Tagged: Costume design by Edith Head

Remember the Night: Fred MacMurray’s Christmas Road Trip

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Remember the Night (1940)

Vitals

Fred MacMurray as John “Jack” Sargent, smooth-talking New York prosecutor

New York to Indiana, Christmas 1938

Film: Remember the Night
Release Date: January 19, 1940
Director: Mitchell Leisen
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

This year’s winter #CarWeek installment kicks off with a holly jolly hoosier holiday in Remember the Night, a 1940 romcom released at the outset of a decade that included many classics of Christmas cinema like The Shop Around the Corner (1940), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Holiday Inn (1942), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), 3 Godfathers (1948), and Holiday Affair (1949). Yet before all those classics came Remember the Night, arguably one of the earliest major movies to recognize how compellingly Christmas, both at its loneliest and most celebratory, could be effectively woven into a story.

“While it has remained for decades mysteriously under the radar, its tender romance and comedy are so skillfully blended—and its use of Christmas so poignant—that it stands among the very best holiday movies,” describes Jeremy Arnold in the TCM volume Christmas in the Movies. Continue reading

Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in This Gun for Hire (1942)

Vitals

Alan Ladd as Philip Raven, cold-blooded, cat-loving contract killer

San Francisco to Los Angeles, Spring 1942

Film: This Gun for Hire
Release Date: April 24, 1942
Director: Frank Tuttle
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

I had already been planning to write about This Gun for Hire this month when I realized that today would have been the 100th birthday of Veronica Lake, who was born in Brooklyn on November 14, 1922 with the decidedly less glamorous name of Constance Ockelman. Lake was still in her teens when cast in her first starring role in Sullivan’s Travels (1941), the success of which convinced Paramount to cast her in their upcoming thriller, which would also be a vehicle to launch their next up-and-comer, Alan Ladd. Continue reading

Desert Fury: Wendell Corey’s Herringbone Tweed Suit

Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan in Desert Fury (1947)

Vitals

Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan, stone-cold mob enforcer

Nevada, Spring 1947

Film: Desert Fury
Release Date: August 15, 1947
Director: Lewis Allen
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

In the spirit of #Noirvember, I want to celebrate an entry in the relatively rare “color noir” category as well as the career of Wendell Corey, the Massachusetts-born actor and one-time AMPAS President who died on this day in 1968.

Corey was a familiar face in classic film noir like I Walk Alone (1948), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), and The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) before his perhaps most recognized performance as the skeptical Detective Tom Doyle assisting Jimmy Stewart‘s peeping amateur crime-solver in Rear Window (1954). It had been an impressive rise for an actor whose feature film debut had only been a few years earlier, appearing in Desert Fury (1947) as the gay-coded mob killer Johnny Ryan, right-hand man to smooth racketeer Eddie Bendix (John Hodiak).

Also starring Lizabeth Scott and Burt Lancaster, with whom Corey would again co-star in I Walk AloneDesert Fury joins contemporaries like Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and Niagara (1953) as the rare examples of full-color movies that maintain enough of the themes, style, and sinister story elements of traditional film noir to still qualify for this classification. Continue reading

John Forsythe’s Autumn Attire in The Trouble with Harry

John Forsythe as Sam Marlowe in The Trouble with Harry (1955)

John Forsythe as Sam Marlowe in The Trouble with Harry (1955)

Vitals

John Forsythe as Sam Marlowe, touchy artist who scores the town with his belting baritone

Vermont, Fall 1954

Film: The Trouble with Harry
Release Date: September 30, 1955
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

As we settle into what looks like a comfortable autumn—at least for fallphiles like me—I want to highlight what must be one of the earliest movies to truly capture the season’s striking colors.

Though regarded as the “Master of Suspense”, Alfred Hitchcock had long incorporated humor into his movies. The Trouble with Harry differentiates itself among Hitch’s more earnest thrillers and mysteries by emphasizing the comedy, resulting in what may be among of the director’s least suspenseful outfit but still entertaining and certainly aesthetically satisfying. Continue reading

Fun in Acapulco: Elvis’ Lido-collar Shirts and Swimwear

Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco

Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco (1963)

Vitals

Elvis Presley as Mike Windgren, expat singer, part-time lifeguard, and former circus performer

Acapulco, Summer 1963

Film: Fun in Acapulco
Release Date: November 27, 1963
Director: Richard Thorpe
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Tailor: Sy Devore

Background

This weekend, I saw Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis chronicling the life of the King of Rock and Roll with Baz’s characteristic splendor. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, most likely due to Austin Butler’s revelatory performance. (I’d need some more dedicated Elvis experts to confirm for me whether or not Colonel Tom Parker actually sounded as much like Goldmember as Tom Hanks’ performance portrayed.)

Elvis addressed the King’s cinematic ambitions, hoping to follow in James Dean’s footsteps but arguably ill-treated by his frequently banal material, as illustrated by the 1963 vehicle Fun in Acapulco. Continue reading

Roscoe Lee Browne in Topaz

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois in Topaz

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois in Topaz (1969)

Vitals

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois, smooth-talking Martinican-American sleeper agent

New York City, Fall 1962

Film: Topaz
Release Date: December 19, 1969
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Following last month’s look at a “hero costume” from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 thriller Saboteur, I want to continue exploring style from the lesser-known entries in the Master of Suspense’s oeuvre. Loosely based on the “Martel affair” and events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Topaz was Hitch’s final movie centered around espionage, though I consider it to lack much of the spark that fueled his earlier successes like North by Northwest.

The single exception in Topaz may be a brief scene made more memorable by the appearance of Martinican agent Philippe Dubois, portrayed by Roscoe Lee Browne, the multi-talented star of stage and screen born 100 years ago today on May 2, 1922. Continue reading

White Christmas: Bing’s Fireside Flannel and Festive Socks

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Vitals

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

Background

Merry Christmas Eve! One of my family’s favorite perennial movies to watch during the holiday season is White Christmas, the VistaVision that opened and closed with the iconic eponymous tune that Bing Crosby had introduced over a decade earlier in Holiday Inn.

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Paul Newman’s Tan Work Jacket as Butch Cassidy

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Vitals

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, affable leader of the Hole-in-the-Wall bandit gang

Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, Fall 1898

Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Release Date: September 23, 1969
Director: George Roy Hill
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

“He speaks well and quickly, and has been all his life a leader of men; but if you asked him, he would be damned if he could tell you why,” William Goldman introduced Robert Leroy Parker in his Academy Award-winning screenplay, inspired by the true story of Parker and his partner-in-crime Harry Longabaugh… aka Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, respectively. Continue reading

Hud: Paul Newman as a Cadillac-Driving Cowboy

Paul Newman in Hud (1963)

Paul Newman in Hud (1963)

Vitals

Paul Newman as Hud Bannon, arrogant rancher’s son

Texas Panhandle, Summer 1962

Film: Hud
Release Date: May 29, 1963
Director: Martin Ritt
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Let’s complete this #CarWeek installment by looking at the third of the “Big Three” Detroit automakers: General Motors, specifically its high-end Cadillac division that has offered luxurious American autos for nearly 120 years.

A few years before Paul Newman caught the racing bug while training for Winning at the end of the decade, the car most associated with his screen image was arguably the pink Cadillac convertible he drove as the eponymous cowboy in Hud.

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Bob Hope in Road to Bali

Bob Hope as Harold Gridley in Road to Bali (1952)

Bob Hope as Harold Gridley in Road to Bali (1952)

Vitals

Bob Hope as Harold Gridley, traveling comedian, “sportsman, raconteur, polo player, and all-around good egg”

South Pacific, Spring 1952

Film: Road to Bali
Release Date: November 19, 1952
Director: Hal Walker
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

I always associate summer with Tiki culture, spending sunny days wearing aloha shirts while enjoying tropical cocktails at Polynesian-themed watering holes. To combat a case of the winter blues earlier this year, I hoped to watch a Tiki-themed movie and was given the recommendation of Road to Bali, the only full-color entry of the seven “Road to…” comedies starring Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, and Bob Hope, the prolific entertainer born on this day in 1903.

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