Gary Busey as Angelo Pappas, beleaguered FBI agent
Los Angeles, Summer 1991
Film: Point Break
Release Date: July 12, 1991
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Costume Supervisors: Colby P. Bart & Louis Infante
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“When are you gonna write about Gary Busey?”
“Where are your posts about Busey’s style in Point Break?”
“Show us the Busey, you coward!”
These are the kinds of questions and comments I never get, and yet, on the 78th birthday on this most idiosyncratic of actors, I want to take a deep dive—or surf—into the wardrobe of one of Gary Busey’s best-known roles. Continue reading
Tim Roth as “Pumpkin”, aka “Ringo”, an otherwise unnamed small-time crook
Los Angeles, Summer 1992
Film: Pulp Fiction
Release Date: October 14, 1994
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Now that it’s summer—and already a hot one!—I’ve started rotating my favorite aloha shirts and tropical prints into my wardrobe. Luckily for me, bright Hawaiian-style resort shirts have been undergoing a wave of revival each summer, perhaps encouraged by Brad Pitt’s now-famous yellow aloha shirt in Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Style in QT’s early movies typically conjures the well-armed professional criminals in their uniforms of black suits, white shirts, and black ties, but outside of this lethal look, characters in the Tarantino-verse often pulled from the Hawaiian shirts in their closet. The first example would be Harvey Keitel’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it palm-print shirt before taking Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange for tacos in Reservoir Dogs. Two years later, it was Roth himself that would be tropically attired for the next of Tarantino’s defining cinematic works. Continue reading
John Garfield as Nick Robey, desperate small-time thief
Los Angeles, Summer 1951
Film: He Ran All the Way
Release Date: June 19, 1951
Director: John Berry
Wardrobe Credit: Joe King
John Garfield, one of the most talented and naturalistic actors of Hollywood’s “golden age”, died 70 years ago today on May 21, 1952. Garfield had long been troubled with heart health issues, but it’s been argued that the resulting stress brought on by harassment from the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee contributed to his early death at the age of 39, nearly a year after the release of his final film, He Ran All the Way (1951).
Adam Sandler as Barry Egan, anxious novelty swag entrepreneur
San Fernando Valley (and Hawaii), Spring 2002
Film: Punch-Drunk Love
Release Date: October 11, 2002
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges
Though it would be widely released in theaters five months later, today marks the 20th anniversary of when Paul Thomas Anderson’s offbeat romantic comedy Punch-Drunk Love premiered at Cannes in May 19, 2002.
A fan of his work in lower-brow ’90s comedies like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and The Waterboy, Anderson had been interested in collaborating with Adam Sandler, sensing the greater dramatic potential under his distinctive comedic signature. The unconventional casting choice baffled entertainment journalists and even Sandler himself, though he delivered a career-high performance as Punch-Drunk Love‘s central character, Barry Egan. Continue reading
On George Clooney’s 61st birthday, I’m pleased to present another guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who had also covered the actor’s plaid suit in Out of Sight and Clooney’s fashionable co-star Brad Pitt from this same scene in Ocean’s Eleven. You can learn more from him about the style of the Ocean’s film series on his Instagram account, @oceansographer.
George Clooney as Danny Ocean, recently paroled con man and casino heister
Los Angeles, Spring 2001
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: December 7, 2001
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland
Tailor: Dominic Gherardi
Happy birthday to George Clooney, who turns 61 today! To celebrate, we’re looking back at one of his most striking tailored looks in Ocean’s Eleven, the movie which arguably made him a household name and cemented his image as a suave leading man.
The film opens with Clooney’s Danny Ocean being released from North Jersey State Prison on a frigid winter morning. After a shave and a wardrobe change, his first stop is Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza to find Frank Caton (Bernie Mac), a fellow career criminal currently eking out a living under an alias as a blackjack dealer. Within a handful of lines, we learn that Danny is on the hunt for Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), whom he quickly learns is now “teaching movie stars how to play cards.” A day later, the parolee has flown across the country to rope in his felonious old friend at a Hollywood nightclub. Continue reading
Robert Cummings as Barry Kane, civilian aircraft mechanic
From Glendale, California, into the High Desert, Spring 1942
Release Date: April 22, 1942
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock’s wartime thriller Saboteur—not to be confused with his earlier movie Sabotage—was released 80 years ago this month. Though production began just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the idea had actually been months in the making after Hitch’s original pitch to David O. Selznick. “We were in 1941 and there were pro-German elements who called themselves America Firsters and who were, in fact, American Fascists. This was the group I had in mind while writing the scenario,” Hitchcock later explained to François Truffaut.
Despite his traditional elements of the wronged man, the beautiful blonde, and the “MacGuffin,” Hitch identified several disappointments with Saboteur, most notably in the casting of his two heroes and the villain. Of leading male star Robert Cummings, who portrayed the accused saboteur, Hitch commented to Truffaut that “he’s a competent performer, but he belongs to the light-comedy class of actors,” though this wouldn’t stop him from casting him a decade later in a strong supporting role in Dial M for Murder. Continue reading
Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood, ambitious film actor, singer, and dancer
Hollywood, Spring 1927
Film: Singin’ in the Rain
Release Date: April 11, 1952
Directed by: Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
What better way to welcome April showers than by celebrating the 70th anniversary of Singin’ in the Rain, which was widely released on this day in 1952, just two weeks after it premiered at Radio City Music Hall.
Now considered not just one of the best musical films but one of the best movies of all time, Singin’ in the Rain centers around Hollywood during the waning months of the silent era as studios made the shift to “talkies” following the release of The Jazz Singer in 1927. The transition is no problem for the multi-talented Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), who shares his portrayer’s finely honed abilities to sing, act, and dance, but previews for Don’s latest feature—the period drama The Dueling Cavalier—illustrate that Don’s brassy, vain co-star Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) is woefully underprepared for the new phase of their career, her shrill accent eliciting laughter and frustration from the test audiences.
Brainstorming over late-night sandwiches and milk with his professional partner Cosmo Brown (Donald O’Connor) and his new love interest Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), Don’s brain trust determines that The Dueling Cavalier could potentially be retooled as a musical, with Kathy dubbing Lina’s grating voice behind the scenes. This being a musical, the trio celebrates their breakthrough with a rousing rendition of “Good Mornin'” as the rain falls outside, followed by a gleeful Don kissing Kathy goodnight and—delighted with the prospects of his professional and romantic futures—singing the titular ditty as he dances home in the downpour. Continue reading
George Segal as Bill Denny, magazine writer and casual gambler
Los Angeles, Winter 1973
Film: California Split
Release Date: August 7, 1974
Director: Robert Altman
Costumer: Hugh McFarland
In honor of George Segal, who died a year ago today, today’s post introduces us to his character in California Split, directed by Robert Altman and described by Tim Grierson and Will Leitch for Vulture as the greatest movie about gambling ever made, “one of the high watermarks of ’70s hangout cinema.” Continue reading
James Gandolfini as Anthony Soprano, precision optics salesman with an uncanny resemblance to heating systems merchant Kevin Finnerty
Costa Mesa, California, Spring 2006
Series: The Sopranos
– “Join the Club” (Episode 6.02, dir. David Nutter, aired 3/19/2006)
– “Mayham” (Episode 6.03, dir. Jack Bender, aired 3/26/2006)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Who am I? Where am I going?
Sixteen years ago this week, The Sopranos first aired what became one of my favorite arcs from TV, exploring the mysterious, mythical adventures of the unconscious Tony Soprano, reborn as a de-Jersey-fied defense optics salesman on a surreal business trip in Costa Mesa. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, smooth ad man
Cos Cob, Connecticut, Summer 1966
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Signal 30” (Episode 5.05)
Air Date: April 15, 2012
Director: John Slattery
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
To commemorate Jon Hamm’s 51st birthday today, let’s return to his Emmy-winning performance as the conflicted advertising director Don Draper. After four stylish seasons set across the early ’60s, Mad Men‘s fifth season took a darker and experimental turn with its storytelling, reflective of the more disturbing events of a decade that was evolving from the idealistic ’50s into an violent age of assassinations, serial murder, and war.
Following the dark “Mystery Date” with its homicidal fever dreams and Richard Speck references, the fifth episode “Signal 30” took its title from the gruesome instructional film illustrating the dangers of the road, shown to new drivers like Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s ambitious but insecure account manager, who could be argued as the central character of this episode.
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner described “Signal 30″—which he co-wrote with Dog Day Afternoon‘s Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Pierson—as “probably the saddest episode we’ve ever had.”
Directed by series regular John Slattery, “Signal 30” is an episode of plumbing mishaps and forbidden passions, culminating in office fisticuffs. These passions range from Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) continuing his literary side hustle against the wishes of his employers, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) fighting his own battles with personal and professional masculinity, a business trip to a brothel where all attendees but Don indulge themselves, and Pete’s disturbing crush on a teenage girl in his driver’s ed class.
But before Pete lecherously throws himself at anything on legs—or throws any punches at colleagues—he and his delightful wife Trudy (Alison Brie) welcome the Drapers and Cosgroves for a dinner party. Perhaps appropriate for the only season of Mad Men where we don’t see him engaging in extramarital romance, Don allows his new wife Megan (Jessica Paré) to talk him into swapping his staid suit jacket out for a loudly checked sports coat more on trend for the middle of the swingin’ sixties. Continue reading