Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, mob boss and nightclub owner
Harlem, November 2015
Series: Luke Cage
Episodes: “Code of the Streets” (Episode 1.02) & “Just to Get a Rep” (Episode 1.05)
Streaming Date: September 30, 2016
Directors: Paul McGuigan (Episode 1.02) & Marc Jobst (Episode 1.05)
Costume Designer: Stephanie Maslansky
Key Tailor: Cherie Cunningham
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Mahershala Ali! Following a multi-season stint as Remy Danton on Netflix’s House of Cards and a breakout 2016 that included his Oscar-winning role in Moonlight, Ali returned to Netflix to play the charismatic, powerful, and dangerous crime boss Cornell Stokes in Marvel’s Luke Cage. Continue reading
Jack Lemmon as Stanley Ford, comic strip artist and dedicated bachelor
New York City, Summer 1964
Film: How to Murder Your Wife
Release Date: September 20, 1965
Director: Richard Quine
Wardrobe: Izzy Berne & Marie Osborne
Happy birthday to Jack Lemmon, a class act and one of my all-time favorite actors.
One of the first Jack Lemmon movies I had ever seen was the problematically titled How to Murder Your Wife, a VHS tape belonging to my grandma that she had I must have watched a dozen times during my childhood. Lemmon played Stanley Ford, an artist dedicated to two things: his espionage comic strip Bash Brannigan and remaining an unattached bachelor. The latter ambition is quelled during a drunken stag party when he meets and immediately marries a beautiful blonde stripper (Virna Lisi) who, as luck would have it, doesn’t know a word of English. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, gruff NYPD narcotics detective
New York City, December 1970
Film: The French Connection
Release Date: October 9, 1971
Director: William Friedkin
Costume Designer: Joseph Fretwell III
Happy birthday to Gene Hackman, born this day in 1930! This year’s Academy Award nominations were announced last week, so today’s post explores the birthday boy’s first Oscar-winning performance as NYPD narc “Popeye” Doyle in The French Connection.
Eddie Egan was a real detective with the NYPD who, with his partner Sonny Grosso, was instrumental in a 1961 investigation that dissolved a massive heroin ring. The case would form the basis of a 1969 non-fiction book by Robin Moore that was swiftly adapted into the fictionalized film The French Connection. Gene Hackman, who by now had two Oscar nominations to his credit, was tapped for the role of “Popeye” Doyle, the profane detective modeled after Egan, while Egan himself would serve as technical advisor and play the smaller role of Walt Simonson, Doyle’s supervisor. Continue reading
Joe Spinell as Willi Cicci, slick Corleone mob family “button man”
New York City, August 1955
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
When the boss says push the button on a guy, I push the button, see, Senator?
Today’s #MafiaMonday post focuses on one of the more celebrated minor characters of The Godfather, Corleone family enforcer Willi Cicci, who stands out with his slick sense of style and laidback demeanor. Imagine if Dean Martin had grown a mustache and joined the mob… that’s Willi Cicci for ya.
Cicci best gets the opportunity to explain his short yet memorable role in The Godfather when testifying in front of a Senate committee in the film’s sequel. When we first meet him in The Godfather, Cicci is getting a shave in a hotel barbershop with an unflappable, can’t-be-bothered attitude that may trick first-time viewers into thinking he is one of the many targets that Michael Corleone has marked for death on this transformative day for the New York Mafia.
William Powell as Nick Charles, retired private detective
New York City, Christmas 1933
Film: The Thin Man
Release Date: May 25, 1934
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Wardrobe Credit: Dolly Tree
Suffice it to say that Nick and Nora Charles had quite a Christmas. Following a drunken holiday party, the sleepy couple was interrupted by the gat-wielding Joe Morelli (Edward Brophy), a fast-talking “get me, see?”-type of gangster whose quick trigger finger is no match for Nick Charles’ quick wit.
A few hours later, Nick spends Christmas morning recovering and in a perpetual daze possibly due to his recent flesh wound, the magic of the holidays, or – most likely – a large quantity of Scotch in his system. Continue reading
Charles Bronson as Joe Valachi, Mafia soldier
Apalachin, New York, November 1957
Film: The Valachi Papers
Release Date: January 6, 1972
Director: Terence Young
Costume Design: Giorgio Desideri & Ann Roth
“It was a glorious time, before Apalachin,” recalls Ray Liotta’s voice-over as Henry Hill in Goodfellas. For readers not mired in the history of organized crime, Henry was referring to a now-legendary meeting of the American Mafia at the Apalachin, New York home of mobster Joseph Barbara. The summit was organized by powerful New York mob boss Vito Genovese and found more than 100 mobsters from across the country gathering at Barbara’s home on November 14, 1957… sixty years ago tomorrow. Continue reading
Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Wheeler, disillusioned businessman and suburban dad
New York City, Spring 1955
Film: Revolutionary Road
Release Date: December 15, 2008
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
Happy birthday, Leonardo DiCaprio!
As today is Leo’s actual birthday, I’m exploring the suit he wore for his character Frank Wheeler’s on-screen birthday in Revolutionary Road, the cinematic adaptation of Richard Yates’ 1961 novel that re-paired DiCaprio with Kate Winslet more than two decades after their iceberg-melting chemistry in James Cameron’s Titanic. Continue reading