Tom Cruise as CAPT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, experienced U.S. Navy test pilot-turned-instructor
NAS North Island near San Diego, Fall 2019
Film: Top Gun: Maverick
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Costume Designer: Marlene Stewart
It’s been a minute, huh Mav?
To commemorate August 19 being National Aviation Day, today’s post celebrates one of the most famous fictional naval aviators in movie history.
Thirty-six years to the month after its predecessor flew into theaters, Top Gun: Maverick returned Tom Cruise to the flight deck as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a virtuoso Naval Aviator who still lives up to his nickname more than three decades since he was a swaggering but skilled lieutenant in the U.S. Navy’s prestigious “Top Gun” training program.
“Captain? Still?” he’s asked, prompting Maverick to clarify that he’s “a highly decorated Captain.” His insubordination repeatedly preventing promotion to flag officer like his pal and one-time rival Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), CAPT Pete Mitchell is still “the fastest man alive”, now a Navy test pilot living in a hangar in the Mojave Desert, fighting the good fight for practical flight vs. the unmanned preferences of bureaucrats like RADM Chester Cain (Ed Harris), aka “The Drone Ranger”.
Despite Maverick falling out of favor among Navy brass, Iceman still looks out for his pal and—when Maverick is in danger of being grounded—has the distinguished aviator recalled to Top Gun at NAS North Island, where the stern, by-the-book commander VADM Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm) briefs him on a dangerous mission, tasked to destroy an unsanctioned underground uranium enrichment plant… clarifying “we don’t want you to fly it, we want you to teach it.”
While at “Fightertown U.S.A.”, Maverick reconnects with former fling Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), who now runs The Hard Deck, a local bar frequented by fliers like the recent graduates that Maverick will be training for the mission. Among these aviators—played by a cast of rising stars like Monica Barbaro, Manny Jacinto, and Glen Powell—is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s late friend and RIO Goose, who resents Mav for having blocked his Naval Academy application. Over the course of the accelerated training, a mutual respect grows between the confident young lieutenants and the experienced veteran. Continue reading
Elliott Gould as Capt. “Trapper John” McIntyre, irreverent U.S. Army chest surgeon
Korea, Summer 1951
Release Date: January 25, 1970
Director: Robert Altman
Before there was Magnum, there was M*A*S*H, in which Elliott Gould set the “Gould standard” for effectively pairing a prolific mustache with an Aloha shirt. Robert Altman’s film was based on the then-recently published MASH: A Novel of Three Army Doctors by Richard Hooker, which would in turn be adapted into a long-running TV series that would last almost four times as long as the Korean War itself.
While maverick Army doctor “Hawkeye” Pierce was arguably the central figure (and increasingly the show’s moral fiber, under Alan Alda’s creative direction), I was also fond of his cinematic sidekick, Captain “Trapper John” McIntyre as portrayed by Elliott Gould, born 82 years ago today on August 29, 1938.
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.
Jean-Pierre Cassel as Jean-François Jardie, dashing French pilot and resistance operative
France, Winter 1942
Film: Army of Shadows
(French title: L’armée des ombres)
Release Date: September 12, 1969
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Costume Designer: Colette Baudot
Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 French Resistance epic, released at a volatile time for France and the world at large, was barely seen by the rest of the world until decades later. Army of Shadows officially debuted in the United States in 2006 and quickly shot to the top of many critics’ “best of the year” lists.
John Wayne as Michael “Guns” Donovan, island saloon owner and U.S. Navy veteran
French Polynesia, December 1963
Film: Donovan’s Reef
Release Date: June 12, 1963
Director: John Ford
Costume Designer: Edith Head
A decade after John Wayne traveled to Hawaii to play the titular anti-communist agent in Big Jim McLain, the actor returned for the production of Donovan’s Reef, a more lighthearted and less politically motivated film and the final of Duke’s many cinematic collaborations with prolific director John Ford.
Donovan’s Reef is set during the holidays in French Polynesia where ex-Navy gunner’s mate Michael “Guns” Donovan operates a saloon on the fictional island of Haleakaloha. Continue reading
Robert Shaw was born 90 years ago today, August 9, 1927. To celebrate the birth of this iconic actor and writer, BAMF Style presents another contributor post submitted by BAMF Style reader “W.T. Hatch”. Enjoy!
Robert Shaw as Quint, grizzled and tough shark hunter and U.S. Navy veteran
Amity Island, July 1974
Release Date: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Design: Louise Clark, Robert Ellsworth, and Irwin Rose
Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy.
In 1975, director Steven Spielberg scared the bejesus out of America with the summer blockbuster hit Jaws. Based upon author Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name, Jaws is the harrowing tale of a 25′ man-eating shark which terrorizes the small beach community of Amity Island. Technical problems forced Spielberg to largely abandon the mechanical shark, dubbed “Bruce” after his attorney, instead using mood, music, and a set of yellow barrels to suggest the beast’s on-screen presence. One viewing of the film is enough to make even the bravest soul think twice before taking a swim in the ocean.
But one other persona in the movie is more frightening than the shark. I speak of the shark’s archenemy known only by the name of Quint. No doubt inspired by another single-minded sea captain, namely Ahab of Moby Dick, Quint is one of cinema’s most enigmatic, famous, and all-around badass characters. Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence officer
Casablanca, Morocco, Fall 1942
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
As a fan of World War II spy stories, particularly those of the Special Operations Executive, I had been intrigued by Allied since production began last year. The film weathered (or, some say say, benefited from) the pre-release gossip that a romance between co-stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard had driven a nail in the coffin of the venerable Brangelina pairing, but off-screen whisperings shouldn’t diminish the impact of the finished product: a captivating period romance-thriller with all the beauty and intrigue of Casablanca in a glossy, well-executed package. (Though my hometown newspaper disagrees…) Continue reading
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, sophisticated British secret agent
Cuba, Spring 1995
Release Date: November 13, 1995
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
For St. Patrick’s Day, it only makes sense to write the first post for this blog about the only Irish actor yet who has played James Bond. And since Pierce Brosnan was also one of the few Bonds to ever wear an outfit that was predominantly green – the traditional St. Paddy’s Day attire – let’s take a look at his green military-styled assault gear in the finale of Goldeneye, his inaugural Bond film. Continue reading