Marlon Brando as Sky Masterson, smooth gambler
New York, Spring 1955
Film: Guys and Dolls
Release Date: November 3, 1955
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff
I always found it interesting to watch a method—ahem, that’s Method—actor like Marlon Brando navigating the artificially staged Broadway of Guys and Dolls, the gangland-adjacent musical by Frank Loesser, which had been based on a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows… which had itself been based on several stories by Damon Runyon.
Walter Matthau as Henry Graham, self-serving profligate
New York City, Summer 1969
Film: A New Leaf
Release Date: March 11, 1971
Director: Elaine May
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert
Tailor: Roland Meledandri
I’d long been intrigued by Elaine May’s directorial debut A New Leaf, released 50 years ago this spring, but it was an Instagram story posted by my friend Jonathan (@berkeley_breathes) showcasing Walter Matthau’s dapper wardrobe that finally prompted me to watch this offbeat classic.
Matthau brings his characteristically cantankerous charisma to to role of Henry Graham, a wasteful heir gradually blowing his family fortune on capricious spending from his immaculately tailored wardrobe to weekly maintenance for his Ferrari. The wry family lawyer Beckett (William Redfield) is tasked with managing the unmanageable Graham, who ducks Beckett’s calls of cautions as long as he can… until his last check bounces.
Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook, expatriate jazz saxophonist
Paris, Fall 1960
Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt
Ten years ago, the United Nations established April 30 as International Jazz Day, a global celebration envisioned by Grammy-winning musician and UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The observance feels ideal for taking a first look at the sleek style in Martin Ritt’s cooler-than-ice 1961 drama, Paris Blues, starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as yankee jazzmen making their living in a French nightclub and romancing a pair of American tourists played by Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Continue reading
James Shigeta as Joe Takagi, Nakatomi Corporation executive
Los Angeles, Christmas 1987
Film: Die Hard
Release Date: July 15, 1988
Director: John McTiernan
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
My latest post focused on yet another chaotic Christmas party on The Office, though the drama of Dunder Mifflin’s holiday celebrations pale in comparison to how the employees of the Nakatomi Corporation are forced to spend Christmas Eve in Die Hard.
James Shigeta kicked off #Noirvember last month when I focused on his style in The Crimson Kimono so, in the spirit of the yuletide season, let’s revisit the actor via his arguably most memorable role as the stylish, unflappable, and ultimately doomed head of the Nakatomi Corporation.
Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi, born Kyoto, 1937. Family emigrated to San Pedro, California, 1939. Interned, Manzanar, 1942 to ’43. Scholarship student, University of California, 1955. Law degree, Stanford, 1962. MBA, Harvard, 1970. President, Nakatomi Trading. Vice Chairman, Nakatomi Investment Group… and father of five.
Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, widowed ex-Imperial Austro-Hungarian Navy officer
Salzburg, Austria, Spring 1938
Film: The Sound of Music
Release Date: March 2, 1965
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Happy birthday, Christopher Plummer! Born 91 years ago in Toronto, the distinguished actor continues to be a familiar face on screen, most recently as the doomed mystery writer at the center of Knives Out (2019). Plummer’s most recognizable performance remains arguably that of Georg von Trapp, the Austro-Hungarian patriarch whose family of young singers was depicted in The Sound of Music.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, eccentric and ambitious aviation and movie mogul
Los Angeles, September 1935
Film: The Aviator
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
85 years ago today on September 13, 1935, a sleek silver aircraft rocketed through the air over Santa Ana, California, at a record-breaking speed over 350 miles per hour, making four passes over Martin Field before a crash-landing that deposited its owner—one of the wealthiest and most ambitious men in America at the time—into a beet field, alive and hardly discouraged. As Howard Hughes’ colleagues ran over to extract the 29-year-old entrepreneur and aviator from the wreckage of the H-1 Racer, he hardly had his own safety in mind, issuing the command: “We can fix her, she’ll go faster!”
Stephan James as John Lewis, civil rights activist and future congressman
Selma, Alabama, Spring 1965
Release Date: December 25, 2014
Director: Ava DuVernay
Costume Designer: Ruth E. Carter
On the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, today’s post celebrates the life and legacy of the late John Lewis, the prolific civil rights activist and longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives who had been an instrumental force in the fight for voter and racial equality.
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent presumed dead
Tokyo, Summer 1966
Film: You Only Live Twice
Release Date: June 13, 1967
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Master: Eileen Sullivan
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond.
Sean Connery’s fifth film as James Bond was the first of the franchise to considerably depart from Ian Fleming’s source novel, though it retains the title, the basic plot line and characters, and the Japanese setting. In fact, while most Bond films are continent-hopping travelogues, Japan hosts the majority of the action in You Only Live Twice aside from the pre-credits sequence, set in Hong Kong where Bond is ostensibly murdered.
Of course, it’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that the assassination is a ruse to fool Bond’s enemies into thinking he is out of the picture while the agent himself lives to die another day… in fact, you could say he lived twice! Presumed dead by his enemies after his burial at sea, Bond is free to be sent to Japan to investigate a mysterious spacecraft that has seemingly landed in the Sea of Japan. Bond soon makes contact with his lovely ally Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), who drives him around Tokyo in a sporty Toyota 2000GT that had been customized by the production to accommodate Sean Connery’s height.
I had long wanted to cover this sequence as I love Bond’s tailoring, Aki’s Toyota, and the trio of drinks he imbibes with varying degrees of satisfaction, but it felt particularly appropriate to write about for a #CarWeek post this 00-7th of July given James Bond’s safe pro-masking message…
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, August 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Few movies so stylishly capture the intriguing possibilities of summer as Plein soleil, balancing a sun-drenched travelogue of beautiful coastal Italy with the provocative thrills and deception to be expected from the dangerous mind of Patricia Highsmith, whose 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley formed the basis for this lush and haunting adaptation.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Isaac “Ike” Evans, tough and shrewd hotel owner
Miami Beach, Spring into Summer 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Crime and Punishment” (Episode 2.01), dir. Clark Johnson, aired 6/14/2013
– “Adapt or Die” (Episode 2.03), dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/28/2013
– “…And Your Enemies Closer” (Episode 2.07), dir. Simon Cellan Jones, aired 8/2/2013
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
In celebration of my friend and BAMF Style reader Eric’s birthday today, I wanted to pay tribute to the Magic City superfan by highlighting more of the magnificent mid-century fashions worn by Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), boss of Miami Beach’s ritzy Miramar Playa hotel.