Elvis Presley as “Lucky” Jackson, mechanic and aspiring race car driver
Las Vegas, Summer 1964
Film: Viva Las Vegas
Release Date: May 20, 1964
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
Regarded as one of the better movies of Elvis Presley’s acting career, Viva Las Vegas stars the singer opposite Ann-Margret, and it’s reported that the very real chemistry between the two was indicative of their off-screen friendship that briefly grew into romance.
On screen, however, Elvis played “Lucky” Jackson, a mechanic who wins – then literally loses – the money he had hoped to use to finance his own race car. To raise the money back, he takes a part-time gig in the Fabulous Flamingo casino in Las Vegas, where he meets sultry swimming instructor Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret, of course).
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, Late Summer 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, Purple Noon put French actor Alain Delon on the international map. Only 24 years old when Purple Noon was released, Delon earned the endorsement of Ms. Highsmith herself for his performance as the smooth and wily young con artist whose petty crimes and deceptions graduate to multiple murders over the course of the film.
“It’s insidious, the way Highsmith seduces us into identifying with him and sharing his selfishness,” Roger Ebert wrote of both the novel and this cinematic adaptation in his 1996 review. “Ripley believes that getting his own way is worth whatever price anyone else might have to pay. We all have a little of that in us.” Continue reading
Dominic Cooper as Ian Fleming, former British Secret Service agent and aspiring author
Goldeneye, Jamaica, March 1952
Series: Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond
Episode: Episode 1
Air Date: January 29, 2014
Director: Mat Whitecross
Costume Designer: Caroline Harris
This Monday, May 28, marks the 110th birthday of Ian Fleming, the author who created James Bond based on his own experiences in British naval intelligence during World War II. Fleming’s works have famously been adapted to the screen in one of the most successful film franchises to date, while the man’s own life has been adapted a few times as well.
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, is the most recent visual retelling of Fleming’s life, focusing on the period of 1938 to 1952 that included Commander Fleming’s service in the British Naval Intelligence Division during World War II and much of the gambling, girls, and gin that would become a hallmark for both Fleming and his fictional creation. Continue reading
Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin, mob enforcer
Kansas City (and Chicago), summer 1972
Film: Prime Cut
Release Date: June 28, 1972
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The beginning of Prime Cut follows a mysteriously packed package of meat as it journeys from Kansas City to Chicago, where it is received by Jake (Eddie Egan), the head of the Windy City’s Irish mob. The delivery’s significance is not lost on Jake, who promptly seeks out and recruits enforcer Nick Devlin (Lee Marvin) to head to Kansas and set things straight.
Brad Pitt as Tom Bishop, experienced CIA operative and U.S. Marine
Beirut, Summer 1985
Film: Spy Game
Release Date: November 21, 2001
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
Halfway through Tony Scott’s espionage thriller Spy Game, we get to the operation that led to the expository situation of rogue CIA agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) landing himself in Chinese captivity in the midst of secret trade negotiations.
As his one-time mentor Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) explains to agency top brass, Bishop arrived in Beirut in 1985 under the cover of a photojournalist (“he was good, he was talented, he had a good eye… probably had a photography merit badge stuffed in the drawer at home”) to try to get close to the family doctor of their target, Sheik Salameh. Along the way, Bishop breaks the rules and falls for one of his assets, a mysterious Brit named Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack), and is eventually forced to choose between his assignment and his amour. Continue reading
Daniel Craig as James Bond, British secret agent
Lake Como, Italy, August 2006
Film: Casino Royale
Release Date: November 14, 2006
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
The name is Bond… James Bond.
After more than two hours of anticipation, Daniel Craig finally delivered the words that 007 fans were waiting to hear. 007 had embarked on an adventure with more ups and downs – both emotional and physical – than we’re used to seeing with our sophisticated hero, and Casino Royale reintroduced audiences to a character with an impact similar to the initial book’s release 65 years ago this month. I know that the moment I left the theater that Thanksgiving weekend in 2006, I had to resist the impulse to buy another ticket and head back in for a second viewing.
For the 00-7th of April, let’s celebrate not only a stylish and classic springtime business look but also the 65th anniversary of the publication of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first novel and the spark that so ferociously lit the James Bond franchise when it shelves on April 13, 1953. Continue reading
Toshirô Mifune as Matsunaga, tubercular Japanese gangster
Japan, summer 1947
Film: Drunken Angel
(Japanese title: 醉いどれ天使 Yoidore Tenshi)
Release Date: April 27, 1948
Director: Akira Kurosawa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
One request I received about a year ago was the flashy tailored style of Matsunaga, the swaggering Yakuza lieutenant at the heart – or should I say lung – of Kurosawa’s 1948 masterpiece Drunken Angel.