Tagged: Northern California

Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past

Robert Mitchum as Jeff Markham in Out of the Past (1947)

Robert Mitchum as Jeff Markham in Out of the Past (1947)

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Robert Mitchum as Jeff Markham, aka Jeff Bailey, laconic gas station owner and former private detective

Bridgeport, California, to San Francisco via Lake Tahoe, Fall 1946

Film: Out of the Past
Release Date: November 25, 1947
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Costume Credit: Edward Stevenson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Regarded among the best of classic film noir, Out of the Past showcases the genre’s quintessential elements: shadowy cinematography (thanks to Nicholas Musuraca), a story of double-cross and intrigue told in flashback, a charismatic antagonist, an alluring and ultimately deadly femme fatale, and—of course—a tough-talking, chain-smoking private eye light on words and sentiment:

Baby, I don’t care.

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Richard Burton’s Brown Tweed Jacket in The Sandpiper

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during production of The Sandpiper (1965)

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during production of The Sandpiper (1965)

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Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt, boarding school headmaster

Big Sur, California, Spring 1965

Film: The Sandpiper
Release Date: June 23, 1965
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

Background

Today would have been the 95th birthday of Richard Burton, the Welsh actor born November 10, 1925 perhaps best known for his Shakespearean talent and his back-to-back marriages with frequent co-star Elizabeth Taylor.

After engaging in an affair during the course of their first two films, Cleopatra (1963) and The V.I.P.s (1963), Liz and Dick finally tyed the knot—for the first time—on March 15, 1964, shortly before production commenced on their third film together, The Sandpiper. Continue reading

Desi Arnaz’s Flight Jacket and Jeans in The Long, Long Trailer

Lucy, Desi, and Liz. Elizabeth Taylor dropped by the MGM lot for a photo op with the two stars of The Long, Long Trailer (1954). Arnaz had reportedly bet MGM that The Long, Long Trailer would make more than its then-highest grossing comedy, Father of the Bride, starring Taylor. Arnaz won the $25,000 bet.

Lucy, Desi, and Liz.
Elizabeth Taylor dropped by the MGM lot for a photo op with the two stars of The Long, Long Trailer. Arnaz had reportedly bet MGM that The Long, Long Trailer (1954) would make more than its then-highest grossing comedy, Father of the Bride, starring Taylor. Arnaz won the $25,000 bet.

Vitals

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer

Northern California, Late Summer 1953

Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose

Background

As this year’s summer travel season in the U.S. looks to be more centered around road trips in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RV rentals and purchases have been surging at an unprecedented rate that recalls the heyday of “the great American road trip” as depicted in The Long, Long Trailer. Adapted from Clinton Twiss’ novel of the same name, this Lucy and Desi vehicle zaps into the wanderlust zeitgeist that captured the imagination of Americans during the fabulous fifties as everyone from Harry Truman to Jack Kerouac hit the newly expanded network of highways and byways as they explored the continental United States.

Were I transported back to the 1950s with the mission of taking in the country from the road, I’d likely be piloting a ’57 Chevy Nomad with a Super Turbo Fire V8 across Route 66 from Missouri to California, though it’s solely this latter state that hosts newlyweds Nicky and Tacy Collini as they plot their new nomadic life in a homey silver-and-yellow Redman New Moon hauled up the coast by a cream-colored Mercury convertible.

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Desi’s Sky Blue Nylon Jacket and Jeans in The Long, Long Trailer

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

Vitals

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer

Northern California, Late Summer 1953

Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose

Background

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.

Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.

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The Wild One: Brando’s Motorcycle Jacket

Marlon Brando as Johnny Stabler in The Wild One (1953)

Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler in The Wild One (1953)

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Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, outlaw motorcycle club leader

Central California, Summer 1953

Film: The Wild One
Release Date: December 30, 1953
Director: László Benedek

Background

“Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”

“Whaddaya got?”

This famous exchange originated among the actual biker gangs that producer Stanley Kramer had brought on set to play themselves. When Kramer asked what it was they were “rebelling” against, a member cracked back to him, “Well, whaddaya got?” The line so encapsulated the culture and attitude of bikers during the era that it was incorporated into The Wild One, though the question is posed by Mildred, the platinum blonde beauty salon operator that one of Johnny’s boys picked up in a bar.

Inspired by actual events over a rambunctious fourth of July weekend in Hollister, California, in 1947, The Wild One was based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid” that appeared in Harper’s magazine in January 1951. It was swiftly adapted for the screen, though the locations involved were changed to the fictional California burgs of Carbondale and Wrightsville, the latter being the “screwball town”—according to Dextro (Jerry Paris)—where most of the action takes place.

The credits are a bit misleading, introducing Marlon Brando to us as The Wild One, though his character Johnny Strabler turns out to be the most restrained of his hell-raising confederates, particularly when compared to the obnoxious pipsqueak Mouse (Gil Stratton), the larcenous, simple-minded Pigeon (Alvy Moore), or rival gang leader Chino (Lee Marvin). Continue reading

Richard Burton’s Casual Big Sur Weekend in The Sandpiper

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at Big Sur during production of The Sandpiper (1965)

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at Big Sur during production of The Sandpiper (1965)

Vitals

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt, self-righteous Episcopal boarding school headmaster

Big Sur, California, Spring 1965

Film: The Sandpiper
Release Date: June 23, 1965
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

Background

After fighting his own urges for the better part of the movie, uptight headmaster Dr. Edward Hewitt succumbs to romantic temptation. Edward tells his loving wife Claire (Eva Marie Saint) that he must depart for San Francisco to conduct a fundraising drive for his church but instead arrives at the beach home of Laura Reynolds (Elizabeth Taylor), the Bohemian mother of one of his students and the object of his obvious affections, and the two embark on a three-day romantic interlude against the stunning backdrop of Big Sur. Continue reading

Richard Burton’s Golf Cardigan in The Sandpiper

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt in The Sandpiper (1965)

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt in The Sandpiper (1965)

Vitals

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt, self-righteous Episcopal boarding school headmaster

Pebble Beach, California, Spring 1965

Film: The Sandpiper
Release Date: June 23, 1965
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

Background

This Thursday, June 13, the USGA U.S. Open begins at Pebble Beach Golf Links, a renowned public golf course in Monterey County celebrating its centennial this year. 2019 marks the sixth time that Pebble Beach has hosted the U.S. Open, the first time being in 1972, seven years after Richard Burton teed off for a brief scene in The Sandpiper.

The Sandpiper recognizes the golf course’s significance in business transactions, even for school headmasters like Dr. Edward Hewitt (Burton) and his group of major donors. One fellow golfer offers to donate $300,000 to the school’s chapel fund if Dr. Hewitt hits the green… unfortunately, his ball flies into the water instead. Continue reading

Richard Burton’s Gray Tweed Jacket in The Sandpiper

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt in The Sandpiper (1965)

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt in The Sandpiper (1965)

Vitals

Richard Burton as Dr. Edward Hewitt, self-righteous Episcopal boarding school headmaster

Big Sur, California, Spring 1965

Film: The Sandpiper
Release Date: June 23, 1965
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Irene Sharaff

Background

Seventy years ago today, more than 500 gathered on a picturesque terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean for the grand opening of Nepenthe, a restaurant named for the medicine of ancient Greek mythology that helped one forget their sorrows.

Development on the land began in 1925 with the construction of a log cabin. Two decades later, Hollywood royalty Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth purchased the cabin on a whim but never did anything further, selling it in 1947 to Bill and Madelaine “Lolly” Fassett. The Fassetts hired Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Rowan Maiden to expand the area into a large terrace with room for dancing, dining, built-in bleachers, and a fire pit.

After the restaurant opened on April 24, 1949, Nepenthe became renowned for its stunning panoramic views of 50 miles of Big Sur’s south coast as well as Graves Canyon and the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Artists, writers, and celebrities flocked to the iconic restaurant in the decades to follow, with newlyweds Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton a frequent presence during the production of their Big Sur-set melodrama, The Sandpiper. Continue reading

The Birds: Mitch’s Cream Sweater and Silk Cravat

Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963)

Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963)

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Rod Taylor as Mitchell “Mitch” Brenner, smooth defense lawyer

Bodega Bay, California, Summer 1963

Film: The Birds
Release Date: March 28, 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rita Riggs

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

After the massive success of Psycho in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock knew his next thriller had to go above and beyond to meet the public’s expectations from the Master of Suspense. Inspiration fell from the skies the following summer when the California town of Capitola was besieged one August day by hundreds of sooty shearwaters slamming into their rooftops and littering the streets with bird corpses. Hitch, who vacationed in nearby Santa Cruz, saw the storytelling potential in this unique type of fear and immediately set to work developing a story with screenwriter Evan Hunter, adapting Daphne du Maurier’s novella The Birds from its postwar English setting to contemporary coastal California.

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Steve McQueen’s Carmel Cardigan, 1964

Steve McQueen at Carmel, California, photographed by William Claxton (1964).

Steve McQueen at Carmel, California, photographed by William Claxton (1964).

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Steve McQueen, iconic American actor

Fall 1964, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Photographs by William Claxton

(Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars rather than from specific productions.)

Background

Happy birthday to Steve McQueen, born March 24, 1930, in Beach Grove, Indiana, then a small town of barely more than 3,500 people. By the age of eight, he had already received his first bike (well, a tricycle) and his first watch (a gold pocket watch from his uncle), two items that would become very important to his life and legacy. By the time McQueen died of cardiac arrest in November 1980, the “King of Cool” had cemented a place among the greatest American icons of screen and style through his performances in films like The Great EscapeBullitt, and The Thomas Crown Affair, and his lifelong passion for racing and rebellion.

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