Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer
Northern California, Late Summer 1953
Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.
Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself
Bonneville Speedway, Utah, to California, Fall 1970
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14)
Air Date: May 17, 2015
Director: Matthew Weiner
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Moving forward has been the theme of Don Draper’s life, a trajectory made plainly simple at the start of the final episode of Mad Men as a denim-clad Dick Whitman barrels toward the viewers through the desert at more than 130 miles per hour.
Back in New York, Don’s naïve secretary Meredith (Stephanie Drake) shares her concern with Roger Sterling that her former boss may have died, ultimately suggesting that “I hope he’s in a better place.” Geographically, maybe. Mentally, absolutely.
David Harbour as Jim Hopper, small-town police chief
Indiana, Fall 1983
Series: Stranger Things
– “Chapter Four: The Body” (Episode 1.04, dir. Shawn Levy)
– “Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat” (Episode 1.05, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Six: The Monster” (Episode 1.06, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Seven: The Bathtub” (Episode 1.07, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
– “Chapter Eight: The Upside Down” (Episode 1.08, dir. The Duffer Brothers)
Streaming Date: July 15, 2016
Creator: The Duffer Brothers
Costume Design: Kimberly Adams-Galligan (Episodes 1.01-1.04) & Malgosia Turzanska (Episodes 1.03-1.08)
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
With Halloween just around the corner, let’s check in on the strange occurrences—er, stranger things—happening around the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the days following Halloween 1983. Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Jake Holman, maverick U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate, 1st Class (MM1)
Yangtze River, China, Summer 1927 through Spring 1927
Film: The Sand Pebbles
Release Date: December 20, 1966
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The Navy League of the United States organized the first Navy Day on October 27, 1922, to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt who—before becoming the 26th President of the United States—had long championed the U.S. Navy and had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Set four years after the establishment of Navy Day, The Sand Pebbles begins in 1926 China, “a country of factions trying to unite to become a nation… through revolution…” according to the opening text. Continue reading
Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, outlaw motorcycle club leader
Central California, Summer 1953
Film: The Wild One
Release Date: December 30, 1953
Director: László Benedek
“Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”
This famous exchange originated among the actual biker gangs that producer Stanley Kramer had brought on set to play themselves. When Kramer asked what it was they were “rebelling” against, a member cracked back to him, “Well, whaddaya got?” The line so encapsulated the culture and attitude of bikers during the era that it was incorporated into The Wild One, though the question is posed by Mildred, the platinum blonde beauty salon operator that one of Johnny’s boys picked up in a bar.
Inspired by actual events over a rambunctious fourth of July weekend in Hollister, California, in 1947, The Wild One was based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid” that appeared in Harper’s magazine in January 1951. It was swiftly adapted for the screen, though the locations involved were changed to the fictional California burgs of Carbondale and Wrightsville, the latter being the “screwball town”—according to Dextro (Jerry Paris)—where most of the action takes place.
The credits are a bit misleading, introducing Marlon Brando to us as The Wild One, though his character Johnny Strabler turns out to be the most restrained of his hell-raising confederates, particularly when compared to the obnoxious pipsqueak Mouse (Gil Stratton), the larcenous, simple-minded Pigeon (Alvy Moore), or rival gang leader Chino (Lee Marvin). Continue reading
Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate
Los Angeles, Summer through Fall 1967
Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt
Dustin Hoffman’s Ivy style mastery in The Graduate has been a frequent request from BAMF Style readers including Kyle, Ryan, Zubair, and more, so—in the spirit of the “back to school” season—let’s take a look at one of the most iconic outfits that Hoffman wore as the listless Benjamin Braddock.
Benjamin is getting tired of his wordless, emotionless trysts with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the sultry and troubled wife of his father’s law partner. One night in their usual room at the Taft Hotel, Benjamin suggests that the two talk more. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, “We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files / We’d like to help you learn to help yourself…”
Burt Reynolds as Bobby “Gator” McKlusky, paroled moonshine runner
Dunston County, Georgia, Summer 1975
Release Date: August 25, 1976
Director: Burt Reynolds
Costume Designer: Norman Salling
September 6 marks the sad one-year anniversary since Burt Reynolds’ death. One of the star’s most famous roles was that of “Gator” McKlusky, the “good ol’ boy” moonshiner introduced in White Lightning (1973) who was revisited, this time with Burt’s iconic mustache, in the Reynolds-directed Gator (1976). Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth, Hollywood stunt performer and war veteran
Los Angeles, February 1969
Film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
How to Get the Look
Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s stylish late-sixties outfits in Tarantino’s ninth film, released in American theaters today, will receive fuller BAMF Style coverage once the movie has been released to home media and streaming services, but I wanted to take an early look at Cliff Booth’s scrappy summer attire that has gotten plenty of exposure in the film’s promotional posters, photos, and trailers. Continue reading
Richard Gere as Julian Kaye, high-price L.A. escort
Los Angeles, Spring 1980
Film: American Gigolo
Release Date: February 8, 1980
Director: Paul Schrader
Costumer: Bernadene C. Mann
Costume Coordinator: Alice Rush
Richard Gere’s Costumes: Giorgio Armani
Strut into spring like Richard Gere’s confident Julian Kaye, the titular American gigolo of Paul Schrader’s 1980 thriller.
Jack Nicholson as Bobby Dupea, aimless oil worker and classical piano prodigy
Bakersfield, CA, to Puget Sound, Fall to Winter 1970
Film: Five Easy Pieces
Release Date: September 12, 1970
Director: Bob Rafelson
Wardrobe Credit: Bucky Rous
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Jack Nicholson! The prolific actor was born 82 years ago today on April 22, 1937.
Five Easy Pieces remains among my favorite of Nicholson’s extensive filmography. His performance as Bobby Dupea—”a man condemned to search for the meaning of his life,” according to director Bob Rafelson—earned the actor his second of 12 Academy Award nominations.