Tagged: Double-Breasted Suit

Cagney’s Chalkstripe Suit in The Public Enemy

James Cagney as Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)

James Cagney as Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)

Vitals

James Cagney as Tom Powers, dangerous gangster and bootlegger

Chicago, Spring 1922

Film: The Public Enemy
Release Date: April 23, 1931
Director: William A. Wellman
Costume Designer: Edward Stevenson
Wardrobe Credit: Earl Luick

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

One hundred years ago at midnight tonight, on January 17, 1920, the Volstead Act went into effect, beginning a 13-year prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States… and kicking off what Herbert Asbury referred to in his informal history of the Chicago underworld as “the saturnalia of crime and corruption which has been called ‘a noble experiment’,” due to the resulting surge in organized crime that effectively gave rise to the modern gangster.

As moving pictures evolved as a popular medium in the waning years of Prohibition, so too did the gangster movie. Warner Brothers took the lead, exposing audiences to snarling violent hoodlums based on the real-life criminals who bloodied the streets of New York and Chicago. It was in the 1931 hit The Public Enemy that James Cagney made his star-making turn as the psychopathic gangster Tom Powers.

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The Band Wagon: Fred Astaire’s Gray Flannel Suit

Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon (1953)

Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon (1953)

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Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star

New York, Spring 1953

Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg

Background

Happy 2020!

Let’s dance into the new year with a dapper Fred Astaire in the dazzling opening sequence of Vincent Minnelli’s 1953 musical The Band Wagon, more than a decade after Astaire had danced across the screen with Bing Crosby, Virginia Dale, and Marjorie Reynolds for two on-screen New Year celebrations in Holiday Inn. Continue reading

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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Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Clint Ritchie as "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967)

Clint Ritchie as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967)

Vitals

Clint Ritchie as “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, born Vincenzo Gabaldi, Chicago mob enforcer

Chicago, Winter 1928

Film: The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Release Date: June 30, 1967
Director: Roger Corman

Background

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is one of the few true incidents from mob lore to have expanded into mainstream pop culture. The killing of seven men affiliated with Chicago’s North Side Gang on February 14, 1929, startled and intrigued the public with its brutality, and the event became symbolic of the ugly violence that permeated through Prohibition-era America. Continue reading

Drunken Angel: Matsunaga’s Striped Jacket

Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga in Drunken Angel (1948)

Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga in Drunken Angel (1948)

Vitals

Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga, tubercular Japanese gangster

Japan, Summer 1947

Film: Drunken Angel
(
Japanese title: 醉いどれ天使 Yoidore Tenshi)
Release Date: April 27, 1948
Director: Akira Kurosawa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Based on the intensity of his performance, it’s hard to believe that Drunken Angel was one of Toshirô Mifune’s first movies. His portrayal of the cocky, conflicted, and ultimately doomed yakuza gangster Matsunaga remains a highlight of crime cinema 70 years after the film was released. Continue reading

Drunken Angel: Matsunaga’s White Suit

Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga in Drunken Angel (1948)

Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga in Drunken Angel (1948)

Vitals

Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga, tubercular Japanese gangster

Japan, summer 1947

Film: Drunken Angel
(
Japanese title: 醉いどれ天使 Yoidore Tenshi)
Release Date: April 27, 1948
Director: Akira Kurosawa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

One request I received about a year ago was the flashy tailored style of Matsunaga, the swaggering Yakuza lieutenant at the heart – or should I say lung – of Kurosawa’s 1948 masterpiece Drunken Angel.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service – Michael Caine’s Gray Windowpane Suit

Michael Caine as "Arthur" in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Michael Caine as “Arthur” in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

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Michael Caine as Chester King, aka “Arthur”, secret agency chief

London, Spring 2014

Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Martin Nicholls

WARNING! Possible spoilers ahead!

Background

This week’s second consecutive post featuring style from Kingsman: The Secret Service celebrates the 85th birthday of Sir Michael Caine, CBE, the iconic star who established himself in fashionable ’60s fare like AlfieThe Italian Job, and The Ipcress File. In the latter film, a grounded response to the spectacle-laden James Bond franchise, Caine’s bespectacled spy Harry Palmer would provide a template for the distinctive look to be adopted by the agents of Kingsman five decades hence. Continue reading

Army of Shadows: Jardie’s Pilot Coat

Jean-Pierre Cassel as Jean-François Jardie in Army of Shadows (1969)

Jean-Pierre Cassel as Jean-François Jardie in Army of Shadows (1969)

Vitals

Jean-Pierre Cassel as Jean-François Jardie, dashing French pilot and resistance operative

France, Winter 1942

Film: Army of Shadows
(French title: L’armée des ombres)
Release Date: September 12, 1969
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Costume Designer: Colette Baudot

Background

Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 French Resistance epic, released at a volatile time for France and the world at large, was barely seen by the rest of the world until decades later. Army of Shadows officially debuted in the United States in 2006 and quickly shot to the top of many critics’ “best of the year” lists.

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The Last Tycoon: Monroe Stahr’s Navy Christmas Suit

Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr on The Last Tycoon (Episode 6: "A Brady-American Christmas")

Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr on The Last Tycoon (Episode 6: “A Brady-American Christmas”)

Vitals

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

Background

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

Scarface (1932) – Tony’s Fancy Basketweave Suit

Paul Muni as Tony Camonte in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni as Tony Camonte 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

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