Gabriel Byrne as Tom Reagan, pragmatic Irish mob fixer
Upstate New York, Fall 1929
Film: Miller’s Crossing
Release Date: September 21, 1990
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Miller’s Crossing is one of my favorite Coen Brothers movies as well as one of my favorite crime films. Perhaps overshadowed the year it was released by higher pedigree mob flicks like Goodfellas and, uh, The Godfather Part III, the Coens’ neo-noir black comedy has gained a cult following in the years since for its spirited tribute to the works of Dashiell Hammett, particularly Red Harvest (1929) and The Glass Key (1931). Continue reading
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd Russian-born British government triple agent
Port Arthur, China (then Manchuria), February 1904
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “Prelude to War” (Episode 2)
Air Date: September 7, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Today’s Throwback Tuesday installment throws us all the way back to February 1904 on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War. According to Reilly: Ace of Spies, the newly minted Sidney Reilly is stationed in Port Arthur, Manchuria, ostensibly under the cover of a shipping agent but secretly working with the Japanese military developing their plans for a sneak attack to take the port away from the Russians. Reilly is shown to be a cold pragmatist, working with Japan against his better judgement and dispassionate regarding his poor wife, Margaret (Jeananne Crowley), whom he had married three years earlier after the mysterious* death of her clergic husband.
* Reverend Hugh Thomas’s death was even more mysterious in real life, with many suspecting that Reilly posed as a doctor in order to poison the clergyman.
Charles Dance as Lawrence Wargrave, retired judge
Devon, England, August 1939
Series Title: And Then There Were None
Air Date: December 26-28, 2015
Director: Craig Viveiros
Costume Designer: Lindsay Pugh
WARNING! Spoilers ahead! (Seriously.)
Agatha Christie often regarded And Then There Were None to be her best work, and with 100 million sales to date and a classic plot that still builds nail-biting suspense nearly eight decades later, it’s no wonder that this timeless thriller has the reputation that it does.
Born 126 years ago today, on September 15, 1890, Agatha Christie has been listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time, no doubt due to her classics like Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and – of course – And Then There Were None. I have a personal connection to this book, as I outlined to exhaustion in my post about Aidan Turner’s attire as Philip Lombard in what I consider the definitive adaptation of her finest work.
After more than a dozen adaptations for the stage and screen, Christie’s greatest novel finally received the adaptation it deserved in 2015 when Sarah Phelps was tasked with writing a three-part miniseries for BBC. Craig Viveiros’ direction, Phelps’ writing, and Lindsay Pugh’s costuming all came together with chilling cinematography and a talented cast to deliver this masterpiece. Continue reading
Roger Moore as James Bond, suave British MI6 agent
Sardinia, Italy, Summer 1977
Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
Release Date: July 7, 1977
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
This installment of BAMF Style’s Car Week takes us underwater as James Bond heads off to Atlantis to meet his new nemesis, Karl Stromberg, in The Spy Who Loved Me… although our lothario seems more concerned about which of the two exotic women on his boat ride is more interested in him.
Stromberg discloses to Bond that he’s investing in an underwater society so it’s fitting that Bond drives a car with aquatic abilities in this flick. Bond’s “submarine” Lotus Esprit has joined the Aston Martin DB5 as one of the most popular 007 vehicles of all time. Even within the Bond universe, the KGB seems to have taken a special interest in the car when Major Anya Amasova discloses that she’s not unfamiliar with MI6’s secret plans for the Lotus.
This sequence includes many of the elements that make a Bond adventure so unique: exciting danger, beautiful women, a megalomaniac villain, an exotic location (in this case, the Cala Di Volpe in Porto Cervo), and – of course – beautifully tailored attire. Continue reading
Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow, bank robber with “second sight”
Northeast Texas, Spring 1932
Series Title: Bonnie and Clyde
Air Date: December 8, 2013
Director: Bruce Beresford
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
As an amateur criminal historian with a special interest in Depression-era desperadoes, I’d be remiss to let a year go by without commemorating the end of Bonnie and Clyde’s crime streak on May 23, 1934 when the now-famous duo was gunned down by a squad of expert lawmen on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Continue reading
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, Mafia son and World War II hero
New York City, January 1946
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
Happy birthday to Al Pacino, born this day in 1940. It was The Godfather that arguably catapulted Pacino into public consciousness as one of the greatest actors of his generation, an impressive feat for an actor with only two preceding film credits. Although Paramount production chief Robert Evans had more box office-oriented names in mind for its central role ranging from Jack Nicholson to Robert Redford, Francis Ford Coppola insisted on Pacino who delivered in spades and received both an Academy Award nomination as well as a massive salary increase (from $35,000 to $600,000) to return as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II only two years later.
Although all of The Godfather is an acting tour de force for Pacino, there is one monumental scene often cited as the moment that truly established him as one of the most talented stars in the industry. An outsider to his family’s illegitimate business, Michael Corleone surprised everyone by offering to retaliate for the attempt on his father’s life by personally gunning down both the drug-peddling gangster and the corrupt police captain. Armed with the family’s blessing, an escape route, and a .38 taped behind an old toilet, Michael finds himself sitting across from these two criminals for – ostensibly – a peace meeting. Continue reading
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, unscrupulously successful Wall Street businessman
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: Wall Street
Release Date: December 11, 1987
Director: Oliver Stone
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Tailor: Alan Flusser
BAMF Style is back to business on this Monday morning, taking a suggestion from commentors Jose, Andrey, and Ryan to heed the style – if not the business ethos – of Gordon Gekko, the corporate business raider of Wall Street who managed the task of making Charlie Sheen look like not such a bad guy.
“Greed…is good,” is how Wall Street is often best remembered, paraphrasing the famous speech given by Gekko while also summarizing his drive. Although frequently included in lists of “The 100 Greatest Movie Lines” (#57 by AFI and #70 by Premiere), it’s perhaps even more unnerving to know that it was inspired by the real words of stock trader Ivan Boesky. In 1986, the year before Wall Street was made, Boesky told the graduating class at the University of California:
Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.
Of course, Boesky became infamous for paying $100 million that year to the SEC to settle insider trading charges, but the damage was done and the dangerous “greed is good” mentality led to a generation redefining capitalism with unrestrained avarice. Two decades later, everyone from Australian PM Kevin Rudd to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone cited the “greed is good” ideology as a direct cause of the 2007 financial crisis. “It is perhaps time now to admit that we did not learn the full lessons of the greed-is-good ideology,” realized Rudd in a 2008 speech. “We are still cleaning up the mess of the 21st-century children of Gordon Gekko.” Continue reading