Gary Cooper as Cadet White, U.S. Army Aviation Section, Signal Corps aviator
Camp Kelly (San Antonio, Texas), Spring 1917
Release Date: August 12, 1927
Director: William A. Wellman
Costume Design: Travis Banton & Edith Head (uncredited)
Ninety years ago today, Wings won the first Academy Award for Best Picture—more accurately, the award read “Academy Award for Outstanding Picture.” Though silent movies were still the norm at the time of Wings’ release in August 1927, The Jazz Singer introduced recorded sound to film upon its release two months later, and Wings remains the only true silent film (unless you include The Artist) to take home the Best Picture prize.
Today marks the 75th anniversary of “the great escape”, the mass breakout of allied airmen from the Luftwaffe-operated Stalag Luft III in Sagan-Silesia—now Zagan—in Poland on March 24, 1944. Of the 76 men who escaped, only three made it to freedom and 50 of the group were murdered by the Nazis in retaliation.
Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson
Paul Brickhill, one of the Allied officers who had worked on the various tunnels used for the escape, wrote the definitive account of prison camp life, the famous March 1944 breakout, and the subsequent fallout in The Great Escape, published in 1950.
Thirteen years later, a star-studded cast reenacted the incident in The Great Escape, a now-classic war movie that dramatized this real-life story of heroism, humor, and tragedy.
Today’s post—coinciding both with the 75th anniversary of the escape and the 89th birthday of the film’s star Steve McQueen—examines the uniforms of the Allied airmen, sorted by each major character’s surname. Continue reading
James Garner as Robert Hendley, American-born RAF Flight Lieutenant and “scrounger”
Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944
Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson
Steve McQueen’s daring Captain Hilts may get all the glory of The Great Escape‘s legacy, but James Garner’s affable and resourceful “scrounger” Hendley remains one of my favorite characters from any war movie.
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 the 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.
Henry Fonda as Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts, U.S. Navy cargo ship executive officer
The Pacific Theater, Spring 1945
Film: Mister Roberts
Release Date: July 30, 1955
Director: John Ford, Mervyn Leroy, and Joshua Logan
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
On Henry Fonda’s birthday, I want to celebrate one of the actor’s most famous roles among a talented cast of some of my favorite actors: Jack Lemmon, James Cagney, and William Powell.
Lieutenant (junior grade) Doug Roberts is a pragmatic executive officer on USS Reluctant, a cargo ship far from the action in “the waning days of World War II,” as we learn during the film’s opening credits. Despite his popularity on “the bucket”, Lt. Roberts is itching to see some combat… and to get away from useless martinets like the ship’s strict captain (Cagney).
Fonda had originated the role on stage. The play Mister Roberts had opened on Broadway in February 1948, a few years after Fonda and his pal James Stewart returned from their own service in the war.
Today is Brad Pitt’s birthday, and I’m delighted to commemorate the actor’s special day with a submitted post from BAMF Style contributor “W.T. Hatch”. Enjoy!
Brad Pitt as Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier, battle-hardened 2nd Armored Division tank commander, U.S. Army
Forward edge of the battlefield, Germany, April 1945
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Director: David Ayer
Costume Design: Maja Meschede & Anna B. Sheppard
Ideals are peaceful. History is violent.
Set in the final weeks of World War II, Fury is a brutally honest movie depicting the true face of war. Ground combat is dirty, cold, dangerous. War exacts a terrible cost from those who survive to return home. David Ayer’s magnum opus, Fury, depicts World War II as it happened without glorifying the unforgiving violence, death, and carnage of battle. Brad Pitt portrays Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a hardened veteran and commander of an M4 Sherman tank nicknamed “Fury”. Very little of Wardaddy’s background is directly revealed in the film although a number of clues point to his prior combat experience in World War I and perhaps service during in interwar years. As such, Collier is an “old school” tanker with a preference for uniforms first introduced before the start of WWII. Continue reading
Roger Moore as James Bond, sophisticated British MI6 agent
Sardinia, Italy, Summer 1977
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
Release Date: July 7, 1977
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Have you heard of Black Tot Day?
On July 31, 1970, the British Royal Navy ended its centuries-old tradition of providing its sailors with a daily rum ration. The day became known as Black Tot Day, as I first learned in a Facebook post from my favorite Pittsburgh bar, Hidden Harbor, when they announced their acquisition of a Black Tot “Last Consignment” bottle, bottled from the last remaining stocks of Royal Naval rum.
To commemorate this tragic day in the history of the British Royal Navy, I’m revisiting The Spy Who Loved Me for the second time this month with a look at the naval battle dress worn by Commander James Bond, RNR, during the climactic battle aboard the Liparus, the massive supertanker owned by the film’s Goldfinger-esque villain, Karl Stomberg (Curd Jürgens). Continue reading
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, USMC Captain, WWII hero, and Mafia son
Long Island, NY, September 1945
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
On the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, BAMF Style is looking at one of cinema’s most notorious fictional war heroes from the Pacific Theater of World War II: Michael Corleone.
(Just so we’re clear, BAMF Style believes that the true heroes of World War II are those that did not go on to become mob bosses.)
What’d He Wear?
Michael’s USMC Uniform
Michael arrives at his sister’s wedding wearing his traditional Marine “greens”, the winter service uniform worn from September through April. Although appearing brown on screen, the uniform – now known as the Service A (or “Alpha”) – is forest green wool in a color specific to the Marine Corps, dating back to its introduction in 1912. At the time, the winter service uniform was standard in garrison and on leave and liberty. Since the iconic dress blues were temporarily ceased for most of WWII, a Marine not wearing his utility uniform would almost always be seen in his winter service greens. Continue reading
Lee Marvin as Maj. John Reisman, taciturn and independent U.S. Army officer
England, Spring 1944
Film: The Dirty Dozen
Release Date: June 15, 1967
Director: Robert Aldrich
Tomorrow is the 71st anniversary of the Normandy landings. On June 6, 1944 – now known as D-Day, 156,000 troops from 13 Allied nations conducted the largest seaborne invasion in history, beginning the invasion of German-occupied western Europe that led to the liberation of France, and – eventually – an Allied victory to win the war within a year. Although the Allies failed to achieve their goals on the first day, the tremendous fighting spirit of the soldiers in the face of unbelievable odds led to the foothold needed by the Allies that would catapult them to victory.
Many excellent films have focused on the Normandy landings, including The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan. The Dirty Dozen used a different approach, sending a renegade OSS officer behind the lines with twelve ex-soldier convicts to create chaos for the Nazis and distract them from the upcoming landings. The film, which WWII veteran Lee Marvin had originally dismissed as “just a dummy moneymaker”, has gone on to become a classic piece of badass cinema that even received recognition in Sleepless in Seattle during a scene where Tom Hanks and Victor Garber hilariously ad-lib about what movie could make a man cry:
Jim Brown was throwing these hand grenades down these airshafts. And Richard Jaeckel and Lee Marvin – (begins mock crying) were sitting on top of this armored personnel carrier, dressed up like Nazis… and Trini Lopez… he busted his neck while they were parachuting down behind the Nazi lines…
Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, U.S. Army OSS officer and redneck leader of the “Inglourious Basterds”
Occupied France, Fall 1942
Film: Inglourious Basterds
Release Date: August 21, 2009
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Anna B. Sheppard
Brad Pitt’s Personal Costumer: Isabell Logen (though I’m not sure what her contribution was to this particular outfit)
Surprisingly to most, I was a late comer to Tarantino’s work. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college in the fall of 2007 when I first saw Reservoir Dogs and – entranced – I soon caught up by getting my hands on Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, True Romance, and Death Proof. (Somehow, neither Kill Bill film made the cut until years later.) Thus, Inglourious Basterds was the first QT flick I actually saw newly released in theaters. Continue reading