Peter Fonda as Wyatt, aka “Captain America”, freedom-loving biker
Across the southern United States from Los Angeles through Louisiana, February 1968
Film: Easy Rider
Release Date: July 14, 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
When I learned the second Saturday of October is commemorated as National Motorcycle Ride Day, I realized I’d gone far too long without shining a sartorial lens on Dennis Hopper’s iconic cult classic, Easy Rider.
Conceptualized by Hopper, Fonda, and screenwriter Terry Southern, Easy Rider‘s chaotic production and controversial themes have been the product of considerable discussion since its release during that seminal summer of ’69. To some, it explores the death of the American dream through the concept of freedom, asking what it really means to be a free American.
Set to classic rock like The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Roger McGuinn, and Steppenwolf, we follow two bikers in their journey across the United States, from the open desert of the southwest into the close-knit conservative communities of the deep South. Hopper co-stars as the the mustached hippie rider Billy, but the arguable leader of the duo is the flag-bedecked Wyatt (Peter Fonda), celebrated by his pal as “Captain America”. After all, if a red, white, and blue-blooded Captain America can’t safely and freely ride across the nation, who can? Continue reading
James Caan as Frank, professional jewel thief
Chicago, Spring 1980
Release Date: March 27, 1981
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Supervisor: Jodie Lynn Tillen
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Considered by many to be one of the director’s best movies, Michal Mann’s debut Thief was released in theaters 40 years ago today. Thief established many of what would become Mann trademarks, from its “principled” yet ruthless professional character who expertly handles a .45 to the setting city elevated to a secondary character itself, particularly its less glamorous underbelly as photographed at night. (Originally titled Violent Streets, even the one-word title would become a Mann signature as evidenced by his future features Ali, Blackhat, Collateral, Heat, and Manhunter.)
Mann adapted the 1975 novel The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by real-life thief John Seybold (writing as “Frank Hohimer”) for his screen debut, retaining the first name of Seybold’s nom de plume for the taciturn thief that would be memorably played by James Caan, who celebrated his 81st birthday yesterday.