Tagged: Musician

The Godfather: Johnny Fontane’s Cream Silk Suit

Al Martino as Johnny Fontane in The Godfather (1972)

Al Martino as Johnny Fontane in The Godfather (1972)

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Al Martino as Johnny Fontane, down-on-his-luck crooner

Long Island, New York, Summer 1945

Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 14, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone

Background

Today in 1927, Al Martino was born in Philadelphia to two Italian immigrants from Abruzzo, the same southern Italian region from which much of my family hails. Following his U.S. Navy service during World War II, the singer began earnestly following his career in entertainment. Twenty years after his first single, “Here in My Heart”, reached #1 in the U.S. Billboard and UK Singles charts, Martino joined the cast of The Godfather as Johnny Fontane, an Italian-American crooner whose early career parallels that of Martino’s contemporary Frank Sinatra. Continue reading

Johnny Cash on Columbo

Johnny Cash as Tommy Brown on Columbo

Johnny Cash as Tommy Brown on Columbo (Episode 3.07: “Swan Song”)

Vitals

Johnny Cash as Tommy Brown, homicidal gospel singer

From Bakersfield to Los Angeles, Spring 1974

Series: Columbo
Episode: “Swan Song” (Episode 3.07)
Air Date: March 3, 1974
Director:
Nicholas Colasanto
Credited by: Richard Levinson & William Link

Background

Johnny Cash was born 90 years ago today on February 26, 1932. Following more than a decade and a half of country hits, the Man in Black riffed on his own image as the villainous guest star in the penultimate episode of Columbo‘s third season, airing just a week after his 42nd birthday. Continue reading

Paul Newman in Paris Blues

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, filming Paris Blues (1961)

Vitals

Paul Newman as Ram Bowen, temperamental jazz trombonist

Paris, Fall 1960

Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt

Background

On this day in 1958, one of the most legendary marriages in Hollywood history began when Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward tied the knot in Las Vegas, three days after his 33rd birthday. The two had met earlier that decade during a Broadway production of Picnic and reunited while filming The Long, Hot Summer for director Martin Ritt. Newman and Woodward would co-star in several subsequent movies together, but their next collaboration with their ostensible “matchmaker” Ritt was Paris Blues, adapted from Harold Flender’s 1957 novel of the same name.

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Marlene Dietrich in Morocco

Marlene Dietrich as Amy Jolly in Morocco (1930)

Marlene Dietrich as Amy Jolly in Morocco (1930)

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Marlene Dietrich as Amy Jolly, sultry French nightclub singer

Essaouira, Morocco, Summer 1930

Film: Morocco
Release Date: November 14, 1930
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Costume Designer: Travis Banton (uncredited)

Background

The white tie dress code dates to before the turn of the 20th century, designed to make any man look his best when appropriately tailored, so there’s considerable irony in the fact that one of the most iconic film appearances of a white tie, top hat, and tails was worn by a woman: Marlene Dietrich, the German screen legend born 120 years ago today on December 27, 1901.

As previously featured on this site, today’s post continues the blog’s regular focus on menswear but here memorably worn by a woman, specifically the impeccable evening ensemble that Dietrich wore for her Academy Award-nominated performance as the brassy club singer at the center of the intrigue in the pre-Code drama Morocco, her second of seven eventual collaborations with director Josef von Sternberg. Continue reading

White Christmas: Bing’s Fireside Flannel and Festive Socks

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Vitals

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner and World War II veteran

Pine Tree, Vermont, December 1954

Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Merry Christmas Eve! One of my family’s favorite perennial movies to watch during the holiday season is White Christmas, the VistaVision that opened and closed with the iconic eponymous tune that Bing Crosby had introduced over a decade earlier in Holiday Inn.

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Frank Sinatra’s 1971 Retirement Concert Tuxedo

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra sings his ’40s-era hit “All or Nothing at All” during his June 1971 retirement concert in L.A.

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Frank Sinatra, multi-talented entertainer facing retirement

Los Angeles, Summer 1971

Series: Sinatra: All or Nothing At All
Air Date: April 5-6, 2015
Director: Alex Gibney

Background

Born December 12, 1915, Frank Sinatra had recently turned 55 when he started talking seriously with close friends about retirement. For more than 30 years, the entertainer had enjoyed a landmark career, beginning with his days as a pop idol, then a career downturn in the early ’50s that was reinvigorated by an Oscar win for From Here to Eternity and a series of concept albums for Capitol Records that launched him to massive success.

Throughout the ’60s, Sinatra evolved from one of the most popular entertainers in the nation to one of the most influential entertainers across the world. He had founded his own record label with Reprise Records, been a confidante of a sitting U.S. President (before their famous falling-out), and continued to prove his success on the charts with songs like “My Way” (despite his resentment for this particular tune.)

Like so many successful 55-year-old Americans, Ol’ Blue Eyes decided to hang up his tilted hat and retire, with his final performance to be June 13, 1971, at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Alex Gibney’s 2015 HBO documentary Sinatra: All or Nothing at All was framed around the singer’s hand-chosen setlist for the concert, and how the eleven musical milestones Sinatra selected essentially told the story of his life to that point. Continue reading

Detour: Tom Neal’s Borrowed Clothes and Borrowed Lincoln

Tom Neal as Al Roberts in Detour (1945)

Tom Neal behind the wheel of a ’41 Lincoln as Al Roberts in Detour (1945)

Vitals

Tom Neal as Al Roberts, hitchhiking nightclub pianist

Across the United States, especially Arizona to California, Spring 1945

Film: Detour
Release Date: November 30, 1945
Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Wardrobe Designer: Mona Barry

Background

On the last day of #Noirvember, let’s also kick off #CarWeek with a look at one of the best examples of “road noir” with Detour, the enduring B-movie that saw a limited release 76 years ago today on November 30, 1945, just over two weeks after its initial premiere in Boston.

Martin M. Goldsmith worked with an uncredited Martin Mooney to adapt his own 1939 novel of the same name into a screenplay. Known as “the King of PRC” for his reputation as an efficient director working for the Poverty Row studio Producers Releasing Corporation, the Austrian-born Edgar G. Ulmer filmed Detour in less than a month in the summer of 1945, with a shoestring budget of less than $100,000; for comparison, this was less than 10% of the final budget for that year’s winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, The Lost Weekend. (Perhaps overstating his efficiency, Ulmer would later cite that he made the movie in six days for $20,000.)

Detour was my gateway to film noir, thanks to a multi-pack DVD that I was gifted in high school that included many pulp classics like D.O.A.The HitchhikerQuicksand, and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, many of which—like Detour—were regularly available in budget-friendly home video releases as they had fallen into the public domain. Clocking in at just over an hour, the story may be simple, but it contains all the characteristic noir themes and stock characters, including the femme fatale (and how!) and the wrongly accused man whose questionable ethics and unfortunate circumstances launch him headway into increasingly dangerous circumstances.

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Waylon Jennings on The Dukes of Hazzard

Tom Wopat, Waylon Jennings, and John Schneider

Waylon Jennings, flanked by series regulars Tom Wopat and John Schneider on The Dukes of Hazzard, Episode 7.02: “Welcome, Waylon Jennings”

Vitals

Waylon Jennings, outlaw country star

Hazzard County, Georgia, Fall 1984

Series: The Dukes of Hazzard
Episode: “Welcome, Waylon Jennings” (Episode 7.02)
Air Date: September 28, 1984
Director: Bob Sweeney
Creator: Gy Waldron
Costume Supervisor: Bob Christenson

Background

After six seasons as Hazzard County’s official off-screen “balladeer”, country legend Waylon Jennings finally showed more than just his hands on the long-running series about those two celebrated good ol’ boys.

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Paris Blues: Sidney Poitier’s Jazzy Flannel Suit

Sidney Poitier in Paris Blues (1961)

Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook in Paris Blues (1961)

Vitals

Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook, expatriate jazz saxophonist

Paris, Fall 1960

Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt

Background

Ten years ago, the United Nations established April 30 as International Jazz Day, a global celebration envisioned by Grammy-winning musician and UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The observance feels ideal for taking a first look at the sleek style in Martin Ritt’s cooler-than-ice 1961 drama, Paris Blues, starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as yankee jazzmen making their living in a French nightclub and romancing a pair of American tourists played by Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll.  Continue reading

Walk the Line: Johnny Cash in Rockabilly White and Black

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005)

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005)

Vitals

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, rising country rock star

Texarkana, Texas, Summer 1955

Film: Walk the Line
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Director: James Mangold
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Pam Lisenby

Background

Eighty-nine years ago on February 26, 1932, J.R. Cash was born in Arkansas. His childhood was dominated by music, as there was little else to encourage the family enduring the hard years of the Depression made worse by a dangerous flood and the violent death of Jack, one of the seven Cash children. It was when he joined the military that the 18-year-old Cash expanded his first name as the Air Force wouldn’t allow just initials, though it wasn’t until cutting his first recording at Sun Records that he established the name that would become legendary: Johnny Cash. Continue reading