Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, “celebrity” gangster and casino builder
New York, Summer 1945, and
Beverly Hills, December 1946
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Release Date: December 13, 1991
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
Bugsy is an entertaining and stylish drama penned by James Toback, transforming the violent mobster in a suave and romantic visionary much as the real life gangster himself tried to reinvent his persona after moving out to the West Coast, choosing to rub elbows with the likes of George Raft, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant rather than his old associates like Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, and Joe Adonis. Continue reading
Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, expatriate American journalist
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Summer 1960
Film: The Rum Diary
Release Date: October 28, 2011
Director: Bruce Robinson
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
“In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy,” heralded Hunter S. Thompson’s honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force in November 1957, a considerable understatement given the iconic writer’s eventual symbolic anti-authoritarian status.
Following his discharge, Thompson tried a few journalistic stints in New York but was fired by Time (for insubordination) and the Middletown Daily Record (for damaging a candy machine) and moved to Puerto Rico in 1960.
Having failed to procure a position with the San Juan Star, Thompson wrote for the El Sportivo sporting magazine… though it folded quickly after his arrival. His experiences in San Juan formed the basis of The Rum Diary, a novel that he penned shortly after his return to the U.S. the following year, although it wasn’t published for more than three decades.
While it would be inaccurate to describe The Rum Diary as a strict roman à clef, its morose, restless narrator Paul Kemp is clearly modeled on Thompson himself, and Thompson’s friend Johnny Depp was naturally tapped to play the role in the film adaptation. Continue reading
Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard, petty thief and killer on the run
Paris, August 1959
(French title: À bout de souffle)
Release Date: March 16, 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard from an original treatment by François Truffaut, À bout de souffle (or Breathless to us Americans) marked a defining moment in the evolution of French New Wave cinema. The lanky, youthful, and energetic Jean-Paul Belmondo shot to cinematic stardom as he became the new face of French New Wave, a term to which he charmingly admitted his own ignorance to P.E. Schneider of New York Times Magazine.
In that 1961 piece, Schneider was profiling Belmondo for a piece called “A Punk With Charm,” referring to the actor’s role in Breathless as the Bogart-idolizing Michel Poiccard, a swaggering and sociopathic walking id. Continue reading
Michael Caine as Alfie Elkins, charming part-time car service driver and full-time cad
Middlesex, England, Summer 1965
Release Date: March 24, 1966
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Supervisor: Jean Fairlie
During his stay in a convalescent home earlier in the movie, Alfie Elkins (Michael Caine) befriended Harry Clamacraft (Alfie Bass, hey his name actually is Alfie!). Alfie later returns to visit Harry, who requests that Alfie give a ride to his tired-looking wife Lily (Vivien Merchant) in his Rolls-Royce.
The reluctant ride turns into a summertime seduction as Alfie and Lily make a fateful stop for “a nice cup of tea.” Continue reading
Sean Connery as James Bond, sophisticated British MI6 agent
Miyazaki, Japan, Summer 1966
Film: You Only Live Twice
Release Date: June 13, 1967
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe Master: Eileen Sullivan
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
Sean Connery’s wardrobe as James Bond is remembered for its timeless elegance, developed for his first appearance as the character in Dr. No. The elements of Connery’s Bond style generally differed from Ian Fleming’s literary vision, with Connery often sporting gray suits rather than blue, long-sleeve shirts rather than short-sleeved, and derby shoes rather than non-laced casuals.
However, there are a few occasions where Connery’s 007 sartorially overlapped with Fleming’s vision. His dark blue suit when visiting Osato’s Tokyo office in You Only Live Twice thus serves as an appropriate post for the 00-7th of May, Ian Fleming’s birth month. Continue reading
Frank Sinatra as Macauley “Mike” Connor, swaggering tabloid reporter
Newport, Rhode Island, Summer 1956
Film: High Society
Release Date: July 17, 1956
Director: Charles Walters
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
BAMF Style is fulfilling a timely request from Ryan to explore the puppytooth jacket, pink shirt, and tie worn by Frank Sinatra for his early scenes in High Society, the 1956 remake of The Philadelphia Story that found Sinatra acting with his idol, Bing Crosby. The film lives up to its title with an abundance of luxury cars, opulent homes, and plenty of champagne.
Though set in summer, Sinatra’s ensemble is a nice bold springtime look as the April showers turn to May flowers. Continue reading
Jack Nicholson as Francis “Frank” Costello, sadistic Irish-American mob boss
Boston, Summer 2006
Film: The Departed
Release Date: October 6, 2006
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
To celebrate Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday today, April 22, BAMF Style is looking at an iconic role from his latter career as crime boss Francis “Frank” Costello in The Departed. Nicholson reportedly wanted “a little something more” for his character*, and elements of real-life Boston mobster Whitey Bulger were incorporated into Jack’s eccentric and erratic character.
This brief but memorable scene, featuring Nicholson in some timely springtime pastels, was filmed June 28, 2005 at the Long Wharf in Boston. Two of Massachusetts’ finest, Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), are monitoring Costello’s movements and decide to show their face. Continue reading