James Garner as Pete Aron, determined Formula One driver
Clermont-Ferrand, France, Summer 1966
Film: Grand Prix
Release Date: December 21, 1966
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Supervisor: Sydney Guilaroff
#CarWeek continues with Grand Prix, the action-packed, globe-trotting racing epic that director John Frankenheimer made in the tradition of Grand Hotel with a talented international cast including James Garner, Eva Marie Saint (who celebrated her 95th birthday yesterday), Yves Montand, Toshiro Mifune, Jessica Walter, Brian Bedford, and Thunderball villain Adolfo Celi. As a talented driver in his own right, Garner looks natural behind the wheel as Pete Aron, the Formula One driver hoping to salvage his career after gaining a reckless reputation, and the unique racing cinematography—in part credited to “visual consultant” Saul Bass—make the film a must for fans of the racing genre and earned the film its well-deserved Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects (Gordon Daniel), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound (Franklin Milton).
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard, small-time car thief
Marseille, France, August 1959
(French title: À bout de souffle)
Release Date: March 16, 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Happy birthday, Bébel! Jean-Paul Belmondo was born 86 years ago today in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris. Following a brief career as an amateur boxer and his compulsory military service, Belmondo began acting in the mid-1950s and found international stardom after his performance in Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de souffle (Breathless to English-speaking audiences), a seminal example of the burgeoning French New Wave cinematic movement.
James Coburn as Tex Panthollow, larcenous former OSS commando
Paris, April 1963
Release Date: December 5, 1963
Director: Stanley Donen
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
As portrayed by the brilliant and versatile James Coburn, Tex Panthollow makes his dramatic introduction in the beginning of Charade as the second of three mysterious men who show up to “pay respects” at the funeral of their one-time brother-in-arms Charles Lampert, each one increasingly perplexing his widow Reggie (Audrey Hepburn) with their behavior. Par examplum: Tex draws a hand-sized mirror from his inside breast pocket and holds it directly under the deceased’s nose to ensure that he’s really passed from this world before sneering: “Arrive-derci, Charlie.”
Gregory Peck as Harry Street, adventurous American expatriate writer and former newspaper reporter
Paris, Spring 1925
Film: The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Release Date: September 17, 1952
Director: Henry King
Wardrobe Supervisor: Charles Le Maire
The snowy month of January—and my shared half-birthday with Ernest Hemingway on the 21st—makes today a perfect time to look at Gregory Peck’s style in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the first of Henry King’s two adaptations of Papa’s work that would star Ava Gardner and Peck’s second go at playing a Hemingway protagonist.
Robert De Niro as Sam, professional mercenary thief and ex-CIA operative
Nice, France, December 1997
Release Date: September 25, 1998
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Designer: May Routh
I recently received a request to explore Robert De Niro’s outfit in Ronin when his ex-CIA thief Sam accompanies Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) on a recon mission in Nice. Deirdre has hired Sam’s crew to attack an armed convoy to steal an unidentified briefcase that would serve as the film’s MacGuffin.
Rather than bothering with spy cameras and tactics, Sam merely brings Deirdre and his Leica R6 2 camera to the luxurious Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic (actually located in Cannes), posing as a pair of tourists and thus not raising any suspicions as they take a considerable amount of photos to prepare for the job. Continue reading
Edward Fox as “The Jackal”, mysterious professional assassin
Southern France, near Grasse, August 1963
Film: The Day of the Jackal
Release Date: May 16, 1973
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Costume Design: Joan Bridge, Rosine Delamare, and Elizabeth Haffenden
The only time we see Edward Fox’s enigmatic Jackal in a non-earthtone ensemble outside of his numerous disguises is this brief interlude for a summer evening in the south of France, near Grasse, as he chats up Colette (Delphine Seyrig) in a hotel parlor. His seduction induces Colette into his cadre of temporarily useful – but ultimately disposable – assets as he kills his way across Europe to his ultimate target. Continue reading
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
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.