Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr, charming studio wunderkind
Hollywood, Christmas Eve 1936
Series: The Last Tycoon
Episode: “A Brady-American Christmas” (Episode 6)
Streaming Date: July 28, 2017
Director: Stacie Passon
Developed By: Billy Ray
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
The sixth episode of Amazon Video’s first and only season of The Last Tycoon, adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel The Love of the Last Tycoon, kicks off the holiday season at Brady-American Studios where studio chief Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) and his one-time protégé, ambitious visionary producer Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), hoping for a Christmas miracle on their upcoming film, Angels on the Avenue. Continue reading
Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer
Chicago, Summer 1927
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks
I’m wrapping up what turned out to be a week focused on classic gangster style with a look at one of my favorite mob movies, the original Scarface released in 1932. Both the film and its source novel of the same name by Armitage Trail (Maurice R. Coons) were undoubtedly inspired by the rise and fall of Chicago kingpin Al Capone, who reportedly grew to love the film so much that the owned his own print of it.
Tony Camonte’s rise through the underworld is depicted by a Thompson submachine gun blowing through the pages of a calendar, stopping somewhere around Friday, August 26, for the action to begin. (August 26 fell on a Friday in 1927 and 1932; as the events that inspired the film occurred throughout the 1920s and production wrapped in mid-1931, it’s safe to assume that this scene picks up the action around the late summer of 1927. Anyway…)
Spectacularly attired in a bold new suit, Tony runs into Poppy (Karen Morley), his boss’s platinum blonde moll, who is getting a little warmer to Tony’s form after his repeated attempts at seduction. Continue reading
Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, maverick Depression-era bank robber
Chicago, Spring 1934
Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
It’s been quite some time since I’ve visited Public Enemies, the Michael Mann-directed action thriller depicting the life and crimes of Depression-era desperado John Dillinger. The film received mixed to positive reviews upon its release with much of the praise going to Michael Mann’s usual attention to detail as well as Johnny Depp’s performance as the Indiana-born outlaw.
Colleen Atwood’s period costumes are also worthy of attention and praise. High fashion was the signifier of success for Depression-era gangsters, and Dillinger rarely led his gun-toting cronies into a bank without being dressed to the nines.
Even when on the run, such as this scene set not long after Dillinger’s narrow escape from an FBI ambush at the Little Bohemia lodge in Wisconsin, John Dillinger made a consistent effort to dress well. (The film plays with historical accuracy to present its own narrative, pushing Billie Frechette’s arrest to after the Little Bohemia raid; in real life, Billie was arrested on April 9, 1934, two weeks before Melvin Purvis’ federal agents attempted to trap the Dillinger gang at Little Bohemia.) Continue reading
Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, corrupt Atlantic City politician and bootlegger
Atlantic City, January 1920
Series: Boardwalk Empire
– “Boardwalk Empire” (Episode 1.01, dir. Martin Scorsese, aired September 19, 2010)
– “The Ivory Tower” (Episode 1.02, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired September 26, 2010)
– “Broadway Limited” (Episode 1.03, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired October 3, 2010)
– “Hold Me in Paradise” (Episode 1.08, dir. Brian Kirk, aired November 7, 2010)
– “A Return to Normalcy” (Episode 1.12, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired December 5, 2010)
– “What Does the Bee Do?” (Episode 2.04, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired October 16, 2011)
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
This week, I’m taking a look at outfits worn by BAMFs in the first episodes of some of my favorite TV shows. #MafiaMonday is a great excuse to start with Boardwalk Empire, particularly the suit worn by Steve Buscemi as Atlantic County treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in the opening credits of the series’ five-season run… as well as a few early episodes. Continue reading
Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard, adventurer and ex-mercenary
Devon, England, August 1939
Series Title: And Then There Were None
Air Date: December 26-28, 2015
Director: Craig Viveiros
Costume Designer: Lindsay Pugh
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie’s classic mystery thriller, finds ten strangers summoned to a mysterious island off the English coast. Aside from the married couple hired to serve as butler and cook, the newcomers are all unknown to each other and are quickly thrown into a spiral of suspicion and death that would engulf them all.
The action in the novel lasted three days, beginning on August 8, 1939, making it 78 years ago to the day that the last survivors of the weekend were forced into a fatal confrontation of their own dangerous pasts. Continue reading
Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes, private investigator and ex-policeman
Los Angeles, September 1937
Release Date: June 20, 1974
Director: Roman Polanski
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Now that summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s high time to make sure that you’ve got some duds in your closet that are as appropriate for a day at the office as they are for the sunniest season.
A self-employed gumshoe like J.J. Gittes calls his own shots. As Chinatown is set in 1937, suits were de rigeur for men, but Gittes is hardly the type to rely on the gray flannel suit trope, especially in the sunny southern California locales. Continue reading
Robert De Niro as David “Noodles” Aaronson, mob bootlegger and violent ex-convict
New York City, December 1933
Film: Once Upon a Time in America
Release Date: May 23, 1984
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Gabriella Pescucci
83 years ago today, the 21st amendment was ratified to officially repeal Prohibition, delighting a thirsty American public but leaving many criminals who had made their fortunes from bootlegging effectively “unemployed”. This Mafia Monday post checks in with Robert De Niro as a mobster coming to terms with what that means for his career and personal life in 1984’s Once Upon a Time in America. Continue reading