Tagged: Gangster

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 Irishman: De Niro’s Brown Fleck Suit

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman (2019)

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman (2019)

Vitals

Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough Mafia enforcer

Philadelphia to Chicago, Spring 1960

Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson

Background

I heard you paint houses.

After years of proving himself as an enforcer to Mafia families around Philadelphia and northeast Pennsylvania, former truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) gets the phone call of his life when controversial labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) gets in touch with him for a “situation… that needs to be attended to.”

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Tony Soprano’s Christmas in “Kaisha”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 6.12: "Kaisha")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 6.12: “Kaisha”)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

North Caldwell, New Jersey, Christmas 2006

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Kaisha” (Episode 6.12)
Air Date: June 4, 2006
Director: Alan Taylor
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

On #SopranosSunday with Christmas just a few days away, let’s check in with everyone’s favorite mob family for the second and final holiday-set episode of The Sopranos‘ epic run.

I’m a sucker for Christmas scenes, and I always appreciate “holiday adjacent” movies like The Thin ManThree Days of the CondorThe GodfatherGoodfellas, and—of course—Die Hard that add a certain mysticism by setting some or all of the action at Christmas, a time of wonderment and hope but often not without melancholy. Although we only spend the last five minutes of the episode in the midst of true yule celebrations, “Kaisha” is framed by family holidays, beginning with the bombing of Phil Leotardo’s New York restaurant just before Thanksgiving and continuing over the weeks to follow throughout the holiday season as the all-too-human characters of Soprano-world navigate the stressful spectrum that ranges from loveliness to an abundance of loved ones.

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The Irishman: Joe Pesci’s Christmas Cardigan

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in The Irishman (2019)

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in The Irishman (2019)

Vitals

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, shrewd and pragmatic Mafia boss of northeast Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Christmas 1960

Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson

Background

Nearly 30 years after he and Daniel Stern embarked on their first foolhardy attempt to ruin Christmas for Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci was given the opportunity to redefine his yuletide association via a brief vignette in The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s latest crime epic and the subject of frequent requests from BAMF Style readers.

It’s Christmas 1960, more than a month after Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) cheered on John F. Kennedy’s win for the U.S. presidency. Russell and his pal Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) aren’t yet away of JFK’s plan to appoint his brother as United States Attorney General… and a particularly aggressive A.G. when it comes to organized crime. Ignorance being bliss in this instance, Russell and Frank enjoy a pleasant holiday evening at home with their families. Continue reading

The Irishman: De Niro’s Brown Leather Jacket

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman (2019)

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman (2019)

Vitals

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

Background

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.

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The Public Enemy: Cagney’s New Clothes and Car

James Cagney leans on the door of a LaSalle as Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)

James Cagney leans on the door of a LaSalle as Tom Powers in The Public Enemy (1931)

Vitals

James Cagney as Tom Powers, dangerous gangster and bootlegger

Chicago, Spring 1920

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

Today is the 86th anniversary of the 21st Amendment that repealed Prohibition, the 13-year ban on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. Even before Prohibition was repealed on December 5, 1933, the wave of organized crime it inspired across the country was a popular subject for movies of the era, with Warner Brothers taking the lead with hits like Little CaesarThe Public Enemy, and Scarface that made stars out of intense actors like Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney.

The latter was particularly renowned for his performance in The Public Enemy, a “ripped-from-the-headlines” tour de force of violence based on an unpublished novel written by two former newspapermen who had witnessed firsthand the impact of Al Capone’s brutal stronghold on Chicago during the beer wars of the roaring ’20s.

As #CarWeek continues, let’s flash back to the Prohibition era as Cagney’s Tom Powers hopes to make an impression with his new tailored suits and shiny new touring convertible. Continue reading

The Sopranos: “Acting Boss” Silvio in Silver Flecked Silk

Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos (Episode 6.03: "Mayham")

Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos (Episode 6.03: “Mayham”)

Vitals

Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante, Jersey mob consigliere and “acting boss”

New Jersey, Spring 2006

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Mayham” (Episode 6.03)
Air Date: March 26, 2006
Director: Jack Bender
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

Happy birthday, Steven Van Zandt!

While The Sopranos introduced him to new audiences after the show’s premiere in 1999, “Little Steven” had been a longtime guitarist with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Van Zandt first toured with the Boss in the 1970s before embarking on his own successful solo career and launching a series of ventures where he could share his encyclopedic knowledge of rock and pop music as a radio host, Sirius program director, label producer, and more! Miami Steve had never formally acted before taking the role of Silvio Dante on The Sopranos, and the cool-headed (but cold-hearted) consigliere quickly rose to become a fan favorite, known for his bouffant and his bold, idiosyncratic fashion sense that wasn’t unlike the man portraying him.

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Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Thompson’s Final Suit in “Eldorado”

Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 5.08: "Eldorado")

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 5.08: “Eldorado”)

Vitals

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, corrupt Atlantic City politician and bootlegger

Atlantic City, Late Spring 1931

Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Eldorado” (Episode 5.08)
Air Date: October 26, 2014
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary since the final episode of Boardwalk Empire aired. Set in 1931, the fifth and final season of HBO’s Prohibition-set crime drama took a seven-year leap to conclude the stories of Atlantic City’s corrupt ex-treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and those in his orbit, whether based on reality like “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) or fictional creations for the show like Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol). Nucky himself is based on Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, the colorful and indeed corrupt politician from Atlantic City’s heyday in the roaring ’20s.

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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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The Sopranos: Tony’s Blue Streak Credits Shirt

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.06: "Pax Soprana")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.06: “Pax Soprana”)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief

New Jersey, Fall 1999

Series: The Sopranos
Episodes:
– “46 Long” (Episode 1.02, dir. Dan Attias, aired 1/17/1999)
– “Pax Soprana” (Episode 1.06, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 2/14/1999)
– “Nobody Knows Anything” (Episode 1.11, dir. Henry J. Bronchtein, aired 3/21/1999)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

As this year is the 20th anniversary of The Sopranos‘ groundbreaking debut season, I’ve been dedicating more BAMF Style posts than usual this year to the acclaimed HBO mob drama.

On what would have been series star James Gandolfini’s 58th birthday, let’s follow the journey that Tony Soprano made during each episode’s opening credits, emerging from the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel and snaking his Chevy Suburban through the Jersey turnpike, the suburbs of Newark, and finally his North Caldwell mansion, all to the thumping sound of A3’s “Woke Up This Morning”. Continue reading