Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, born Kyoto, 1937. Family emigrated to San Pedro, California, 1939. Interned, Manzanar, 1942 to ’43. Scholarship student, University of California, 1955. Law degree, Stanford, 1962. MBA, Harvard, 1970. President, Nakatomi Trading. Vice Chairman, Nakatomi Investment Group… and father of five.
If you’ve been following BAMF Style for a few years, you know I like to take a break from the enviable style of Grant, McQueen, Poitier, and their ilk to tackle a problem many of us have faced: how to dress for the office Christmas party. Given that corporate America’s closets tend to have more in common with Michael Scott than with Steve McQueen, the American version of The Office rose to the occasion to address the phenomenon of ill-fitting sweaters and ill-advised ties that seems to plague my fellow cubicle-dwellers as they don their gay apparel for the holiday season.
2020 being the year that it’s been, many staff parties have been relegated to holiday happy hours via Zoom or Teams where there will likely be a better chance of catching glimpse of a co-worker’s sweatpants than Christmas ties. For this year’s ranking of Dunder Mifflin duds, it thus feels more appropriate to settle in for Michael Scott’s vision of a more intimate holiday gathering… which also hosts its fair share of snowball scenes that would no doubt result in severe HR violations.
“Classy Christmas” aired ten years ago, the second of three episodes to be directed by Rainn Wilson. It also marked Michael Scott’s final Christmas celebration at Dunder Mifflin Scranton before Steve Carell left the series at the end of the seventh season.
Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, private investigator and former Navy SEAL
Hawaii, Christmas 1980 to Summer 1981
Series: Magnum, P.I.
– “Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too” (Episode 1.04, dir. Bruce Seth Green, aired 12/25/1980)
– “Lest We Forget” (Episode 1.10, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 2/12/1981)
– “Beauty Knows No Pain” (Episode 1.18, dir. Ray Austin, aired 4/16/1981)
– “Dead Man’s Channel” (Episode 2.02, dir. Ray Austin, aired 10/15/1981)
Creator: Donald P. Bellisario & Glen Larson
Costume Designer: Charles Waldo (credited with first season only)
Costume Supervisor: James Gilmore
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
In perhaps an early Christmas gift to the TV-watching world, Magnum, P.I. debuted on CBS forty years ago tonight on December 11, 1980, when the two-parter “Don’t Eat the Snow in Hawaii” introduced us to a charming, bewhiskered private investigator living the dream life on a Hawaiian estate with a sleek red Ferrari and a full closet of Aloha shirts at his disposal.
Four episodes in, Magnum, P.I. aired its first holiday-set episode when “Thank Heaven for Little Girls and Big Ones Too” aired on Christmas night, 1980. The series would revisit the holidays once more during the fourth season’s more festively titled “Operation: Silent Night”, though Magnum spends most of the episode clad in his drab tank top and bush shirt rather than the more colorful, creative outfit he wears while spending the holidays foiled by schoolteacher Linda Booton (Katherine Cannon) and her larcenous young wards.
With just two weeks to go to Christmas on this #AlohaFriday, I wanted to wish BAMF Style readers a happy holiday season by delving into a yuletide-themed episode from one of my favorite series!
Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, aka Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp, megalomaniac terrorist
Piz Gloria, Switzerland, December 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
‘Twas Christmastime at Piz Gloria, when all through the clinic
Not a creature was stirring, not even the agent from MI6.
The Angels of Death were snuggled in bed with care
in hopes that Sir Hilary’s bezants soon would be there.
As of 2020, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains the only James Bond movie prominently set during yuletide, as 007 (George Lazenby) disguises himself as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray in order to get close to SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas), under the pretense of investigating Blofeld’s claim to the title of Count Balthazar de Bleuchamp.
On the 00-7th of December, let’s see how one of Bond’s most iconic nemeses dresses for the holidays.
Max von Sydow as G. Joubert, French Alsatian contract assassin
New York City and Washington, D.C., Winter 1975
Film: Three Days of the Condor
Release Date: September 24, 1975
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
You may be walking, maybe the first sunny day of the spring, and a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know – maybe even trust – will get out of the car, and he will smile a becoming smile… but he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.
Happy Spring to my BAMF Style readers in the Northern Hemisphere! Among the many screen credits of the late Max von Sydow, who died at the age of 90 earlier this month, was the taciturn professional assassin known as G. Joubert in the ’70s espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor.