Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Bratislava, Fall 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
Happy birthday to Timothy Dalton, born 74 years ago today on March 21, 1946! To celebrate the Welsh actor’s birthday, I want to revisit Dalton’s debut as James Bond, bringing a serious, Ian Fleming-influenced approach two decades before Daniel Craig would approach the role in a similar manner.
Dalton had long been a contender for the role, turning it down twice due to his youth when the filmmakers sought a replacement for Sean Connery and then for George Lazenby. When it was unclear if Roger Moore would return for his trio of 007 films in the ’80s, Dalton’s name came up each time, but it wasn’t until Pierce Brosnan was contractually obligated to turn down the role to return to Remington Steele in 1986 that a pathway was finally opened for Dalton, then 40 years old and seasoned enough to play the agent, to slip into Bond’s finely tailored dinner jacket for The Living Daylights. Continue reading
Cary Grant as Philip Adams, sophisticated playboy economist
London, Fall 1957 to Spring 1958
Release Date: June 26, 1958
Director: Stanley Donen
Happy birthday to the great Cary Grant, born 115 years ago today on January 18, 1904, in Bristol, England. Born Archibald Leach before he assumed his catchier stage name, Grant’s signature screen presence blended his self-deprecating sense of humor with peerless suavity in both attitude and style. Grant’s popularity during the mid-20th century and the height of the dinner suit’s ubiquity meant the debonair actor would don a tuxedo almost as frequently as James Bond… and it’s not surprising to hear that Grant was an early contender for the role of 007, at least in the mind of the character’s creator Ian Fleming.
Between 1955 and 1962, Grant starred in seven contemporary-set films that didn’t require him to be in military uniform; of these, he sported a tuxedo in all but one (the lone exception, North by Northwest, featured the actor wearing arguably the most famous suit in movie history so there was little need for black tie.) In the middle of this impressive and stylish run of movies is Indiscreet, a Stanley Donen-directed romantic comedy that earned Grant his first of five Golden Globe nominations. Continue reading
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik
St. Petersburg, Russia, October 1910, and
London, November 1918
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
– “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses” (Episode 6), dir. Jim Goddard, aired 10/5/1983
– “After Moscow”(Episode 9), dir. Martin Campbell, aired 10/26/1983
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Reilly: Ace of Spies fictionalizes the exploits of Russian-born spy Sidney Reilly, often cited as a real-life basis for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. While the showrunners must have been cognizant of the need to place their suave British secret agent in a tuxedo, the series’ narrative also coincided with the rise of the dinner jacket over the first quarter of the 20th century.
Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges, millionaire and estranged family man
RMS Titanic, April 1912
Release Date: April 16, 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Before there was Kate and Leo, there was Barbara and Clifton.
To know me is to know my obsession with the Titanic and other maritime disasters of the early 20th century. SS Valencia, Empress of Ireland, Lusitania, Princess Sophia, Titanic‘s hospital sister ship Britannic… chances are that if it sank in the first few decades of last century, I know a thing or two about it.
It was today in 1912 that the RMS Titanic actually struck the iceberg that sank her. The collision happened around 11:40 p.m., North Atlantic time, on the night of Sunday, April 14. Compared to most of the other disasters in the previous paragraph, it took considerable time to sink, finally settling under the waves at 2:20 a.m. on the morning of Monday, April 15, 1912, ending more than 1,500 lives of the roughly 2,200 that had been aboard.
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent in repose
At sea, Spring 1971
Film: Diamonds are Forever
Release Date: December 17, 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Master: Ray Beck
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
Sean Connery’s final scene as the official James Bond finds him in a quintessentially 007 scenario enjoying a romantic dinner with a beautiful woman. Having foiled the nefarious plans of Ernst Stavro Blofeld once more, Bond and Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) take to the sea for a leisurely cruise across the pond, reminiscent of the novel’s own passages set aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Continue reading
Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans, womanizing nightclub singer
San Francisco, Spring 1957
Film: Pal Joey
Release Date: October 25, 1957
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Jean Louis
Today marks the birth of Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board himself, born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken. This son of tenement-dwelling Italian immigrants grew to be one of the most influential, best-selling music artists in history.
Sixty years ago, Sinatra was rising as one of the biggest stars in the world when he starred as the titular Pal Joey, a performance that earned him a Golden Globe award. Originally a stage musical starring Gene Kelly as the singing and dancing anti-hero, Pal Joey was reconfigured for the screen with the character more reflective of Sinatra’s own charming yet mischievous “nice guy” persona. Continue reading
George Lazenby as James Bond, smooth British secret agent
Estoril, Portugal, September 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Tailor: Dimi Major
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
On the 00-7th of December, this Car Week post is focused on James Bond’s sole Christmastime adventure, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby as the suave secret agent.
The film opens with a scene straight out of the source novel as a competitive Bond engages in a playful “race” against a beautiful young woman speeding toward the beach in her convertible. Continue reading
- Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, conniving former tennis pro
- Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday, romantic American crime writer
- Anthony Dawson as C.A. Swann, opportunistic con man
- John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard, clever Scotland Yard detective
London, Fall 1953 and Spring 1954
Film: Dial M for Murder
Release Date: May 29, 1954
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Credits: Moss Mabry & Jack Delaney
WARNING! Spoilers ahead! Continue reading
Dean Martin, smooth and multi-talented entertainer
Burbank, California, 1965 to 1974
Series: The Dean Martin Show
Air Dates: September 16, 1965 – April 5, 1974
Director: Greg Garrison
Tailor: Sy Devore
On June 7, 1917, Dino Paul Crocetti was born in Steubenville, Ohio, to Angela and Gaetano Crocetti, the latter a barber from the Abruzzo region in Italy where much of my own family hails. One hundred years later, the world remembers him as Dean Martin, the charming crooner whose legendary career spanned half a century as a major headliner from nightclubs and casinos to movies and TV shows.
Effortlessly charismatic and unflappable, Dino brought his smooth star power to his popular comedy act with Jerry Lewis and later as a leader of the Rat Pack alongside Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, U.S. Army OSS officer and redneck leader of the “Inglourious Basterds”
Paris, June 1944
Film: Inglourious Basterds
Release Date: August 21, 2009
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Anna B. Sheppard
Brad Pitt’s Evening Attire: Giorgio Armani
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Inglourious Basterds kicks off a two-film spree in Tarantino’s filmography focused on rewriting history with violent vengeance. In this revisionist take on World War II, a band of Jewish-American military guerillas – think The Dirty Dozen meets The A-Team – is assigned the sole task of secretly but brutally fighting their way through occupied German territory, murdering any Nazi encountered in their wake. The two-year spree of these “inglourious basterds” who give the film its title ends up in a Paris movie theater on the eve of the D-Day invasion with an opportunity to take down the German high command, including Hitler himself, to end the war. Continue reading