Bing Crosby as C.K. Dexter Haven, jazz musician
Newport, Rhode Island, Summer 1956
Film: High Society
Release Date: July 17, 1956
Director: Charles Walters
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
Happy St. Valentine’s Day! This year’s theme for the #WeekOfWeddings seems to be impromptu nuptials that find our cheeky protagonists thrust into taking the vows without a chance to don traditional wedding attire. Today, we’re following a mischievous summer weekend among the socialites of Newport, Rhode Island, in High Society, the musical remake of The Philadelphia Story.
High Society recasts The Philadelphia Story‘s leading gents Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart with the more musically inclined Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, respectively, though it’s interesting to note that Crosby is actually a few months older than Grant, making this surely one of the few times in movie history that a remake actually featured a performer older than his or her predecessor!
Katharine Hepburn’s role was recast with Grace Kelly, establishing High Society as the actress’ final film role before her retirement at the age of 26 upon marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. In the spirit of marriage, Kelly wore her actual Cartier engagement ring from Rainier on screen. Continue reading
Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner, World War II veteran, and “a lonely and miserable man”
Florida, December 1954
Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Happy holidays! This Christmas Eve felt like an appropriate time to focus on White Christmas, the most successful film of 1954 and one of the most beloved holiday classics. Continue reading
Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans, womanizing nightclub singer
San Francisco, Spring 1957
Film: Pal Joey
Release Date: October 25, 1957
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Jean Louis
Today marks the birth of Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board himself, born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken. This son of tenement-dwelling Italian immigrants grew to be one of the most influential, best-selling music artists in history.
Sixty years ago, Sinatra was rising as one of the biggest stars in the world when he starred as the titular Pal Joey, a performance that earned him a Golden Globe award. Originally a stage musical starring Gene Kelly as the singing and dancing anti-hero, Pal Joey was reconfigured for the screen with the character more reflective of Sinatra’s own charming yet mischievous “nice guy” persona. Continue reading
Dean Martin, smooth and multi-talented entertainer
Burbank, California, 1965 to 1974
Series: The Dean Martin Show
Air Dates: September 16, 1965 – April 5, 1974
Director: Greg Garrison
Tailor: Sy Devore
On June 7, 1917, Dino Paul Crocetti was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to Angela and Gaetano Crocetti, the latter a barber from the Abruzzo region in Italy where much of my own family hails. One hundred years later, the world remembers him as Dean Martin, the charming crooner whose legendary career spanned half a century as a major headliner from nightclubs and casinos to movies and TV shows.
Effortlessly charismatic and unflappable, Dino brought his smooth star power to his popular comedy act with Jerry Lewis and later as a leader of the Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Continue reading
Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, groundbreaking R&B musician
Indianapolis, Fall 1961
Release Date: October 29, 2004
Director: Taylor Hackford
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis
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
Callum Keith Rennie as Lew Ashby, maverick record producer and rock legend
Los Angeles, Spring 2008
Episodes: “La Ronde” (Episode 2.09)
Air Date: November 23, 2008
Director: Adam Bernstein
Costume Designer: Peggy A. Schnitzer
Californication‘s early seasons are often considered to be its best, and the show’s ability to avoid a sophomore slump should give major credit to Callum Keith Rennie’s appearance as Lew Ashby, the enigmatic, charismatic, and hedonistic record producer that shelters Hank for most of the season. Continue reading
Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, badass but troubled country rock musician
Los Angeles, January 1968
Film: Walk the Line
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Director: James Mangold
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Pam Lisenby
Columbia Exec: Your fans are church folk, Johnny. Christians. They don’t wanna hear you singing to a bunch of murderers and rapists, tryin’ to cheer ’em up.
Johnny Cash: Well, they’re not Christians, then.
The terrific 2005 biopic Walk the Line features a great scene of Cash rebooting his career as a prison performer (and reformer) when he confidently strides into Columbia Records and announces his plan to record an album live from Folsom Prison. He dudes himself up appropriately in all black and is the most self-assured as we’ve seen him throughout the film.
To honor Johnny Cash’s birthday (he would have been exactly 83 years old today), here’s a look at Joaquin Phoenix’s take on “the Man in Black”. Continue reading