Tagged: Costume design by Moss Mabry

Matt Helm’s Blue Blazer in Murderers’ Row

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in Murderers' Row (1966)

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in Murderers’ Row (1966)

Vitals

Dean Martin as Matt Helm, smooth secret agent

French Riviera, Summer 1966

Film: Murderers’ Row
Release Date: December 20, 1966
Director: Henry Levin
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Tailor: Sy Devore

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy birthday to Dean Martin, born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917, in Steubenville, Ohio! After a successful singing and acting career that included partnerships with Jerry Lewis and the Rat Pack as well as his own TV show, Dino was tapped for the role of Matt Helm, the American counter-agent at the center of author Donald Hamilton’s espionage novels.

While Hamilton wrote his Matt Helm novels with a serious tone, Dino’s characterization parodied the character as more of a playboy lounge lizard, the American satirical answer to his contemporary womanizer James Bond. Thus, the four Matt Helm movies produced in the late ’60s often starred the popular singer opposite many of the most attractive leading ladies of the decade. Continue reading

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Matt Helm’s Pink Silk Sport Jacket in The Silencers

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers (1966)

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers (1966)

Vitals

Dean Martin as Matt Helm, smooth secret agent and photographer

New Mexico to Phoenix, August 1965

Film: The Silencers
Release Date: February 18, 1966
Director: Phil Karlson
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Tailor: Sy Devore

Background

Dean Martin infused his lounge lizard persona into a James Bond-like spy for his four-film portrayal of Matt Helm, a playboy whose love for turtlenecks, womanizing, and drinking above actual spying may make him more of an antecedent for the character of Sterling Archer than of 007 himself.

With a bossa nova score by Elmer Bernstein and a hip mid-sixties sartorialism styled by costume designer Moss Mabry and the Rat Pack’s go-to tailor Sy Devore, the Matt Helm series serves as a swingin’ time capsule to the waning heyday of hi-fis and hedonism. Though it may be dated, the series—particularly this first film, The Silencers—seems perfectly content with that and, in fact, it may be an intentional way for the 1966 zeitgeist to remain intact for modern audiences. Never taking itself too seriously, packed with decent talent, and sticking to a tight, quick-paced plot, The Silencers differentiates itself from its contemporary spy spoofs like Casino Royale in that it can still entertain 50 years later.

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Henry Fonda as Mister Roberts

Henry Fonda as the titular Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts in Mister Roberts (1955)

Henry Fonda as the titular Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts in Mister Roberts (1955)

Vitals

Henry Fonda as Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts, U.S. Navy cargo ship executive officer

The Pacific Theater, Spring 1945

Film: Mister Roberts
Release Date: July 30, 1955
Director: John Ford, Mervyn Leroy, and Joshua Logan
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

On Henry Fonda’s birthday, I want to celebrate one of the actor’s most famous roles among a talented cast of some of my favorite actors: Jack Lemmon, James Cagney, and William Powell.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Doug Roberts is a pragmatic executive officer on USS Reluctant, a cargo ship far from the action in “the waning days of World War II,” as we learn during the film’s opening credits. Despite his popularity on “the bucket”, Lt. Roberts is itching to see some combat… and to get away from useless martinets like the ship’s strict captain (Cagney).

Fonda had originated the role on stage. The play Mister Roberts had opened on Broadway in February 1948, a few years after Fonda and his pal James Stewart returned from their own service in the war.

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Tony Rome’s Charcoal Flannel Suit

Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome (1967)

Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome (1967)

Vitals

Frank Sinatra as Tony Rome, private investigator and compulsive gambler

Miami Beach, Spring 1967

Film: Tony Rome
Release Date: November 10, 1967
Director: Gordon Douglas
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

Over on my Instagram feed, I like to commemorate #SinatraSaturday each weekend, but today I felt Ol’ Blue Eyes deserved a dedicated post. Frank Sinatra starred as the titular character in Tony Rome, a 1967 adaptation of Marvin H. Albert’s novel Miami Mayhem. Tony Rome was Sinatra’s first cop role, playing a laidback private eye in the tradition of Humphrey Bogart who seems more interested in gambling, drinking, and skirt-chasing than actually solving a case. Continue reading

Dial M for Murder

Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, and John Williams in Dial M for Murder (1954)

Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, and John Williams in Dial M for Murder (1954)

Vitals

  • Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, conniving former tennis pro
  • Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday, romantic American crime writer
  • Anthony Dawson as C.A. Swann, opportunistic con man
  • John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard, clever Scotland Yard detective

London, Fall 1953 and Spring 1954

Film: Dial M for Murder
Release Date: May 29, 1954
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Credits: Moss Mabry & Jack Delaney

WARNING! Spoilers ahead! Continue reading

Tony Rome’s Yellow Turtleneck and Ford Galaxie

Frank Sinatra slides behind the wheel of a 1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner with Jill St. John in Tony Rome (1967)

Frank Sinatra slides behind the wheel of a 1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner with Jill St. John in Tony Rome (1967)

Vitals

Frank Sinatra as Tony Rome, private investigator and compulsive gambler

Miami Beach, Spring 1967

Film: Tony Rome
Release Date: November 10, 1967
Director: Gordon Douglas
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

BAMF Style’s biannual Car Week is back! For the first post of this summer’s installment of Car Week, let’s check in with Frank Sinatra in the sunny setting of late 1960s Miami Beach, where he plays the beer-swilling, boat-dwelling private eye Tony Rome. Continue reading

Rebel Without a Cause – Jim’s Fleck Jacket and 1949 Mercury

James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

Vitals

James Dean as Jim Stark, confused suburban high school student and loner

Los Angeles, Spring 1956

Film: Rebel Without a Cause
Release Date: October 27, 1955
Director: Nicholas Ray
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

Car Week concludes with a look at one of the most iconic drivers to ever speed across the silver screen: James Dean.

In Rebel Without a Cause, the second of Dean’s three credited films as an actor, Dean played the archetypical angsty teen Jim Stark. After a drunkenly difficult Easter Sunday that landed him in some hot water with the local fuzz, Jim begins his first day at Dawson High School and finds himself also at odds with most of his fellow students – particularly a bully who is, of course, named Buzz.

During a field trip that day to the Griffith Observatory overlooking the city, Jim further antagonizes his new enemies by… uh… existing? Buzz isn’t a very understanding sort of person.

After slashing the tires of Jim’s ’49 Mercury coupe and trying to get a knife fight going, Buzz challenges him to a “chickie run” at Millertown Bluff, setting the stage for the film’s climactic stolen car race. Continue reading

Rebel Without a Cause – Red Windbreaker and Jeans

The poster for Rebel Without a Cause (1955), featuring James Dean as Jim Stark in his iconic windbreaker and jeans.

The poster for Rebel Without a Cause (1955), featuring James Dean as Jim Stark in his iconic windbreaker and jeans.

Vitals

James Dean as Jim Stark, confused suburban high school student and loner

Los Angeles, Spring 1956

Film: Rebel Without a Cause
Release Date: October 27, 1955
Director: Nicholas Ray
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

Sixty years ago today – September 30, 1955 – was the famous fatal car crash that ended James Dean’s life at the age of 24. At the time of his death, he had only completed acting in three films (other than uncredited bit parts), but those performances made more of an impact than anyone could have guessed.

After his breakout role in East of Eden in 1955, Dean quickly followed it up with his performance as the troubled and tortured Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, a representation of teenage angst that gave a glimmer of hope to millions of teens throughout the country who were disgusted by the falsely naive and puritanical state of 1950s society. Teens could actually relate to the frustrated Jim Stark rather than the squeaky clean Andy Hardy or mischievous doe-eyed Beaver Cleaver. Dean’s electric performance captivated young audiences that began copying his style. Continue reading

Rebel Without a Cause – Jim’s Easter Suit

James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

Vitals

James Dean as Jim Stark, confused suburban high school student and loner

Los Angeles, Easter 1956

Film: Rebel Without a Cause
Release Date: October 27, 1955
Director: Nicholas Ray
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

Other than The Passion of the Christ and those of its ilk, few are able to name a film that takes place around Easter. Little realize that Rebel Without a Cause actually begins with James Dean’s drunken loner Jim Stark drunkenly making his way down a suburban street on Easter Sunday evening.

Rebel Without a Cause is groundbreaking in many ways. The story thrusted the issue of suburban moral decay into the faces of deniers that refused to believe their “safe” post-war communities were anything but pleasant. The film also marked the first and last top billing for James Dean, who would die in a fatal car accident less than a month before its release, a sad reflection of an incident portrayed in the movie. Continue reading