Tagged: Suit

A New Leaf: Walter Matthau’s Gray Pinstripe Suit

Walter Matthau as Henry Graham in A New Leaf (1971)

Walter Matthau as Henry Graham in A New Leaf (1971)

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Walter Matthau as Henry Graham, self-serving profligate

New York City, Summer 1969

Film: A New Leaf
Release Date: March 11, 1971
Director: Elaine May
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert
Tailor: Roland Meledandri

Background

I’d long been intrigued by Elaine May’s directorial debut A New Leaf, released 50 years ago this spring, but it was an Instagram story posted by my friend Jonathan (@berkeley_breathes) showcasing Walter Matthau’s dapper wardrobe that finally prompted me to watch this offbeat classic.

Matthau brings his characteristically cantankerous charisma to to role of Henry Graham, a wasteful heir gradually blowing his family fortune on capricious spending from his immaculately tailored wardrobe to weekly maintenance for his Ferrari. The wry family lawyer Beckett (William Redfield) is tasked with managing the unmanageable Graham, who ducks Beckett’s calls of cautions as long as he can… until his last check bounces.

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M: The Safecracker

Gustaf Gründgens in M (1931)

Gustaf Gründgens in M (1931)

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Gustaf Gründgens as “The Safecracker”, criminal community leader

Berlin, Fall 1930

Film: M
(German title: M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder)
Release Date: May 11, 1931
Director: Fritz Lang

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Fritz Lang’s groundbreaking masterpiece M was released 90 years ago. Self-described by the director as his magnum opus, M drew on the wave of sadistic child-murderers that had terrorized Germany through the previous decade—monsters like Carl Großmann, Fritz Haarmann, and Peter Kürten—to create a fictionalized cautionary tale centered around the crimes of Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), a creepy little killer who signals his presence by whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, one of the first leitmotifs on screen as Lang experimented with the capabilities of sound in his first non-silent film.

As the increased police attention has disrupted Berlin’s underworld, the ruthless master criminal known only as “Der Schränker” (The Safecracker) calls together the city’s crime lords to form a united front against the killer. Continue reading

Out of Sight: George Clooney’s Glen Plaid Suit

On George Clooney’s 60th birthday, I’m delighted to present a guest post contributed by my new friend, Ken Stauffer, featuring one of Clooney’s most stylish roles to date.

George Clooney as Jack Foley in Out of Sight (1998)

George Clooney as Jack Foley in Out of Sight (1998)
Photo credit: Merrick Morton

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George Clooney as Jack Foley, charismatic bank robber

Miami, Summer 1998

Film: Out of Sight
Release Date: June 26, 1998
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy Birthday, George Clooney! Today, the actor/director/writer/producer/activist/Italian villa owner/father of twins turns 60, and to celebrate we’ll be looking at his first costume in Steven Soderbergh’s underrated 1998 crime comedy, Out of Sight.

Following the success of Get Shorty, screenwriter Scott Frank and producer Danny DeVito set out to bring another recent Elmore Leonard novel to life. The resulting film sees our birthday boy as the ever-charming Jack Foley, a thrice-incarcerated bank robber who “robbed more than anyone in the computer.” Continue reading

Austin Powers’ Red Suit in Las Vegas

Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

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Mike Myers as Austin Powers, swingin’ secret agent

Las Vegas, Summer 1997

Film: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Release Date: May 2, 1997
Director: Jay Roach
Costume Designer: Deena Appel
Tailor: Tommy Velasco

Background

Several weeks ago, I delighted in the opportunity to rejoin the estimable Pete Brooker and Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits on the From Tailors with Love podcast, this time talking with Deena Appel, the prolific costume designer who created the shagadelic looks of all three Austin Powers movies. (You can find the episode split into two parts—Part 1 and Part 2—as well as Pete’s “show notes” here.)

Pete concluded our conversation by asking each participant which costume resonated most with us, and my answer—which surprised Deena at least—was the red velvet double-breasted suit that the cryogenically frozen Austin wears when re-entering the world by way of late ’90s Las Vegas in the first movie, which was released 24(!) years ago today on May 2, 1997. Continue reading

Paris Blues: Sidney Poitier’s Jazzy Flannel Suit

Sidney Poitier in Paris Blues (1961)

Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook in Paris Blues (1961)

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Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook, expatriate jazz saxophonist

Paris, Fall 1960

Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt

Background

Ten years ago, the United Nations established April 30 as International Jazz Day, a global celebration envisioned by Grammy-winning musician and UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The observance feels ideal for taking a first look at the sleek style in Martin Ritt’s cooler-than-ice 1961 drama, Paris Blues, starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as yankee jazzmen making their living in a French nightclub and romancing a pair of American tourists played by Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll.  Continue reading

Scent of a Woman: Al Pacino’s Navy Striped Suit

Al Pacino as Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992)

Al Pacino as Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992)

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Al Pacino as Frank Slade, blind and bitter retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

New York City to New Hampshire, Fall 1992

Film: Scent of a Woman
Release Date: December 23, 1992
Director: Martin Brest
Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard
Tailor: Martin Greenfield

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy birthday, Al Pacino! As the legendary actor’s 81st birthday coincides with the Academy Awards tonight, let’s take a look at Scent of a Woman, Martin Brest’s 1992 drama that resulted in Pacino’s sole Oscar to date.

Pacino played retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, a blind and irascible alcoholic who secretly plans on spending the Thanksgiving holiday with a lavish weekend in New York City before ending his life. Somewhat reluctantly along for the ride is Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell), a mild-mannered prep student hired to care for Frank, though the cantankerous colonel seems more than willing to watch out for himself.

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A Night to Remember: Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews

Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews in A Night to Remember (1958)

Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews in A Night to Remember (1958)

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Michael Goodliffe as Thomas Andrews, shipbuilder

North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912

Film: A Night to Remember
Release Date: July 3, 1958
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Costume Designer: Yvonne Caffin

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

109 years ago, around 11:40 p.m. on the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, the celebrated luxury liner RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean, sinking within three hours, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 of the 2,200 on board.

Among the dead were many instrumental in the ship’s operations including its captain Edward J. Smith, three of his officers, and Irish-born shipbuilder Thomas Andrews, who oversaw the design of the Titanic and her two sister ships from the time they were conceptualized for the White Star Line five years earlier. Continue reading

Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest

Humphrey Bogart as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936)

Humphrey Bogart as Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936)

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Humphrey Bogart as “Duke” Mantee, violent desperado and “the last great apostle of rugged individualism”

Black Mesa, Arizona, January 1936

Film: The Petrified Forest
Release Date: February 6, 1936
Director: Archie Mayo
Costume Designer: Orry-Kelly (uncredited)

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This is Duke Mantee, the world-famous killer, and he’s hungry…

Indeed, Humphrey Bogart was hungry. The 36-year-old actor had spent more than a dozen years honing his craft on the stage and had spent the last five going nowhere as a $750-a-week bit player for the Fox Film Corporation.

It wasn’t until a decade after his debut that Hollywood would start opening the front door for the New York-born actor, starring in Raoul Walsh’s crime flick High Sierra as a tough bank robber clearly modeled after real-life outlaw John Dillinger. It’s only fitting that this character be Bogie’s shot at the big time that he should have earned years earlier as yet another Dillinger surrogate, Duke Mantee.

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Gene Barry’s Fawn Suit as Dr. Ray Flemming in Prescription: Murder

Gene Barry as Dr. Ray Flemming on Prescription: Murder, the TV pilot movie that led to Columbo

Gene Barry as Dr. Ray Flemming on Prescription: Murder, the TV pilot movie that led to Columbo

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Gene Barry as Dr. Ray Flemming, smarmy psychiatrist

Los Angeles, Spring 1967

Film: Prescription: Murder
Original Air Date: February 20, 1968
Director: Richard Irving
Costume Designer: Burton Miller

Background

This week in 1968, TV audiences were introduced to an unassuming yet indefatigable homicide detective in a wrinkled raincoat whose humble mannerisms and appearance belied an uncanny ability to bring murderers to justice. Oh, and just one more thing… that detective was named Columbo.

Peter Falk wasn’t the first to play the detective, nor was he even the first choice when Richard Levinson and William Link’s stage play was adapted for TV as Prescription: Murder, the first episode of what would become the long-running series Columbo. Bert Freed had originated the role in a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, to be followed by Thomas Mitchell when Levinson and Link debuted the play Prescription: Murder two years later in San Francisco.

Prescription: Murder establishes many trademark elements of Columbo, including the delayed introduction of the shrewd but shabbily dressed lieutenant himself until after we watch the murderer of the week commit his—or her—crime.

Gene Barry set a standard in Prescription: Murder that the killers foiled by Columbo would follow for decades to come: arrogant, well-dressed, and clever enough to pull together a murder scheme that keeps them above suspicion… from all but Lieutenant Columbo, of course. Continue reading

Christopher Plummer in Knives Out

Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey in Knives Out (2019)

Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey in Knives Out (2019)

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Christopher Plummer as Harlan Thrombey, mystery novelist and wealthy patriarch

Massachusetts, November 2018

Film: Knives Out
Release Date: November 27, 2019
Director: Rian Johnson
Costume Designer: Jenny Eagan

Background

The great Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died a week ago today at the age of 91 after three quarters of a century honing his craft across stage and screen from Shakespeare to The Sound of Music.

In his penultimate screen credit, Knives Out, Plummer starred as Harlan Thrombey, a charismatic writer who built his fortune through writing mystery novels and, on his 85th birthday, resolves to finally set his free-loading family free. Continue reading