Robert Shaw as Romer Treece, adventurous treasure hunter and lighthouse-keeper
Off the Bermuda coast, Summer 1976
Film: The Deep
Release Date: June 17, 1977
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Ron Talsky
Following the record-setting blockbuster success of Jaws, adapted from Peter Benchley’s debut novel of the same name, Columbia Pictures quickly purchased the rights to Benchley’s next novel before it was even published. The Deep proved to be another box-office hit, if not as critically acclaimed as its predecessor, with much of its success attributed to an effective marketing campaign centered around Jacqueline Bisset’s white T-shirt.
Another casting decision that worked in The Deep‘s favor was Robert Shaw, born 95 years ago today on August 9, 1927. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Martin Bishop (formerly Martin Brice), digital security consultant and fugitive hacker
San Francisco, Fall 1991
Release Date: September 11, 1992
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Robert Redford looks like he’s having a great time in Sneakers, Phil Alden Robinson’s 1992 crime comedy about a gang of professional computer hackers. Redford stars as Martin Brice, a digital “sneaker” who has spent more than 20 years on the lam legitimizing his talent to become a security consultant, re-christened Martin Bishop. His background leads to recruitment by two men claiming to work for the NSA, forcing Martin and his team to take on a dubiously legitimate job.
Despite its subject matter, Sneakers never feels excessively dated as it focuses less on the technical aspects of digital hacking and more on the camaraderie among Redford’s motley band, consisting of Sidney Poitier, Dan Aykroyd, David Strathairn, River Phoenix, and Mary McDonnell. Redford’s character zips through the City by the Bay in a classic Karmann Ghia convertible, weathered but reliable like the then-56-year-old actor himself. Continue reading
Jack Hedley as Sir Timothy Havelock, marine archaeologist contracted by the British Secret Service
Ionian Sea off the Albanian coast, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Wardrobe Master: Tiny Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
For Your Eyes Only, my favorite James Bond movie of the Roger Moore era, was released 40 years ago today! To celebrate, I wanted to shift focus from 007 to the stylish and significant—but only briefly seen—character of Sir Timothy Havelock.
Ed Harris as Gene Kranz, determined, no-nonsense NASA flight director
Houston, Texas, April 1970
Film: Apollo 13
Release Date: June 30, 1995
Director: Ron Howard
Costume Designer: Rita Ryack
Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here…
Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert first transmitted this famous (and oft-misquoted) message 50 years ago today at 3:08 AM (GMT) on Tuesday, April 14, 1970, soon repeated by the mission commander Jim Lovell: “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” (At the Apollo Mission Control Center in Houston, it was still 10:08 PM on Monday, April 13.)
The craft had launched three days prior from Kennedy Space Center, manned by Swigert, Fred Haise, and mission commander Jim Lovell. The mission was intended to be the third of the American space program that would land on the Moon until the notorious “problem”—an explosion resulting from a failed oxygen tank in the service module—forced the three-man crew and their mission controllers in Houston to improvise solutions that ultimately resulted in the three astronauts safely returning to Earth, splashing down in the South Pacific on April 17 when they were swiftly met by a U.S. Navy recovery team.
While Apollo 13 was technically unsuccessful in its initial objective of a lunar landing, the mission and its outcome have been deemed “a successful failure” due to how different individuals, teams, and departments were able to work together in as tight timeframe to solve the almost-impossible task of bringing the three astronauts home safely, requiring not only the best efforts of Lovell, Haise, and Swigert, but also ingenuity and dedication from the Mission Control team centered in Houston under the “tough and competent” leadership of flight director Gene Kranz.