Tagged: Private Detective

Mitchum as Marlowe: Striped Jacket in The Big Sleep

Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1978)

Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1978)

Vitals

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

Background

Philip Marlowe is a bold dresser. We learn that from the opening paragraph of Raymond Chandler’s inaugural novel, The Big Sleep, with the description of the detective’s powder blue suit, dark blue underpinnings, and socks with clocks. The rest of the United States may have adopted a somber approach to dressing during the years of the Depression, but Marlowe is an L.A. private eye. He’s gotta turn heads.

Decades after the novel’s publication and Bogie and Bacall sizzled in its first cinematic adaptation, the story was once again slated for the silver screen. Continue reading

Mitchum as Marlowe: Gray Plaid Jacket in The Big Sleep

Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1978)

Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1978)

Vitals

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

Background

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

After the Thin Man: White Tie for New Year’s Eve

William Powell and Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man (1936)... with Skippy as Asta

William Powell and Myrna Loy in After the Thin Man (1936)… with Skippy as Asta

Vitals

William Powell as Nick Charles, retired private detective

San Francisco, New Year’s Eve 1936

Film: After the Thin Man
Release Date: December 25, 1936
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Wardrobe Credit: Dolly Tree

Background

After the Thin Man was released on Christmas 1936 as a continuation of The Thin Man, as its title implies. The all-original story was drafted by Dashiell Hammett himself immediately after the success of the first film, although Hammett had first envisioned circumstances that would send his witty detective duo back to New York City. Eventually, the decision was made to have the Charles couple solving a crime in their hometown of San Francisco. Continue reading

The Thin Man: Nick’s Christmas Loungewear

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man (1934)... with Skippy as Asta!

William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man (1934)… with Skippy as Asta!

Vitals

William Powell as Nick Charles, retired private detective

New York City, Christmas 1933

Film: The Thin Man
Release Date: May 25, 1934
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Wardrobe Credit: Dolly Tree

Background

Suffice it to say that Nick and Nora Charles had quite a Christmas. Following a drunken holiday party, the sleepy couple was interrupted by the gat-wielding Joe Morelli (Edward Brophy), a fast-talking “get me, see?”-type of gangster whose quick trigger finger is no match for Nick Charles’ quick wit.

A few hours later, Nick spends Christmas morning recovering and in a perpetual daze possibly due to his recent flesh wound, the magic of the holidays, or – most likely – a large quantity of Scotch in his system. Continue reading

Sherlock Holmes’ Peacoat

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Vitals

Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, eccentric consulting detective

London, November 1890

Film: Sherlock Holmes
Release Date: December 25, 2009
Director: Guy Ritchie
Costume Designer: Jenny Beavan

Background

Looking for a historical Halloween costume in a pinch? In the spirit of #SherlockSunday, grab a peacoat, a peaked cap, and a pair of suspenders, and you’re good to go!

But isn’t Sherlock Holmes most associated with the classic Basil Hathbone ensemble of a deerstalker cap and Ulster cape? Not so in the 2009 film starring Robert Downey Jr. as the iconic detective, as director Guy Ritchie insisted that his incarnation would neither wear the deerstalker nor say “Elementary, my dear Watson,” choosing instead to present what Roger Ebert would call a “cheerfully revisionist” take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s character. Continue reading

Chinatown – J.J. Gittes’ Light Gray Suit

Jack Nicholson on set as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (1974)

Jack Nicholson on set as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (1974)

Vitals

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes, private investigator and ex-policeman

Los Angeles, September 1937

Film: Chinatown
Release Date: June 20, 1974
Director: Roman Polanski
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Now that summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s high time to make sure that you’ve got some duds in your closet that are as appropriate for a day at the office as they are for the sunniest season.

A self-employed gumshoe like J.J. Gittes calls his own shots. As Chinatown is set in 1937, suits were de rigeur for men, but Gittes is hardly the type to rely on the gray flannel suit trope, especially in the sunny southern California locales. Continue reading

Chinatown – J.J. Gittes’ Gray Striped Suit

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (1974)

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (1974)

Vitals

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes, private investigator and ex-policeman

Los Angeles, September 1937

Film: Chinatown
Release Date: June 20, 1974
Director: Roman Polanski
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert

Background

J.J. Gittes begins his final day investigating the Mulwray case in Chinatown with his usual cheekiness, even when surprised by walking into a murder scene. He trades barbs with increasingly suspicious detectives, including the pugnacious Detective Loach (Richard Bakalyan) who inquires about Gittes’ sliced-up nose; Edward Norton’s character in Rounders would pay homage to Gittes’ response of “Your wife got excited. She crossed her legs a little too quick.”

But Gittes’ good humor wears off by the end, following a series of misadventures – mostly at gunpoint – involving sisters, daughters, and a shot-out eyeball. As his assistant Walsh (Joe Mantell) sagely – and now famously – advises him:

Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

Continue reading