Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
London, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
I often cite For Your Eyes Only as the best 007 film of Moore’s era despite many fans’ contention that The Spy Who Loved Me was his apex. After a sketchy start with two OK outings, Moore finally found his footing with a good script and co-star in The Spy Who Loved Me, but it still rings of a disco-enthused rehash of You Only Live Twice dunked underwater. I still like the film, but For Your Eyes Only appeals more to the From Russia With Love fan that I am.
The minds behind the Bond franchise realized (a bit too late) that Moonraker was excessive, even by 1979 standards. Sure, it remained the highest-grossing Bond film until GoldenEye sixteen years later, but are massive profit margins any excuse for a loss of artistic integrity?
Thankfully, the franchise scrapped any ideas of continuing Bond’s space adventures against unkillable giants with the help of just the right gadget. In 1981, For Your Eyes Only marked a new direction for Moore’s Bond: a grounded and (relatively) realistic spy thriller. Continue reading
80 years ago today, Depression-era outlaw Charles Arthur Floyd was shot down by federal agents and local police in a farm outside East Liverpool, Ohio.
Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, charismatic but violent Depression-era outlaw
Clarkson, Ohio, October 1934
Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
After dedicating the majority of my life to researching the Depression-era crime wave that saw guys like John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Alvin Karpis roaming the American countryside with the support of the public and the rage of the government, I was elated when I learned that Bryan Burrough’s masterful docu-novel Public Enemies was finally being turned into a film. I wondered how a two-hour movie could capture the intricacies of each colorful individual in each of the various gangs over a two-year period, and I assumed that – like Burrough – director Michael Mann would focus primarily on Karpis, the lone survivor of the original batch of Public Enemies. Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire busienssman and criminal mastermind
Boston, Summer 1968
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
The Thomas Crown Affair is one film where I would feel comfortable ruling that the style outweighs the substance. In some ways, the plot reads like a harlequin novel – a dashing millionaire is investigated by an impossibly stunning insurance investigator and the two play a cat-and-mouse game, culminating in some symbolism-driven sex and his eventual escape. It is a simple plot in a film best remembered for its lavish touches across the board from cinematography to costuming.
In fact, Crown himself is far more sophisticated than the plot. Watching for plot can be more than mildly frustrating as the film really electrifies when McQueen and Dunaway are onscreen and – not the fault of the other actors – stumbles when neither are there to save it. The film is still a fun and very ’60s caper, but it’s important to keep in mind that the focus is totally on style. Continue reading