Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan, affable gardener and widowed father
Suburban Connecticut, Fall 1957
Film: Far From Heaven
Release Date: November 8, 2002
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
Far From Heaven premiered twenty years ago this week, a smart, sincere, and stylish drama that stands alone as a thoughtful story beyond its oft-discussed intentional parallels to the Douglas Sirk melodramas of a half-century prior.
The Sirk homages are evident not just in the autumnal photography but also the plot, recalling the romance between a woman and her gardener in All That Heaven Allows (1955) as well as the racial themes driving Imitation of Life (1959). In this case, the woman is housewife Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), who raises her friends’ eyebrows through her growing bond with Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), a kind gardener taking over his late father’s accounts. Continue reading
Roddy Piper as “Nada”, tough drifter and anti-alien vigilante
Los Angeles, Spring 1988
Film: They Live
Release Date: November 4, 1988
Director: John Carpenter
Costume Supervisor: Robin Michel Bush
Released on this day in 1988, They Live followed the example of most of John Carpenter’s work by finding a cult following considerably after it came out, though it debuted at the top of the North American box office.
Adapted from Ray Nelson’s 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”, They Live stars Canadian-born wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as an unnamed drifter who arrives in Los Angeles looking for work… and finds a box of sunglasses that literally open his eyes to the fact that an alien ruling class has been subliminally manipulating the public to conform, consume, and reproduce. Continue reading
Sam Shepard as Chuck Yeager, record-setting U.S. Air Force test pilot
Murac Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base), Kern County, California, from fall 1947 to summer 1961
Film: The Right Stuff
Release Date: October 21, 1983
Director: Philip Kaufman
Costume Supervisor: James W. Tyson
Today marks the 75th anniversary of when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, piloting a rocket-propelled Bell X-1 aircraft—named Glamorous Glennis, after his wife—over the Mojave Desert at a speed greater than Mach 1. The event is depicted at the start of The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman’s 1983 flight epic based on Tom Wolfe’s nonfiction book of the same name, chronicling the pivotal early years of American aeronautics between Yeager’s supersonic achievement and the conclusion of the successful Project Mercury manned space missions.
The Beach Boys: Brian Wilson, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and David Marks
Malibu, California, Summer 1962
Photographs by Ken Veeder
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars and style icons rather than from specific productions.
Sixty years ago this month, The Beach Boys debuted their first arguable hit single, “Surfin’ Safari” (with “409” on the B side) for Capitol Records in June 1962. The group of southern California youngsters had released their first single (“Surfin'”) with the short-lived Candix Records the previous fall… and the resulting regional success essentially bankrupted the fledgling record company, who could barely afford to pay the group a thousand dollars in royalties for a single that had charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
After signing with Capitol Records, the teens realized they were now in the big leagues. When Brian Wilson turned 20 in June 1962, “Surfin’ Safari”—the simple song he’d written years earlier with his cousin Mike Love—was now rising up the Billboard charts to peak at #14. The lineup now consisted of Wilson and Love with Wilson’s younger brothers Dennis and Carl as well as the 13-year-old David Marks, who had replaced their friend Al Jardine in February, though Jardine—who had left the group to attend dental school—would be back to replace Marks within the year.
On October 1, 1962, Capitol released the first full-length Beach Boys album, named Surfin’ Safari after the hit single that led the album. As their song titles implied, the Beach Boys were heavily influenced by surf music pioneers like Dick Dale, adding harmonies that provided more mainstream pop appeal and popularized what came to be known as the “California sound”.
To visually communicate this West Coast spirit, Capitol photographer joined the Wilsons, Love, and Marks on the seaside sands of Paradise Cove in Malibu for an album cover shoot that would visually communicate the spirit of California with the boys, complete with Dennis’ nine-foot Hermosa surfboard and a palm frond-decorated yellow 1929 Ford Model A pickup truck that Capitol art director Ed Thrasher rented for $50 from a local “beach contractor” known as “Calypso Joe”. In the tradition of all the rising young bands of the day, the Beach Boys dressed identically for that overcast August afternoon in the surf, all clad in woolen board shirts that evoked the band’s original name: the Pendletones. Continue reading
Sam Riley as Sal Paradise, aspiring writer based on future Beat icon Jack Kerouac
Queens, New York, Winter 1947
Film: On the Road
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Director: Walter Salles
Costume Designer: Danny Glicker
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Jack Kerouac was born 100 years ago today on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. His 1957 roman à clef On the Road became a defining work of what would be called the Beat Generation, chronicling the author’s wanderings in the late 1940s with contemporaries like William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg, all thinly disguised in the novel with pseudonyms.
Kerouac had started work on the novel almost immediately upon returning from his travels, the original draft being a continuous, single-spaced 120-page “scroll” that he typed across three weeks in April 1951. This free-flowing stream of consciousness has been called the ideal medium that captured the mad impulses that drove his adventures with Cassady, represented by the larger-than-life character Dean Moriarty. Continue reading
Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith, newspaper cartoonist and crusading crime investigator
San Francisco Bay Area, Fall 1975 thorough summer 1979
Release Date: March 2, 2007
Director: David Fincher
Costume Designer: Casey Storm
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
By the mid-1970s, active investigations for the infamous Zodiac Killer had cooled; the intrepid San Francisco detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) had been urged to refocus his efforts, his partner Bill Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) had requested to move on, and investigative reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) was no longer writing about the case… leaving the burden of investigation in the surprising hands of San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith. Continue reading
John Saxon as Donald Thompson, police lieutenant
Suburban Ohio, Spring 1981
Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Release Date: November 9, 1984
Director: Wes Craven
Costume Designer: Dana Lyman
A decade after he investigated a series of grisly sorority murders at Christmastime, John Saxon again portrayed a police lieutenant chasing down a serial killer in Wes Craven’s horror classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street.
We meet Lieutenant Thompson when he’s called to the station late at night in response to the murder of his daughter’s friend Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss). Thompson’s police colleagues initially suspect Tina’s meathead boyfriend, the “lunatic delinquent” Rod Lane (Nick Corri). Rod doesn’t help his case by fleeing the scene, but a tearful Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) explains to her father that it couldn’t have been Rod.
Thompson has little reason to believe his daughter’s protestations, but we the audience know that Tina’s brutal slashing was the work of the disfigured spirit of the long-dead child murderer Freddy Kreuger. Continue reading
Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett IV, newlywed Harvard graduate
Boston, Fall to Winter 1968
Film: Love Story
Release Date: December 16, 1970
Director: Arthur Hiller
Costume Design: Alice Manougian Martin & Pearl Somner
If all goes to plan, I’ll be getting married exactly one year from today so it felt appropriate to revisit some of the fall-friendly fashions from one of the most famous—or infamous, if you’re so inclined—romance movies of all time, Love Story.
Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw star as the Ivy League lovers Oliver and Jenny who, once she overcomes her distaste for his upper-class roots (drink every time she calls him “preppy”), defy his blue-blood father’s wishes and get married, beginning their humble lives together in a Boston apartment following his graduation.
Oliver remains defiantly bitter following his father’s rejection of Jenny, cutting off all contact. After receiving an invitation to his estranged father’s 60th birthday party, Oliver refuses to even respond with their regrets, resulting in his and Jenny’s first major argument. She runs from the apartment, sending Oliver on an increasingly desperate search from local shops to music classes, until he returns home that night to find her waiting on their stoop.
Regretting his behavior, Oliver offers his apologies, to which Jenny responds by hitting him with one of the most criticized lines in movie history:
Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
Harry Dean Stanton as “Lucky”, grizzled desert-dwelling nonagenarian
Piru, California, Summer 2016
Release Date: March 11, 2017
Director: John Carroll Lynch
Costume Designer: Lisa Norcia
Today’s post celebrates the great Harry Dean Stanton, the craggy and unapologetically authentic character actor born 95 years ago on July 14, 1926. Stanton’s prolific filmography included few leading roles, aside from a memorable turn in Wim Wenders’ 1984 masterpiece Paris, Texas, and his final movie, Lucky.
Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja collaborated on the screenplay that would result in a cinematic love letter to Harry Dean Stanton, for whom Sparks had served as personal assistant for more than 16 years. Described by Movie Talk as “a poignant meditation on mortality”, Lucky provides a fitting swan song for the actor’s career, incorporating biographical details like Stanton’s Kentucky birthplace and service in the U.S. Navy, reuniting him with previous collaborators like David Lynch and Tom Skeritt, and even scored by harmonica riffs on “Red River Valley”, a song associated with his roles in Dillinger (1973) and Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), not to exclude the overall motif of roaming the southwestern desert that echoes his starring role in Paris, Texas.
The man at the heart of it all is “Lucky”, a cantankerous but not unkind 90-year-old who loves cigarettes, crossword puzzles, and coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. A man of routine, Lucky begins each day with a Natural American Spirit cigarette, his calisthenics (“five yoga exercises every day, 21 repetitions each”), and a glass of cold milk, before he slips into one of his identical shirts, jackets, and jeans to greet another day in the small desert town of Piru, California.
After I shared some of my favorite budget-friendly movie and TV-inspired summer shirts this year, I also received some interest in a similar post for the autumn so my thoughts immediately went to rounding up some fall-friendly flannel shirts, jackets, and shackets based on my favorite types of movies to watch around this time of year.
My taste in fall movies runs from the rough to the refined. Having grown up watching The Dukes of Hazzard, I always had a soft spot for the low-budget “hick flicks” (and I use the term endearingly) often rolled out during the ’70s by groups like American International Pictures or New World Pictures. The latter distributed Moonshine County Express, one of many movies I saw for the first time while under quarantine this year, and a clear bridge between Burt Reynolds’ early fare like White Lightning and the more formulaic world of the Duke boys in Hazzard County.
Of course, it also wouldn’t be fall without the melodramatic sophistication of Douglas Sirk or his romantic heroes with a taste for flannel as modeled by Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows or by his spiritual successor Dennis Haysbert in the autumnal drama Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes’ 2002 ode to Sirk.
Finally, the holidays means we’re in Die Hard season with both the 1988 original film and its 1990 sequel each set during an action-packed Christmas Eve. Bruce Willis’ cynical hero may be tragically underdressed for his adventure in Nakatomi Tower, but he makes up for it two years later by keeping his shirt and shoes while battling baddies in the snow.
Please feel free to add your own observations or flannel favorites in the comments! Continue reading