Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, debonair vampire
Transylvania to London, Spring 1930
Release Date: February 14, 1931
Director: Tod Browning
Costume Design: Ed Ware & Vera West (uncredited)
With Halloween less than two weeks away, embrace spooky season through Bela Lugosi’s iconic performance as Count Dracula in Tod Browning’s 1931 Universal horror classic Dracula. Continue reading
Peter Lawford as Christopher Pepper, nightclub owner
London, Spring 1968
Film: Salt and Pepper
Release Date: June 21, 1968
Director: Richard Donner
Costume Designer: Cynthia Tingey
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today would have been the 100th birthday of Peter Lawford, born September 7, 1923. Though primarily an actor, the London-born Lawford may be best remembered for his affiliations with the Rat Pack and the Kennedy family, the latter by way of his 12-year marriage to Patricia Kennedy.
It was shortly after Lawford’s divorce from Pat that he was reunited with fellow Rat Pack entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., in Salt and Pepper, one of the many spy comedies released in the late 1960s as filmmakers spoofed Bond-mania with films like Our Man Flint (1966), the satirized 007 adaptation Casino Royale (1967), and the quartet of Matt Helm movies starring Dean Martin—also of Rat Pack fame.
Salt and Pepper was the second feature directed by Richard Donner, who would later—and arguably more successfully—revisit the concept of high-stakes buddy comedies with the Lethal Weapon series. When Salt and Pepper was bafflingly greenlit for the sequel suggested by Davis’ vocals over the end credits, it wasn’t Donner but Jerry Lewis who directed the two Rat Packers in One More Time (1970).
Davis and Lawford brought their time-tested chemistry to their respective roles as Charlie Salt and Christopher Pepper, a pair of swingin’ London nightclub owners who find themselves at the center of a deadly mystery involving a revolution brewing among the top ranks of the British government. “I’m Pepper, he’s Salt,” Lawford’s character informs a bemused police inspector during the opening scene. Continue reading
Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley, Flight Lieutenant (temporary), RAF Intelligence and Security Department, seconded to MI5
London, Spring 1943
Film: Operation Mincemeat
Release Date: April 15, 2022
Director: John Madden
Costume Designer: Andrea Flesch
It was 80 years ago this week when a corpse identified as Major William Martin of the Royal Marines was discovered by Spanish fishermen off the Andalusian coast on the morning of Friday, April 30, 1943. Of course, sardine spotter José Antonio Rey María had no idea that the putrefying body in uniform that he brought to shore and delivered to the nearby regiment of Spanish shoulders was not a decorated British officer but instead a pawn in one of the most famous acts of wartime deception, known internally as Operation Mincemeat.
Though formally set in motion about four months earlier, the tactic originated in a memo circulated by Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence, in September 1939, just weeks after Germany declared war on England. “It was issued under Godfrey’s name, but it more all the hallmarks of his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming, who would go on to write the James Bond novels,” alluded author Ben Macintyre in his volume Operation Mincemeat, which was recently adapted into a Netflix film of the same name.
Known as the “Trout Memo” for its metaphor comparing counterespionage to trout fishing, the memorandum offered a total of 51 proposed plans for “introducing ideas into the heads of the Germans.” Listed as number 28 was “A Suggestion (not a very nice one)” which Godfrey and Fleming freely admit was borrowed from colorful author Basil Thomson’s novel The Milliner’s Hat Mystery, consisting of “a corpse dressed as an airman,” with his pockets and belongings detailing falsified plans for an invasion.
While the literary-influenced idea sounds nothing short of fantastic, it found a foothold in “the corkscrew mind” of Charles Cholmondeley, a young, shy, and somewhat eccentric Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve officer who served as secretary for the top-secret XX Committee, so named as the Roman numerals for twenty also form a “double cross”… which should provide some hint into both the type of work conducted by the group as well as the minds that directed it. Continue reading
Sidney Poitier as Matt Younger, widowed father and clinic physician
London, Summer 1972
Film: A Warm December
Release Date: May 23, 1973
Director: Sidney Poitier
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
To remember the late screen legend Sidney Poitier KBE—born 96 years ago today on February 20, 1927—today’s post returns to the Oscar-winning actor’s second directorial effort, A Warm December.
In addition to directing, Poitier also stars as the recently widowed Dr. Matt Younger, who arrives in London with his daughter Stefanie (Yvette Curtis). Looking for nothing more than a mindless vacation with his daughter and riding his motorbike, Matt’s trip becomes considerably more complicated after an interesting encounter outside his Pall Mall hotel with the mysterious Catherine Oswandu (Ester Anderson). Continue reading
Chris Pine as Henry Pelham, CIA “clandestine case officer extraordinaire”
London, Winter 2020
Film: All the Old Knives
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Director: Janus Metz Pedersen
Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On one hand, I appreciated All the Old Knives‘ dedication to a le Carré-esque depiction of spywork as more of a subdued, slow-burning investigation rather than the action-packed world of James Bond and Ethan Hunt. On the other hand, does “subdued” necessarily have to feel so… subdued?
Nearly eight years after the disastrous terrorist attack of Turkish Airlines Flight 127, the CIA reopens its investigation with the secret information that the hijackers may have been assisted by a mole within its Vienna station. Agent Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) is assigned to the case by his chief Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne), who advises him not to tread lightly even if the clues should point to Pelham’s former fellow agent and paramour Celia (Thandiwe Newton). Continue reading
Peter Cushing as Professor Lorrimer Van Helsing, occult researcher and descendant of the famous vampire hunter
London, Fall 1972… A.D. 1972, that is
Film: Dracula A.D. 1972
Release Date: September 28, 1972
Director: Alan Gibson
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Happy Halloween! Today’s post takes us back fifty years to 1972—A.D. 1972, to be exact—when Hammer Film Productions reunited Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the debonair vampire Count Dracula and his nemesis Van Helsing, respectively, for the first time since Dracula (1958), a.k.a. Horror of Dracula.
I was first made aware of Dracula A.D. 1972 by BAMF Style reader Alan, who had suggested Cushing’s wardrobe that remained timelessly tasteful despite the film’s setting at the dawn of the disco era. Continue reading
On “just another Thursday,” I’m pleased to present another guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who has written several pieces for BAMF Style previously and chronicles the style of the Ocean’s film series on his excellent Instagram account, @oceansographer.
Ryan Gosling as Courtland “Court” Gentry, a.k.a. Sierra Six, off-the-books CIA operative
London and Hong Kong, 2019
Film: The Gray Man
Release Date: July 22, 2022
Director: Joe and Anthony Russo
Costume Designer: Judianna Makovsky
Mr. Gosling’s Costumer: Mark Avery
If you haven’t checked out The Gray Man yet, it seems you’re in the minority. Released last month directly on Netflix, the film has consistently stayed on the streamer’s top watched list around the globe. Based on Mark Greaney’s popular book series, it’s a bit of a throwback to ’90s action movies, chock full of offhand quips and casual explosions, but modernized with drone shots and a popular, A-list cast. 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
Daniel Craig as James Bond, “resurrected” British secret agent
London, Spring 2012
Release Date: November 9, 2012
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Jany Temime
Having been assumed dead after taking friendly fire in the field, James Bond returns from self-imposed exile. However, before he can go from “resurrection” to active duty, the British Secret Service needs to make sure their most famous secret agent can still shoot straight.
Following the attack on their Vauxhall Cross headquarters, SIS has set up temporary shop in the concrete bowels of the Old Vic tunnels under London, and it’s here that Bond runs through a variety of exercises from treadmills to crash drills. The service’s ever-affable chief of staff, Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear), attempts to save time by bringing 007 up to speed on his new assignment, but months on a Greek beach fueled by Heineken and vintage Macallan haven’t made it easy for Mr. Bond to catch his breath.
Tanner: We can always do this later.
Bond: You know what? Let’s.
Although Daniel Craig’s 007 was often referred to by his Royal Navy rank, Commander Bond never actually appeared in uniform on film during Craig’s era. In fact, the closest we saw to Craig’s James Bond in any sort of uniform—aside from when the actor himself received his honorary commission in 2021—was when he was put to these tests in Skyfall, resurrected and ready to be retrained by his superiors… and dressed the part in an SIS-marked track jacket and training shirt.
SIS Training Gear recognized the opportunity for Bond fans to borrow from our favorite secret agent’s style, not with a tailored suit or trim navy polo but through an increasingly growing selection of activewear that started with just a pair of T-shirts and joggers, designed to resemble Craig’s screen-worn apparel. Since then, the collection has grown to a wide and exciting lineup of a range of casual styles that reference Bond films across the franchise’s 60 years. Continue reading
Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray, novice high school teacher
London, June 1966
Film: To Sir, with Love
Release Date: June 14, 1967
Director: James Clavell
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
The death of Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE, was announced last Friday, prompting countless fans to recall memories of the great actor’s lasting legacy. Born February 20, 1927 in Miami to a Bahamian family, Poitier’s screen acting career took off during the 1950s, following his breakthrough performance in Blackboard Jungle (1955) with a charismatic turn in Edge of the City (1957). His Academy Award nomination for The Defiant Ones (1958) marked the first time a Black actor was nominated for Best Actor, and his ultimate win for Lillies of the Field (1963) established Poitier as the first Black recipient of the Best Actor Oscar.
Poitier’s career continued through the decade, with 1967 a particular banner year as he delivered three of his most iconic performances in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, In the Heat of the Night, and To Sir, with Love. Continue reading