Steve McQueen as Steve Andrews, headstrong teenager
Chester County, Pennsylvania, Summer 1957
Film: The Blob
Release Date: September 12, 1958
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
As today would have been Steve McQueen’s 90th birthday, let’s take a look at his first starring role, a sci-fi/horror drive-in favorite called The Blob. A personal favorite of producer Jack H. Harris, The Blob was filmed on location in southeastern Pennsylvania on a low budget that, depending on the source, has been quoted as anywhere between $110,000 and $240,000, a cost kept low thanks in part to the low $3,000 salary that the then-struggling actor McQueen had accepted to afford short-term expenses like food and rent.
After two uncredited movie roles and scattered TV bit parts across the mid-1950s, McQueen’s credited feature film debut was in Robert Stevens’ 1958 crime drama Never Love a Stranger, which also featured his future Bullitt co-star Felice Orlandi. Less than a week after the premiere episode of Wanted Dead or Alive aired on CBS in September 1958, The Blob was released in theaters with “Steven McQueen” first-billed.
Clark Gable as Michael Hamilton, Philadelphia lawyer and World War II veteran
Naples to Capri, Italy, Late Summer 1959
Film: It Started in Naples
Release Date: August 7, 1960
Director: Melville Shavelson
Costume Designer: Orietta Nasalli-Rocca
Screen legend Clark Gable was born 119 years ago today on February 1, 1901, the start of a storied life that included an Academy Award for It Happened One Night (1934), acclaimed performances in iconic movies like Gone with the Wind (1939) and Mogambo (1953), and decorated service with the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. While The Misfits (1961) co-starring Marilyn Monroe was Gable’s final film to be theatrically released, It Started in Naples was his final performance released during his lifetime. Continue reading
Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star
New York, Spring 1953
Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg
Let’s dance into the new year with a dapper Fred Astaire in the dazzling opening sequence of Vincent Minnelli’s 1953 musical The Band Wagon, more than a decade after Astaire had danced across the screen with Bing Crosby, Virginia Dale, and Marjorie Reynolds for two on-screen New Year celebrations in Holiday Inn. Continue reading
Alain Delon as Jef Costello, slick, taciturn, and meticulous contract killer
Paris, April 1967
Film: The Samurai
(French title: Le Samouraï)
Release Date: October 25, 1967
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On Alain Delon’s 84th birthday, let’s explore Le Samouraï, arguably one of the best, most influential, and most stylish roles of Delon’s career and the frequent subject of requests from BAMF Style readers like Marcus and Mohammed.
Despite being Jean-Pierre Melville’s tribute to 1940s noir, Le Samouraï was also the maverick director’s first color production as he had evidently elected not to film in black-and-white. The color photography allows Melville to make the most of his shadowy settings from Jef Costello’s gray, barren apartment to the throwback glamour of the Parisian nightclub.
Delon stars as Jef Costello, a cold contract killer whose solitary lifestyle nods to Japanese lone warrior mythology—hence the title—and whose personal style co-opts the classic American noir anti-hero. Continue reading
Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate
Los Angeles, Summer through Fall 1967
Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt
Dustin Hoffman’s Ivy style mastery in The Graduate has been a frequent request from BAMF Style readers including Kyle, Ryan, Zubair, and more, so—in the spirit of the “back to school” season—let’s take a look at one of the most iconic outfits that Hoffman wore as the listless Benjamin Braddock.
Benjamin is getting tired of his wordless, emotionless trysts with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the sultry and troubled wife of his father’s law partner. One night in their usual room at the Taft Hotel, Benjamin suggests that the two talk more. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, “We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files / We’d like to help you learn to help yourself…”
Henry Fonda as Charles “Hopsie” Pike, brewery heir and ophidiologist
SS Southern Queen, sailing north from South America,
Film: The Lady Eve
Release Date: February 25, 1941
Director: Preston Sturges
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Men’s Wardrobe: Richard Bachler
Last year on my girlfriend’s birthday, my commemorative BAMF Style post explored Henry Fonda’s summer-friendly formal wear in The Lady Eve, the romantic screwball comedy that I first discovered with her family. I’ve thus chosen to dive back into this classic directed by Preston Sturges (who would have turned 121 years old yesterday!) with another look at Fonda’s attire, this time a more casual ensemble as his character Charles “Hopsie” Pike romances Barbara Stanwyck at sea: “You have the darndest way of bumping a fellow down and bouncing him up again.” Continue reading
Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray, novice high school teacher
London, June 1966
Film: To Sir, with Love
Release Date: June 14, 1967
Director: James Clavell
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson Apperson
As many students are returning back to school at the end of August, BAMF Style takes a look at Sidney Poitier’s scholarly style as the patient teacher in To Sir, with Love, based on E.R. Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel from 1959. The film was produced, directed, and adapted for the screen by James Clavell, the prolific writer whose works include “the Asian Saga” (including Shōgun) and the screenplay for The Great Escape.
Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray, the determined teacher who takes his first appointment (or “job,” as he is politely corrected) instructing a senior class of troubled—and often troubling—high school students at the North Quay Secondary School in London’s East End just a few weeks before the students were scheduled to graduate.
Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, NASA astronaut and former U.S. Navy pilot
Houston, Texas, August 1962 through March 1966
Film: First Man
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Director: Damien Chazelle
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
In addition to being my 30th birthday, today is also the 50th anniversary of when Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the surface of the Moon at 02:56:15 UTC on July 21, 1969, six hours after he and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle as part of the Apollo 11 spaceflight, a mission also manned by command module pilot Michael Collins.
Last year, Damien Chazelle directed Ryan Gosling in First Man, a biopic focused on Neil Armstrong’s life and career through the 1960s from the tragic death of his young daughter Karen to his triumphant first steps on the Moon… “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Continue reading
James Garner as Pete Aron, determined Formula One driver
Clermont-Ferrand, France, Summer 1966
Film: Grand Prix
Release Date: December 21, 1966
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Supervisor: Sydney Guilaroff
#CarWeek continues with Grand Prix, the action-packed, globe-trotting racing epic that director John Frankenheimer made in the tradition of Grand Hotel with a talented international cast including James Garner, Eva Marie Saint (who celebrated her 95th birthday yesterday), Yves Montand, Toshiro Mifune, Jessica Walter, Brian Bedford, and Thunderball villain Adolfo Celi. As a talented driver in his own right, Garner looks natural behind the wheel as Pete Aron, the Formula One driver hoping to salvage his career after gaining a reckless reputation, and the unique racing cinematography—in part credited to “visual consultant” Saul Bass—make the film a must for fans of the racing genre and earned the film its well-deserved Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects (Gordon Daniel), Best Film Editing, and Best Sound (Franklin Milton).
Sammy Davis Jr. as Josh Howard, sanitation worker and World War II veteran
Beverly Hills, December 1959
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: August 10, 1960
Director: Lewis Milestone
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup
Tailor: Sy Devore
The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are an ideal week for reunions. In the Rat Pack’s arguably most famous film, Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) organizes a reunion of eleven men from his 82nd Airborne unit for a heist to ring in the new year.
After deciding not to attempt the life of “a one-eyed third baseman in Mobile,” former paratrooper Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.) took a job in sanitation. “Trash is where you find it,” Josh explains. “You gotta follow the fleet!” Continue reading