Tagged: Criminal

The Sopranos: “Acting Boss” Silvio in Silver Flecked Silk

Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos (Episode 6.03: "Mayham")

Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos (Episode 6.03: “Mayham”)

Vitals

Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante, Jersey mob consigliere and “acting boss”

New Jersey, Spring 2006

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Mayham” (Episode 6.03)
Air Date: March 26, 2006
Director: Jack Bender
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

Happy birthday, Steven Van Zandt!

While The Sopranos introduced him to new audiences after the show’s premiere in 1999, “Little Steven” had been a longtime guitarist with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Van Zandt first toured with the Boss in the 1970s before embarking on his own successful solo career and launching a series of ventures where he could share his encyclopedic knowledge of rock and pop music as a radio host, Sirius program director, label producer, and more! Miami Steve had never formally acted before taking the role of Silvio Dante on The Sopranos, and the cool-headed (but cold-hearted) consigliere quickly rose to become a fan favorite, known for his bouffant and his bold, idiosyncratic fashion sense that wasn’t unlike the man portraying him.

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Scarface (1932) – Tony’s Brown Striped Suit

Paul Muni, flanked by Vince Barnett and Karen Morley, in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni, flanked by Vince Barnett and Karen Morley, in Scarface (1932)

Vitals

Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer

Chicago, Summer 1927

Film: Scarface
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks

Background

Today’s #MafiaMonday post goes back to the Prohibition era, the age that gave rise to the modern American gangster… and the American gangster movie.

After Warner Brothers scored back-to-back hits with Little Caesar (1931) and The Public Enemy (1931), effectively establishing the subgenre of the gangster film, Howard Hughes entered the fray with Scarface, an explosive, influential, and fast-paced criminal epic adapted from Armitage Trail’s novel that had been based on the life of Al Capone. Hughes had been warned against taking on Warner’s dominance in the genre, so he packed his production with talent including screenwriter Ben Hecht, director Howard Hawks, and lead actor Paul Muni, who was born 124 years ago yesterday on September 22, 1895.

In the wake of movies like Little Caesar and The Public Enemy, the Hays Office had been increasing its efforts to censor what it deemed to be glamorization of criminal lifestyles in cinema, but its notoriously restrictive production code had yet to be put into place, giving Scarface full reign to arm its vaguely incestuous central character with a Thompson submachine gun, once dubbed “the gun that made the twenties roar,” as he rose the ranks of the criminal underworld in a series of violent vignettes paralleling the life and crimes of the infamous Capone.

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The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Tan Plaid Jacket

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Based on James Hadley Chase’s controversial novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, Robert Aldrich’s sweat-soaked Depression-set crime drama The Grissom Gang hardly features the finest or most inspiring of that elegant era’s sartorialism, but it does showcase unique and interesting approaches to 1930s menswear, particuarly in the wardrobe of the slick underworld dandy Eddie Hagan (Tony Musante).

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Lee Marvin’s Plaid Suit in Prime Cut

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut (1972)

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut (1972)

Vitals

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin, mob enforcer

Kansas City, summer 1972

Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Lee Marvin’s submachine gun-packing mob enforcer Nick Devlin gets plenty of opportunities for badass action in Michael Ritchie’s sophomore film, Prime Cut, but the smooth gangster also takes the chance to show a more genteel side, such as when escorting Poppy (Sissy Spacek) to a fancy dinner in a hotel restaurant.

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The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Brown Striped Suit

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

Background

The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and ClydeDillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.

Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.

The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.

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The Sopranos: Paulie’s Tan Leather Jacket in “Pine Barrens”

Tony Sirico as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in "Pine Barrens", the eleventh episode of the third season of The Sopranos.

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in “Pine Barrens”, the eleventh episode of the third season of The Sopranos.

Vitals

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran

New Jersey, January 2001

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Pine Barrens” (Episode 3.11)
Air Date: May 6, 2001
Director: Steve Buscemi
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

This year marks the 20th anniversary since The Sopranos made its debut on HBO, and the milestone has encouraged many to revisit the series, sharing their takes on their favorite episodes, characters, and moments. One episode that receives nearly unanimous praise is “Pine Barrens”, the famous third season episode that finds Jersey Mafia soldiers “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and his ostensible protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) stumbling through the snowy woods of south Jersey after a simple money pickup turns into a hit-gone-awry.

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Scarface (1932) – Tony’s Silk Dressing Gown

Paul Muni and Karen Morley in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni and Karen Morley in Scarface (1932)

Vitals

Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer

Chicago, Summer 1927

Film: Scarface
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks

Background

Tomorrow would have been the 120th birthday of Al Capone, had the infamous gangster not rotted to his syphilic demise in 1947.

Capone’s story remains one of the most frequently adapted for movies and TV, beginning with Rod Steiger in the cleverly titled 1959 film Al Capone through Neville Brand (twice), Ben Gazzara, Jason Robards, Ray Sharkey, and F. Murray Abraham, up through Robert de Niro’s iconic performance in The Untouchables (1987). The gangster was most recently—and most prolifically—portrayed by Stephen Graham in all five seasons of Boardwalk Empire, though Tom Hardy is set to play Capone in the upcoming feature film Fonzo.

Of course, a larger-than-life character like Al Capone didn’t have to wait until after he was dead to see his story unfold on the screen. While his name was never used in movies released during his lifetime, Capone provided the obvious inspiration for a number of gangsters in pre-Code crime cinema, most famously the ambitious, smooth, and lethal Tony Camonte, played by Paul Muni in Scarface. Continue reading

Tony Montana’s White Suit in Scarface

Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface (1983)

Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface (1983)

Vitals

Al Pacino as Tony Montana, impulsive and hotheaded cocaine dealer

Miami, Summer 1981

Film: Scarface
Release Date: December 9, 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
Tailor: Tommy Velasco

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Brian de Palma’s 1983 drug epic Scarface celebrated its 35th anniversary yesterday. A remake of a 1932 gangster film that itself took inspiration from the life of Al Capone, Scarface met with negative critical reception at the time of its release though it was a box office hit and racked up Golden Globe nods for lead actors Al Pacino and Steven Bauer.

As in the 1932 version, one scene finds the rising gangster returning home to flaunt his wealth in front of his concerned mother (Míriam Colón) and his devoted sister (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Waiting out by the car is the gangster’s flashy young pal, who catches sight of the gangster’s younger sister and is immediately smitten. Continue reading

Lee Marvin’s Plaid Tweed Sport Jacket in Point Blank

Lee Marvin as Walker in Point Blank (1967)

Lee Marvin as Walker in Point Blank (1967)

Vitals

Lee Marvin as Walker, revenge-driven armed robber

Santa Monica, Summer 1967

Film: Point Blank
Release Date: August 30, 1967
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Margo Weintz

Background

With the first day of autumn only a day away, we’re looking ahead to fall fashion from a tough guy. In John Boorman’s 1967 neo-noir Point Blank, Lee Marvin starred as Walker, the unsmiling thief out for revenge after he was left for dead on Alcatraz Island by his one-time partner Mal Reese (John Vernon).

Having patched up his wounds, Walker seeks out the help of his sister-in-law Chris (Angie Dickinson), who agrees to lend her own particular brand of charm to assist Walker in retrieving the $93,000 he believes he is rightfully owed. Continue reading

Tony Soprano’s Tan Windowpane Sport Jacket

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 5.02: "Rat Pack")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 5.02: “Rat Pack”)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

New Jersey, Spring 2004

Series: The Sopranos
Episodes:
– “Rat Pack” (Episode 5.02, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 3/14/2004)
– “In Camelot” (Episode 5.07, dir. Steve Buscemi, aired 4/18/2004)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

This week’s #MafiaMonday post celebrates the late James Gandolfini, the award-winning actor who would have celebrated his 57th birthday tomorrow.

Gandolfini won multiple awards, including three Emmys, for his performance as the tough yet troubled gangster Tony Soprano on HBO’s The Sopranos, setting the foundation for future TV icons. Continue reading