James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
New Jersey, Spring 2004
Series: The Sopranos
– “Rat Pack” (Episode 5.02, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 3/14/2004)
– “In Camelot” (Episode 5.07, dir. Steve Buscemi, aired 4/18/2004)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
This week’s #MafiaMonday post celebrates the late James Gandolfini, the award-winning actor who would have celebrated his 57th birthday tomorrow.
Gandolfini won multiple awards, including three Emmys, for his performance as the tough yet troubled gangster Tony Soprano on HBO’s The Sopranos, setting the foundation for future TV icons. Continue reading
Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe, American private investigator
London, September 1977
Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: March 13, 1978
Director: Michael Winner
Costume Designer: Ron Beck
More than three decades after Bogart and Bacall lit up the screen in The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s seminal pulp detective novel was reimagined for the contemporary setting of late 1970s England with ultimate silver screen tough guy Robert Mitchum in the lead role as Raymond Chandler’s cynical private eye, Philip Marlowe.
We catch up here with Marlowe the morning after he takes his case as he joins the police in their investigation of the Sternwood family’s chauffeur, dead in an apparent accident that soon reveals itself to be murder. Following a few leads takes Marlowe to a flat where he encounters blackmailer Joe Brody (Edward Fox), femme fatale Agnes Lozelle (Joan Collins), General Sternwood’s flighty youngest daughter Camilla (Candy Clark), and trigger-happy gunsel Karl Lundgren (Simon Fisher-Turner)… all of whom armed with a handgun but, as Marlowe wryly notes, no brains to boot. Continue reading
Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli (aka Tod Wilkinson), ex-Mafia informant
Fryburg, California, November 1989 through summer 1990
Film: My Blue Heaven
Release Date: August 17, 1990
Director: Herbert Ross
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
You know, it’s dangerous for you to be here in the frozen food section… because you could melt. all. this. stuff.
Steve Martin’s smooth-talking Vinnie Antonelli finds post-Mafia lifestyle to be more and more amenable in My Blue Heaven as he builds a suburban criminal empire and seduces a floozy in the frozen aisle of his local grocery store. Continue reading
John Wayne as Jim Brannigan, tough Chicago PD lieutenant
London, Fall 1974
Release Date: March 26, 1975
Director: Douglas Hickox
Wardrobe Credit: Emma Porteous
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
If McQ was John Wayne’s Dirty Harry, then its spiritual successor Brannigan was his Coogan’s Bluff, a “fish out of water” cop film that finds the Duke’s taciturn American lawman in London to secure the extradition of arch-criminal Ben Larkin (John Vernon) under the watchful – and often judgmental – eye of the quintessentially English Scotland Yard Commissioner Swann (Richard Attenborough). Continue reading
Sean Connery as Colonel John Arbuthnot, British Indian Army commanding officer
Istanbul, December 1935
Film: Murder on the Orient Express
Release Date: November 24, 1974
Director: Sidney Lumet
Costume Designer: Tony Walton
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Sean Connery, born August 25, 1930!
After playing James Bond in six films over the course of a decade, Connery was more than tired of the demanding role that had made him a star, and he began seeking work in different projects. One of his first films after putting 007 behind him (for the second time) was as part of the ensemble cast of Murder on the Orient Express, a 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 mystery novel. Continue reading
Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito, volatile and violent Mafia associate
New York, Spring 1979
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
We always called each other “good fellas.” Like you said to somebody, “You’re gonna like this guy. He’s all right. He’s a good fella. He’s one of us.” You understand? We were good fellas. Wiseguys.
The line may have been an afterthought to explain the new Goodfellas title after Scorsese was unable to use the book’s original Wiseguy title, but it provides the perfect context and framework for Tommy DeVito prepping for his “made man” ceremony, especially against the optimistic driving piano exit of Derek and the Dominoes’ “Layla”.
Of course, little does Tommy know that he’s in for the ultimate case of the [Mafia] Mondays… Continue reading
Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, old school Deputy U.S. Marshal
Harlan County, Kentucky, Fall 2010
– “The Lord of War and Thunder” (Episode 1.05, Director: Jon Avnet, Air Date: April 13, 2010)
– “Hatless ” (Episode 1.09, Director: Peter Werner, Air Date: May 11, 2010)
– “Cottonmouth” (Episode 2.05, Director: Michael Watkins, Air Date: March 9, 2011)
Creator: Graham Yost
Costume Designers: Ane Crabtree (Season 1) & Patia Prouty (Season 2)
Justified took some time to find its footing at the beginning, developing the style of its characters as well as the show’s own format: would this be an episodic “case-of-the-week” procedural or more serial?
Luckily, the show found its place at the perfect intersection of these two as its lead character, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, often had to handle a quick new case with eccentric, one-off criminals all developed against the longer arcs of his feud with the Crowder clan, his romantic entanglements in Harlan County, the consequences of his quick trigger finger, and frustrations with his own family, particularly his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry) whom we meet in “The Lord of War and Thunder” (Episode 1.05). Continue reading