Tagged: Midwest

Tom Cruise in Rain Man

Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Vitals

Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt, yuppie exotic car sales executive

Across the United States, Summer 1988

Film: Rain Man
Release Date: December 16, 1988
Director: Barry Levinson
Wardrobe Credit: Bernie Pollack

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Let’s kick off this summer’s #CarWeek! As today, July 3, is Tom Cruise’s birthday, there’s hardly a more appropriate subject than the iconic Buick Roadmaster he drives for his trip across the United States with Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

Cruise stars as Charlie Babbitt, an L.A. yuppie with a failing exotic car import and sales business who just had to postpone a romantic getaway with his girlfriend Susanna (Valeria Golino) to return to Cincinnati for his estranged father’s funeral. With his business in trouble, Charlie at least looks forward to the promise of a substantial inheritance until he learns that his sole endowment from the millionaire’s estate is the very 1949 Buick convertible that drove father and son apart in the first place… Continue reading

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The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Tan Plaid Jacket

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Based on James Hadley Chase’s controversial novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, Robert Aldrich’s sweat-soaked Depression-set crime drama The Grissom Gang hardly features the finest or most inspiring of that elegant era’s sartorialism, but it does showcase unique and interesting approaches to 1930s menswear, particuarly in the wardrobe of the slick underworld dandy Eddie Hagan (Tony Musante).

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Lee Marvin’s Plaid Suit in Prime Cut

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut (1972)

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin in Prime Cut (1972)

Vitals

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin, mob enforcer

Kansas City, summer 1972

Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Lee Marvin’s submachine gun-packing mob enforcer Nick Devlin gets plenty of opportunities for badass action in Michael Ritchie’s sophomore film, Prime Cut, but the smooth gangster also takes the chance to show a more genteel side, such as when escorting Poppy (Sissy Spacek) to a fancy dinner in a hotel restaurant.

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The Grissom Gang: Tony Musante’s Brown Striped Suit

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagen in The Grissom Gang (1971)

Vitals

Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster

Kansas City, Summer 1931

Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch

Background

The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and ClydeDillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.

Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.

The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.

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Mad Men, 1970 Style – On the Road with Don Draper

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.13: "The Milk and Honey Route")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.13: “The Milk and Honey Route”)

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself

Oklahoma to California, Fall 1970

Series: Mad Men
Episodes:
– “The Milk and Honey Route” (Episode 7.13), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 5/10/2015
– “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 5/17/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

To honor the anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, published today in 1957, I’m taking a look at “The Milk and Honey Route,” the penultimate episode of Mad Men in which Don Draper’s journey to find himself drives him through the heart-land of darkness.

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Lee Marvin’s Beige Suit in Prime Cut

Lee Marvin and Sissy Spacek in Prime Cut (1972)

Lee Marvin and Sissy Spacek in Prime Cut (1972)

Vitals

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin, mob enforcer

Kansas City (and Chicago), summer 1972

Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The beginning of Prime Cut follows a mysteriously packed package of meat as it journeys from Kansas City to Chicago, where it is received by Jake (Eddie Egan), the head of the Windy City’s Irish mob. The delivery’s significance is not lost on Jake, who promptly seeks out and recruits enforcer Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin) to head to Kansas and set things straight.

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Ray: Jamie Foxx in a Windowpane Fleck Jacket

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray (2004)

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in Ray (2004)

Vitals

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, groundbreaking R&B musician

Houston, Summer 1953

Film: Ray
Release Date: October 29, 2004
Director: Taylor Hackford
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis

Background

Jamie Foxx became only the second actor in history to receive a Academy Award for Best Actor, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild award for a single performance when he played Ray Charles. Though it was released five months after the real Ray Charles died of liver disease at age 73, Ray had the blessing of the real Ray Charles who had received – and approved – a braille version of the original shooting script.

Fresh off the success of his first hit for Atlantic Records, the exciting “Mess Around”, we see Ray Charles’ career shooting skyward. He endorses a group called the Cecil Shaw Singers while on-air at a Houston radio station, resulting in a lunch date with the group’s tenor, Della Bea (Kerry Washington), who is amazed that he was able to pick out her voice. Continue reading

Gene Hackman’s Ranch Suit in Prime Cut

Gene Hackman as Mary Ann in Prime Cut (1972)

Gene Hackman as Mary Ann in Prime Cut (1972)

Vitals

Gene Hackman as Mary Ann, brutal “meat mobster”

Kansas City, summer 1972

Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

Background

Today, March 10, is officially National Ranch Dressing Day. What could possibly be the relevance to menswear, you ask? Well, I managed to find a connection for National Potato Day so let’s use today’s observance to explore and celebrate that oft-tragic American phenomenon, the ranch suit.

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Warren Oates’ Brown Striped Suit as Dillinger

Warren Oates as John Dillinger in Dillinger (1973)

Warren Oates as John Dillinger in Dillinger (1973)

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber

Indiana, Fall 1933

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

Eighty four years ago tonight – November 15, 1933. Four police cars converge on a small office building on Irving Park Boulevard in the Chicago Loop. In an upstairs doctor’s office, one of the most wanted men in the tri-state area is being treated for either a ringworm infection or “barber’s itch,” an inflammation of hair follicles, depending on which account you read. On the floor below, a cagey informant named Art McGinnis is signaling desperately to police that their quarry is upstairs. Fate, however, is on the side of the outlaw, a thirty-year-old bank robber named John Dillinger. Continue reading

Ryan Reynolds’ Tweed Jacket in Mississippi Grind

Ryan Reynolds as Curtis Vonn in Mississippi Grind (2015)

Vitals

Ryan Reynolds as Curtis Vonn, charismatic drifter and gambler

Iowa to New Orleans, March 2014

Film: Mississippi Grind
Release Date: January 24, 2015
Director: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Costume Designer: Abby O’Sullivan

Background

I was honored to correspond with Abby O’Sullivan, the talented costume designer who worked on Mississippi Grind, to learn firsthand insight about the inspiration, concept, and execution of the costumes that gave the film its distinctive look.

Abby recalls Mississippi Grind as “a special film” that stands out on her impressive resume due to the talents of the creative team, particularly directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and cinematographer Andrij Parekh, who all contributed to developing the “distinctive 1970s Americana road movie” attitude that radiates off the screen like neon bar lights through Marlboro smoke. Continue reading