Elvis Presley as “Lucky” Jackson, mechanic and aspiring race car driver
Las Vegas, Summer 1964
Film: Viva Las Vegas
Release Date: May 20, 1964
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
Tailor: Sy Devore
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On the sad anniversary of the King of Rock and Roll’s death, I wanted to celebrate Elvis Presley’s legacy via his style in one of his best-regarded movies, the 1964 musical vehicle Viva Las Vegas.
Set in the bright-lit berg known as America’s Playground, Viva Las Vegas united Elvis with Ann-Margret, a fellow multi-talent with whom the King quickly bonded to form what was first a romance and would evolve into a lifelong friendship. Continue reading
Griffin Dunne as Paul Hackett, mild-mannered data processor
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: After Hours
Release Date: September 13, 1985
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Rita Ryack
Friday the 13th is traditionally a day for bad luck, so it’s appropriate that Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, centered around one New Yorker’s evening of arguably bad luck, was released on Friday the 13th in September 1985.
A surreal black comedy with elements of neo-noir, After Hours begins just before 5:00 for Paul Hackett, a data processor ostensibly living the yuppie dream with his secure job and Manhattan apartment… but the job sucks, his apartment’s cramped despite no one to share it with, and he has no social life outside of training new employees. In search of any human connectivity into his life, Paul takes his dog-eared copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to an all-night diner. Continue reading
Daniel Craig as James Bond, tough British government agent
Lahore, Pakistan, Summer 2005
Film: Casino Royale
Release Date: November 14, 2006
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
On the 00-7th of August, with just two months until Daniel Craig’s final Bond movie will [likely] be released, I wanted to reflect on the start of his tenure and also include some insights from my friend Caleb Daniels, who many in the Bond fan-iverse know as the creator of the @CommandoBond Instagram and blog, discussing the then-significant return of 007’s trademark Walther PPK! Continue reading
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ivan Danko, disciplined Moscow police captain
Chicago, Summer 1987
Film: Red Heat
Release Date: June 17, 1988
Director: Walter Hill
Costume Designer: Dan Moore
Tailor: Tommy Velasco
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Thanks to a recommendation from Pete Brooker of the excellent From Tailors with Love podcast, I beat the summer heat by revisiting Red Heat, the buddy cop actioner that paired Arnold Schwarzenegger as a tough Russian police captain with Jim Belushi as the stereotypical cigarettes-and-coffee American detective, working together to capture the dangerous Georgian gangster Viktor “Rosta” Rostavili (Ed O’Ross).
On George Clooney’s 60th birthday, I’m delighted to present a guest post contributed by my new friend, Ken Stauffer, featuring one of Clooney’s most stylish roles to date.
George Clooney as Jack Foley, charismatic bank robber
Miami, Summer 1998
Film: Out of Sight
Release Date: June 26, 1998
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy Birthday, George Clooney! Today, the actor/director/writer/producer/activist/Italian villa owner/father of twins turns 60, and to celebrate we’ll be looking at his first costume in Steven Soderbergh’s underrated 1998 crime comedy, Out of Sight.
Following the success of Get Shorty, screenwriter Scott Frank and producer Danny DeVito set out to bring another recent Elmore Leonard novel to life. The resulting film sees our birthday boy as the ever-charming Jack Foley, a thrice-incarcerated bank robber who “robbed more than anyone in the computer.” Continue reading
Al Pacino as Frank Slade, blind and bitter retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel
New York City to New Hampshire, Fall 1992
Film: Scent of a Woman
Release Date: December 23, 1992
Director: Martin Brest
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Al Pacino! As the legendary actor’s 81st birthday coincides with the Academy Awards tonight, let’s take a look at Scent of a Woman, Martin Brest’s 1992 drama that resulted in Pacino’s sole Oscar to date.
Pacino played retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, a blind and irascible alcoholic who secretly plans on spending the Thanksgiving holiday with a lavish weekend in New York City before ending his life. Somewhat reluctantly along for the ride is Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell), a mild-mannered prep student hired to care for Frank, though the cantankerous colonel seems more than willing to watch out for himself.
Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews, shipbuilder
North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912
Film: A Night to Remember
Release Date: July 3, 1958
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Costume Designer: Yvonne Caffin
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
109 years ago, around 11:40 p.m. on the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, the celebrated luxury liner RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, sinking within three hours, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 of the 2,200 on board.
Among the dead were many instrumental in the ship’s operations including its captain Edward J. Smith, three of his officers, and Irish-born shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, who oversaw the design of the Titanic and her two sister ships from the time they were conceptualized for the White Star Line five years earlier. Continue reading
Gene Barry as Dr. Ray Flemming, smarmy psychiatrist
Los Angeles, Spring 1967
Film: Prescription: Murder
Original Air Date: February 20, 1968
Director: Richard Irving
Costume Designer: Burton Miller
This week in 1968, TV audiences were introduced to an unassuming yet indefatigable homicide detective in a wrinkled raincoat whose humble mannerisms and appearance belied an uncanny ability to bring murderers to justice. Oh, and just one more thing… that detective was named Columbo.
Peter Falk wasn’t the first to play the detective, nor was he even the first choice when Richard Levinson and William Link’s stage play was adapted for TV as Prescription: Murder, the first episode of what would become the long-running series Columbo. Bert Freed had originated the role in a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, to be followed by Thomas Mitchell when Levinson and Link debuted the play Prescription: Murder two years later in San Francisco.
Prescription: Murder establishes many trademark elements of Columbo, including the delayed introduction of the shrewd but shabbily dressed lieutenant himself until after we watch the murderer of the week commit his—or her—crime.
Gene Barry set a standard in Prescription: Murder that the killers foiled by Columbo would follow for decades to come: arrogant, well-dressed, and clever enough to pull together a murder scheme that keeps them above suspicion… from all but Lieutenant Columbo, of course. Continue reading
Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey, mystery novelist and wealthy patriarch
Massachusetts, November 2018
Film: Knives Out
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Director: Rian Johnson
Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan
The great Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died a week ago today at the age of 91 after three quarters of a century honing his craft across stage and screen from Shakespeare to The Sound of Music.
In his penultimate screen credit, Knives Out, Plummer starred as Harlan Thrombey, a charismatic writer who built his fortune through writing mystery novels and, on his 85th birthday, resolves to finally set his free-loading family free. Continue reading
Fabian Forte as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Depression-era bank robber
Kansas City, Spring 1930 and 1931
Film: A Bullet for Pretty Boy
Release Date: June 1970
Director: Larry Buchanan (and Maury Dexter, uncredited)
Wardrobe Credit: Ron Scott
After Warner Brothers’ success with Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, American International Pictures (AIP) leapt at the chance to capitalize on the emerging trend of Depression-era crime movies using their own brand of inexpensive, exploitative filmmaking. This wasn’t AIP’s first rodeo in the realm of ’30s public enemies, having earlier produced The Bonnie Parker Story and Machine Gun Kelly, both released in May 1958. Their B-movie output in the decade that followed Bonnie and Clyde ranged from fictional stories like Boxcar Bertha (1972) directed by Martin Scorsese to those loosely based on actual criminals like Bloody Mama (1970) starring Shelley Winters as a caricature of “Ma” Barker (alongside a young Robert De Niro as one of her sons) to Dillinger (1973).
Even before that arguably most famous ’30s bank robber would be played by a grizzled Warren Oates, former teen idol Fabian got a shot to rebrand his image by playing Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, the outlaw whose moniker alone lent itself to suit the fresh-faced Mr. Forte.
The real Charles Arthur Floyd was born 117 years ago on February 3, 1904, in Adairsville, Georgia, though his family moved to Oklahoma when Floyd was seven, and it was the Cookson Hills that he would consider home for the 30 years of his life.
A fellow Aquarius, Forte was born only three days (and 39 years) later on February 6, 1943, making him 26—the same age as Floyd was for his first bank robbery—when A Bullet for Pretty Boy was filmed from June to October 1969. A Bullet for Pretty Boy loosely follows the facts of Floyd’s life, albeit exaggerated and certainly simplified for the sake of AIP’s low-budget, short-runtime formula for success that would thrill teens at the drive-ins just before these audiences found the real thrills in their own back seats later that night. Continue reading