Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter, debonair jewel thief
London, June 1939
Release Date: February 17, 1984
Director: Roger Young
Costume Designer: Barbara Lane
While we’re still in the midst of tweed-friendly weather, I’d like to respond to a few requests I’ve had to focus on Tom Selleck’s gentlemanly style in Lassiter as an American thief in England, a far cry from the Aloha shirts he was famously wearing on Magnum, P.I. at the same time.
Released today in 1984, Lassiter starred Selleck as the titular jewel thief—Nick Lassiter—crafted in the daring and debonair tradition of cinematic cat burglars like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and David Niven’s “Phantom” in The Pink Panther. Much like his previous film, High Road to China, this movie compensated for the fact that Selleck had to pass on the role of Indiana Jones by giving him the role of a charismatic, resourceful, and risk-averse rogue facing danger from under the brim of a fedora in the years leading up to World War II.
Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, old-school northeast Pennsylvania Mafia boss
Philadelphia to Detroit, Summer 1975
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy 77th birthday, Joe Pesci! The Newark-born actor emerged from nearly 20 years of retirement to again collaborate with director Martin Scorsese and star Robert De Niro in The Irishman, which is up for multiple Academy Awards tonight including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, and Best Supporting Actor for both Pesci and his co-star Al Pacino.
Should Pesci take home the statue tonight, it would be his second Academy Award after he received a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor recognizing his work in Goodfellas. Continue reading
Dean Martin as Matt Helm, smooth secret agent
New Mexico to French Riviera, Summer 1966
Film: Murderers’ Row
Release Date: December 20, 1966
Director: Henry Levin
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Tailor: Sy Devore
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is National Wear Red Day, observed the first Friday of February to raise awareness of the dangers of the heart disease. In recognition, I wanted to feature an example of a movie or TV character prominently wearing red beyond just the usual red shirts, sweaters, or ties. Enter Matt Helm.
John Dall as Bart Tare, armed robber on the run
San Lorenzo Valley, California, Fall 1949, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Spring 1950
Film: Gun Crazy
(also released as Deadly is the Female)
Release Date: January 20, 1950
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Costume Designer: Norma Koch (credited with Peggy Cummins’ costumes only)
Fifteen years after armed robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were ambushed and killed on a rural Louisiana road, one of the first attempts to adapt their story for the silver screen arrived in theaters. Sure, there had been Fritz Lang’s sympathetic melodrama You Only Live Once (1937) and the FBI-endorsed propaganda Persons in Hiding (1939), but Gun Crazy—released exactly 70 years ago today—most effectively latched onto the intrigue of a gun-toting couple on the run, and, “more than any other, emphasizes the powerful attraction of weaponry in the growing legend of Bonnie and Clyde,” according to John Treherne, author of The Strange History of Bonnie and Clyde.
Gun Crazy‘s telling original title of Deadly is the Female reflects the narrative leaning into the noir-esque premise of a dominating femme fatale, an expert in firearms who seduces her lovestruck fella into a life of crime… an inverse of the generally accepted reality of the relationship between violent manipulator Clyde Barrow and the vulnerable and troubled Bonnie Parker.
A year after his chilling turn as the calculating, Loeb-like murderer in Hitchcock’s Rope, John Dall stars as the malleable Bart Tare, who finds himself fatefully—and fatally—drawn to the voluptuous carnival sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), “the darling of London, England,” though it’s a toss-up whether it’s her tight pants, knowing wink, or dueling pistols that sink the hook into the already doomed Bart. Continue reading
John Saxon as Ken Fuller, intrepid police lieutenant
Toronto…or some small American college town near the Canadian border, Christmas 1973
Film: Black Christmas
(U.S. title: Silent Night, Evil Night)
Release Date: October 11, 1974
Director: Bob Clark
Wardrobe Credit: Debi Weldon
The second remake of Bob Clark’s cult holiday horror classic, Black Christmas, was released in theaters today, more than 45 years after the original starring Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, and John Saxon as police lieutenant Ken Fuller. Continue reading
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, eccentric and reclusive aviation mogul
Los Angeles, November 1947
Film: The Aviator
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
On this day in 1947, Howard Hughes successfully tested his H-4 Hercules flying boat after a half-decade of development. The 26-second flight off Cabrillo Beach defied critics who had decried the “Spruce Goose” as a waste of more than $23 million, including government funds allocated to the now-unnecessary craft during wartime. Continue reading
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, determined psychiatrist
Illinois, Halloween 1978
Release Date: October 25, 1978
Director: John Carpenter
Wardrobe Credit: Beth Rodgers
Based on a timely recommendation that I received from my friend @agentlemansarmour leading up to Halloween last year, I’d like to commemorate October 31 this year with a look at John Carpenter’s Halloween, the influential 1978 horror flick cited as kicking off the “Golden Age” of slasher movies and one of the most successful and profitable independent films of all time, grossing more than $70 million with a budget of less than $325,000. The suggestion particularly requested a look at the fall-friendly tweed jacket and raincoat worn by the movie’s ostensible protagonist, knowledgable psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis as portrayed by Donald Pleasence, who would reprise the role four more times before Malcolm McDowell took over for Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot.
Rod Taylor as Les Mangrum, gregarious Australian tractor manufacturing mogul
Heathrow Airport, London, Winter 1963
Film: The V.I.P.s
(also released as Hotel International)
Release Date: September 19, 1963
Director: Anthony Asquith
Costume Designer: Pierre Cardin (uncredited)
A generation after Grand Hotel (1932) established the subgenre of the ensemble drama with a packed cast of international stars, Anthony Asquith updated the pattern for the jet age with the genteel director’s penultimate film, The V.I.P.s, which—appropriately enough, given its spiritual predecessor—had also been released as Hotel International. Continue reading
Henry Fonda as Charles “Hopsie” Pike, brewery heir and ophidiologist
SS Southern Queen, sailing north from South America,
Film: The Lady Eve
Release Date: February 25, 1941
Director: Preston Sturges
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Men’s Wardrobe: Richard Bachler
Last year on my girlfriend’s birthday, my commemorative BAMF Style post explored Henry Fonda’s summer-friendly formal wear in The Lady Eve, the romantic screwball comedy that I first discovered with her family. I’ve thus chosen to dive back into this classic directed by Preston Sturges (who would have turned 121 years old yesterday!) with another look at Fonda’s attire, this time a more casual ensemble as his character Charles “Hopsie” Pike romances Barbara Stanwyck at sea: “You have the darndest way of bumping a fellow down and bouncing him up again.” Continue reading
Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray, novice high school teacher
London, June 1966
Film: To Sir, with Love
Release Date: June 14, 1967
Director: James Clavell
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson Apperson
As many students are returning back to school at the end of August, BAMF Style takes a look at Sidney Poitier’s scholarly style as the patient teacher in To Sir, with Love, based on E.R. Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel from 1959. The film was produced, directed, and adapted for the screen by James Clavell, the prolific writer whose works include “the Asian Saga” (including Shōgun) and the screenplay for The Great Escape.
Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray, the determined teacher who takes his first appointment (or “job,” as he is politely corrected) instructing a senior class of troubled—and often troubling—high school students at the North Quay Secondary School in London’s East End just a few weeks before the students were scheduled to graduate.