Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer
Northern California, Late Summer 1953
Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.
Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.
Humphrey Bogart as Dixon “Dix” Steele, frustrated screenwriter who’s “been out of circulation too long”
Los Angeles, Summer 1949
Film: In a Lonely Place
Release Date: May 17, 1950
Director: Nicholas Ray
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
As #NoirVember continues, we shift our sartorial focus to a seminal figure in the development and enduring popularity of film noir: Humphrey Bogart. In movies like The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The Big Sleep (1946), Bogie cemented the wisecracking private eye persona often driving the heart of this subgenre, but he did not play a detective in the suspenseful thriller considered to be among his best, In a Lonely Place.
This 1950 noir co-starred Gloria Grahame and directed by Nicholas Ray, her husband at the time, though both Bogie and screenwriter Edmund North had envisioned the then-Mrs. Bogart, Lauren Bacall, to take the role of the “sultry and smooth… striking-looking girl with high cheek bones and tawny hair” as the character of Laurel Gray was described in the North’s screenplay. While Warner Brothers refused to lend Bacall to Bogart’s Santana Productions, Bogie was able to keep the leading role to deliver one of the most explosive and authentic performances of his prolific career.
Steve McQueen as Jake Holman, maverick U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate, 1st Class (MM1)
Yangtze River, China, Summer 1927 through Spring 1927
Film: The Sand Pebbles
Release Date: December 20, 1966
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The Navy League of the United States organized the first Navy Day on October 27, 1922, to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt who—before becoming the 26th President of the United States—had long championed the U.S. Navy and had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Set four years after the establishment of Navy Day, The Sand Pebbles begins in 1926 China, “a country of factions trying to unite to become a nation… through revolution…” according to the opening text. Continue reading
Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, outlaw motorcycle club leader
Central California, Summer 1953
Film: The Wild One
Release Date: December 30, 1953
Director: László Benedek
“Hey, Johnny, what are you rebelling against?”
This famous exchange originated among the actual biker gangs that producer Stanley Kramer had brought on set to play themselves. When Kramer asked what it was they were “rebelling” against, a member cracked back to him, “Well, whaddaya got?” The line so encapsulated the culture and attitude of bikers during the era that it was incorporated into The Wild One, though the question is posed by Mildred, the platinum blonde beauty salon operator that one of Johnny’s boys picked up in a bar.
Inspired by actual events over a rambunctious fourth of July weekend in Hollister, California, in 1947, The Wild One was based on Frank Rooney’s short story “The Cyclists’ Raid” that appeared in Harper’s magazine in January 1951. It was swiftly adapted for the screen, though the locations involved were changed to the fictional California burgs of Carbondale and Wrightsville, the latter being the “screwball town”—according to Dextro (Jerry Paris)—where most of the action takes place.
The credits are a bit misleading, introducing Marlon Brando to us as The Wild One, though his character Johnny Strabler turns out to be the most restrained of his hell-raising confederates, particularly when compared to the obnoxious pipsqueak Mouse (Gil Stratton), the larcenous, simple-minded Pigeon (Alvy Moore), or rival gang leader Chino (Lee Marvin). Continue reading
Gregory Peck as Jim McKay, “neat, clean, and polite” former sea captain and aspiring rancher
West Texas, Summer 1886
Film: The Big Country
Release Date: August 13, 1958
Director: William Wyler
Costume Design: Emile Santiago & Yvonne Wood
A couple years ago, I had received a request via Twitter from venerated BAMF Style reader Ryan to explore Gregory Peck’s “taupe city slicker suit” in The Big Country, which also happened to be the favorite movie of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, born 129 years ago today on October 14, 1890. In fact, Ike was such a fan of William Wyler’s Technicolor Western that he screened the 166-minute epic on four separate occasions during his administration’s second term in the White House.
Humphrey Bogart as Harry Morgan, cynical fishing boat captain
Fort-de-France, Martinique, Summer 1940
Film: To Have and Have Not
Release Date: October 11, 1944
Director: Howard Hawks
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 75th anniversary of the release of To Have and Have Not, the romantic adventure directed by Howard Hawks and adapted from Ernest Hemingway’s novel that staged the first meeting of iconic classic Hollywood couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, ruthless Italian-born bootlegger and mob enforcer
Chicago, Summer 1927
Release Date: April 9, 1932
Director: Howard Hawks
Today’s #MafiaMonday post goes back to the Prohibition era, the age that gave rise to the modern American gangster… and the American gangster movie.
After Warner Brothers scored back-to-back hits with Little Caesar (1931) and The Public Enemy (1931), effectively establishing the subgenre of the gangster film, Howard Hughes entered the fray with Scarface, an explosive, influential, and fast-paced criminal epic adapted from Armitage Trail’s novel that had been based on the life of Al Capone. Hughes had been warned against taking on Warner’s dominance in the genre, so he packed his production with talent including screenwriter Ben Hecht, director Howard Hawks, and lead actor Paul Muni, who was born 124 years ago yesterday on September 22, 1895.
In the wake of movies like Little Caesar and The Public Enemy, the Hays Office had been increasing its efforts to censor what it deemed to be glamorization of criminal lifestyles in cinema, but its notoriously restrictive production code had yet to be put into place, giving Scarface full reign to arm its vaguely incestuous central character with a Thompson submachine gun, once dubbed “the gun that made the twenties roar,” as he rose the ranks of the criminal underworld in a series of violent vignettes paralleling the life and crimes of the infamous Capone.
Marcello Mastroianni as Augusto Rusconi, bombastic Bolognese businessman and bon vivant
Rome, Summer 1963
Film: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
(Italian title: Ieri, oggi, domani)
Release Date: December 19, 1963
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Costume Designer: Piero Tosi
“It is sometimes said that the French spend their money on their food, the English on their gardens, and the Italians on their clothes,” wrote Sir Hardy Amies for his seminal ABCs of Men’s Fashion in 1964. “Certainly the Italians give the impression of taking great pains with their appearance, especially in summer when we see most of them.”
As summer comes to a close, let’s heed Sir Hardy’s words by focusing on the warm-weather menswear worn by Marcello Mastroianni in Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, which marked the fifth of his 13 collaborations with his frequent screen partner and real-life friend Sophia Loren, who celebrates her 85th birthday today. Continue reading
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant, top paleontologist
“Isla Nublar”, 120 miles west of Costa Rica, Summer 1993
Film: Jurassic Park
Release Date: June 11, 1993
Director: Steven Spielburg
Costumes: Mitchell Ray Kenney, Sue Moore, Kelly Porter, and Eric H. Sandberg
Happy birthday, Sam Neill! The actor—born 72 years ago today on September 14, 1947—racked up plenty of BAMF Style points early in his career for his depiction of real-life spy Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies, a stylish mini-series that established Neill as a strong contender to succeed Roger Moore as James Bond. Neill’s greatest commercial success as a star was arguably his role of esteemed paleontologist Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, the 1993 blockbuster that needs no introduction.
Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate
Los Angeles, Summer through Fall 1967
Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt
Dustin Hoffman’s Ivy style mastery in The Graduate has been a frequent request from BAMF Style readers including Kyle, Ryan, Zubair, and more, so—in the spirit of the “back to school” season—let’s take a look at one of the most iconic outfits that Hoffman wore as the listless Benjamin Braddock.
Benjamin is getting tired of his wordless, emotionless trysts with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the sultry and troubled wife of his father’s law partner. One night in their usual room at the Taft Hotel, Benjamin suggests that the two talk more. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, “We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files / We’d like to help you learn to help yourself…”