John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States and U.S. Navy veteran
Off the New England coast, August 1962
Photographs by Robert Knudsen
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.
On the anniversary of his May 29, 1917 birthday, I wanted to revisit the 35th President of the United States, who has often been credited as the man who brought a new sense of style to the White House during the brief Age of Camelot.
One of my most visited posts on this page was a comprehensive look at John F. Kennedy’s style, from suits and sport jackets to white tie and windbreakers, which I had published to commemorate his legacy on the 50th anniversary of his November 1963 assassination… and which I imagine is in dire need of revision after nearly a decade.
Kennedy once said: “Sailing has given me some of the most pleasant and exciting moments of my life. It also has taught me something of the courage, resourcefulness, and strength of men who sail the seas in ships.” Continue reading
John Garfield as Nick Robey, desperate small-time thief
Los Angeles, Summer 1951
Film: He Ran All the Way
Release Date: June 19, 1951
Director: John Berry
Wardrobe Credit: Joe King
John Garfield, one of the most talented and naturalistic actors of Hollywood’s “golden age”, died 70 years ago today on May 21, 1952. Garfield had long been troubled with heart health issues, but it’s been argued that the resulting stress brought on by harassment from the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee contributed to his early death at the age of 39, nearly a year after the release of his final film, He Ran All the Way (1951).
Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, slick gangster
Newark, New Jersey, Summer 1967 through Summer 1971
Film: The Many Saints of Newark
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Director: Alan Taylor
Costume Designer: Amy Westcott
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
“Pain comes from wanting things,” Sal Moltisanti (Ray Liotta) explains to his nephew Dickie, though it could have also been meta-messaging from David Chase, creator of The Sopranos and a frequent critic of the fans and pundits always demanding more from his magnum opus, be it answers (What happened to the Russian? Did Tony die at Holsten’s?) or more stories to be told.
Regarding the latter, Chase had expressed interest in prequel stories—if anything—to continue building the Soprano-verse. He returned to a setting that had intrigued him as far back as his days in film school: the race riots that swept through Newark in July 1967.
While much excitement was garnered when it was announced that the late James Gandolfini’s son Michael would be playing a younger version of the role his father had immortalized on the series, the central character of Chase’s prequel would be Dickie Moltisanti, the smooth mafiosi whose death prior to the events of the series left the hotheaded young gangster Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) desperately in search of a father figure.
After years of The Sopranos building up Dickie’s mythos, Alessandro Nivola delivers a charismatic and engaging performance that makes Dickie Moltisanti a particularly compelling character to finally meet, illustrating the magnetism that would have so entranced a young Tony as well as the internal demons that he would have transferred to Christopher.
Mel Gibson as Dale “Mac” McKussic, retired drug dealer
Los Angeles, Summer 1988
Film: Tequila Sunrise
Release Date: December 2, 1988
Director: Robert Towne
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss
Following his success as a screenwriter—credited and uncredited—on some of the most memorable movies of the ’70s, Robert Towne intended for his sophomore directorial film, Tequila Sunrise, to be something of a spiritual follow-up to Chinatown, which… it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I did get some enjoyment out of Tequila Sunrise and there’s no denying that it’s refreshingly original—almost to a questionable degree—but I would argue it’s not even close to the same league as Chinatown, let alone Bonnie & Clyde, The Godfather, The Last Detail, Marathon Man, or the other excellent films that benefited from Towne’s contributions.
Several had recommended Tequila Sunrise to me for its style, and I’ll admit the name intrigued me, so I mentally scheduled to watch it and write about it in time for #NationalTequilaDay, celebrated annually on July 24… so happy National Tequila Day!
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
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, relentless mutant Nazi hunter to be christened Magneto
Villa Gesell, Argentina, Fall 1962
Film: X-Men: First Class
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Sammy Sheldon
While I’m not traditionally a fan of superhero movies (at least as not as big a fan as some people!), I’ve appreciated how the recent stretch of Marvel movies have stretched across genres in its multi-billion-dollar appeal to varying audiences. For me, it’s been the entries rooted in history—like the MCU’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Fox’s X-Men: First Class, both released in 2011—that have had the most appeal of those I’ve seen. The latter, released ten years ago this summer, had been a subject of multiple requests since BAMF Style’s early years, so I hope I’m not too late in finally paying tribute to a briefly seen but timelessly stylish outfit from this Cold War-set adventure.
Dean Martin as Dino, smooth crooner with a passion for booze, golf, and women
Between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Fall 1964
Film: Kiss Me, Stupid
Release Date: December 22, 1964
Director: Billy Wilder
Wardrobe Credit: Irene Caine & Wesley Jeffries
Tailor: Sy Devore
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
To celebrate the legendary Dean Martin, born on this day in 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio, today’s post explores when the chsaismatic Italian-American entertainer played… himself! Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious ad man and Korean War veteran
Ossining, New York, Spring 1962
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Maidenform” (Episode 2.06)
Air Date: August 31, 2008
Director: Phil Abraham
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
It’s Memorial Day weekend on Mad Men, and the Drapers and their Ossining neighbors gather at the Willow Oaks Golf Club’s annual Ribs and Fashion Show to bemoan their self-described “high-class problems” ranging from the sticky summer from when the Rosenbergs were murdered to taking the fall for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Among the elite in their tennis whites and the veterans in their aging uniforms, Don’s simple and timeless knit shirt and trousers has been frequently requested as a popular look from the fashion series, despite only appearing in this one episode.
Richard Benjamin as Neil Klugman, listless library employee and Army veteran
Westchester, New York, Summer 1968
Film: Goodbye, Columbus
Release Date: April 3, 1969
Director: Larry Peerce
Costume Designer: Gene Coffin
In addition to today being the birthday of star Richard Benjamin—born on this day in 1938—today also marks three years since the death of Philip Roth, who died of congestive heart failure on May 22, 2018. Roth’s novella Goodbye, Columbus provided the source material for Ali MacGraw’s major screen debut acting opposite Benjamin.
Goodbye, Columbus has been favorably compared to The Graduate, inviting parallels with its similar-looking leads: a somewhat awkward, naive, and listless young man romancing a dark-haired “princess” against her parents’ wishes (though for a dramatically different reason than the Robinsons had), scored against the backdrop of a hip band from the late ’60s, in this case The Association as opposed to Simon & Garfunkel’s famous soundtrack for The Graduate.
James Dean, enigmatic young actor and rebellious emblem
Los Angeles, Summer 1955
Photographs by Sanford Roth
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars rather than from specific productions.
Today would have been the 90th birthday of James Dean, born in central Indiana on February 8, 1931. Considering his cultural impact, it’s remarkable that Dean condensed his entire career into less than a half decade in the early 1950s, acting in a series of commercials, TV anthology programs, and uncredited bit parts in movies until delivering a trio of enduring performances in East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant that would be released within a year and a half of each other.