Tagged: Los Angeles

Robert Forster’s Sport Jacket and Cherry Red Polo in Jackie Brown

Robert Forster as Max Cherry in Jackie Brown (1997)

Robert Forster as Max Cherry in Jackie Brown (1997)

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Robert Forster as Max Cherry, reliable bail bondsman

Los Angeles, Summer 1995

Film: Jackie Brown
Release Date: December 25, 1997
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Mary Claire Hannan

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

One year ago today, the great Robert Forster died at the age of 78 after more than a half-century in movies and TV, perhaps best known for his roles in Medium Cool, Jackie BrownMulholland Drive, and most recently as taciturn “disappearer” Ed on Breaking Bad.

Though he’d been acting for three decades, it wasn’t until Jackie Brown that Forster gained widespread recognition with his Academy Award-nominated performance, establishing both Forster and Max Cherry as the latest beneficiaries of the “Tarantino effect” that had renewed the careers of actors like Harvey Keitel and John Travolta after their turns in QT-directed films.

Jackie Brown remains the rare Tarantino joint adapted from another writer’s source material, in this case the novel Rum Punch by prolific crime author Elmore Leonard, who was born 95 years ago today on October 11, 1925.

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The Aviator: Dressed to Test the H-1 Racer

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)

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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

Background

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!”

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Richard Gere’s Dark Purple Beach Shirt in American Gigolo

Richard Gere as Julian Kaye in American Gigolo (1980)

Richard Gere as Julian Kaye in American Gigolo (1980)

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Richard Gere as Julian Kaye, high-price L.A. escort

Malibu, California, 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

Background

American Gigolo, which provided Richard Gere with his breakout role as a leading man, numbers among the many movies that felt appropriate to this year’s surreal summer. Set against the backdrop of high fashions and low tides in sun-drenched southern California, the noir-influenced circumstances that follow our hustler protagonist Julian Kaye add an increasingly eerie mood to the proceedings. Of course, being framed for murder and living through a global pandemic are two different sets of circumstances, but both make it hard to enjoy the high life no matter how beautiful one’s surroundings or wardrobe may be.

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The Big Lebowski – The Dude’s Kaoru Betto T-shirt

Jeff Bridges as "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski (1998)

Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski (1998)

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Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, laidback stoner and bowler

Los Angeles, Fall 1991

Film: The Big Lebowski
Release Date: March 6, 1998
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today would have been the 100th birthday of Japanese baseball star Kaoru Betto who, despite his talents as one of the league’s earliest power hitters, may be most recognizable to many as his likeness graces the front of Jeff Bridges’ T-shirts in Cold Feet (1989), The Fisher King (1991), and most famously in The Big Lebowski (1998).

Born in Nishinomiya on August 23, 1920, Kaoru Betto made his Nippon Professional Baseball debut as an outfielder for the Ōsaka Tigers (now the Hanshin Tigers) in 1948. After two years with the Tigers, Betto moved to play for the Mainichi Orions (now the Chiba Lotte Marines) for the team’s inaugural season in 1950. Having attained a .335 batting average and 43 home runs during that first season with the Orions and leading them to victory in the first Japan Series, Betto was awarded the Pacific League’s first NPB Most Valuable Player. Betto finished playing after the 1957 season, focusing solely on managing. “The Gentleman of Baseball” died on April 16, 1999, a year after The Big Lebowski was released.

Kaoru Betto, playing for the Ōsaka Tigers in the late 1940s.

Kaoru Betto, playing for the Ōsaka Tigers in the late 1940s.

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Ben Gazzara as Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski

Ben Gazzara as Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski (1998)

Ben Gazzara as Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski (1998)

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Ben Gazzara as Jackie Treehorn, smooth pornography mogul

Malibu, California, Fall 1991

Film: The Big Lebowski
Release Date: March 6, 1998
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres

Background

Jeff Bridges’ slacker at the heart of The Big Lebowski may not rank in the pantheon of style icons like Grant, McQueen, Newman, or Poitier oft cited in discussions of the best movie menswear, but Mary Zophres’ costume design in this cult classic from the Coen brothers is an exemplar in the power of using costume to establish character.

In addition to the Dude in his hoodies, shorts, and jelly sandals (as well as that cowichan cardigan!), we have the aggressive survivalist Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) whose gonzo-esque yellow-tinted aviators, fishing vest, and combat boots suggest that he’s the type of guy to keep a loaded .45 in his bowling bag even before he draws it. Bowling-obsessed Donny (Steve Buscemi) has an array of bowling shirts in every color to suit his favorite sport, super-assistant Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) looks the part in his off-the-peg Brooks Brothers, and the millionaire Lebowski (David Huddleston)—ahem, the Big Lebowski—dresses to achieve in his business suits by day and opulent smoking jackets by night. Also worthy of mention is the tight purple jumpsuit worn by Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), which tells and unfortunately shows all we may have guessed about the convicted pederast.

While most of these characters are introduced as we meet them, powerful porn producer Jackie Treehorn stands out as an exception, receiving a degree of in-universe mythology as the enigmatic center who may hold the key to the film’s mysterious MacGuffin. As a result, we may already have a sense of what we expect Jackie to look like by the time Ben Gazzara steps from the shadows to greet the Dude at his Malibu beach party. Continue reading

Don Draper’s Teal-and-Turquoise Shirt in “Tomorrowland”

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 4.13: "Tomorrowland")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 4.13: “Tomorrowland”)

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Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Madison Avenue ad man

Anaheim, California, October 1965

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Tomorrowland” (Episode 4.13)
Air Date: October 17, 2010
Director: Matthew Weiner
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

During my latest Mad Men rewatch while on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, I found myself so intrigued by the fourth season finale that I watched the episode back-to-back. For a show set so far into the past, it’s amazing how effective Mad Men can be at stirring a viewer’s enthusiasm for the future.

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The Graduate: Dustin Hoffman’s Seersucker Jacket

Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967)

Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967)

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Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate

Los Angeles, Summer 1967

Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt

Background

Dustin Hoffman may be turning 83 today, but for many he’ll always be the young Benjamin Braddock, freshly home from college with his entire adult life—with all of its expectations and inevitable disappointments—to follow.

Benjamin’s first summer as a college graduate is spent with lazy days by the pool and covert nights with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the domineering yet vulnerable wife of his father’s law partner. The Braddocks, obviously unaware of their son’s ongoing assignations with her mother, pressure him into taking Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross). A Berkeley student, Elaine would be a more suitable partner for Benjamin due to age, temperament, and several other factors, but the formidable Mrs. Robinson—we never do learn her first name—won’t have it.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Brad Pitt’s Double Denim and Karmann Ghia

Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

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Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth, taciturn Hollywood stuntman and personal “gofer”

Los Angeles, February 1969

Film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This summer’s Car Week posts are likely to be more embraced than usual as many are enthusiastically embracing the open road after months of global lockdown and road trips emerging as safer alternatives for summer travel.

My first official Car Week post of the year was an obvious one for me. I went into Once Upon a Time in Hollywood last year knowing I’d be entertained, but the absolute immersion into 1969 Southern California far exceeded my expectations. By the time we were joining Brad Pitt as he worked the gears of his sporty Karmann Ghia through the streets of L.A. to the shifting sounds of Billy Stewart’s “Summertime”, Joe Cocker’s “The Letter”, The Bob Seger System’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”, and Aretha Franklin’s “The House That Jack Built”, I was hooked. It’s hardly two minutes of screen time, but the kinetic energy, superb soundtrack (how much did it cost to license music for this scene alone?), and electrifying sense of place made it one of the most memorable sequences I’d seen on the big screen in years and gave me a sense of the entertainment that was to follow. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Leo’s Orange Leather Blazer

Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, washed-up TV actor

Los Angeles, February 1969

Film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips

Background

Years after his glory days on the Western serial Bounty Law, proto-cowboy actor Rick Dalton fears that he’s “a has-been” as he’s relegated to dwindling, often villainous roles in Westerns and crime shows. Each one presents the opportunity to either impress audiences or remind them that he isn’t the star that he once was, so it’s with considerable apprehension—and a killer hangover—that he’s driven to the set of Lancer to film his walk-on role as the sinister Caleb DeCoteau opposite James Stacy (Timothy Olyphant).

“You’re Rick fuckin’ Dalton… and don’t you forget it,” encourages his stunt double and best friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), calling out from the cockpit of Rick’s Cadillac as the actor makes his wheezing walk onto the set. Rick is met by the gregarious Sam Wanamaker (Nicholas Hammond), the Chicago-born actor and director who had indeed directed the Lancer pilot, “The High Riders”. In yet another touch of QT’s revisionist history, this episode aired in September 1968, six months before this movie depicts it being filmed on Sunday, February 9, 1969. Continue reading

Don Draper’s Plaid Party Jacket in “The Runaways”

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.05: "The Runaways")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.05: “The Runaways”)

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, conflicted ad man

Los Angeles, Spring 1969

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “The Runaways” (Episode 7.05)
Air Date: May 11, 2014
Director: Christopher Manley
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Despite being one of the most popular shows in the streaming service’s stable of non-original content, today marks the last day that Mad Men is available to Netflix subscribers in the U.S. The first part of Mad Men‘s seventh and final season spends time with displaced ad man Don Draper as he travels from coast to coast by plane, juggling his professional aspirations in New York with his slowly stagnating marriage in L.A.

The geographic reversal is interesting, not only in the context of Mad Men but also in the east vs. west trope espoused by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Henry David Thoreau, as we’re used to seeing Don romanticizing California even when professionally soaring through the ranks of Madison Avenue’s advertising world. Now, his position has shifted with decided roots in L.A. via second wife Megan (Jessica Paré) taking up residence in Laurel Canyon to further her acting career while, back in New York, he’s been reduced to a glorified intern at the agency he helped to start… and that’s just in the eyes of those who are comfortable working with him.

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