Tagged: Straw Boater

David Niven’s Taupe Suit in Death on the Nile

David Niven as Colonel Race in Death on the Nile (1978)

David Niven as Colonel Race in Death on the Nile (1978)

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David Niven as Colonel Johnny Race, lawyer and war veteran

Egypt, September 1937

Film: Death on the Nile
Release Date: September 29, 1978
Director: John Guillermin
Costume Designer: Anthony Powell

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Following the grand success of 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express, one of the few adaptations of her work actually endorsed by Agatha Christie herself, producers rushed to find the next of her books to be adapted into a lavish, star-studded affair.

Death on the Nile was published in 1937, three years but ten books after Murder on the Orient Express, and included all of the necessary ingredients for success: the return of eccentric detective Hercule Poirot, an exotic location, and a glamorous victim among an international cast of characters… all of whom had the motive and means to commit the crime.

Poirot’s “boy Friday” to help him solve the case came in the form of Colonel Race, a steadfast Brit who first appeared in Christie’s earlier novel The Man in the Brown Suit. David Niven affably portrays the capable colonel with dignified charm and deadpan wit, often serving as the straightforward foil to Peter Ustinov’s more bombastic Poirot. Continue reading

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Stanford White’s Midnight Blue Dinner Jacket

Ray Milland as Stanford White in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955).

Ray Milland as Stanford White in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955).

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Ray Milland as Stanford White, debonair playboy architect

New York City, June 1906

Film: The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing
Release Date: October 1, 1955
Director: Richard Fleischer
Wardrobe Director: Charles Le Maire

Background

Tomorrow is the 110th anniversary of the famous Madison Square Garden shooting of architect Stanford White by the deranged Harry Kendall Thaw, one of the first of many incidents dubbed as “The Trial of the Century” by contemporary reporters due to the juicy scandal embellished by manipulative millionaires and illicit sex.

On June 25, 1906, the psychotic Thaw was escorting his wife, actress and artists’ model Evelyn Nesbit, to the premiere performance of Mam’zelle Champagne at Madison Square Garden’s rooftop theater. Nesbit, renowned for her beauty as the archetypical “Gibson Girl”, had married Thaw the previous year despite his violent and manipulative desire to control her. One of Thaw’s most tenacious provocations was the subject of Stanford White, Nesbit’s former lover and the man who had – in Thaw’s eyes – robbed her of her virtue. Continue reading

Real Men Wear Pink: DiCaprio as Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013).

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013).

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, eagerly romantic millionaire and bootlegger

Long Island, New York, Late Summer 1922

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin

Background

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the original publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby by Charles Scribner and Sons on April 10, 1925. Now considered to be a literary classic and a top contendor for the mythic “Great American Novel”, the story explores themes of the decadent excess, romantic idealism, and degrees of social change that defined America in the Roaring Twenties. Sadly for Fitzgerald, the novel was best appreciated in retrospect; it sold only 20,000 copies its first year, and Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940 believing that his masterpiece was rejected and forgotten. At his funeral, Dorothy Parker wept and muttered “the poor son-of-a-bitch”, echoing Owl-Eyes’ epitaph for Gatsby himself. Continue reading

The Death of John Dillinger – 2009 Style

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009).

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009).

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Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, doomed Depression-era bank robber

Chicago, July 1934

Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood

Background

While 1973’s Dillinger took a “just the facts” approach to retelling the life of bank robber John Dillinger (albeit with very exaggerated facts), Michael Mann’s Public Enemies painted the farmboy-turned-criminal as a more mythical figure. This seems to be the trend in recent years.

Forty-some years ago, the cinematic John Dillinger and Clyde Barrow were depicted as Robin Hood-type folk heroes who were cornered by relentless authorities and shot without warning. Continue reading

Gatsby’s Caramel Suit and Yellow Duesenberg (2013 Version)

Leonardo DiCaprio on set as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013)

Leonardo DiCaprio on set as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013)

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, eccentric and romantic millionaire bootlegger

New York City, Summer 1922

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin

Background

Car Week is wrapping up with a yin to Monday’s yang. The first post this week looked at the big yellow Rolls-Royce tourer from the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby and the suit Robert Redford wore while driving it. The car was practically as close as the one mentioned in the novel, but the suit was too dark and too contemporary to be accurate with the suit in the novel.

Today’s post looks at the more recent 2013 adaptation directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. The film nicely brought to life the “caramel-colored suit” that Fitzgerald wrote about in the novel, but the Rolls-Royce of the novel is now an anachronistic supercharged Duesenberg. I can’t complain too much since the scenes of Gatsby driving his Duesy are some of the most exciting moments in the movie.

He saw me looking with admiration at his car.

“It’s pretty, isn’t it, old sport?” He jumped off to give me a better view. “Haven’t you ever seen it before?”

I’d seen it. Everybody had seen it. It was a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hat-boxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of wind-shields that mirrored a dozen suns. Sitting down behind many layers of glass in a sort of green leather conservatory, we started to town.

The Great Gatsby, Chapter 4

Continue reading

Truth vs. Fiction: The Bank-Robbing Style of Warren Oates as Dillinger

A very Dillinger-esque Warren Oates as John Dillinger, leaving a South Bend bank job in 1973's Dillinger.

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, leaving a South Bend bank job in 1973’s Dillinger.

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Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber and “super gang” leader

Indiana, Fall 1933

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

Eighty years ago today in East Chicago, Indiana, 43-year-old ECPD patrolman William Patrick O’Malley responded to a call concerning the robbery of the First National Bank. Without hesitation, O’Malley showed up at the scene, unaware that he would be going up against John Dillinger, the Indiana bandit who would soon become famous as the first national Public Enemy #1. Continue reading

Warren Oates’s Dark Brown Suit as Dillinger

Warren Oates as master bank robber John Dillinger in 1973's Dillinger.

Warren Oates as master bank robber John Dillinger in 1973’s Dillinger.

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Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber and “super gang” leader

Mason City, Iowa to Manitowish, Wisconsin – Spring 1934

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

By March 1934, John Dillinger had well-established himself as a national criminal hero. He made a mockery of both hated bankers and inept police and, best of all, he kept getting away with it. Sure, he wasn’t the only beloved “Public Enemy” in the national scene, but “Baby Face” Nelson was too violent, Bonnie and Clyde were too incompetent, and no one had heard from “Pretty Boy” Floyd in almost a year. Continue reading

James Mason’s Vacation in Evil Under the Sun

James Mason as Odell Gardner in Evil Under the Sun.

James Mason as Odell Gardner in Evil Under the Sun.

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James Mason as Odell Gardner, Broadway theatrical producer

A remote Mediterranean island, Summer 1937

Film: Evil Under the Sun
Release Date: March 5, 1982
Director: Guy Hamilton
Costume Designer: Anthony Powell

Background

72 years old when the film was made, James Mason was just as effortlessly sophisticated as ever in the 1982 mystery Evil Under the Sun, based on the novel by the same name by Agatha Christie. Mason steals the show as Odell Gardner, a Broadway producer with a sling of recent flops and wit sharp enough to match anyone but his wife, played by Sylvia Miles. Continue reading