Tagged: Midwest

Ron Swanson’s Red Tiger Woods Polo

Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation (Episode 2.08: "Ron and Tammy")

Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation (Episode 2.08: “Ron and Tammy”)

Vitals

Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson, surly libertarian city parks director and jazz saxophonist

Pawnee, Indiana, Fall 2009

Series: Parks and Recreation
Episode: “Ron and Tammy” (Episode 2.08)
Air Date: November 5, 2009
Director: Troy Miller
Created by: Greg Daniels & Michael Schur
Costume Designer: Kelli Jones

Background

By design, little attention is paid to Ron Swanson’s clothing throughout Parks and Recreation. In fact, Ron’s style could best be summed up by saying he dresses like a non-threatening suburban dad, as opposed to Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), who basks in the show’s sartorial attention with his “Brooks Brothers Boys” suits. We even learn, in “Ron and Tammys” (Episode 4.02), that Ron has only spent $40 on clothes in the past five years.

That said, there is one thing that gets Ron to care about what he pulls out of his closet that morning… and that’s his activity from the night before. Continue reading

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Ray Charles’ Blue Silk Stage Suit

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

Indianapolis, Fall 1961

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

Background

On a suggestion from a great reader of this blog, I revisited Jamie Foxx’s Academy Award-winning performance as Ray Charles in 2004’s Ray and noticed the abundance of excellent period costumes that Foxx wears as the titular virtuoso.

In addition to Foxx’s Oscar for acting, the 2005 Academy Awards also gave a well-deserved nod to costume designer Sharen Davis, who beautifully recreated the era through Ray’s natty attire both on and off the stage. One outfit that particularly stood out was the black satin-trimmed stage suit in blue flecked silk that Ray wears during a couple of early 1960s gigs across the Midwest. Continue reading

Vandamm’s Gray Tweed Suit in North by Northwest

James Mason as Phillip Vandamm in a promotional photo for North by Northwest (1959).

James Mason as Phillip Vandamm in a promotional photo for North by Northwest (1959).

Vitals

James Mason as Phillip Vandamm, urbane spy and secret-trader

Mount Rushmore, Fall 1958

Film: North by Northwest
Release Date: July 28, 1959
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Department: Harry Kress

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

North by Northwest arguably set the tone for spy films in the following decade with its suave and well-suited hero, colorful settings, and elements of dangerous romance. James Mason’s urbane Phillip Vandamm is, in many ways, the archetypal James Bond villain: sinister and deadly but with the ability to be just as charming and debonair as the story’s protagonist.

Vandamm proves to be more sensitive and romantic than one would expect, and James Mason perfectly conveys just how badly Vandamm is stung by Eve’s betrayal. He zips through the Kübler-Ross model in record time, expressing denial (laughing off Leonard’s concerns), anger (punching Leonard), and acceptance (vindictively deciding Eve’s fate “from a great height…over water”) all within seconds of the same scene. Continue reading

“Pretty Boy” Floyd’s Birthday

Steve Kanaly as Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd in Dillinger (1973).

Steve Kanaly as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd in Dillinger (1973).

Vitals

Steve Kanaly as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Depression-era bank robber

Midwest U.S., Spring 1934

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

Background

Today marks what would have been the 111th birthday of Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, one of the best-known of the original “Public Enemies” that terrorized American banks during the Great Depression. The early 1930s were a prime era for American crime. Unlike the murderous gangsters whose machine gun battles littered newspaper headlines during the “roaring twenties”, many of the Depression-era desperadoes painted themselves as contemporary Robin Hoods, stealing from the banks to give to the poor. While some were genuinely psychopaths like “Baby Face” Nelson and Clyde Barrow, others like Floyd and John Dillinger were more akin to simple farm boys led astray. Continue reading

“Pretty Boy” Floyd’s Death in Public Enemies

80 years ago today, Depression-era outlaw Charles Arthur Floyd was shot down by federal agents and local police in a farm outside East Liverpool, Ohio.

Channing Tatum as Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd in Public Enemies (2009).

Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd in Public Enemies (2009).

Vitals

Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, charismatic but violent Depression-era outlaw

Clarkson, Ohio, October 1934

Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood

Background

After dedicating the majority of my life to researching the Depression-era crime wave that saw guys like John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Alvin Karpis roaming the American countryside with the support of the public and the rage of the government, I was elated when I learned that Bryan Burrough’s masterful docu-novel Public Enemies was finally being turned into a film. I wondered how a two-hour movie could capture the intricacies of each colorful individual in each of the various gangs over a two-year period, and I assumed that – like Burrough – director Michael Mann would focus primarily on Karpis, the lone survivor of the original batch of Public Enemies. Continue reading

Clyde Barrow’s Death Suit (2013 Version)

Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow in part two of the 2013 mini-series Bonnie & Clyde.

Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow in part two of the 2013 mini-series Bonnie & Clyde.

Vitals

Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow, bank robber with “second sight”

Rural Louisiana, May 1934

Series Title: Bonnie and Clyde
Air Date: December 8, 2013
Director: Bruce Beresford
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance

Background

Eighty years ago today, six Southern lawmen pulled off a feat that the federal government had been failing to do for months with the first real victory in the United States’ “War on Crime”.

With the advent of the Great Depression following the stock market crash of 1929, criminals abandoned gangsterdom and bootlegging (both “Machine Gun” Kelly and “Pretty Boy” Floyd were known to be bootleggers early in their career) in favor of motorized banditry. In the spirit of the Old West, bank robbers took to cars all across the country – with a special concentration in the poorest areas of the Midwest and the South.

This crime wave did not go unnoticed by the government. Soon, names like John Dillinger, “Baby Face” Nelson, and Alvin Karpis were dominating the headlines, and they were surprisingly welcome by the people who were sick and tired of the perceived “fat cats” in the government. Some of the criminals, Dillinger and Floyd especially, even had the begrudging respect of some small-town lawmen. But the greatest disparity between public opinion and actual temperament is with the case of Bonnie and Clyde. Continue reading

Truth vs. Fiction: The Bank-Robbing Style of Warren Oates as Dillinger

A very Dillinger-esque Warren Oates as John Dillinger, leaving a South Bend bank job in 1973's Dillinger.

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, leaving a South Bend bank job in 1973’s Dillinger.

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber and “super gang” leader

Indiana, Fall 1933

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

Background

Eighty years ago today in East Chicago, Indiana, 43-year-old ECPD patrolman William Patrick O’Malley responded to a call concerning the robbery of the First National Bank. Without hesitation, O’Malley showed up at the scene, unaware that he would be going up against John Dillinger, the Indiana bandit who would soon become famous as the first national Public Enemy #1. Continue reading

“Pretty Boy” Floyd in Dillinger

Steve Kanaly as

Steve Kanaly as “Pretty Boy” Floyd in Dillinger.

79 years ago today, Depression-era outlaw Charles Arthur Floyd was shot down by federal agents and local police in a farm outside East Liverpool, Ohio.

Vitals

Steve Kanaly as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd

Midwest U.S., October 1934

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

Background

Want to know something that truly bothers the hell out of me? The life of Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd has never been accurately, accessibly, and fully portrayed on film. Continue reading

Warren Oates’s Dark Brown Suit as Dillinger

Warren Oates as master bank robber John Dillinger in 1973's Dillinger.

Warren Oates as master bank robber John Dillinger in 1973’s Dillinger.

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber and “super gang” leader

Mason City, Iowa to Manitowish, Wisconsin – Spring 1934

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

Background

By March 1934, John Dillinger had well-established himself as a national criminal hero. He made a mockery of both hated bankers and inept police and, best of all, he kept getting away with it. Sure, he wasn’t the only beloved “Public Enemy” in the national scene, but “Baby Face” Nelson was too violent, Bonnie and Clyde were too incompetent, and no one had heard from “Pretty Boy” Floyd in almost a year. Continue reading

Al Swearengen on “Deadwood”

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

For something a little different, here’s a throwback in honor of vintage badass Al Swearengen from HBO’s prematurely cancelled series Deadwood. If you’re not familiar with Deadwood, you’d be doing yourself a favor to familiarize yourself.

Al’s suit may not translate literally to what looks good these days, but the attitude is there.

Vitals

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen, frontier saloon owner and pimp

Deadwood, Summer 1877

Series: Deadwood
Air Dates: March 21, 2004 – August 27, 2006
Creator: David Milch
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

Background

Deadwood, one of the most underrated and criminally discontinued shows of all time, was a brilliant ensemble show that reflected larger American themes through the founding of a frontier camp. It featured well-known real life characters such as “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Calamity Jane”, and Wyatt Earp interacting with lesser-known historical figures Seth Bullock, Sol Star, and Al Swearengen. It was the latter that proved to be the breakout hit of the show, thanks to Ian McShane’s masterful performance. Continue reading