Tagged: Gangster

Desert Fury: Wendell Corey’s Herringbone Tweed Suit

Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan in Desert Fury (1947)

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Wendell Corey as Johnny Ryan, stone-cold mob enforcer

Nevada, Spring 1947

Film: Desert Fury
Release Date: August 15, 1947
Director: Lewis Allen
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

In the spirit of #Noirvember, I want to celebrate an entry in the relatively rare “color noir” category as well as the career of Wendell Corey, the Massachusetts-born actor and one-time AMPAS President who died on this day in 1968.

Corey was a familiar face in classic film noir like I Walk Alone (1948), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), and The File on Thelma Jordon (1950) before his perhaps most recognized performance as the skeptical Detective Tom Doyle assisting Jimmy Stewart‘s peeping amateur crime-solver in Rear Window (1954). It had been an impressive rise for an actor whose feature film debut had only been a few years earlier, appearing in Desert Fury (1947) as the gay-coded mob killer Johnny Ryan, right-hand man to smooth racketeer Eddie Bendix (John Hodiak).

Also starring Lizabeth Scott and Burt Lancaster, with whom Corey would again co-star in I Walk AloneDesert Fury joins contemporaries like Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and Niagara (1953) as the rare examples of full-color movies that maintain enough of the themes, style, and sinister story elements of traditional film noir to still qualify for this classification. Continue reading

Reservoir Dogs — Mr. Orange

Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs

Tim Roth as “Mr. Orange” in Reservoir Dogs (1992)

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Tim Roth as Freddie Newandyke, aka “Mr. Orange”, member of an armed robbery crew with a deep secret

Los Angeles, Summer 1992

Film: Reservoir Dogs
Release Date: October 9, 1992
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This month marks the 30th anniversary since the wide release of Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino’s influential debut that introduced many of the director’s own cinematic trademarks and has been described as one of the greatest independent films of all time.

As we’ve come to expect from QT, Reservoir Dogs pays homage to classic noir and crime films, including Kansas City Confidential (1952), The Big Combo (1955), and—most specifically—The Killing (1956), with a plot centered around a gang of tough guys hired for a what should be a straightforward diamond heist… only to be stymied when it becomes evident that a member of their crew is an informant. Continue reading

Paul Muni’s 1932 Tuxedo in Scarface

Paul Muni in Scarface (1932)

Paul Muni as Tony Camonte in Scarface (1932)

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Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer

Chicago, Summer 1929

Film: Scarface
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Several years ago, I published a high-level overview of the various black tie ensembles across the male cast of the original 1932 version of Scarface, adapted from Armitage Trail’s pulp novel of the same name, which had been inspired by the then-contemporary exploits of the infamous Al Capone.

Now, after eight more years of learning, I want to focus specifically on the evening-wear worn by the eponymous Tony Camonte, portrayed by Paul Muni—who was born on this day in 1895—as Tony’s tuxedo had long been one of the driving sartorial influences in my choice to have a double-breasted dinner jacket made for my wedding, which will be one month from today. Continue reading

Live By Night: Ben Affleck’s White Gangster Suit

Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin in Live by Night (2016)

Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin in Live by Night (2016)

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Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin, gangster and war veteran

Ybor City, Florida, Spring 1933

Film: Live by Night
Release Date: December 25, 2016
Director: Ben Affleck
Costume Designer: Jacqueline West

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

After years of memes picturing him in various states of Dunkin’-fueled despair, Ben Affleck seems to be doing pretty well for himself these days, recently married to Jennifer Lopez as they have evidently to put the past—including Gigli—well behind them. On Affleck’s 50th birthday, let’s explore one of his more stylish roles as the Prohibition-era protagonist in Live By Night.

Continue reading

The Sopranos: Saying Goodbye to Paulie Walnuts

Tony Sirico as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in "Made in America", The Sopranos' series finale.

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in “Made in America”, The Sopranos‘ series finale.

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Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran

Kearny, New Jersey, Late Fall 2007

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Made in America” (Episode 6.21)
Air Date: June 10, 2007
Director: David Chase
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This weekend, fans of The Sopranos mourned the death of Tony Sirico, who had played the eccentric gangster “Paulie Walnuts” in addition to appearances in movies like GoodfellasDead Presidents, and Cop Land.

Sirico was born July 29, 1942 in Brooklyn, beginning a colorful life that would be paralleled by his character’s succinct autobiography as shared in a third-season episode:

I was born, grew up, spent a few years in the Army, a few more in the can, and here I am: a half a wise guy.

Continue reading

The Irishman: De Niro’s Golden Suit

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman

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

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

New Castle, Delaware, Summer 1962

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

Background

I recently had the pleasure to rejoin my friends Pete Brooker and Ken Stauffer (@oceansographer) on Pete’s podcast From Tailors With Love, discussing The Irishman with master tailor Leonard Logsdail, who crafted many suits for the movie’s principals.

While recording the episode—released today and available to download via iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify—I had the opportunity to ask Leonard firsthand about one of my favorite sartorial moments from the film, the gold-suited reveal of a newly elevated Frank Sheeran as president of his local union, Teamsters #326, headquartered about 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia in New Castle, Delaware.

The Irishman dramatizes the decades-long association between Sheeran, labor leader Jimmy Hoffa, and the mob, uniting cinematic tough guys Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Harvey Keitel with director Martin Scorsese in a movie that’s less a flashy chronicle of mob history (like Goodfellas and Casino) and more a meditation on age and loyalty in a violent world. Continue reading

The Sopranos: Tony’s Cookout Camp Shirt and Shorts

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.01)

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.01)

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James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief

North Caldwell, New Jersey, Summer 1998

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “The Sopranos” (Episode 1.01)
Air Date: January 10, 1999
Director: David Chase
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Father’s Day today often means cookouts and looking ahead to the start of summer. From its first episode, The Sopranos centered around the two “families” beleaguering Tony Soprano: the network of gangsters comprising the DeMeo crime family and as the suburban dad at the head of his biological family.

On a day celebrating dads and to honor James Gandolfini on the ninth anniversary of his death, let’s revisit the final scenes from the pilot episode as the actor ably balanced both of Tony’s “family” roles during a backyard cookout ostensibly for his son Anthony Jr.’s birthday. Continue reading

Sonatine: Ken’s Red Aloha Shirt

Susumu Terajima as Ken in Sonatine

Susumu Terajima as Ken in Sonatine (1993)

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Susumu Terajima as Ken, laconic yakuza lieutenant

Ishigaki Island, Japan, Summer 1993

Film: Sonatine
(Japanese title: ソナチネ)
Release Date: September 10, 1993
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Costume Design: Junichi Goto & Alen Mikudo

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Takeshi Kitano wrote, directed, edited, and starred in Sonatine, an offbeat yakuza film that blends the genre’s usual violence with elements of black comedy and an almost surreal, dreamlike beauty. Kitano stars as Murakawa, a Tokyo crime boss who has grown increasingly numb as he advances into middle age.

Murakawa and his loyal right-hand man, Ken (Susumu Terajima), are sent to Okinawa with a gang ranging from veteran gangsters to young gunsels like the eager Ryōji (Masanobu Katsumura).

Before any progress can be made in their ostensible mission to mediate and intra-gang conflict, the body count rises after their headquarters are bombed and their number further diminished during a barroom ambush. Murakawa and his fellow survivors—including the increasingly convivial Ken and Ryōji—take refuge on the isolated beaches of Ishigaki Island, where their day-to-day life devolves into a surreally idyllic getaway full of games, gags, and gunplay. Continue reading

Goodfellas: Tommy’s Gray Suit for Mob Mayhem and Mom Visits

Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas (1990)

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Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, volatile and violent Mafia associate

New York, Spring 1970

Film: Goodfellas
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy Mother’s Day! One of my favorite cinematic sequences depicting the relationship between a son and his mother comes by way of my favorite movie, in which master auteur Martin Scorsese cast his own mother Catherine as the charming Mrs. DeVito, mother to the psychotic gangster Tommy (Joe Pesci) who brings his cohorts Henry (Ray Liotta) and Jimmy (Robert De Niro) seeking a shovel in a covert night-time stop to fetch a shovel… only to be sweet-talked into an early breakfast.

Catherine Scorsese endearingly embodies the familiar archetype of the aging Italian-American matriarch with her plastic-covered furniture, the gift to effortlessly slip between American English and Italian dialects, and the fierce desire to feed her children and their friends… regardless of whether they’re hungry or not. Continue reading

The Irishman: De Niro’s Mob Hit Leather Jacket

Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in The Irishman

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

Vitals

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

New York City, Spring 1972

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

Background

Fifty years ago tonight, Mafia violence shook the streets of New York City when dangerous mobster “Crazy Joe” Gallo was shot and killed while celebrating his 43rd birthday with his family at Umbertos Clam House on Mulberry Street.

The most widely accepted facts attribute the slaying to four associates of the Colombo crime family, in retaliation for their suspicions that Gallo had ordered the attempted assassination of boss Joseph Colombo during an Italian-American Civil Rights League rally the previous June. Gallo’s widow recalled multiple men of short stature and likely Italian descent storming the Mulberry Street restaurant, where more than 20 shots were fired at her husband, who staggered onto the sidewalk and died shortly before 5:30 a.m. on April 7, 1972.

However, Charles Brandt’s nonfiction best-seller I Heard You Paint Houses includes an explosive claim by labor official and mob hitman Frank Sheeran that he alone was responsible for the hit. Continue reading