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.
Brad Pitt as Robert “Rusty” Ryan, hustler and casino heister
East Jersey State Prison, Summer 2001
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: December 7, 2001
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland
“I hope you were the groom” is Rusty Ryan’s greeting as the tuxedo-clad Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is released from serving “three to six months” in prison.
Danny allows himself a second to smirk, processing his old pal’s remark before responding appropriately:
Ted Nugent called, he wants his shirt back.
Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, bootlegger and former Atlantic City political boss
Havana, April 1931
Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” (Episode 5.01)
Air Date: September 7, 2014
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
To commemorate this unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day tomorrow, BAMF Style is checking in with fashion plate Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire as he enjoys a warm spring evening in Havana at the start of the fifth season.
Having exiled himself to Cuba in the seven years since we last saw him, Nucky is still wheeling and dealing in the illegal liquor trade, currently working on an export deal with the good folks of Bacardi rum in the possible wake of Prohibition’s imminent end. Continue reading
Al Pacino as Ricky Roma, ace real estate closer
New York (or maybe Chicago…), September 1992
Film: Glengarry Glen Ross
Release Date: October 2, 1992
Director: James Foley
Costume Designer: Jane Greenwood
This is a big week for iconic actor birthdays! Today is the 77th birthday of Al Pacino, born April 25, 1940 in New York.
After a dormant post-Scarface career through most of the ’80s, Pacino shot back onto the screen in the following decade, returning to the part that made him famous as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III and taking on the role of confident and cut-throat real estate salesman Richard Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross from a screenplay adapted by David Mamet of his own Pulitzer- and Tony-winning 1984 play. Continue reading
Geoffrey Rush as Harry Pendel, tailor to Panama’s finest and ex-con
Panama City, Fall 1999
Film: The Tailor of Panama
Release Date: March 30, 2001
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Maeve Paterson
I tend to get grumpy about sartorial “rules”, including the snobbish American insistence that white can only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. While I wouldn’t see much of a need to wear white (or that of its ilk) on a chilly winter day in Pittsburgh, it’s still frustrating to be informed what I can and can’t wear. For all of his faults, Boss Hogg deserves some credit for refusing to yield to arbitrary rules of dress and proudly wearing his white busting-at-the-seams three-piece suit all year round.
Luckily for Harry Pendel, this rule doesn’t apply in the tropical locale of Panama where the British expat (and ex-con) has set up his tailor shop. Harry is one of the few characters from his novels that John le Carré felt he could relate to, stating that “I was exploring the relationship between myself and my own fabricator. Anybody in the creative business, as you might call it, has some sense of guilt about fooling around with fact, that you’re committing larceny, that all of life is material for your fabulations.”
Director John Boorman said he always imagined Geoffrey Rush for the role. “You never lose sympathy for Geoffrey on screen, even when he does dreadful things,” explained Boorman. “There’s something worn yet innocent about him.” Continue reading