Tagged: Thief

James Caan in Thief: Frank’s ’80s Gray Leather Blousons

James Caan as Frank in Thief (1981)

James Caan as Frank in Thief (1981)

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James Caan as Frank, professional jewel thief

Chicago, Spring 1980

Film: Thief
Release Date: March 27, 1981
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Supervisor: Jodie Lynn Tillen

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Considered by many to be one of the director’s best movies, Michal Mann’s debut Thief was released in theaters 40 years ago today. Thief established many of what would become Mann trademarks, from its “principled” yet ruthless professional character who expertly handles a .45 to the setting city elevated to a secondary character itself, particularly its less glamorous underbelly as photographed at night. (Originally titled Violent Streets, even the one-word title would become a Mann signature as evidenced by his future features AliBlackhat, Collateral, Heat, and Manhunter.)

Mann adapted the 1975 novel The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by real-life thief John Seybold (writing as “Frank Hohimer”) for his screen debut, retaining the first name of Seybold’s nom de plume for the taciturn thief that would be memorably played by James Caan, who celebrated his 81st birthday yesterday.

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James Caan in Thief: Frank’s Black Leather Jacket

James Caan as Frank in Thief (1981)

James Caan as Frank in Thief (1981)

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James Caan as Frank, professional jewel thief

Chicago, Spring 1980

Film: Thief
Release Date: March 27, 1981
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Supervisor: Jodie Lynn Tillen

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Michael Mann—born today in 1943—directed (and wrote) his feature-length debut, Thief, a moody neo-noir thriller that would portend his particular brand of stylized crime dramas to follow like ManhunterHeat, and Collateral, as well as his work on the landmark series Miami Vice. The source material was the 1975 novel The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar by “Frank Hohimer”, a real-life criminal named John Seybold who served as an on-set technical advisor despite the pending FBI warrants against him.

As the eponymous thief, James Caan’s Frank establishes an early template for the professional criminals that populate Mann’s work, subdued in appearance and demeanor but ruthless against any target getting in the way of his payday…and his freedom.

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Once a Thief: Alain Delon’s Sheepskin Coat and Ford Model A

Alain Delon as Eddie Pedak in Once a Thief (1965)

Alain Delon as Eddie Pedak in Once a Thief (1965)

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Alain Delon as Eddie Pedak, reformed thief

San Francisco, Spring 1965

Film: Once a Thief
Release Date: September 8, 1965
Director: Ralph Nelson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

On the last day of #Noirvember (and Alain Delon’s birthday month) and the first day of this winter’s #CarWeek series, it felt like the perfect time to explore Once a Thief, Ralph Nelson’s moody black-and-white crime drama starring Delon as a reformed criminal-turned-family man.

The jazzy opening credits depict a night at Big Al’s, a smoky den laden with drug pushers and beatniks, including author Zekial Marko, whose novel Scratch a Thief provided the movie’s source material. We follow a young man swaddled in sheepskin as he leaves the club and takes the wheel of a vintage “Model A Ford” roadster, which then becomes his getaway car after a swift but deadly closing-time stickup at a liquor store in Chinatown.

We then learn that the car and coat are a trademark of Eddie Pedak, a reformed armed robber making an honest living as a truck driver with his wife Kristine (Ann-Margret) and their daughter. The arrival of Eddie’s criminal brother Walter (Jack Palance), a syndicate hotshot, brings complications in the form of a proposition for one night’s criminal work—the proverbial “one last job”—which Eddie initially refuses, despite the $50,000 payout.

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Alain Delon’s Leather Jacket in Any Number Can Win

Alain Delon as Francis Verlot in Any Number Can Win (Mélodie en sous-sol) (1963)

Alain Delon as Francis Verlot in Any Number Can Win (Mélodie en sous-sol) (1963)

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Alain Delon as Francis Verlot, swaggering small-time thief

Paris, September 1960

Film: Any Number Can Win
(French title: Mélodie en sous-sol)
Release Date: April 3, 1963
Director: Henri Verneuil

Background

Any Number Can Win was adapted from Zekial Marko’s 1959 novel The Big Grab, the first of the author’s crime stories that would be adapted to films starring Alain Delon. Marko himself would adapt his novel Scratch a Thief into Once a Thief (1965), starring Delon, Ann-Margret, and Van Heflin.

Considered one of the best and certainly among the most stylish movies of the early 1960s, the ice-cool Any Number Can Win—released in France as Mélodie en sous-sol—begins with recently released ex-con Charles (Jean Gabin) searching for a new partner to help him with his ambitious heist. “I have a kid who just might jut cut it… I hope I don’t find him good for scrap.”

We then cut to what looks like a messy bachelor pad, where a young man is sprawled out on his bed, snapping his fingers to the jazz on his record player. He’s already dressed for larceny in his leather jacket, a dinner plate doubling as an ashtray—crowded with spent Gitanes and shelved on a pile of books—not far from his reach. Pulling back, we reveal that the “bachelor pad” is merely a corner of the family apartment that the young man shares with his reasonably concerned mother, whose shout from the kitchen leaps him to attention… revealing the one and only Alain Delon!

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Lassiter: Tom Selleck’s Tweed Jacket

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter in Lassiter (1984)

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter in Lassiter (1984)

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Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter, debonair jewel thief

London, June 1939

Film: Lassiter
Release Date: February 17, 1984
Director: Roger Young
Costume Designer: Barbara Lane

Background

While we’re still in the midst of tweed-friendly weather, I’d like to respond to a few requests I’ve had to focus on Tom Selleck’s gentlemanly style in Lassiter as an American thief in England, a far cry from the Aloha shirts he was famously wearing on Magnum, P.I. at the same time.

Released today in 1984, Lassiter starred Selleck as the titular jewel thief—Nick Lassiter—crafted in the daring and debonair tradition of cinematic cat burglars like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and David Niven’s “Phantom” in The Pink Panther. Much like his previous film, High Road to China, this movie compensated for the fact that Selleck had to pass on the role of Indiana Jones by giving him the role of a charismatic, resourceful, and risk-averse rogue facing danger from under the brim of a fedora in the years leading up to World War II.

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Belmondo in Breathless: Tweed in Marseille

Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard in À bout de souffle (Breathless) (1960).

Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard in À bout de souffle (Breathless) (1960).

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Jean-Paul Belmondo as Michel Poiccard, small-time car thief

Marseille, France, August 1959

Film: Breathless
(French title: À bout de souffle)
Release Date: March 16, 1960
Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Background

Happy birthday, Bébel! Jean-Paul Belmondo was born 86 years ago today in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris. Following a brief career as an amateur boxer and his compulsory military service, Belmondo began acting in the mid-1950s and found international stardom after his performance in Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de souffle (Breathless to English-speaking audiences), a seminal example of the burgeoning French New Wave cinematic movement.

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Lassiter: Tom Selleck’s Gray Tweed and Argyle

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter in Lassiter (1984)

Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter in Lassiter (1984)

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Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter, debonair jewel thief

London, June 1939

Film: Lassiter
Release Date: February 17, 1984
Director: Roger Young
Costume Designer: Barbara Lane

Background

Happy birthday, Tom Selleck!

On the actor’s 74th birthday, I’m responding to a frequent request from a fellow Tom who kindly brought my attention to Selleck’s pre-World War II style in the little-known 1984 caper film Lassiter, made during the actor’s Magnum P.I. heyday. Selleck starred as the title character, Nick Lassiter, a daring and debonair jewel thief in the tradition of David Niven’s “Phantom” from the Pink Panther series with a twist of Indiana Jones… perhaps to make up for the fact that Selleck had turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark before Harrison Ford made the iconic role his own.

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David Niven’s Skiwear in The Pink Panther

David Niven and Claudia Cardinale in The Pink Panther (1963)

David Niven and Claudia Cardinale in The Pink Panther (1963)

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David Niven as Sir Charles Lytton, urbane master jewel thief

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Winter 1963

Film: The Pink Panther
Release Date: December 19, 1963
Director: Blake Edwards
Wardrobe Supervisor: Annalisa Nasalli-Rocca

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Going skiing this weekend? A surprisingly stylish look at elegant mid-century ski culture comes from The Pink Panther, the 1963 comedy crime caper starring David Niven that would spur a series of sequels focused on the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers). Continue reading

Lee Marvin’s Plaid Tweed Sport Jacket in Point Blank

Lee Marvin as Walker in Point Blank (1967)

Lee Marvin as Walker in Point Blank (1967)

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Lee Marvin as Walker, revenge-driven armed robber

Santa Monica, Summer 1967

Film: Point Blank
Release Date: August 30, 1967
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Margo Weintz

Background

With the first day of autumn only a day away, we’re looking ahead to fall fashion from a tough guy. In John Boorman’s 1967 neo-noir Point Blank, Lee Marvin starred as Walker, the unsmiling thief out for revenge after he was left for dead on Alcatraz Island by his one-time partner Mal Reese (John Vernon).

Having patched up his wounds, Walker seeks out the help of his sister-in-law Chris (Angie Dickinson), who agrees to lend her own particular brand of charm to assist Walker in retrieving the $93,000 he believes he is rightfully owed. Continue reading

Ronin: De Niro’s Leather Jacket and Mercedes-Benz

Robert De Niro as Sam in Ronin (1998), firing an FN Minimi in front of the gang's brown Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 sedan.

Robert De Niro as Sam in Ronin (1998), firing an FN Minimi in front of the gang’s brown Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 sedan.

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Robert De Niro as Sam, professional mercenary thief and ex-CIA operative

Nice to Paris, France, December 1997

Film: Ronin
Release Date: September 25, 1998
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Designer: May Routh

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Several BAMF Style readers have requested to see Robert De Niro’s style from Ronin, the sensational and fast-paced thriller that follows a team of mercenaries carrying out a high-profile robbery in France. The film has been particularly singled out for its realistic car chases, filmed across stunning French settings by cinematographer Robert Fraisse as De Niro et al pursue their prey in European luxury sedans from more modern Audis and BMWs to a classic Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 performance sedan.

Shortly before Christmas, the mercenaries carry out their heist, ambushing a well-armed convoy in La Turbie and absconding with the film’s MacGuffin. A running gun battle and car chase ensues as the mercenaries pursue the surviving convoy to the port of Nice. The convoy is exterminated, but mercenaries Sam (De Niro) and Vincent (Jean Reno) then realize that they’ve been double-crossed by a deceptive confederate. Continue reading