Tagged: Northern California

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)

Vitals

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

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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)

Vitals

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.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

The Birds: Mitch’s Tweed Jacket and Drab Trousers

Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner in The Birds (1963).

Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner in The Birds (1963).

Vitals

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

I try to be very responsive to comments, e-mails, and suggestions on this blog, but sometimes life gets in the way. (Feel free to prod if you’re waiting for a response on something, of course!)

Three years ago, “Teeritz” (a wonderful commenter and blogger well-known to the BAMF Style community) suggested covering Rod Taylor’s outfits in The Birds, particularly the tweed suit jacket and side-pocket trousers worn for the day of the actual bird attack. I’m ashamed to admit that I had gone 26 years of life without seeing The Birds until last month, and my fellow Pittsburghers know that sharing the city with pigeons means that few things are more frightening than a potential avian mutiny. Continue reading

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry – Larry’s Denim & ’69 Charger

Peter Fonda and Susan George on the poster for <em>Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry</em> (1974) as their '69 Charger blazes away in the background. People who have actually seen the film know how misleading this poster is, and that's all I'll say.

Peter Fonda and Susan George on the poster for Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) as their ’69 Charger blazes away in the background. People who have actually seen the film know how misleading this poster is, and that’s all I’ll say.

Vitals

Peter Fonda as Larry Rayder, wannabe NASCAR driver and small-time robber

San Joaquin County, California, Fall 1973

Film: Dirty Mary Crazy Larry
Release Date: May 17, 1974
Director: John Hough
Wardrobe Mistress: Phyllis Garr

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Unload!

Kiss off!

While few would place Dirty Mary Crazy Larry‘s script in the same echelon with Casablanca or The Godfather, there’s no doubting that it has its place among the classic European-influenced but all-American car chase flicks that kicked off with Bullitt and tapered off somewhere in the mid-’70s as more over-the-top fare like Smokey and the Bandit took over as the gearheads’ cinematic servings. It was that brief semi-decade where the sub-genre blossomed with ennui and nihilism driving the motoring protagonists of Vanishing PointTwo-Lane Blacktop, and those of its ilk.

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry was a transition between the earlier nihilist cult films and the more marketable, humor-laced movies. Larry, Mary, and Deke aren’t necessarily driving without a defined purpose, but one could argue they were just as doomed as Kowalski when they slipped into that lime green ’69 Charger. And it is with that ’69 Charger – which BAMF Style loyalists know by now is my favorite car of all time – that I’m concluding this run of Car Week. Continue reading