Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star
Washington, D.C., to Baltimore via train, Spring 1953
Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg
In addition to being Mother’s Day, today also commemorates the birthday of the multi-talented song-and-dance legend Fred Astaire, born May 10, 1899, in Omaha. To honor this elegant dance legend and suggest an outfit that your mother may appreciate as you’re delivering flowers (or communicating via FaceTime, depending on your level of pandemic-informed social distancing today), let’s take a look at a pleasant but all-too-briefly featured outfit from Astaire’s 1953 musical The Band Wagon.
Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate
Los Angeles, Late Spring 1967
Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt
The myriad impacts of the worldwide COVID-19 epidemic has included a halt on college graduation ceremonies, which would typically be occurring around this time; indeed, my own commencement was on April 30, nine years ago today.
The Graduate provided Dustin Hoffman with his breakout role as Benjamin Braddock, a recent graduate suffering from the ennui of balancing one’s achievements and desires with what’s expected of them. After a humiliating 21st birthday party where his parents forced him to scuba dive into the family pool in front of their friends, Benjamin asserts himself by arranging his first assignation with the seductive and unsatisfied Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) at the Taft Hotel (in fact, L.A.’s famous Ambassador Hotel), where he chain-smokes Parliaments and nurses a highball while waiting for her in the hotel lounge. At her prompting, he nervously reserves a room for them under the unconvincing alias of “Mr. Gladstone.” Continue reading
Gary Cooper as Frank Flannagan, wealthy playboy industrialist
Yvelines, France, Summer 1957
Film: Love in the Afternoon
Release Date: May 29, 1957
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Jay A. Morley, Jr. (uncredited)
April 23 is celebrated as National Picnic Day, an observance that can still be observed in relative isolation for those willing and able to safely venture outdoors. The word “picnic” derives from the late 17th century French word pique-nique that had originally described restaurant diners who brought their own wine, essentially an early form of BYOB. In the years following the French revolution, the word took on its more familiar connotation as the country’s royal parks were opened to the greater public, who would spend hours and even days preparing lavish luncheons for outdoor dining. Given this French association, let’s check in on two classic film stars enjoying a picnic near Château de Vitry in the 1957 romantic comedy Love in the Afternoon.
Bob Hoskins as Harold Shand, ambitious English gangster
London, Spring 1979
Film: The Long Good Friday
Release Date: November 3, 1980
Director: John Mackenzie
Costume Designer: Tudor George
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is Good Friday, a liturgical observance often overshadowed by Easter but certainly not overlooked in the world of British gangster cinema thanks to The Long Good Friday. Considered among the top 25 British movies ever made in separate polls by BFI and Empire, The Long Good Friday has been a frequent request by BAMF Style readers including Dominic, Scott, and Wendi (and thank you, Wendi, for sending me the DVD copy used to source these screenshots!)
The title was intentionally chosen to suggest a tonal alignment with the works of Raymond Chandler, and our boisterous anti-hero, Harold Shand, would be a welcome presence in any noir. Specifically written for the actor, the role of Harold provided Bob Hoskins with his breakthrough performance as a London gangster seeking to take his enterprises in a legitimate direction, though he can’t outrun his criminal legacy as he finds his promising world collapsing among mob hits and bomb scares.
James Garner as Jim Rockford, wisecracking private detective and ex-convict
Los Angeles, Fall 1975
Series: The Rockford Files
– “The Farnsworth Strategem” (Episode 2.02, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 9/19/1975)
– “The Deep Blue Sleep” (Episode 2.05, dir. William Wiard, aired 10/10/1975)
– “Pastoria Prime Pick” (Episode 2.11, dir. Lawrence Doheny, aired 11/28/1975)
– “The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club” (Episode 2.13, dir. James Garner, aired 12/19/1975)
– “Joey Blue Eyes” (Episode 2.17, dir. Meta Rosenberg, aired 1/23/1976)
– “Foul on the First Play” (Episode 2.21, dir. Lou Antonio, aired 3/12/1976)
Creator: Roy Huggins & Stephen J. Cannell
Costume Designer: Charles Waldo
James Garner, one of my favorite actors, was born today in 1928. Shortly after his decorated Korean War service that provided him with the relevant background for his eventual role as “the scrounger” in The Great Escape (1963), Garner found early acting success in films like Sayonara (1957) and his breakout role on the ABC western series Maverick. Though he would enjoy an illustrious, varied career for six decades until his death of a heart attack in 2014, the role most associate with Garner is that of the affable, beach-dwelling private detective Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files.
Max von Sydow as G. Joubert, French Alsatian contract assassin
New York City and Washington, D.C., Winter 1975
Film: Three Days of the Condor
Release Date: September 24, 1975
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
You may be walking, maybe the first sunny day of the spring, and a car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know – maybe even trust – will get out of the car, and he will smile a becoming smile… but he will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.
Happy Spring to my BAMF Style readers in the Northern Hemisphere! Among the many screen credits of the late Max von Sydow, who died at the age of 90 earlier this month, was the taciturn professional assassin known as G. Joubert in the ’70s espionage thriller Three Days of the Condor.
Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc, “a private investigator of great renown”
Massachusetts, November 2018
Film: Knives Out
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Director: Rian Johnson
Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan
Happy birthday to Daniel Craig, born 52 years ago today on March 2, 1968! While Craig is likely best known as the most recent actor to portray James Bond, one of his most celebrated recent roles has been his Golden Globe-nominated performance in Knives Out as Benoit Blanc, an idiosyncratic detective who describes himself as a “respectful, quiet, and passive observer of the truth.”
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.