Tagged: Throwback Thursday

Sidney Reilly’s Hunting Jacket

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in "Dreadnaughts and Crosses", Episode 5 of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983).

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in “Dreadnaughts and Crosses”, Episode 5 of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983).

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, Russian-born adventurer and British secret agent

Russia, Spring 1910

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “Dreadnoughts and Crosses” (Episode 5)
Air Date: September 28, 1983
Director: Jim Goddard
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

St. Petersburg is a hotbed of intrigue in the years leading up to World War I and the Russian Revolution. The English and the Germans are among those vying for inevitably valuable warship contracts from the Russian Ministry of Marine.

Ever the shrewd opportunist, Sidney Reilly finds himself in the right place at the right time and decides to forego the usual channels of submitting battleship plans. Instead, he slyly gambles against a brutish shipping executive who finds himself indebted to Reilly, thus handing a controlling stake in his firm to our hero. At the same time, Reilly has busied himself in a romance with the Minister of Marine’s lovely wife Nadia (Celia Gregory).

The events of the spring culminate in a pig hunting trip where Reilly joins the Minister, Nadia, and his cheeky pal Sasha Gramaticoff for an afternoon of angry swine and loaded revolvers. Continue reading

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Sidney Reilly’s Fair Isle Sweater Vest in 1918 London

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in "After Moscow", episode 9 of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983).

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in “After Moscow”, episode 9 of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983).

Sam Neill as Captain Sidney Reilly, MC, jaded British Secret Service agent

London, November 1918

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “After Moscow” (Episode 9)
Air Date: October 26, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

You’re probably still reading the title. “Sweater vest?” you ask yourself. “Has he gone barmy?”

First off, you’re probably British if you’re using the word “barmy”; secondly, it’s true – there are few men who can both pull off a sweater vest and look badass in it. One of these men is obviously Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, who even sported two during the first Dirty Harry film. To be fair, Eastwood probably could’ve played Dirty Harry wearing a pink tutu and a purple silk shoulder holster and he still would’ve looked badass. Probably.

The other man is Sam Neill as satanically suave British agent Sidney Reilly in the 1983 mini-series Reilly: Ace of Spies. Continue reading

Sidney Reilly’s Edwardian Charcoal Striped Suit

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in the first episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies.

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in the first episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies.

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sigmund Rosenblum, later renamed “Sidney Reilly” upon his entry into the British Secret Service

London, Spring 1901

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “An Affair with a Married Woman” (Episode 1)
Air Date: September 5, 1983
Director: Jim Goddard
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

The first episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies, “An Affair With A Married Woman”, is a crash course on the early life and origins of the legend of Sidney Reilly. I say “legend” because he was a notorious embellisher (liar) and the details of his life are murky at best. We slowly learn more throughout the episodes, but this extra-length opening episode establishes the series’ world where Reilly – née Rosenblum – was a trusted agent of the British Secret Service in 1901, eight years before it was actually founded! While on a mission in Baku, he met the young wife of an elderly and uptight minister and seduced her to escape captivity. Thus, “An Affair With A Married Woman”. Continue reading

Sidney Reilly’s Edwardian Gray Suit

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in "An Affair With A Married Woman", the first episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies.

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in “An Affair With A Married Woman”, the first episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies.

Had he not been killed by the Soviets in 1925, Sidney Reilly may have lived to be 140 last weekend- March 24th to be specific. However, a 140-year-old man is very unlikely, especially with his lifestyle and habits, so something would’ve probably gotten him anyway.

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sigmund Rosenblum, later renamed “Sidney Reilly” upon his entry into the British Secret Service

London, Spring 1901

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “An Affair with a Married Woman” (Episode 1)
Air Date: September 5, 1983
Director: Jim Goddard
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

This is the first we see of Reilly – still known as Rosenblum – back home in London after his first mission, the details of which will be covered in a later post. After an assignation with his prostitute mistress Rose, he resurfaces at a public meeting in Covent Garden where the British Secret Service is denying his own existence. In a cheeky fashion that recalls James Bond, he gets the best of everyone. Later, we also see him wearing the same suit for a series of meetings and the funeral of his aforementioned mistress. Continue reading

The Sting – Hooker’s Brown Striped Suit

Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker in The Sting.

Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker in The Sting (1973).

Vitals

Robert Redford as Johnny Hooker, small-time Depression-era grifter

Joliet to Chicago, September 1936

Film: The Sting
Release Date: December 25, 1973
Director: George Roy Hill
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Four years after their successful pairing in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Paul Newman and Robert Redford met up once again for The Sting, a 1973 crime-comedy about two con men (“grifters”, in the film’s and Jim Thompson’s parlance) who team up to take down a brutal syndicate big shot against the backdrop of the corruption of 1930s Chicago.

But before all of that, Redford finds himself flush with money after conning a mob numbers runner. He struts into a store armed with his $4,000 and leaves with a bold pinstripe suit. Continue reading

Al Swearengen on “Deadwood”

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

For something a little different, here’s a throwback in honor of vintage badass Al Swearengen from HBO’s prematurely cancelled series Deadwood. If you’re not familiar with Deadwood, you’d be doing yourself a favor to familiarize yourself.

Al’s suit may not translate literally to what looks good these days, but the attitude is there.

Vitals

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen, frontier saloon owner and pimp

Deadwood, Summer 1877

Series: Deadwood
Air Dates: March 21, 2004 – August 27, 2006
Creator: David Milch
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

Background

Deadwood, one of the most underrated and criminally discontinued shows of all time, was a brilliant ensemble show that reflected larger American themes through the founding of a frontier camp. It featured well-known real life characters such as “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Calamity Jane”, and Wyatt Earp interacting with lesser-known historical figures Seth Bullock, Sol Star, and Al Swearengen. It was the latter that proved to be the breakout hit of the show, thanks to Ian McShane’s masterful performance. Continue reading