Alain Delon as Jean-Paul Leroy, moody ad agency writer on vacation
French Riviera, Summer 1968
Film: The Swimming Pool
(French title: La Piscine)
Release Date: January 3, 1969
Director: Jacques Deray
Costume Designer: André Courrèges
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
More than a half-century after its release, La Piscine remains hailed as one of the most stylish movies, not just for French designer André Courrèges’s costumes but also its sun-drenched Côte d’Azur setting, Michel Legrand’s jazzy score, and the smoldering expressions of its quartet of stars. “The less you put in words, the more you will oblige me to have imagination,” director Jacques Deray reportedly screenwriter instructed Jean-Claude Carrière.
Deray’s “imagination” draws the most from the dangerously intense sexual tension among its leads, beginning with Alain Delon and Romy Schneider as the vacationing couple spending their summer in an opulent villa secluded in the French Riviera. Continue reading
Keith Carradine as James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, legendary gunfighter, gambler, and erstwhile lawman
Deadwood, Summer 1876
– “Deadwood” (Episode 1.01, dir. Walter Hill, aired 3/21/2004)
– “Deep Water” (Episode 1.02, dir. Davis Guggenheim, aired 3/28/2004)
– “Reconnoitering the Rim” (Episode 1.03, dir. Davis Guggenheim, aired 4/4/2004)
– “Here Was a Man” (Episode 1.04, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 4/11/2004)
Creator: David Milch
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Famously killed 145 years ago today holding the “dead man’s hand”, James Butler Hickok was a living Wild West legend by the time his caravan pulled into Deadwood, then a lawless mining camp in the Black Hills of Dakota Territory, during the summer of 1876. Continue reading
Johnny Depp as George Jung, burgeoning pot dealer
Manhattan Beach, California, Summer 1968
Release Date: April 6, 2001
Director: Ted Demme
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges
Blow presents the story of real-life drug smuggler George Jung (1942-2021), presented not unlike Goodfellas: beginning in media res at a crucial turning point in our anti-hero protagonist’s life, reaching back into his childhood, and then following his criminal career over the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s until it descends into a cocaine-fueled nightmare of betrayals and bad hair, all set to a packed soundtrack of hits and deep cuts from the era.
After meeting the adolescent George, raised by an attentive Ray Liotta and a neglectful Rachel Griffiths, we skip ahead to young adulthood as a twentysomething George and his oversized pal Tuna (Ethan Suplee) as they relocate across the country from Massachusetts to Manhattan Beach:
I moved to California in the summer of 1968 with the Tuna. We had $300 and a black TR3. There sure was nothin’ like this back home. It was paradise… and everyone was getting stoned.
Don Cheadle as Buck Swope, porn actor and aspiring electronics store owner
San Fernando Valley, Summer 1977
Film: Boogie Nights
Release Date: October 10, 1997
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges
In the mood for some midweek summer leisure looks, I was inspired by the parade of ’70s style in Boogie Nights. As with so many period productions set during the disco era, Boogie Nights features plenty of the big collars, flashy jewelry, and polyester we’ve come to associate with that decade, and its focus on the porn industry—despite Jack Horner’s insistence that his “pictures” may be a higher art than the era’s run-of-the-mill smut—takes us through the tackier side of a decade already oft reviled for its sartorial excess.
Among the sprawling ensemble cast, I’ve always enjoyed Don Cheadle’s performance as Buck Swope, the conflicted actor in Horner’s troupe constantly wrangling with his identity. Continue reading
Mel Gibson as Dale “Mac” McKussic, retired drug dealer
Los Angeles, Summer 1988
Film: Tequila Sunrise
Release Date: December 2, 1988
Director: Robert Towne
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss
Following his success as a screenwriter—credited and uncredited—on some of the most memorable movies of the ’70s, Robert Towne intended for his sophomore directorial film, Tequila Sunrise, to be something of a spiritual follow-up to Chinatown, which… it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I did get some enjoyment out of Tequila Sunrise and there’s no denying that it’s refreshingly original—almost to a questionable degree—but I would argue it’s not even close to the same league as Chinatown, let alone Bonnie & Clyde, The Godfather, The Last Detail, Marathon Man, or the other excellent films that benefited from Towne’s contributions.
Several had recommended Tequila Sunrise to me for its style, and I’ll admit the name intrigued me, so I mentally scheduled to watch it and write about it in time for #NationalTequilaDay, celebrated annually on July 24… so happy National Tequila Day!
Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella, cultured art critic and one-time novelist
Rome, Summer 2012
Film: The Great Beauty
(Italian title: La grande bellezza)
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Director: Paolo Sorrentino
Costume Designer: Daniela Ciancio
Tailor: Cesare Attolini
Few images illustrate Gershwin’s celebrated concept of “summertime… and the livin’ is easy” as effectively as the hammock. Fittingly, #NationalHammockDay comes at us in midsummer, celebrated annually on July 22.
Paolo Sorrentino’s magnificent masterpiece La grande bellezza stars Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella, the 65-year-old “king of the high life” whose opulent apartment on Piazza del Colosseo boasts a terrace overlooking the Eternal City. When not hosting his stylish coterie of fellow cultural critics, Jep often takes to the self-suspended hammock positioned on his terrace, drink in hand as he allows his mind to wander while basking under the Roman sun. Continue reading
Me, evidently a fan of amusement parks
Pittsburgh, Summer 1987
Release Date: April 3, 2009
Director: Greg Mottola
Costume Designer: Melissa Toth
As today is my 32nd birthday (a day I share with Ernest Hemingway, Robin Williams, and Cat Stevens, to name a few) I’m going to exercise my blogger’s right to shift direction a bit and focus on… me!
In case my blog about style in the movies didn’t give it away, I’ve always been a fan of movies. While I never harbored dreams of stardom, there had always been a part of me that got a kick out of seeing myself on screen—which my fiancée attributes to my Leo ascendant—and I spent many a weekend in high school cajoling my patient friends into starring in some amateur production of mine, typically a half-baked story driven by gangsters, guns, and Goodwill-purchased suits.
It wasn’t until I entered college that I considered actually being part of an actual production, tossing my proverbial hat into the ring by registering as an extra with a local casting agency that has worked on several major productions filmed in Pittsburgh including The Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Just two months into my freshman year at Pitt, the agency announced that extras of all ages would be needed for a day spent filming at Kennywood, the amusement park that had been the setting of many fond memories since early childhood. The park was being transformed back in time two decades for the 1980s-set comedy Adventureland, which would star Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as college students spending their summer working at an amusement park. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Madison Avenue ad man
Anaheim, California, October 1965
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Tomorrowland” (Episode 4.13)
Air Date: October 17, 2010
Director: Matthew Weiner
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Sixty-six years ago today, Walt Disney introduced the world to “the happiest place on Earth” during a televised press event on July 17, 1955. Disneyland Park opened just one year and a day after construction began in Anaheim, California, and the sprawling theme park remains the only one completed under Disney’s direct supervision.
“Tomorrow can be a wonderful age,” Disney began when unveiling Tomorrowland, one of the nine themed “lands” that Disneyland is comprised of. “The Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.”
While we never actually get to see the Draper family visiting the park during their vacation in Mad Men‘s fourth-season finale, the episode’s title that we’re seeing Don forming the living blueprint for his own future, most significantly by rejecting the smart and nurturing Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono) to propose marriage to his bright-eyed young secretary Megan (Jessica Paré). After all, this is the man who prides himself on the fact that his life only moves in one direction: forward. Continue reading
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, relentless mutant Nazi hunter to be christened Magneto
Villa Gesell, Argentina, Fall 1962
Film: X-Men: First Class
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Sammy Sheldon
While I’m not traditionally a fan of superhero movies (at least as not as big a fan as some people!), I’ve appreciated how the recent stretch of Marvel movies have stretched across genres in its multi-billion-dollar appeal to varying audiences. For me, it’s been the entries rooted in history—like the MCU’s Captain America: The First Avenger and Fox’s X-Men: First Class, both released in 2011—that have had the most appeal of those I’ve seen. The latter, released ten years ago this summer, had been a subject of multiple requests since BAMF Style’s early years, so I hope I’m not too late in finally paying tribute to a briefly seen but timelessly stylish outfit from this Cold War-set adventure.
Harry Dean Stanton as “Lucky”, grizzled desert-dwelling nonagenarian
Piru, California, Summer 2016
Release Date: March 11, 2017
Director: John Carroll Lynch
Costume Designer: Lisa Norcia
Today’s post celebrates the great Harry Dean Stanton, the craggy and unapologetically authentic character actor born 95 years ago on July 14, 1926. Stanton’s prolific filmography included few leading roles, aside from a memorable turn in Wim Wenders’ 1984 masterpiece Paris, Texas, and his final movie, Lucky.
Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja collaborated on the screenplay that would result in a cinematic love letter to Harry Dean Stanton, for whom Sparks had served as personal assistant for more than 16 years. Described by Movie Talk as “a poignant meditation on mortality”, Lucky provides a fitting swan song for the actor’s career, incorporating biographical details like Stanton’s Kentucky birthplace and service in the U.S. Navy, reuniting him with previous collaborators like David Lynch and Tom Skeritt, and even scored by harmonica riffs on “Red River Valley”, a song associated with his roles in Dillinger (1973) and Twin Peaks: The Return (2017), not to exclude the overall motif of roaming the southwestern desert that echoes his starring role in Paris, Texas.
The man at the heart of it all is “Lucky”, a cantankerous but not unkind 90-year-old who loves cigarettes, crossword puzzles, and coffee with plenty of cream and sugar. A man of routine, Lucky begins each day with a Natural American Spirit cigarette, his calisthenics (“five yoga exercises every day, 21 repetitions each”), and a glass of cold milk, before he slips into one of his identical shirts, jackets, and jeans to greet another day in the small desert town of Piru, California.