John Wayne as Lon “McQ” McHugh, taciturn Seattle PD lieutenant
Seattle, Fall 1973
Release Date: February 6, 1974
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Luster Bayless
Today marks the birthday of John Wayne, the American icon who reinvented his half-century image as a stalwart of Westerns and war movies by taking on a duo of contemporary cop roles, beginning with McQ in 1974 and followed up with Brannigan the following year.
Born May 26, 1907, Duke was over 60 as he watched younger stars like Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood steal the action movie thunder with urban-set police thrillers. While McQueen’s impressive wheelmanship would be incorporated into McQ, it was the “shoot first, ask later” style of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry that particularly resonated with the old-school star as the opening sequence of McQ finds Duke’s rugged Seattle detective foiling a dockside hitman with his own six-shooter. Continue reading
Kevin Costner as Frank Hamer, tough Texas special investigator and former Texas Ranger
Texas and Louisiana, Spring 1934
Film: The Highwaymen
Release Date: March 15, 2019 (March 29, 2019, on Netflix)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Costume Designer: Daniel Orlandi
Following a decorated career in law enforcement that found him bravely and successfully leading investigations and captures of violent criminals, Frank Hamer is not the sort of man who should need a cultural reevaluation in his defense. And yet, it was the most celebrated victory of Hamer’s career—bringing an end to Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker’s violent crime spree—that would eventually result in the former Texas Ranger being villianized in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde that romanticized the titular outlaw couple to carry out its countercultural message.
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
In the spirit of yesterday, March 12, being deemed Alfred Hitchcock Day, not to mention being one week away from the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, even if the weather itself can’t make up its mind…
For those whose offices call for jackets and ties, dressing for work during these transitional weather periods can be a challenge, balancing professionalism with comfort in the context of an uncertain weather forecast. As San Francisco detective “Scottie” Ferguson in Vertigo, James Stewart provides a solution.
Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, Philadelphia homicide detective
Sparta, Mississippi, September 1966
Film: In the Heat of the Night
Release Date: August 2, 1967
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
Happy birthday to the great Sidney Poitier, born 92 years ago today on February 20, 1927. The actor’s personal favorite among his prolific filmography is In the Heat of the Night, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1967, a year that found him pulling off a peerless hat trick that included that film as well as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and To Sir, with Love. Continue reading
Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, troubled and crooked Vinci PD detective
Ventura County, California, fall 2014 to spring 2015
Series: True Detective
Air Dates: June 21, 2015 – August 9, 2015
Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Costume Designer: Alix Friedberg
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
True Detective returns to HBO tonight with the premiere of its third season, which has been suggested to be a return to form after the poorly received second season, which aired three and a half years ago.
The second season was a well-intended—if not perfectly executed—departure from the first season, transporting us from the evocative Louisiana swamplands to the noir-esque metropolis of southern California, experienced through the shifting perspectives and murky morals of three cops and an ambitious gangster. While all four shared the spotlight throughout the series, Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro emerged as the show’s likeliest contender for central character.
Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, suspended homicide detective
San Francisco, April 1991
Film: Basic Instinct
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
The scene itself needs no introduction. Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) sits in a shadowy interrogation room full of detectives (including Newman!) with Hitchcockian ice-cold blonde Catherine Trammell (Sharon Stone) facing them. Continue reading
Denzel Washington as Mathias Lee “Matt” Whitlock, Banyan Key police chief
Banyan Key, Florida, summer 2002
Film: Out of Time
Release Date: October 3, 2003
Director: Carl Franklin
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis
If you’re lucky enough to count a well-made Aloha shirt or two in your closet, summer is the time to bring them to the front of your rotation. After all, boldly printed shirts dominated at Milan Fashion Week this month, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a few more Hawaiian shirts on gents of all generations this summer.
While Hawaiian shirts in movies and TV are often played for comedic purposes, the tropical neo-noir Out of Time unironically – and successfully – dresses its protagonist in a setting-appropriate printed Aloha shirt for the lion’s share of the film’s action.