Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson, liquor salesman and former pool hustler
Chicago, Spring 1986
Film: The Color of Money
Release Date: October 17, 1986
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
Today would have been the 95th birthday of Paul Newman, the acclaimed actor, philanthropist, entrepreneur and motorsports enthusiast. Over his legendary career that spanned more than half a century, Newman’s sole Academy Award for acting recognized his performance in The Color of Money (1986), in which he reprised the role of “Fast Eddie” Felson that he had originated on screen in The Hustler (1961). Continue reading
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
Cary Grant as Philip Shayne, smooth, sophisticated, and suave investment executive and “perfect gentleman”
Bermuda, Spring 1962
Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann
Tailor: Cardinal Clothes (credited “for Cary Grant’s suits”)
To commemorate the birthday of Cary Grant, born on this day in 1904, let’s celebrate the debonair actor who was seemingly born to wear a tuxedo. After three decades of a well-tailored career, the erstwhile Archie Leach sported his final on-screen dinner suit in the romantic comedy That Touch of Mink released in 1962, the same year as the first James Bond movie was released, thus heralding the transfer of the definitive screen dinner suit-wearer to 007. Continue reading
Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough Mafia enforcer
Philadelphia to Chicago, Spring 1960
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
I heard you paint houses.
After years of proving himself as an enforcer to Mafia families around Philadelphia and northeast Pennsylvania, former truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) gets the phone call of his life when controversial labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) gets in touch with him for a “situation… that needs to be attended to.”
Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star
New York, Spring 1953
Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg
Let’s dance into the new year with a dapper Fred Astaire in the dazzling opening sequence of Vincent Minnelli’s 1953 musical The Band Wagon, more than a decade after Astaire had danced across the screen with Bing Crosby, Virginia Dale, and Marjorie Reynolds for two on-screen New Year celebrations in Holiday Inn. Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, reverse-aging adventurer
Paris, Spring 1954
Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Release Date: December 25, 2008
Director: David Fincher
Costume Designer: Jacqueline West
As holiday shoppers are lining up (or logging in) on Black Friday this year, let’s take a look at a creative approach to wearing black as sported by Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Benjamin looks just a little too dashing as he arrives at a Parisian hospital to visit the childhood friend he has grown to love, Daisy Fuller (Cate Blanchett), who is convalescing from a car accident that crushed her leg and thus ruined her dancing career. Continue reading
Steven Van Zandt as Silvio Dante, Jersey mob consigliere and “acting boss”
New Jersey, Spring 2006
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Mayham” (Episode 6.03)
Air Date: March 26, 2006
Director: Jack Bender
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
Happy birthday, Steven Van Zandt!
While The Sopranos introduced him to new audiences after the show’s premiere in 1999, “Little Steven” had been a longtime guitarist with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Van Zandt first toured with the Boss in the 1970s before embarking on his own successful solo career and launching a series of ventures where he could share his encyclopedic knowledge of rock and pop music as a radio host, Sirius program director, label producer, and more! Miami Steve had never formally acted before taking the role of Silvio Dante on The Sopranos, and the cool-headed (but cold-hearted) consigliere quickly rose to become a fan favorite, known for his bouffant and his bold, idiosyncratic fashion sense that wasn’t unlike the man portraying him.
Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff, slick insurance salesman
Los Angeles, May through July 1938
Film: Double Indemnity
Release Date: July 3, 1944
Director: Billy Wilder
Costume Designer: Edith Head
What’d you think I was, anyway? A guy that walks into a good-lookin’ dame’s front parlor and says, “Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands. You got one that’s been around too long, one you’d like to turn into a little hard cash? Just give me a smile and I’ll help you collect?”
Let’s finally kick off Noir-vember with the quintessential film noir, Double Indemnity, the quotable masterpiece from the pen of James M. Cain, adapted for Billy Wilder’s screen direction by pulp writer Raymond Chandler and photographed by inventive cinematographer John F. Seitz. Double Indemnity is the one that has it all: the seductive femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck), the wisecracking protagonist willing to murder for her (Fred MacMurray), and the intrepid investigator, though in this case it’s not a trench coated private detective but an energetic, experienced, and irascible insurance claims manager played by Edward G. Robinson at his best.
Alain Delon as Jef Costello, slick, taciturn, and meticulous contract killer
Paris, April 1967
Film: The Samurai
(French title: Le Samouraï)
Release Date: October 25, 1967
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On Alain Delon’s 84th birthday, let’s explore Le Samouraï, arguably one of the best, most influential, and most stylish roles of Delon’s career and the frequent subject of requests from BAMF Style readers like Marcus and Mohammed.
Despite being Jean-Pierre Melville’s tribute to 1940s noir, Le Samouraï was also the maverick director’s first color production as he had evidently elected not to film in black-and-white. The color photography allows Melville to make the most of his shadowy settings from Jef Costello’s gray, barren apartment to the throwback glamour of the Parisian nightclub.
Delon stars as Jef Costello, a cold contract killer whose solitary lifestyle nods to Japanese lone warrior mythology—hence the title—and whose personal style co-opts the classic American noir anti-hero. Continue reading
Matthew McConaughey as Rustin “Rust” Cohle, nihilistic Louisiana State Police homicide detective
Louisiana, January 1995
Series: True Detective
– “The Long Bright Dark” (Episode 1.01, aired 1/12/2014)
– “Seeing Things” (Episode 1.02, aired 1/19/2014)
– “The Locked Room” (Episode 1.03, aired 1/26/2014)
– “Who Goes There” (Episode 1.04, aired 2/9/2014)
– “The Secret Fate of All Life” (Episode 1.05, aired 2/16/2014)
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Time may or may not be a flat circle, but birthdays come around every year and today is Matthew McConaughey’s 50th!