Tagged: Fall

East of Eden: James Dean’s 1917 Sport Jacket

James Dean and Julie Harris in East of Eden

James Dean and Julie Harris in East of Eden (1955)

Vitals

James Dean as Caleb “Cal” Trask, angsty and entrepreneurial farmer’s son

Salinas, California, Fall 1917

Film: East of Eden
Release Date: March 9, 1955
Director: Elia Kazan
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

Background

James Dean’s first of only three major credited screen roles also resulted in his first of two posthumous Academy Award nominations, starring as the moody Cal Trask in Elia Kazan’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden, itself a loose retelling of the story of Cain and Abel set in California’s Salinas Valley around the time of America’s entry into World War I.

Cal and his brother Aron (Richard Davalos) vie for the affections of their father Adam (Raymond Massey), a prominent farmer and draft board chairman, whom Cal hopes to impress by growing beans to raise funds that would support the family and supplant some of Adam’s own financial losses. As Cal’s success in the bean-fields grows, his competition with his brother extends to Aron’s girlfriend Abra (Julie Harris), growing closer to her after they meet up at a county fair. Continue reading

Roscoe Lee Browne in Topaz

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois in Topaz

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois in Topaz (1969)

Vitals

Roscoe Lee Browne as Philippe Dubois, smooth-talking Martinican-American sleeper agent

New York City, Fall 1962

Film: Topaz
Release Date: December 19, 1969
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Following last month’s look at a “hero costume” from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 thriller Saboteur, I want to continue exploring style from the lesser-known entries in the Master of Suspense’s oeuvre. Loosely based on the “Martel affair” and events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Topaz was Hitch’s final movie centered around espionage, though I consider it to lack much of the spark that fueled his earlier successes like North by Northwest.

The single exception in Topaz may be a brief scene made more memorable by the appearance of Martinican agent Philippe Dubois, portrayed by Roscoe Lee Browne, the multi-talented star of stage and screen born 100 years ago today on May 2, 1922. Continue reading

Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Jack Nicholson as Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Jack Nicholson as Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Vitals

Jack Nicholson as Randle P. McMurphy, cheeky petty criminal undergoing psychiatric evaluation

Oregon State Hospital, Fall 1963

Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Release Date: November 19, 1975
Director: Miloš Forman
Costume Designer: Aggie Guerard Rodgers

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today is Jack Nicholson’s 85th birthday, a worthy occasion for recalling one of his most iconic roles: the irreverent and incorrigible Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

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Brad Pitt as Jesse James

Brad Pitt as Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Brad Pitt as Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Vitals

Brad Pitt as Jesse James, legendary outlaw

Missouri, Fall 1881 through Spring 1882

Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Release Date: September 21, 2007
Director: Andrew Dominik
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

Background

An old adage advises us to never meet our heroes, as they’re sure to disappoint. This theme permeates one of my favorite Westerns, Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, depicting the months leading up to the titular betrayal that surprised the country 140 years ago today.

All these years later, Jesse James remains a household name, wisely portrayed on screen by A-lister Brad Pitt to reinforce to audiences the presence that the bandit would have commanded during his heyday. Continue reading

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker (2019)

Vitals

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, aka “Joker”, disturbed and disgraced ex-party clown

Gotham City, Fall 1981

Film: Joker
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Director: Todd Phillips
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges

Background

Could there be a more appropriate character to focus on for April Fool’s Day than the Joker?

When I was growing up, the only two actors who had prominently portrayed Gotham City’s psychopathic prankster were Cesar Romero in the classic ’60s series and Jack Nicholson, who received top billing despite not playing the title role in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Since then, we’ve seen a handful of actors cycle through the iconic role, beginning with Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (2008), a few appearances by Ben Affleck and Jared Leto, and most recently a smaller part performed by Barry Keoghan in The Batman (2022).

Joaquin Phoenix received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the eponymous role in Joker, a reimagined origin story that pays significant homage to Martin Scorsese’s character studies like Taxi Driver (1976) and The King of Comedy (1983)—both starring Robert De Niro, who would appear in Joker—as well as twists of social commentary and themes from Death Wish (1973) and Fight Club (1999).

Many loved it and many hated it, but there’s little doubting Phoenix’s effectiveness intensity chronicling the troubled Arthur Fleck’s transformation from a desperate wannabe stand-up comedian who feels let down by society into a chaotic killer who unintentionally inspires anarchic revolution and class warfare. Continue reading

Sam Neill’s Peak-Lapel Dinner Jacket as Sidney Reilly

Sam Neill, Jeananne Crowley, Laura Davenport, and Celia Gregory in Reilly: Ace of Spies

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly on Reilly: Ace of Spies, with Jeananne Crowley, Laura Davenport, and Celia Gregory, who portrayed Reilly’s three wives.

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik

New York City and Berlin, Fall 1924

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “The Trust” (Episode 10)
Air Date: November 2, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Although there’s little consensus on the details of his life—including his birth name—the famous adventurer who would eventually known as Sidney Reilly is said to have been born on March 24, though even the year is a question of debate; he may have been born Georgy Rosenblum in Odessa in 1873, or he may have been born Sigmund Rosenblum to a wealth Bielsk family in 1874. His escapades as a British agent during the Russian Revolution cemented his self-aggrandized reputation as the “Ace of Spies”, establishing a legend that would inspire no less than Ian Fleming when developing the character of his fictional agent James Bond.

The opportunistic Reilly—as he had rechristened himself during his initial service for Special Branch in the late 1890s—never missed a chance to build his wealth or reputation, crafting a legend during his lifetime that would live well beyond his ostensible execution by the Soviets in 1925. A household name by the end of the decade, Reilly was the subject of multiple books, including Ace of Spies, written by the son of R.H. Bruce Lockhart, the Scottish-born diplomat who had worked with Reilly in the infamous “Ambassadors’ Plot” attempt to overthrow the fledgling Bolshevik government in 1918 and resulted in both men being sentenced to death in absentia. Robin Lockhart’s book was adapted into Reilly: Ace of Spies, a stylish twelve-part miniseries that originally aired in ITV across the fall of 1983. Continue reading

Zodiac: Robert Graysmith’s Blue Quilted Jacket

Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith in Zodiac

Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith in Zodiac (2007)

Vitals

Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith, newspaper cartoonist and crusading crime investigator

San Francisco Bay Area, Fall 1975 thorough summer 1979

Film: Zodiac
Release Date: March 2, 2007
Director: David Fincher
Costume Designer: Casey Storm

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

By the mid-1970s, active investigations for the infamous Zodiac Killer had cooled; the intrepid San Francisco detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) had been urged to refocus his efforts, his partner Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) had requested to move on, and investigative reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) was no longer writing about the case… leaving the burden of investigation in the surprising hands of San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith. Continue reading

Nightmare Alley: Bradley Cooper’s Plaid Mackinaw Jacket

Bradley Cooper as Stanton Carlisle in Nightmare Alley

Bradley Cooper as Stanton “Stan” Carlisle in Nightmare Alley (2021)

Vitals

Bradley Cooper as Stanton “Stan” Carlisle, opportunistic drifter-turned-carny

Rural Kentucky, Summer into fall 1939

Film: Nightmare Alley
Release Date: December 17, 2021
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Costume Designer: Luis Sequeira

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

William Lindsay Gresham’s novel Nightmare Alley was first adapted to the screen in 1947, just a year after its initial publication, via Edmund Goulding’s classic noir starring Tyrone Power. Guillermo del Toro’s newly released version is a less a remake of Goulding’s movie and more a reimagining of the source material from a screenplay he co-wrote with Kim Morgan, presented as a vividly stylish Gothic quasi-horror that landed a quartet of worthy Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design.

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Paul Newman in Paris Blues

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, filming Paris Blues (1961)

Vitals

Paul Newman as Ram Bowen, temperamental jazz trombonist

Paris, Fall 1960

Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt

Background

On this day in 1958, one of the most legendary marriages in Hollywood history began when Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward tied the knot in Las Vegas, three days after his 33rd birthday. The two had met earlier that decade during a Broadway production of Picnic and reunited while filming The Long, Hot Summer for director Martin Ritt. Newman and Woodward would co-star in several subsequent movies together, but their next collaboration with their ostensible “matchmaker” Ritt was Paris Blues, adapted from Harold Flender’s 1957 novel of the same name.

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Blow: Johnny Depp’s Layered Denim on the Run

Johnny Depp in Blow

Johnny Depp as George Jung in Blow (2001)

Vitals

Johnny Depp as George Jung, fugitive pot dealer

Weymouth, Massachusetts, Fall 1973

Film: Blow
Release Date: April 6, 2001
Director: Ted Demme
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges

Background

Blow chronicles the chaotic career of real-life drug dealer George Jung, who evolved his marijuana-dealing enterprise into a dangerously successful cocaine-smuggling operation with the Medellín cartel until it all came crashing down around him. Continue reading