Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster
Kansas City, Summer 1931
Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch
The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.
Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.
The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.
Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs, Philadelphia homicide detective
Sparta, Mississippi, September 1966
Film: In the Heat of the Night
Release Date: August 2, 1967
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
Happy birthday to the great Sidney Poitier, born 92 years ago today on February 20, 1927. The actor’s personal favorite among his prolific filmography is In the Heat of the Night, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1967, a year that found him pulling off a peerless hat trick that included that film as well as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and To Sir, with Love. Continue reading
Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter, debonair jewel thief
London, June 1939
Release Date: February 17, 1984
Director: Roger Young
Costume Designer: Barbara Lane
Happy birthday, Tom Selleck!
On the actor’s 74th birthday, I’m responding to a frequent request from a fellow Tom who kindly brought my attention to Selleck’s pre-World War II style in the little-known 1984 caper film Lassiter, made during the actor’s Magnum P.I. heyday. Selleck starred as the title character, Nick Lassiter, a daring and debonair jewel thief in the tradition of David Niven’s “Phantom” from the Pink Panther series with a twist of Indiana Jones… perhaps to make up for the fact that Selleck had turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark before Harrison Ford made the iconic role his own.
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, cold and calculating Mafia boss
Havana, New Year’s Eve 1958
Film: The Godfather Part II
Release Date: December 12, 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
Happy New Year’s Eve!
On this transitional #MafiaMonday, we transport back 60 years to New Year’s Eve 1958, a tumultuous night in world history as armed rebels connected to the vanguard 26th of July Movement overthrew Cuba’s incumbent president Fulgencio Batista, ending the five-year Cuban Revolution and establishing a communist government under the movement’s leader Fidel Castro.
“Gentlemen, to a night in Havana! Happy New Year… Feliz Año Nuevo!” toasts a gregarious Fredo Corleone (John Cazale) as he holds court in the Cuban capital with a bevy of politicians and his brother, taciturn and thoughtful mob boss Michael (Al Pacino). Continue reading
James Stewart as George Bailey, newlywed banker
Bedford Falls, NY, fall 1932 through spring 1934
Film: It’s a Wonderful Life
Release Date: December 20, 1946
Director: Frank Capra
Costume Designer: Edward Stevenson
Although the film takes place over the course of one man’s whole life, It’s a Wonderful Life has earned a comfortable home among nostalgic holiday cinema. The man in question, George Bailey (James Stewart), spends a depressing Christmas Eve questioning his existence… prompting a visit from his guardian angel to remind him of the titular wonderful life that he has led.
Al Pacino as Tony Montana, impulsive and hotheaded cocaine dealer
Miami, Summer 1981
Release Date: December 9, 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
Tailor: Tommy Velasco
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Brian de Palma’s 1983 drug epic Scarface celebrated its 35th anniversary yesterday. A remake of a 1932 gangster film that itself took inspiration from the life of Al Capone, Scarface met with negative critical reception at the time of its release though it was a box office hit and racked up Golden Globe nods for lead actors Al Pacino and Steven Bauer.
As in the 1932 version, one scene finds the rising gangster returning home to flaunt his wealth in front of his concerned mother (Míriam Colón) and his devoted sister (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Waiting out by the car is the gangster’s flashy young pal, who catches sight of the gangster’s younger sister and is immediately smitten. Continue reading
Daniel Craig as James Bond, British government agent
Rome, November 2015
Release Date: October 25, 2015
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Jany Temime
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Spectre, Daniel Craig’s latest outing as James Bond, featured the globe-trotting agent once again battling the international terrorist organization SPECTRE and confronting the evil megalomaniac at its head, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).
One of the most requested outfits from BAMF Style readers is the black three-piece Tom Ford suit that 007 wears when he arrives in style to a gangster’s funeral in Rome with his prototype Aston Martin. Continue reading