Jonathan Majors as ENS Jesse L. Brown, groundbreaking U.S. Naval Aviator
From Quonset Point, Rhode Island to the Korean coast, Spring to Fall 1950
Release Date: November 23, 2022
Director: J.D. Dillard
Costume Designer: Deirdra Elizabeth Govan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
February is Black History Month, a fitting occasion to highlight the life and career of trailblazers like Jesse Brown, the first African-American aviator to complete the U.S. Navy flight training program.
Jesse LeRoy Brown was born on October 13, 1926, perhaps coincidentally sharing a “birthday” with the U.S. Navy itself as this was exactly 151 years to the day after the Continental Navy was founded in 1775. Two years after he enlisted in the Navy, Brown received his pilot wings in October 1948 and was commissioned as an ensign (OF-1) six months later. Ensigns Brown stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Leyte when it was ordered to Korea at the start of the war in the summer of 1950, ultimately flying 20 combat missions in an F4U-4 Corsair, a propeller-driven fighter whose fatalist nicknames of the “Ensign Eliminator” and “Widowmaker” never deterred the courageous aviator. Continue reading
Kurt Russell as R.J. MacReady, helicopter pilot
Antarctica, Winter 1982
Film: The Thing
Release Date: June 25, 1982
Director: John Carpenter
Costume Supervisors: Ronald I. Caplan, Trish Keating, and Gilbert Loe
We’re not gettin’ out of here alive… but neither is that thing.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of The Thing, which premiered June 25, 1982 and remains the personal favorite of director John Carpenter. Four days ago on June 21, British Antarctic research stations would have observed their Midwinter Day celebration that typically includes watching horror movies about being trapped in the snow such as The Thing and The Shining.
Indeed, the action begins during “first goddamn week of winter” grumbles R.J. MacReady, a grizzled helicopter pilot embedded with an American scientific research crew stationed in Antarctica. The U.S. Outpost 31 crew is baffled by the sudden appearance of a Norwegian gunman shooting at what appears to be a relatively benign wolfdog (Jed). “Maybe we’re at war with Norway,” quips Nauls (T.K. Carter), the cook, who more helpfully offers that “five minutes is enough to put a man over down here” as the team mulls over the gunman’s possible motives.
That night, it’s not the Norwegian who the crew needs to be alarmed about, but instead the curious creature locked up with the dogs. As their canine handler Clark (Richard Masur) warns Mac:
It’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is…
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States and U.S. Navy veteran
Off the New England coast, August 1962
Photographs by Robert Knudsen
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars and style icons rather than from specific productions.
On the anniversary of his May 29, 1917 birthday, I wanted to revisit the 35th President of the United States, who has often been credited as the man who brought a new sense of style to the White House during the brief Age of Camelot.
One of my most visited posts on this page was a comprehensive look at John F. Kennedy’s style, from suits and sport jackets to white tie and windbreakers, which I had published to commemorate his legacy on the 50th anniversary of his November 1963 assassination… and which I imagine is in dire need of revision after nearly a decade.
Kennedy once said: “Sailing has given me some of the most pleasant and exciting moments of my life. It also has taught me something of the courage, resourcefulness, and strength of men who sail the seas in ships.” Continue reading
William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker, bitter U.S. Navy Reserve aviator
Off the Korean coast, November 1952
Film: The Bridges at Toko-Ri
Release Date: December 1954
Director: Mark Robson
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Mid-century flight must be my subconscious theme heading into the new year given my last few posts about Frank Sinatra’s jet-setting style and then Sean Connery’s charcoal traveling suit in Goldfinger. Let’s at least move forward from the fuselage to the cockpit where William Holden sits at the controls of his Grumman F9F-2 Panther in The Bridges at Toko-Ri as military aviator LT Harry Brubaker, flying for the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.
Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, hotshot United States Naval Aviator
NAS Miramar near San Diego, Summer 1985
Film: Top Gun
Release Date: May 16, 1986
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson
On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure[sic] that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world.
Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: TOP GUN.
In 1922, the same year that the U.S. Navy commissioned its first aircraft carrier, Navy Day was established to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, whose vast accomplishments included serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before he ascended to the presidency. On Navy Day, it’s hard to think of a movie more associated with the United States’ naval warfare branch than Top Gun, which celebrated the talents and competition among U.S. Naval Aviators.