Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, washed-up TV actor
Los Angeles, February 1969
Film: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Years after his glory days on the Western serial Bounty Law, proto-cowboy actor Rick Dalton fears that he’s “a has-been” as he’s relegated to dwindling, often villainous roles in Westerns and crime shows. Each one presents the opportunity to either impress audiences or remind them that he isn’t the star that he once was, so it’s with considerable apprehension—and a killer hangover—that he’s driven to the set of Lancer to film his walk-on role as the sinister Caleb DeCoteau opposite James Stacy (Timothy Olyphant).
“You’re Rick fuckin’ Dalton… and don’t you forget it,” encourages his stunt double and best friend Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), calling out from the cockpit of Rick’s Cadillac as the actor makes his wheezing walk onto the set. Rick is met by the gregarious Sam Wanamaker (Nicholas Hammond), the Chicago-born actor and director who had indeed directed the Lancer pilot, “The High Riders”. In yet another touch of QT’s revisionist history, this episode aired in September 1968, six months before this movie depicts it being filmed on Sunday, February 9, 1969. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, conflicted ad man
Los Angeles, Spring 1969
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “The Runaways” (Episode 7.05)
Air Date: May 11, 2014
Director: Christopher Manley
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Despite being one of the most popular shows in the streaming service’s stable of non-original content, today marks the last day that Mad Men is available to Netflix subscribers in the U.S. The first part of Mad Men‘s seventh and final season spends time with displaced ad man Don Draper as he travels from coast to coast by plane, juggling his professional aspirations in New York with his slowly stagnating marriage in L.A.
The geographic reversal is interesting, not only in the context of Mad Men but also in the east vs. west trope espoused by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Henry David Thoreau, as we’re used to seeing Don romanticizing California even when professionally soaring through the ranks of Madison Avenue’s advertising world. Now, his position has shifted with decided roots in L.A. via second wife Megan (Jessica Paré) taking up residence in Laurel Canyon to further her acting career while, back in New York, he’s been reduced to a glorified intern at the agency he helped to start… and that’s just in the eyes of those who are comfortable working with him.
Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka, disciplined ex-Yakuza
Tokyo, Spring 1974
Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Fans of ’70s action would no doubt appreciate The Yakuza, Paul Schrader’s debut screenplay, co-written with his brother Leonard Schrader based on Leonard’s own experiences in Japan. A driving factor that compelled the brothers to finish their initial script was the stoic screen presence of Ken Takakura, who appeared in the film as the ex-akuza gangster who now teaches kendo.
Ken takes up his sword as part of his giri with Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum), formerly a U.S. Marine MP who had dated Ken’s sister while serving in Tokyo during the post-WWII occupation of Japan. Loosely defined as a lifelong debt that can never truly be repaid, the giri concept is central to The Yakuza, in which Ken describes it to Harry as “the burden hardest to bear” and refuses to rid himself of his obligation even when Dusty (Richard Jordan) suggests that the nature of his debt is relatively arbitrary.
Having arrived in Japan in search of his associate’s kidnapped daughter, Harry seeks out Ken’s assistance, but the blood they spill rescuing the young woman results in Yakuza contracts placed on both Harry and Ken, a threat that can only be eliminated by Ken killing the powerful gangster Tono (Eiji Okada) with a sword. While Harry arms himself with a .45 and a double-barreled shotgun, Ken takes a katana to appropriately exact his vengeance on the dangerous crime boss.
Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka “the Man with No Name”, taciturn bounty hunter
New Mexico Territory, Spring 1862
Film: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
(Italian title: Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
Release Date: December 23, 1966
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Carlo Simi
Today marks the 90th birthday of screen legend Clint Eastwood, born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco. (Between John Wayne on May 26, James Stewart on May 20, and Gary Cooper on May 7, there must be something about being in born in May that positions an actor for stardom in the Western genre!)
After Eastwood’s initial success on the TV series Rawhide, he traveled to Italy to star in a trio of Westerns directed by Sergio Leone, firmly establishing the significance of the “spaghetti Western”. In A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Eastwood ostensibly played a variation of the same mysterious, laconic gunfighter alternately known as Joe, Manco, or Blondie, respectively, but immortalized in cinema as “the Man with No Name.”
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
Newark, New Jersey, Spring 2004
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Irregular Around the Margins” (Episode 5.05)
Air Date: April 4, 2004
Director: Allen Coulter
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Memorial Day weekend has traditionally been the unofficial start of the summer season with cookouts and amusement park openings, despite the solstice itself still being a month away. (Today also concludes Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, highlighting a topic that anchors to The Sopranos‘ central narrative.)
Many spent time during self-isolation this spring to catch up on classic TV shows, with The Sopranos frequently cited as a show that people were re-watching or discovering for the first time. As we’re hopefully moving away from the weeks and months of social distancing, I want to take a look at one of many summer-friendly looks from the show’s central character, conflicted Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano played by James Gandolfini, who deservedly racked up three Emmy Awards among other accolades for his portrayal. Tony brings a summery sartorial spirit to a moment of isolated indoor frivolity in “Irregular Around the Margins”, the memorable fifth episode of The Sopranos‘ fifth season.
James Garner as Pete Aron, determined Formula One driver
Monaco, Spring 1966
Film: Grand Prix
Release Date: December 21, 1966
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Supervisor: Sydney Guilaroff
The 2020 Monaco Grand Prix was to begin today, which also commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Monaco Grand Prix’s first inclusion in the inaugural FIA World Championship. Unfortunately, the spread of the dangerous coronavirus pandemic resulted in the race being cancelled for the first time since the 1954 Formula One season.
“In my opinion, still the best picture ever made about auto racing,” wrote James Garner in his memoir, The Garner Files, an opinion into which I put a lot of stock given the actor’s real-life passion for racing and his characteristic modest regarding his own cinematic career. Continue reading
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.
Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers, garbage collector-turned-spree killer
South Dakota through the Montana Badlands, Spring 1959
Release Date: October 15, 1973
Director: Terrence Malick
Costume Designer: Rosanna Norton (uncredited)
Wardrobe Credit: Dona Baldwin
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Terrence Malick made his impressive cinematic debut writing, producing, and directing Badlands, the romanticized re-interpretation of the infamously violent crime spree of Charles Starkweather and his teenage girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, that left ten dead across the Great Plains during eight brutal and bloody days in January 1958. Continue reading
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Isaac “Ike” Evans, tough and shrewd hotel owner
Miami Beach, Spring into Summer 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Crime and Punishment” (Episode 2.01), dir. Clark Johnson, aired 6/14/2013
– “Adapt or Die” (Episode 2.03), dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/28/2013
– “…And Your Enemies Closer” (Episode 2.07), dir. Simon Cellan Jones, aired 8/2/2013
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
In celebration of my friend and BAMF Style reader Eric’s birthday today, I wanted to pay tribute to the Magic City superfan by highlighting more of the magnificent mid-century fashions worn by Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), boss of Miami Beach’s ritzy Miramar Playa hotel.
Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson, bored paper company salesman
Tallahassee, Florida, Late February 2012
Series: The Office
Episode: “Tallahassee” (Episode 8.15)
Air Date: February 16, 2012
Director: Matt Sohn
Creator: Greg Daniels
Costume Designer: Alysia Raycraft
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Thanks to a “Celebrate Every Day” calendar I received from my girlfriend marking quirky observances throughout the year, I’m privileged to know that April 26 is celebrated as National Pretzel Day. And, of course, hearing the words “pretzel day” should remind most people of one man in particular:
While there’s little that’s significant or interesting about how Stanley Hudson dresses for day after excruciating day racking up sales (or, more often, crossword puzzle victories), we see a whole different side of the banal salesman when he successfully campaigns to join a select team from his office for an extended business trip to Florida. Continue reading