Ron Howard as Steve Bolander, conflicted high school graduate
Modesto, California, Summer 1962
Film: American Graffiti
Release Date: August 11, 1973
Director: George Lucas
Costume Designer: Aggie Guerard Rodgers
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“Where were you in ’62?” asked the promotional materials for American Graffiti, widely released 50 years ago today on August 11, 1973. George Lucas followed his directorial debut THX 1138 with a neon-lit nostalgic ode to his rock-scored youth cruising the streets of Modesto, California in the early 1960s.
The film centers around four recent high school graduates who meet in the parking lot of Mel’s Drive-In on the last night of summer vacation: even-keeled Curt Henderson (Richard Dreyfuss), confident drag-racer John Milner (Paul Le Mat), the fittingly nicknamed Terry “the Toad” Fields (Charles Martin Smith), and the aloof Steve Bolander (Ron Howard), who lends his stunning white ’58 Impala to Terry while he’s away at college.
It’s a moody night for Steve, battling with his decision to leave both Modesto and his relationship with Laurie (Cindy Williams), summing up the movie’s thesis when he observes “you just can’t stay seventeen forever.” Continue reading
David Hemmings as Thomas, hip London photographer
Swinging London, Fall 1966
Release Date: December 18, 1966
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards
Some people are bullfighters, some people are politicians… I’m a photographer.
August 19 being World Photography Day feels like an apt opportunity to delve into Blowup, Michelangelo Antonioni’s enticing and meandering mystery that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and was nominated for two Academy Awards despite its then-unprecedented sexual content that defied the mainstream movies released under the aging Motion Picture Production Code that had been enforced in Hollywood for over three decades. Indeed, Blowup‘s critical popularity and box-office success has been credited as one of the final blows that killed the restrictive “Hays Code” once and for all, in favor of the MPAA rating system that ushered in a new, uninhibited era of American cinema.
Blowup centers around Thomas (David Hemmings), a stylish young photographer living the swinging London dream, though kept so busy that he bemoans “I haven’t even got a couple of minutes to have my appendix out.” Continue reading
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Howard Langston,
massive Austrian bodybuilder midwestern mattress sales executive and family man
Minneapolis, Christmas Eve 1996
Film: Jingle All the Way
Release Date: November 22, 1996
Director: Brian Levant
Costume Designer: Jay Hurley
With only a few more shopping days left until Christmas, some may still be scrambling for that perfect gift to put under the tree. This family-friendly ’90s comedy satirized the lengths to which people had to go in the blessed pre-Amazon days, represented by Minneapolis mattress king Howard Langston’s increasingly desperate attempts to track down a prized Turbo-Man action figure for his son… on Christmas Eve!
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.”