Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner, privileged college student turned Hollywood screenwriter
Upstate New York, June 1937 and
Malibu, California, September 1947
Film: The Way We Were
Release Date: October 19, 1973
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins & Moss Mabry
As students are settling back into school after Labor Day, let’s make the acquaintance of Hubbell Gardiner, a privileged college student in 1930s America for whom “everything came too easily to him… but at least he knew it,” apropos his short story “The All-American Smile”. Hubbell’s scribbling earned the young man literary attention not only from publishers willing to pay for his work but also from Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand), a radical classmate who puts the “active” in activist.
Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, former United Nations investigator
Philadelphia, Fall 2012
Film: World War Z
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Director: Marc Forster
Costume Designer: Mayes C. Rubeo
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
As Halloween approaches and witches, vampires, and zombies prepare their annual big screen takeover, there’s still talk in the air of a sequel to World War Z, the 2013 thriller starring Brad Pitt as a former U.N. investigator tasked with saving his family – oh, and the world – during a viral outbreak that spawns a zombie apocalypse.
The film is loosely adapted from Max Brooks’ innovative novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, that employed a docudrama-style narrative as “collected” by a U.N. commissioner, measuring the geopolitical impact of the plague and its subsequent conflicts. In fact, it was the geopolitical themes that drew Brad Pitt to the idea of a film adaptation, though they were dropped during the transition to the big screen in favor of more traditional “zombie film” elements.
Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, suspended homicide detective
San Francisco, April 1991
Film: Basic Instinct
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
The nylon bomber jacket has made a comeback in recent years with few knowing the story of its all-too appropriate name, developed as the “MA-1” in the 1950s for American bomber pilots to replace the older B-15 flight jacket. Two decades later, the bomber jacket hit the civilian market with manufacturers like Alpha Industries introducing it to new audiences in colors other than the standard military olive drab. It was further popularized in TV and movies, including the almost ubiquitous appearance of an Alpha Industries MA-1 worn by Steve McQueen in The Hunter (1980).
Though the MA-1 bomber jacket was being phased out of active military use by the early ’90s, it still remained a staple of men’s casual wear and was a fitting choice as the go-to off-duty jacket worn by Michael Douglas’ fashionably tailored homicide detective Nick Curran in Basic Instinct. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Joe Turner, alias “Condor”, CIA researcher
New York City, December 1975
Film: Three Days of the Condor
Release Date: September 24, 1975
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi
In a July 2012 article of GQ, Sydney Pollack’s masterpiece paranoia government thriller Three Days of the Condor was named one of “The 25 Most Stylish Films of All Time.” Pollack apparently was shocked by questions about the wardrobe worn by Robert Redford, saying “He wore one outfit through the whole picture!”
True as that may be, Redford’s versatile costume throughout fits the character of Joe Turner, a desk-bound ex-military bookworm who finds himself in dangerous circumstances despite a relatively non-dangerous job with the CIA. Codenamed “Condor” by his CIA supervisors, Turner is “literally out to lunch” when a professional hit squad wipes out all of his co-workers, sending Turner on the run with no one to trust but a complete stranger, a troubled photographer that he takes hostage named Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), and presses into service to help him. Continue reading