John Dall as Bart Tare, armed robber on the run
San Lorenzo Valley, California, Fall 1949, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Spring 1950
Film: Gun Crazy
(also released as Deadly is the Female)
Release Date: January 20, 1950
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Costume Designer: Norma Koch (credited with Peggy Cummins’ costumes only)
Fifteen years after armed robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were ambushed and killed on a rural Louisiana road, one of the first attempts to adapt their story for the silver screen arrived in theaters. Sure, there had been Fritz Lang’s sympathetic melodrama You Only Live Once (1937) and the FBI-endorsed propaganda Persons in Hiding (1939), but Gun Crazy—released exactly 70 years ago today—most effectively latched onto the intrigue of a gun-toting couple on the run, and, “more than any other, emphasizes the powerful attraction of weaponry in the growing legend of Bonnie and Clyde,” according to John Treherne, author of The Strange History of Bonnie and Clyde.
Gun Crazy‘s telling original title of Deadly is the Female reflects the narrative leaning into the noir-esque premise of a dominating femme fatale, an expert in firearms who seduces her lovestruck fella into a life of crime… an inverse of the generally accepted reality of the relationship between violent manipulator Clyde Barrow and the vulnerable and troubled Bonnie Parker.
A year after his chilling turn as the calculating, Loeb-like murderer in Hitchcock’s Rope, John Dall stars as the malleable Bart Tare, who finds himself fatefully—and fatally—drawn to the voluptuous carnival sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), “the darling of London, England,” though it’s a toss-up whether it’s her tight pants, knowing wink, or dueling pistols that sink the hook into the already doomed Bart. Continue reading
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent
en route Washington, D.C., Fall 1964
Release Date: September 18, 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Following up on Saturday’s post about Frank Sinatra’s jet-setting style in the early ’60s, let’s see how a contemporary style icon dressed for a private flight of his own. As it’s the first 00-7th of the month in 2020, it seems only appropriate to check in with the first James Bond—Sean Connery! (Barry Nelson notwithstanding.)
Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough truck driver-turned-Mafia enforcer
Philadelphia, winter 1956 through spring 1961
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
Martin Scorsese’s latest crime epic, The Irishman, has been the subject of several requests since it was released on Netflix at the beginning of November. With one of my favorite directors helming some of my favorite actors in a subject and setting that held personal interest for me, The Irishman had been eagerly anticipated by me since the project was first announced… though I admit that I did have some hesitations about the running time and the advanced ages of all involved. As it turns out, the very factors I was most concerned about are what arguably contributed to the film being a modern masterpiece.
Al Pacino as Frank Slade, blind and bitter retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel “who likes to spit in everybody’s eye”
New York City, Thanksgiving 1992
Film: Scent of a Woman
Release Date: December 23, 1992
Director: Martin Brest
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
On the eve of Thanksgiving, today seemed like a fitting occasion to address one of the most requested suits I’ve heard from readers: Al Pacino’s freshly tailored Glenurquhart check three-piece suit as the cantankerous Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman. Pacino turned in a landmark performance in his prolific career, winning his sole Academy Award after six nominations (with one additional nod the same year for Glengarry Glen Ross), a result of the intense method actor’s painstaking research in meeting with clients of New York’s Associated Blind to understand life—from mood to mobility—as a person without sight.
After 26 years in the Army, a nearly blind Frank “Don’t Call Me ‘Sir'” Slade spends his days sitting in the darkened corner of his modest home, filling lowball glasses to the brim with Jack Daniel’s, berating his family, and spitting anger at anyone brave enough to visit him, including Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell), the mild-mannered prep school student hired by Frank’s niece Karen to take care of her uncle through Thanksgiving weekend. Continue reading
Sean Connery as Jim Malone, tough and honest Chicago beat cop
Canadian border, September 1930
Film: The Untouchables
Release Date: June 3, 1987
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
Recently recruited off the streets of Chicago, aging beat cop Jim Malone is more than happy to bring his grizzled brand of tough justice to the Canadian border to assist federal agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and their small but effective band of “untouchable” lawmen in stopping an illegal shipment of liquor from making its way into the United States.
Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer
Northern California, Late Summer 1953
Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.
Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself
Bonneville Speedway, Utah, to California, Fall 1970
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14)
Air Date: May 17, 2015
Director: Matthew Weiner
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Moving forward has been the theme of Don Draper’s life, a trajectory made plainly simple at the start of the final episode of Mad Men as a denim-clad Dick Whitman barrels toward the viewers through the desert at more than 130 miles per hour.
Back in New York, Don’s naïve secretary Meredith (Stephanie Drake) shares her concern with Roger Sterling that her former boss may have died, ultimately suggesting that “I hope he’s in a better place.” Geographically, maybe. Mentally, absolutely.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, eccentric and reclusive aviation mogul
Los Angeles, November 1947
Film: The Aviator
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
On this day in 1947, Howard Hughes successfully tested his H-4 Hercules flying boat after a half-decade of development. The 26-second flight off Cabrillo Beach defied critics who had decried the “Spruce Goose” as a waste of more than $23 million, including government funds allocated to the now-unnecessary craft during wartime. Continue reading
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, determined psychiatrist
Illinois, Halloween 1978
Release Date: October 25, 1978
Director: John Carpenter
Wardrobe Credit: Beth Rodgers
Based on a timely recommendation that I received from my friend @agentlemansarmour leading up to Halloween last year, I’d like to commemorate October 31 this year with a look at John Carpenter’s Halloween, the influential 1978 horror flick cited as kicking off the “Golden Age” of slasher movies and one of the most successful and profitable independent films of all time, grossing more than $70 million with a budget of less than $325,000. The suggestion particularly requested a look at the fall-friendly tweed jacket and raincoat worn by the movie’s ostensible protagonist, knowledgable psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis as portrayed by Donald Pleasence, who would reprise the role four more times before Malcolm McDowell took over for Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot.
David Harbour as Jim Hopper, small-town police chief
Indiana, Fall 1983
Series: Stranger Things
– “Chapter Four: The Body” (Episode 1.04, dir. Shawn Levy)
– “Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat” (Episode 1.05, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Six: The Monster” (Episode 1.06, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Seven: The Bathtub” (Episode 1.07, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Eight: The Upside Down” (Episode 1.08, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
Streaming Date: July 15, 2016
Creator: The Duffer Brothers
Costume Design: Kimberly Adams-Galligan (Episodes 1.01-1.04) & Malgosia Turzanska (Episodes 1.03-1.08)
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
With Halloween just around the corner, let’s check in on the strange occurrences—er, stranger things—happening around the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the days following Halloween 1983. Continue reading