William Hurt as Nick Carlton, former radio psychologist and war veteran
Beaufort, South Carolina, Fall 1983
Film: The Big Chill
Release Date: September 28, 1983
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Costume Designer: April Ferry
Today is the 40th anniversary of the release of The Big Chill, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 comedy-drama centered around seven friends from college (played by Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, and JoBeth Williams) who reunite after more than a decade for the funeral of a fellow UMich alum who committed suicide.
Scored by the rock and R&B hits from their late ’60s college heyday, the movie focuses on the ennui of adulthood as this handful of baby boomers are forced to reconcile their current realities with the idealistic visions they had for their future when they were young, energetic, and relatively free of responsibility.
It was easy back then, no one ever had a cushier berth than we did… it’s only out here in the world that it gets tough.
Colin Farrell as Pádraic Súilleabháin, simple-minded pub regular
Ireland, Spring 1923
Film: The Banshees of Inisherin
Release Date: October 21, 2022
Director: Martin McDonagh
Costume Designer: Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
One hundred years ago today on April Fool’s Day 1923, aging musician Colm Doherty (Brendan Gleeson) abruptly stopped talking to his erstwhile best friend Pádraic Súilleabháin (Colin Farrell), like some fool of a moody schoolchild. Despite the timing and the fact that they weren’t rowing (though it does seem like they were rowing), this ignites a tragicomic personal drama of donkeys and amputated fingers that—at least for the sparse residents of the fictional isle of Inisherin—outweighs the bloody conflict across the sea on the Irish mainland.
Either a “happy lad” or “limited man” depending on who you ask, Pádraic is happy to eke out his simple life with his more intelligent sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon), his donkey Jenny, and drinking buddies like Colm and Dominic (Barry Keoghan), with little more characterizing his life than the occasional two-hour chat describing what was in his
little donkey’s pony’s shite… until Colm strangely decides he wants more from his remaining years.
George Segal as Andy Kelp, jewel thief and locksmith
New York City, Summer 1971
Film: The Hot Rock
Release Date: January 26, 1972
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Ruth Morley
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The start of spring this week means warmer weather ahead, with linen and seersucker replacing tweed and flannel at the front of my closet. One of my favorite cinematic seersucker suits is the colorfully appointed two-piece suit worn in The Hot Rock by George Segal, the prolific and versatile actor who died two years ago today on March 23, 2021. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum, hedonistic patriarch
New York City, Fall to winter 2001
Film: The Royal Tenenbaums
Release Date: December 14, 2001
Director: Wes Anderson
Costume Designer: Karen Patch
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy 93rd birthday to Gene Hackman, the versatile two-time Oscar-winning actor born January 30, 1930 in San Bernardino. Hackman’s prolific career began during the “New Hollywood” era with excellent performances in films like Bonnie & Clyde, The French Connection, and The Conversation, with many more hits in the decades to follow. Before he retired from acting in 2004, Hackman delivered one of his most memorable performances as the eponymous estranged patriarch in The Royal Tenenbaums. Continue reading
Ernest Borgnine as Mike Rogo, a tough New York detective
Aboard the S.S. Poseidon en route Athens, New Year’s Eve 1972
Film: The Poseidon Adventure
Release Date: December 12, 1972
Director: Ronald Neame
Costume Designer: Paul Zastupnevich
Happy New Year’s Eve! Fifty years ago, the holiday was celebrated in spectacular fashion aboard the S.S. Poseidon, the fictitious ship at the center of “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen’s Academy Award-winning 1972 blockbuster The Poseidon Adventure, based on Paul Gallico’s novel on the same name inspired by a journey on the RMS Queen Mary, the now-defunct ship where parts of the movie were filmed. Following the example set by the subgenre-establishing Airport two years earlier, The Poseidon Adventure gathered a group of a stars in a perilous situation that picked them off one by one, allowing its substantial advertising campaign to ask audiences “who will survive?” Continue reading
Al Martino as Johnny Fontane, down-on-his-luck crooner
Long Island, New York, Summer 1945
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 14, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
Today in 1927, Al Martino was born in Philadelphia to two Italian immigrants from Abruzzo, the same southern Italian region from which much of my family hails. Following his U.S. Navy service during World War II, the singer began earnestly following his career in entertainment. Twenty years after his first single, “Here in My Heart”, reached #1 in the U.S. Billboard and UK Singles charts, Martino joined the cast of The Godfather as Johnny Fontane, an Italian-American crooner whose early career parallels that of Martino’s contemporary Frank Sinatra. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Walter Eckland, crude and reluctant wartime coast-watcher
Pacific Islands, Spring 1942
Film: Father Goose
Release Date: December 10, 1964
Director: Ralph Nelson
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (uncredited)
Last month, I reflected on the elegant white suit that Cary Grant wore at the start of his stylish career in the pre-Code drama Hot Saturday. More than 30 years later, Grant was firmly established as one of the most charming—and enduringly best-dressed—stars of the era, subverting his screen reputation for his penultimate movie, the World War II-set comedy Father Goose opposite Leslie Caron. Continue reading
Me, evidently a fan of amusement parks
Pittsburgh, Summer 1987
Release Date: April 3, 2009
Director: Greg Mottola
Costume Designer: Melissa Toth
As today is my 32nd birthday (a day I share with Ernest Hemingway, Robin Williams, and Cat Stevens, to name a few) I’m going to exercise my blogger’s right to shift direction a bit and focus on… me!
In case my blog about style in the movies didn’t give it away, I’ve always been a fan of movies. While I never harbored dreams of stardom, there had always been a part of me that got a kick out of seeing myself on screen—which my fiancée attributes to my Leo ascendant—and I spent many a weekend in high school cajoling my patient friends into starring in some amateur production of mine, typically a half-baked story driven by gangsters, guns, and Goodwill-purchased suits.
It wasn’t until I entered college that I considered actually being part of an actual production, tossing my proverbial hat into the ring by registering as an extra with a local casting agency that has worked on several major productions filmed in Pittsburgh including The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Just two months into my freshman year at Pitt, the agency announced that extras of all ages would be needed for a day spent filming at Kennywood, the amusement park that had been the setting of many fond memories since early childhood. The park was being transformed back in time two decades for the 1980s-set comedy Adventureland, which would star Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as college students spending their summer working at an amusement park. Continue reading
Charlton Heston as Colonel Robert Neville, MD, former military scientist and resourceful survivor
Los Angeles, August 1977
Film: The Omega Man
Release Date: August 1, 1971
Director: Boris Sagal
Costumers: Margo Baxley & Bucky Rous
Tailor: Albert Mariani
As #CarWeek continues, let’s check out the pair of Ford convertibles that a safari-clad Colonel Robert Neville commandeers as one of the last men in the world at the heart of The Omega Man, released 50 years ago in the summer of 1971.
Sidney Poitier as Matt Younger, widowed father and clinic physician
London, Summer 1972
Film: A Warm December
Release Date: May 23, 1973
Director: Sidney Poitier
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
Happy birthday to screen legend Sidney Poitier, born 94 years ago today on February 20, 1927 in Miami. After two decades of screen success that landed him the Academy Award for Best Actor (and he remains both the oldest living and longest surviving recipient), Poitier began directing his own movies in the early 1970s, beginning with the groundbreaking 1972 Western Buck and the Preacher.
Poitier proved the diversity of his directorial talent by sliding to the other end of the genre spectrum the following year when he released the romantic drama A Warm December, in which he also starred as a recently widowed doctor who finds love across the Atlantic when he meets the magnetic Catherine (Esther Anderson) during an extended trip to London with his daughter.