Sean Connery as James Bond, sophisticated secret agent
Nassau, Bahamas, Spring 1983
Film: Never Say Never Again
Release Date: October 7, 1983
Director: Irvin Kershner
Costume Designer: Charles Knode
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
The “Battle of the Bonds” commenced 40 years ago today when Never Say Never Again premiered on the 00-7th of October 1983. Produced by Jack Schwartzman’s Taliafilm, the movie was essentially a reimagining of Thunderball (1965), in which a weathered but game Sean Connery reprised his iconic role of James Bond… but without the official oversight of Eon Productions.
As I’ll be jetting off to a tropical environment this weekend, it feels appropriate to look at one of Bond’s sartorial highlights from this “unofficial” adventure, worn as Connery’s 007 makes some initial contacts upon landing in the Bahamas for his mission to investigate a missing nuclear warhead. (His lodgings are the historic British Colonial Hotel, which had to close during the COVID-19 pandemic but has been extensively renovated and is planned to reopen by the end of the year!) Continue reading
Jack Nicholson as George Hanson, civil rights attorney
New Mexico to Louisiana, February 1968
Film: Easy Rider
Release Date: July 14, 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 86th birthday of Jack Nicholson, the screen icon who recently [sort of] made headlines—and more than a few memes—after being photographed for the first time in 18 months, proving that not even an octogenarian retiree is spared superficial judgements about appearance.
Nicholson’s prolific career spanned six decades, and his 12 Academy Award nominations establish him as the most nominated male acting nominee in Oscar history. His first nomination recognized his memorable turn in Easy Rider as George Hanson, the easygoing lawyer who joins countercultural bikers Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) on their freewheeling trek across America. Continue reading
Matthew Macfadyen as Tom Wambsgans, obsequious corporate media executive
Val d’Orcia, Tuscany, Italy, Summer 2020
Episode: “All the Bells Say” (Episode 3.09)
Air Date: December 21, 2021
Director: Mark Mylod
Creator: Jesse Armstrong
Costume Designer: Michelle Matland
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Succession‘s fourth and most likely final season returns tonight! When we last saw the conniving Roy family, the setting was a Tuscan wedding… though, as usual with the Roys, love was the furthest thing from everyone’s mind. Continue reading
Al Martino as Johnny Fontane, down-on-his-luck crooner
Long Island, New York, Summer 1945
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 14, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
Today in 1927, Al Martino was born in Philadelphia to two Italian immigrants from Abruzzo, the same southern Italian region from which much of my family hails. Following his U.S. Navy service during World War II, the singer began earnestly following his career in entertainment. Twenty years after his first single, “Here in My Heart”, reached #1 in the U.S. Billboard and UK Singles charts, Martino joined the cast of The Godfather as Johnny Fontane, an Italian-American crooner whose early career parallels that of Martino’s contemporary Frank Sinatra. Continue reading
Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin, gangster and war veteran
Ybor City, Florida, Spring 1933
Film: Live by Night
Release Date: December 25, 2016
Director: Ben Affleck
Costume Designer: Jacqueline West
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
After years of memes picturing him in various states of Dunkin’-fueled despair, Ben Affleck seems to be doing pretty well for himself these days, recently married to Jennifer Lopez as they have evidently to put the past—including Gigli—well behind them. On Affleck’s 50th birthday, let’s explore one of his more stylish roles as the Prohibition-era protagonist in Live By Night.
Peter O’Toole as Alan Swann, self-destructive screen swashbuckler
New York City, Fall 1954
Film: My Favorite Year
Release Date: October 8, 1982
Director: Richard Benjamin
Costume Designer: May Routh
Today would have been the 90th birthday of Peter O’Toole, legend of stage and screen. Though he was ultimately presented with an Academy Honorary Award, O’Toole holds the dubious distinction of having received the most Academy Award nominations without a win. One of his eight nominations was for the 1982 comedy My Favorite Year, Richard Benjamin’s directorial debut written by Norman Steinberg and Dennis Palumbo, set behind the scenes at NBC’s famous studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza during the Golden Age of live television.
“1954. You don’t get years like that anymore… it was my favorite year,” begins the narration by Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), a junior comedy writer reportedly based on Mel Brooks and Woody Allen, who had both written for Your Show of Shows in the early ’50s. The story was inspired by Errol Flynn’s real-life guest appearance on Your Show of Shows, with Flynn reimagined as the erratic Alan Swann. Benjy describes Swann as the greatest screen idol of all time, despite his boss dismissing Swann’s performances as no more than “kissing and jumping and drinking and humping.”
Richard Benjamin explained in an interview with Donald Leibenson that “in the original script, there’s a scene which I shot that would have played after what’s in the movie. It took place in a Hollywood cemetery, and Benjy is walking past the gravestones. He says in voiceover that Alan Swann made him promise he would do something on his birthday every year. Alan has passed away, and Benjy comes to his grave, kneels down and pours a bottle of Courvoisier over the tombstone. That’s what’s on the last page. Peter asked me to read the date that was on the tombstone. It was Aug. 2. He said, ‘Aug. 2 is my birthday; did you know that?’ I asked Norman if he knew that, and Norman said no, he had made it up. And Peter says, ‘Therefore, I must do the film.'” Continue reading
Robert Redford as John Gage, smooth billionaire and proposer of indecency
Off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, Summer 1993
Film: Indecent Proposal
Release Date: April 7, 1993
Director: Adrian Lyne
Costume Design: Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, Bernie Pollack, & Bobbie Read
Happy birthday, Robert Redford! To celebrate the screen legend and style icon turning 85 today, I asked my Instagram followers a few weeks ago which of Redford’s yet-uncovered looks I should cover in today’s post: his black tuxedo for his on-screen introduction in 1974’s The Great Gatsby or the cream Cerruti suit he wears for consummation of the eponymous Indecent Proposal. With more than 3,000 votes cast, it was a close race, but Indecent Proposal won by just over 70 votes.
For those who haven’t seen Indecent Proposal, Redford stars as super-billionaire John Gage who—rather than launching himself into space—offers to provide a struggling young couple, David and Diana, with one million dollars… in exchange for one night with Diana. Continue reading
Reda Kateb as Django Reinhardt, gypsy jazz guitar virtuoso
Paris, Summer 1943
Release Date: April 26, 2017
Director: Étienne Comar
Costume Designer: Pascaline Chavanne
My interest in Django Reinhardt’s music began in the spring of 2004, when 14-year-old me eagerly purchased Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, a computer game that was essentially the Grand Theft Auto series with a Prohibition-era twist and a dash of Scorsese-ese inspiration. Set in 1930s New Jersey, the game was scored by period music including familiar favorites by Duke Ellington and a style that was all new to me, the rhythmic, guitar-driven gypsy jazz pioneered by Django Reinhardt. Continue reading
George Lazenby as James Bond, smooth British secret agent
Estoril, Portugal, September 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Tailor: Dimi Major
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, often considered among the best of the James Bond canon. George Lazenby, the Australian actor who batted 1000 with OHMSS as his sole outing as 007, has also activated his Instagram presence this year, sharing photos of himself in many of the same locations he had made famous a half-century ago as the world’s most famous secret agent.
George’s #OHMSS50 tour included calling on the celebrated Palácio Estoril, the Portuguese hotel where his James Bond spent the early scenes of OHMSS chasing and seducing Diana Rigg’s character, Teresa “Tracy” di Vincenzo. During the visit, he even interacted with many of the hotel’s staff who were still in the Palácio Estoril’s employ 50 years after their on-screen cameos.
Today, on the 00-7th of July, let’s take a look at the timeless summer-friendly style that Lazenby’s James Bond wore when he pulled his Aston Martin into the parking lot at Palácio Estoril some fifty years ago. Continue reading
Warren Oates as Bennie Benjamin, piano-playing bounty hunter
Mexico, May 1973
Film: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Release Date: August 14, 1974
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Wardrobe Credit: Adolfo Ramírez
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today would have been the 90th birthday of Warren Oates, the grizzled Kentucky-born actor celebrated on BAMF Style for his depiction of John Dillinger in 1973’s Dillinger and also his collaborations with director Sam Peckinpah including The Wild Bunch (1969) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974). It was this latter film that the iconoclastic director deemed the only one from his three-decade career that matched his original vision.