Ben Gazzara as Jackie Treehorn, smooth pornography mogul
Malibu, California, Fall 1991
Film: The Big Lebowski
Release Date: March 6, 1998
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
Jeff Bridges’ slacker at the heart of The Big Lebowski may not rank in the pantheon of style icons like Grant, McQueen, Newman, or Poitier oft cited in discussions of the best movie menswear, but Mary Zophres’ costume design in this cult classic from the Coen brothers is an exemplar in the power of using costume to establish character.
In addition to the Dude in his hoodies, shorts, and jelly sandals (as well as that cowichan cardigan!), we have the aggressive survivalist Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) whose gonzo-esque yellow-tinted aviators, fishing vest, and combat boots suggest that he’s the type of guy to keep a loaded .45 in his bowling bag even before he draws it. Bowling-obsessed Donny (Steve Buscemi) has an array of bowling shirts in every color to suit his favorite sport, super-assistant Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) looks the part in his off-the-peg Brooks Brothers, and the millionaire Lebowski (David Huddleston)—ahem, the Big Lebowski—dresses to achieve in his business suits by day and opulent smoking jackets by night. Also worthy of mention is the tight purple jumpsuit worn by Jesus Quintana (John Turturro), which tells and unfortunately shows all we may have guessed about the convicted pederast.
While most of these characters are introduced as we meet them, powerful porn producer Jackie Treehorn stands out as an exception, receiving a degree of in-universe mythology as the enigmatic center who may hold the key to the film’s mysterious MacGuffin. As a result, we may already have a sense of what we expect Jackie to look like by the time Ben Gazzara steps from the shadows to greet the Dude at his Malibu beach party. Continue reading
Stephan James as John Lewis, civil rights activist and future congressman
Selma, Alabama, Spring 1965
Release Date: December 25, 2014
Director: Ava DuVernay
Costume Designer: Ruth E. Carter
On the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, today’s post celebrates the life and legacy of the late John Lewis, the prolific civil rights activist and longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives who had been an instrumental force in the fight for voter and racial equality.
Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, pugnacious and passionate labor official
Miami, Summer 1972
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
It was on this day in 1975 that James R. Hoffa was last seen outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant in a suburb of Detroit. The outspoken labor leader had spent his decades in and out of power making dangerous enemies from law enforcement and the Mafia to the executive branch and his own union. Martin Scorsese’s latest epic, The Irishman, was released to Netflix last year, adapting Charles Brandt’s I Hear You Paint Houses that purportedly “closed the case” on what happened to Hoffa after he disappeared 45 years ago today.
That afternoon, Hoffa had been planning to meet with Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano, two La Cosa Nostra capos, though The Irishman suggests that the animosity that stemmed from a prior meeting between Hoffa and Tony Pro made disaster inevitable for the pugnacious Teamster boss.
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent presumed dead
Tokyo, Summer 1966
Film: You Only Live Twice
Release Date: June 13, 1967
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Master: Eileen Sullivan
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond.
Sean Connery’s fifth film as James Bond was the first of the franchise to considerably depart from Ian Fleming’s source novel, though it retains the title, the basic plot line and characters, and the Japanese setting. In fact, while most Bond films are continent-hopping travelogues, Japan hosts the majority of the action in You Only Live Twice aside from the pre-credits sequence, set in Hong Kong where Bond is ostensibly murdered.
Of course, it’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that the assassination is a ruse to fool Bond’s enemies into thinking he is out of the picture while the agent himself lives to die another day… in fact, you could say he lived twice! Presumed dead by his enemies after his burial at sea, Bond is free to be sent to Japan to investigate a mysterious spacecraft that has seemingly landed in the Sea of Japan. Bond soon makes contact with his lovely ally Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), who drives him around Tokyo in a sporty Toyota 2000GT that had been customized by the production to accommodate Sean Connery’s height.
I had long wanted to cover this sequence as I love Bond’s tailoring, Aki’s Toyota, and the trio of drinks he imbibes with varying degrees of satisfaction, but it felt particularly appropriate to write about for a #CarWeek post this 00-7th of July given James Bond’s safe pro-masking message…
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, August 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Few movies so stylishly capture the intriguing possibilities of summer as Plein soleil, balancing a sun-drenched travelogue of beautiful coastal Italy with the provocative thrills and deception to be expected from the dangerous mind of Patricia Highsmith, whose 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley formed the basis for this lush and haunting adaptation.
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, levelheaded Mafia lawyer
Lake Tahoe, Fall 1958
Film: The Godfather Part II
Release Date: December 12, 1974
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The second Thursday in June is recognized as National Seersucker Day in the United States, an observance that began in Congress during the late 1990s to celebrate the traditional congressional summer dress in the days of the early 20th century before air conditioning reached the Capitol.
Apropos his quiet persona, Tom Hagen makes his inconspicuous return in The Godfather, Part II, seen almost in silhouette against the window as he greets the smarmy, crooked, and proudly blunt Senator Pat Geary (G.D. Spradlin) in the Don’s Lake Tahoe estate on the day of his son’s first communion. Continue reading
Sidney Poitier as Matt Younger, widowed father and clinic physician
London, Summer 1972
Film: A Warm December
Release Date: May 23, 1973
Director: Sidney Poitier
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
Despite its title, Sidney Poitier’s second directorial effort A Warm December is actually set during a summer in London. (The title is contextualized during one of the film’s final scenes, so I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it!) Poitier plays Dr. Matt Younger, a recent widow who brings his daughter across the pond for what he hopes to be a mindless vacation spent riding his motorbike until he makes the acquaintance of the mysterious and magnetic Catherine (Ester Anderson) and falls for her.
Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, flight attendant and money courier
Los Angeles, Summer 1995
Film: Jackie Brown
Release Date: December 25, 1997
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Mary Claire Hannan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today marks a BAMF Style first, focusing on a badass woman from the movies: Pam Grier as the eponymous lead in Jackie Brown, adapted by Quentin Tarantino from Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. QT had long been a fan of Grier—and rightly so!—including a reference to her in his debut feature, Reservoir Dogs (1992). He had hoped to secure a role for her in Pulp Fiction (1994) until he realized that the actress’ strong presence would make it difficult for audiences to accept Eric Stoltz yelling at her on screen.
After Tarantino and Roger Avary acquired the film rights to three of Elmore Leonard’s novels, the director reportedly “fell in love” with Rum Punch, selecting that as his next feature. In the hopes of hiring Grier for the lead, he changed the character from the white Jackie Burke to the black Jackie Brown, her new surname alluding to Pam Grier’s famous role in Foxy Brown (1974). This character modification wasn’t Tarantino’s only homage to Grier’s career, as the soundtrack also included pieces from Roy Ayers’ original score for Coffy, the blaxploitation classic that provided Grier with her star-making role upon its release 47 years ago on May 13, 1973. 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.
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, principled Southern lawyer
Maycomb, Alabama, Summer 1932 and 1933
Film: To Kill a Mockingbird
Release Date: December 25, 1962
Director: Robert Mulligan
Costume Designer: Rosemary Odell
Tailor: H. Huntsman & Sons, London
Today marks the birthday of Gregory Peck, born April 5, 1916. Peck’s arguably most iconic role was that of the patient, humble, and earnest defense attorney Atticus Finch, a portrayal that earned Peck the Academy Award and was voted the #1 screen hero of all time in a 2003 AFI poll, outranking cinematic badasses like James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Ellen Ripley and illustrating that the most heroic strength is strength of moral character.