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Paul Newman’s Glenurquhart Plaid Suit in The Color of Money

Paul Newman as "Fast Eddie" Felson in The Color of Money (1986)

Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson in The Color of Money (1986)

Vitals

Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson, liquor salesman and former pool hustler

Chicago, Spring 1986

Film: The Color of Money
Release Date: October 17, 1986
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

Background

Today would have been the 95th birthday of Paul Newman, the acclaimed actor, philanthropist, entrepreneur and motorsports enthusiast. Over his legendary career that spanned more than half a century, Newman’s sole Academy Award for acting recognized his performance in The Color of Money (1986), in which he reprised the role of “Fast Eddie” Felson that he had originated on screen in The Hustler (1961). Continue reading

The Yakuza: Robert Mitchum’s Corduroy Jacket and Tan Turtleneck

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer in The Yakuza (1974)

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer in The Yakuza (1974)

Vitals

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer, tough former detective

Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, Spring 1974

Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Fall is here in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s my favorite season for the cooler weather, the changing leaves, and the increased sweaters, corduroys, and tweeds that make their way from the back of the closet back into regular rotation. These autumnal staples get some particularly badass exposure in Sydney Pollack’s 1974 Japanese-set neo-noir The Yakuza as a 57-year-old Robert Mitchum joins Ken Takakura as they fight their way through Honshu from Kyoto to Tokyo in a variety of natty turtlenecks layered under tweed jackets and corduroy suits.

Continue reading

The Yakuza: Robert Mitchum’s Tan Parka and Turtleneck

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer in The Yakuza (1974)

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer in The Yakuza (1974)

Vitals

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer, tough former detective

Tokyo, Spring 1974

Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The unique neo-noir Japanese gangster movie The Yakuza was conceptualized by brothers Paul and Leonard Schrader based on Leonard’s letters to Paul while living in Japan, particularly about the yakuza and the screen presence of Ken Takakura. While Takakura was almost always guaranteed to play a role, the crucial positions of the director and the lead actor—who would portray an aging former detective sent to Japan in service to an old friend—were still in transition.

Early in the pre-production stages, it looked like Robert Aldrich would direct with Lee Marvin in the lead role, until Marvin’s clash with Warner Brothers led to Robert Mitchum taking the role. Continue reading

Mitchum as Marlowe: Striped Summer Suit 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

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Raymond Chandler’s birthday was 130 years ago today (July 23, 1888), so I’m celebrating the hard-boiled author’s big day with a look at a cinematic portrayal of one of his most enduring creations, cynical private eye Philip Marlowe, as played by Robert Mitchum in this 1978 update of The Big Sleep.

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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

Steve Martin’s Gray Plaid Jacket in My Blue Heaven

Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli in My Blue Heaven (1990)

Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli in My Blue Heaven (1990)

Vitals

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

Background

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

Ricky Roma’s Cream Pinstripe Silk Suit

Al Pacino as Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Al Pacino as Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Vitals

Al Pacino as Ricky Roma, ace real estate closer

New York (or maybe Chicago…), September 1992

Film: Glengarry Glen Ross
Release Date: October 2, 1992
Director: James Foley
Costume Designer: Jane Greenwood

Background

This is a big week for iconic actor birthdays! Today is the 77th birthday of Al Pacino, born April 25, 1940 in New York.

After a dormant post-Scarface career through most of the ’80s, Pacino shot back onto the screen in the following decade, returning to the part that made him famous as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III and taking on the role of confident and cut-throat real estate salesman Richard Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross from a screenplay adapted by David Mamet of his own Pulitzer- and Tony-winning 1984 play. Continue reading

Patrick Bateman’s Tuxedo

Christian Bale and Cara Seymour as Patrick Bateman and Christie, respectively, in American Psycho (2000).

Christian Bale and Cara Seymour as Patrick Bateman and Christie, respectively, in American Psycho (2000).

Vitals

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, shallow investment banker and possible serial killer

New York City, Spring 1988

Film: American Psycho
Release Date: April 14, 2000
Director: Mary Harron
Costume Designer: Isis Mussenden

Background

Halloween approaching is a fine time to address a monster in human form like Patrick Bateman who may have been a sharp dresser (for the ’80s) but was undoubtedly a terrible human being (in any era!)

You can tell Bateman is trying his best to be seen as a classy host; he plays Phil Collins, after all! Of course, Bateman is hindered by the fact that no classy evening should ever include the words “don’t just stare at it, eat it!” Continue reading

Steve Martin’s Red Silk Suit in My Blue Heaven

Steve Martin with Rick Moranis in My Blue Heaven (1990). Sadly, this is just a promotional photo and Steve's rad Ray-Ban sunglasses didn't make it into this scene.

Steve Martin with Rick Moranis in My Blue Heaven (1990). Sadly, this is just a promotional photo and Steve’s rad Ray-Ban sunglasses didn’t make it into this scene.

Vitals

Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli (aka Tod Wilkinson), ex-Mafia informant

New York City, Early Winter 1990

Film: My Blue Heaven
Release Date: August 17, 1990
Director: Herbert Ross
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi

Background

This week’s focus on dupioni silk continues with the loud red suit worn by Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, posted today to celebrate my sister’s birthday as this flick is a family favorite that she and I are frequently quoting to each other.

Although Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill provides himself the living epigraph of living the rest of his life “like a schnook” at the end of Goodfellas, the story really didn’t end there. Loosely based on Hill’s post-mob life in the witness protection program, My Blue Heaven was written by Nora Ephron, who had been inspired by her husband Nicholas Pileggi’s interviews with Hill. Through the interview process, it was discovered that a career criminal like Hill didn’t reform himself immediately (if at all) and was often getting into trouble with authorities – returning to his old criminal ways, maintaining a high profile, and even entering a bigamist marriage under his “new” name – all depicted in My Blue Heaven. Continue reading