Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, sophisticated British secret agent
London, November 1999
Film: The World is Not Enough
Release Date: November 8, 1999
Director: Michael Apted
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
February 27 is National Cigar Day according to some, and – while it may not be recognized universally – it’s always nice to have an extra reason to relax with your favorite cigar.
Like Roger Moore before him, Pierce Brosnan eschewed the cigarettes favored by the literary (and, at one point, cinematic) James Bond in favor of cigars. Both actors preferred cigars in real life as well, and it’s been recorded that Moore frequently received several thousand pounds worth of Montecristo cigars during his outings as 007.
In The World is Not Enough, Brosnan’s Bond returns from his action-packed trip to Bilbao for what should be a quiet day at the office that begins, as usual, by casually flirting with Miss Moneypenny (Samantha Bond). Continue reading
Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin, American government agent
Miami and Rio de Janeiro, Spring 1946
Release Date: September 6, 1946
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
It’s impossible to over-celebrate the elegant yet understated sartorialism of Cary Grant, born this day in 1904. One of my favorite of Grant’s movies is Notorious, the 1946 espionage adventure that paired him with Ingrid Bergman as a pair of American spies tasked with exposing Alexander Sebastian, a former Nazi played with charmingly evil affability by Claude Rains.
Notorious was the second collaboration between Grant and director Alfred Hitchcock, and it marked the start of a string of wildly successful and ultimately timeless movies that Hitch would direct over the next two decades. Continue reading
Robert De Niro as David “Noodles” Aaronson, mob bootlegger and violent ex-convict
New York City, December 1933
Film: Once Upon a Time in America
Release Date: May 23, 1984
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Gabriella Pescucci
83 years ago today, the 21st amendment was ratified to officially repeal Prohibition, delighting a thirsty American public but leaving many criminals who had made their fortunes from bootlegging effectively “unemployed”. This Mafia Monday post checks in with Robert De Niro as a mobster coming to terms with what that means for his career and personal life in 1984’s Once Upon a Time in America. Continue reading
Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, archetypal hard-boiled private detective
Los Angeles, Fall 1945
Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: August 23, 1946
Director: Howard Hawks
Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is a pretty special day for me, and I’d like to celebrate the woman who is the Bacall to my Bogie by reflecting on The Big Sleep, which was originally released in theaters 70 years ago tomorrow, eight days after its premiere on August 23, 1946.
The Big Sleep was the second of four films starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The had originally met while filming her cinematic debut, To Have and Have Not, which was released on October 11, 1944, the very day after production began on The Big Sleep. (To Have and Have Not is also the first movie that my girlfriend and I watched together!) Continue reading
Al Pacino as Tony Montana, impulsive and hotheaded cocaine kingpin
New York City to Miami, Fall 1983
Release Date: December 9, 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
Tailor: Tommy Velasco
Even if you’re one of the 0.5% of the population who hasn’t seen Scarface, you’ve seen this suit and you know this scene. You’ve seen it on t-shirts, dorm room posters, memes, and anywhere that pop culture will allow it. The scene has become legendary over the last three decades as one of the greatest movie gunfights in history for many reasons: an unhinged Al Pacino who may or may not have been pretending to be high, an endless mob of cartel gunmen each meeting their fate at the end of his AR-15, and – of course:
Say hello to my little friend!
Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley, professional armed robber
Los Angeles, Spring 1995
Release Date: December 15, 1995
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Deborah Lynn Scott
De Niro’s Costumer: Marsha Bozeman
My last post looked at a bank robber who relied on his wits and a team of burglars to carry out a job. Neil McCauley is far more ruthless and traditional kind of cinematic bank robber; one that you would expect a no-nonsense great like Robert De Niro to portray. After months of planning and double-crosses, McCauley’s team is ready to take down a major bank in downtown L.A. Continue reading
Denzel Washington as Keith Frazier, NYPD detective
New York City, August 2005
Film: Inside Man
Release Date: March 24, 2006
Director: Spike Lee
Costume Designer: Donna Berwick
Thirty years after Al Pacino electrified audiences in Dog Day Afternoon, Spike Lee released Inside Man, another gripping film about a mid-day New York City bank robbery involving hostages, double-crosses, and character-driven comic moments biting into the suspense.
While Dog Day Afternoon focuses primarily on the criminals, Inside Man shifts focus to the other side of the law as the charismatic and somewhat cocky Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) is assigned to handle the robbery. His adversary is far more cunning than the emotional Sonny of Dog Day Afternoon, and Frazier is just the guy to match his wits. As Frazier himself bemoans:
Who ever heard of a bank robbers escaping on a plane with fifty hostages? You’ve seen Dog Day Afternoon! You’re stalling! Why? I don’t know.