Tagged: New York City

The Great Gatsby: Howard Da Silva as Meyer Wolfsheim

Howard Da Silva as Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby (1974)

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Howard Da Silva as Meyer Wolfsheim, legendary gambler

New York City, Summer 1925

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: March 29, 1974
Director: Jack Clayton
Costume Designer: Theoni V. Aldredge

Background

Though perhaps not as well known as his gangland contemporaries today, Prohibition-era racketeer Arnold Rothstein served as the basis for generations of fictional characters in pop culture for generations after his 1928 murder.

Born on this day in 1882, Rothstein began gambling at a young age, was reportedly a millionaire by the time he turned 30, and was most likely integral in the infamous “Black Sox Scandal” that accused eight members of the Chicago White Sox of throwing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.

It may be coincidence that the Volstead Act became official nationwide on his 38th birthday, a gift for the visionary Rothstein who has been considered among the first to recognize the business potential of Prohibition. He was one of the most influential figures in organized crime during the roaring ’20s, forging a bootlegging empire that included notable mobsters like Meyer Lansky, “Lucky” Luciano, and Dutch Schultz, many of whom looked up to Rothstein as a mentor.

Despite these dangerous connections, it’s likely that Rothstein met his early end due to nothing more nefarious than a poker game. After racking up a debt of more than $300,000 due to what Rothstein called a fixed game, the 46-year-old gangster was shot during a business meeting at the Park Central Hotel on November 4, 1928, dying two days later.

Though directly portrayed on screen by the likes of F. Murray Abraham (in the 1991 film Mobsters) and Michael Stuhlbarg (in the first four seasons of Boardwalk Empire), Rothstein’s legacy also includes a bevy of fictional characters that he inspired, including Nathan Detroit in the musical Guys and Dolls and Meyer Wolfsheim in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, as most clearly suggested by an exchange that cites the real Rothstein’s arguably most infamous “achievement”. Continue reading

Carol: Jake Lacy’s Plaid Coat

Jake Lacy as Richard Semco in Carol (2015)

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Jake Lacy as Richard Semco, affable painter and Navy veteran

New York City, December 1952

Film: Carol
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell

Background

It takes a lot for new movies to break through the cinematic ice to enter people’s Christmas viewing rotations. For decades, there were the classics like It’s a Wonderful LifeMiracle on 34th Street, and White Christmas, then a boom through the late ’80s and ’90s with newer entries like National Lampoon’s Christmas VacationHome Alone, and—yes—Die Hard. After Elf and Love Actually were released in 2003, it seemed like the proliferation of Hallmark holiday movies so saturated the market that it would be nearly impossible for a modern movie to make its yuletide impression… let alone an adaptation of a book published more than a half-century earlier about a fictional lesbian romance. Enter Carol.

Seventy years ago, suspense writer Patricia Highsmith followed up her debut novel—the smash-hit Strangers on a Train that had already been adapted for the screen by Alfred Hitchcock—with The Price of Salt, chronicling the relationship between aspiring set designer Therese Belivet and housewife Carol Aird, whom Therese meets working at a Manhattan toy store in the days leading up to Christmas, inspired by a brief encounter that Highsmith experienced while working in Bloomingdale’s toy department during the 1948 holiday season. Due to the impact that the novel’s sapphic content may have had on her career, Highsmith was credited under the alias “Claire Morgan” when The Price of Salt was first published in 1952.

Surprisingly, there was an attempt to adapt The Price of Salt for the screen not long after it was published, but the tight restrictions of the Production Code immediately enervated the script, which was renamed Winter Journey and centered around Therese’s romance with a man named… Carl. Luckily, wiser minds evidently prevailed and allowed for the first major screen adaptation to be Todd Haynes’ thoughtful Carol in 2015 starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as Carol and Therese, respectively.

We meet Therese while she’s working at the fictional Frankenberg’s department store in Manhattan, casually dating her cordial co-worker Richard Semco (Jake Lacy). A Navy veteran with artistic aspirations, Richard has grand plans for his future with Therese, even if she doesn’t outwardly share his enthusiasm. Unfortunately for Richard, his dreams of marriage, shared holidays, and European travels with “Terry” are increasingly dashed after she meets the elegant and enigmatic Carol while working at the toy counter.

After a pair of misplaced gloves and some creamed spinach over poached eggs, Therese makes a plan to visit Carol at her home in the country, scheduling it in her calendar for Sunday, December 21, 1952, seventy years ago today, and—in the years since the movie’s release—December 21 has become an unofficial celebration for fans celebrating “Carol Day”. Continue reading

Mad Men: Pete Campbell’s Burgundy Blazer at Christmas

Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell on Mad Men (Episode 4.02: “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”)

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Vincent Kartheiser as Pete Campbell, ambitious advertising accounts manager

New York City, Christmas 1964

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” (Episode 4.02)
Air Date: August 1, 2010
Director: Michael Uppendahl
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

Background

Welcome to BAMF Style, Pete Campbell! Long-ignored as I had reserved Mad Men‘s sartorial spotlight on his colleagues Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Sterling Cooper’s ambitious accounts man finally gets his time to shine on this #MadMenMonday less than a week before Christmas. Rather than his bright blue suits from early seasons or the uniquely cut waistcoats from his three-piece suits in later seasons, Pete’s inaugural BAMF Style post explores how he dresses for the inaugural SCDP holiday party. Continue reading

Cary Grant in The Bishop’s Wife

For this holiday treat, I again welcome BAMF Style contributor Ken Stauffer (@oceansographer on Instagram), here sharing his thoughtful analysis of a screen icon in a holiday classic.


Cary Grant and Loretta Young in The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

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Cary Grant as Dudley, debonair angel

New York City, December 1947

Film: The Bishop’s Wife
Release Date: December 9, 1947
Director: Henry Koster
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

Background

Happy holidays, BAMF Style readers! To celebrate the season, we’re looking back at the Christmas classic The Bishop’s Wife, which premiered at the Astor Theater in Times Square exactly 75 years ago today. Interestingly, general audiences would not have a chance to see the movie until the following February, an odd marketing decision that shows how much the film industry has evolved over the years.

The film stars Cary Grant as Dudley, a literal angel on Earth, assigned to help Manhattan-based Episcopalian Bishop Henry Brougham, drolly performed by David Niven. While acting as the bishop’s assistant, Dudley finds himself drawn to his eponymous wife Julia, played by Loretta Young in an enchanting turn. Continue reading

Remember the Night: Fred MacMurray’s Christmas Road Trip

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Remember the Night (1940)

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Fred MacMurray as John “Jack” Sargent, smooth-talking New York prosecutor

New York to Indiana, Christmas 1938

Film: Remember the Night
Release Date: January 19, 1940
Director: Mitchell Leisen
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

This year’s winter #CarWeek installment kicks off with a holly jolly hoosier holiday in Remember the Night, a 1940 romcom released at the outset of a decade that included many classics of Christmas cinema like The Shop Around the Corner (1940), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Holiday Inn (1942), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), The Bishop’s Wife (1947), It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), 3 Godfathers (1948), and Holiday Affair (1949). Yet before all those classics came Remember the Night, arguably one of the earliest major movies to recognize how compellingly Christmas, both at its loneliest and most celebratory, could be effectively woven into a story.

“While it has remained for decades mysteriously under the radar, its tender romance and comedy are so skillfully blended—and its use of Christmas so poignant—that it stands among the very best holiday movies,” describes Jeremy Arnold in the TCM volume Christmas in the Movies. Continue reading

Elf: James Caan in Camelhair for Christmas

James Caan as Walter Hobbs in Elf (2003)

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James Caan as Walter Hobbs, workaholic children’s book publisher

New York City, December 2003

Film: Elf
Release Date: November 7, 2003
Director: Jon Favreau
Costume Designer: Laura Jean Shannon

Background

Happy December!

The late James Caan effectively subverted his screen image when he starred in Elf, a family-friendly comedy that’s already established as a modern holiday classic. Of course, as one of the big screen’s most famous tough guys, Caan’s Walter Hobbs begins the story on Santa Claus’ notorious “naughty list” as a children’s book publisher too focused on his bottom line to care about his family or even the minutae of his job, overlooking the last two pages of his latest book that leave the fate of a beloved puppy and pigeon too ambiguous for its young readers. Continue reading

Michael Caine’s Thanksgiving Cardigan in Hannah and Her Sisters

Michael Caine as Elliot in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

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Michael Caine as Elliot, financial advisor

New York City, Thanksgiving 1985

Film: Hannah and Her Sisters
Release Date: February 7, 1986
Director: Woody Allen
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland

Background

Happy Thanksgiving! Hannah and Her Sisters is one of my favorite movies to keep in my Turkey Day rotation (I know, I know, Woody Allen… And no, I’m certainly not one of the Maxes in the “Woody Underground” described in Jason Diamond’s excellent recent article for his Substack, The Melt.)

Set between three Thanksgivings, the story centers on the eponymous Hannah (Mia Farrow) and those in her orbit, including her nebbish ex-husband Mickey (Allen) and her current husband Elliot (Michael Caine), a “glorified accountant” whom we meet at the outset harboring an impossible obsession with Hannah’s sister Lee (Barbara Hershey).

“God, she’s beautiful,” Elliot’s limerence-laden narration begins over Harry James’ “I’ve Heard That Song Before,” as he continues detailing his private admiration and lust for Lee while he and Hannah host their annual Thanksgiving party. Of course, he’s concerned less about the Thanksgiving turkey than at landing himself that elusive Hershey’s kiss (do you get it please?) Continue reading

Steve Martin in Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Steve Martin as Neal Page in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

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Steve Martin as Neal Page, advertising executive and family man

New York City to Chicago… via Kansas and Missouri, Fall 1987

Film: Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Release Date: November 25, 1987
Director: John Hughes
Costume Designer: April Ferry
Steve Martin’s Costumer: Dennis Schoonderwoerd

Background

It’s two days to Thanksgiving! If you’re an ad man in New York for a creative presentation with an indecisive client, that should give you just enough time to unsuccessfully race Kevin Bacon for a taxi and join up with a talkative shower curtain ring salesman—excuse me, shower curtain ring sales director—for a series of transportation-related hijinks to make it home to Chicago just as that stuffed bird is ready to come out of the oven on Thursday.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles remains one of the few bona fide classic Thanksgiving comedies, released 35 years ago this week as commemorated today with an all-new 4K home video release that includes more than an hour of deleted and extended footage. The movie arguably succeeds best thanks to the comedic chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy, balancing humor and heart as both the banal Neal and garrulous Del are humanized beyond initial stereotypes in what both actors described as a career-favorite film. Continue reading

Fatal Attraction: Michael Douglas’ Plaid Sport Jacket

Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher in Fatal Attraction (1987)

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Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, lawyer

New York City, Fall 1986

Film: Fatal Attraction
Release Date: September 18, 1987
Director: Adrian Lyne
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick

Background

Inspired by costume designer Ellen Mirojnick’s recent podcast appearance on From Tailors With Love that clarified a few misconceptions held around Michael Douglas’ tailored costumes in some of his most prominent movies, let’s finally cover the 35-year-old noir-ish thriller that spawned a cinematic sub-genre centered around Douglas’ sex life getting him in deep trouble. Continue reading

When Harry Met Sally: Harry’s Tweed Sports Coat

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (1989)

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Billy Crystal as Harry Burns, sarcastic political consultant and recent divorcée

New York City, Fall 1987

Film: When Harry Met Sally…
Release Date: July 14, 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Costume Designer: Gloria Gresham

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today being my wedding day (congratulations to me!) feels like an appropriate time to revisit the style of one of my favorite romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally. In addition to being a famously great fall movie, Rob Reiner’s chronicle of enemies-becoming-friends-becoming-lovers also demonstrates a surprising parade of great autumnal menswear, from Billy Crystal’s cozy sweaters to military surplus jackets. Continue reading