On George Clooney’s 61st birthday, I’m pleased to present another guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who had also covered the actor’s plaid suit in Out of Sight and Clooney’s fashionable co-star Brad Pitt from this same scene in Ocean’s Eleven. You can learn more from him about the style of the Ocean’s film series on his Instagram account, @oceansographer.
George Clooney as Danny Ocean, recently paroled con man and casino heister
Los Angeles, Spring 2001
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: December 7, 2001
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland
Tailor: Dominic Gherardi
Happy birthday to George Clooney, who turns 61 today! To celebrate, we’re looking back at one of his most striking tailored looks in Ocean’s Eleven, the movie which arguably made him a household name and cemented his image as a suave leading man.
The film opens with Clooney’s Danny Ocean being released from North Jersey State Prison on a frigid winter morning. After a shave and a wardrobe change, his first stop is Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza to find Frank Caton (Bernie Mac), a fellow career criminal currently eking out a living under an alias as a blackjack dealer. Within a handful of lines, we learn that Danny is on the hunt for Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), whom he quickly learns is now “teaching movie stars how to play cards.” A day later, the parolee has flown across the country to rope in his felonious old friend at a Hollywood nightclub. Continue reading
George Segal as Bill Denny, magazine writer and casual gambler
Los Angeles, Winter 1973
Film: California Split
Release Date: August 7, 1974
Director: Robert Altman
Costumer: Hugh McFarland
In honor of George Segal, who died a year ago today, today’s post introduces us to his character in California Split, directed by Robert Altman and described by Tim Grierson and Will Leitch for Vulture as the greatest movie about gambling ever made, “one of the high watermarks of ’70s hangout cinema.” Continue reading
Robert Wagner as George Lytton, smooth con artist and aspiring 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
Given the ridiculous nature of the later entries that focus more heavily on the madcap misadventures of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), it may surprise first-time viewers to see The Pink Panther so fashionably depict the elegance of winter jet-setters as they take to the Alpine ski resorts of Cortina d’Ampezzo in northern Italy, spending days on the slopes and evenings by the fire.
As February extends into the Olympic games and ski-trip season, I had wanted to revisit the stylish skiwear seen in The Pink Panther, only to realize that Robert Wagner’s 92nd birthday today coincides with the timing of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Wagner appeared in The Pink Panther as George Lytton, a small-time con man and nephew of the suave Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven). After George discovers his urbane uncle is actually a master jewel thief known as “The Phantom”, he sets out to learn from Sir Charles… even attempting to seduce his mistress, Simone Clouseau (Capucine), who just happens to be the wife of the bumbling Sûreté inspector on their trail. Continue reading
Daniel Craig as James Bond, British government agent
London, November 2015
Release Date: October 25, 2015
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Jany Temime
WARNING! Spectre spoilers ahead!
(And, if you’ve already seen No Time to Die, please try to avoid adding any spoilers in the comments!)
M: It’s good to have you back, 007.
After waiting more than a year and a half of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, No Time to Die is finally arriving in U.S. theaters tomorrow! To celebrate on the 00-7th of October, let’s check in on the last time we saw Mr. Bond in action.
Gene Hackman as Harry Moseby, private detective and former professional football player
Los Angeles to New Mexico, Fall 1973
Film: Night Moves
Release Date: June 11, 1975
Director: Arthur Penn
Costumer: Arnie Lipin
Costume Supervisor: Rita Riggs
He may wear rollnecks and drive a green ’68 Mustang, but Harry Moseby ain’t no Frank Bullitt. Five years earlier, this type of character may have been styled in the manner of the cooler-than-cool Steve McQueen archetype, but the tumultuous half-decade that passed between the production of Bullitt and Night Moves saw waves of political assassinations, civil unrest, disillusionment in Vietnam, and post-Watergate paranoia that shifted the zeitgeist to a pessimistic cynicism that permeated much of ’70s cinema.
A decade after his career with the Oakland Raiders, Harry Moseby’s best days are well behind him as he continues eking out a living as a shabby Hollywood private eye, entertaining himself by playing chess on the passenger seat of his Mustang. Continue reading
Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, a “damn good pilot”
Fort Knox, Kentucky, Fall 1964
Release Date: September 18, 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Today would have been the 96th birthday of the late Honor Blackman, best known for her role as Cathy Gale on the second and third seasons of The Avengers, which she left to star in her iconic performance in Goldfinger as Pussy Galore, the assertive aviator who transforms from enemy to ally of Sean Connery’s James Bond.
Arguably one of the most famous (and most famously named) women of the Bond franchise, the high-flying judo expert Pussy Galore established a new type of “Bond girl”, a tough, action-oriented equal rather than the demure damsel in distress. Pussy also nearly equals the stylish secret agent with her strong wardrobe, primarily comprised of tailored jackets and slacks, apropos her profession that still carried masculine connotations in the early 1960s. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner, Hollywood screenwriter
Malibu, California, September 1947
Film: The Way We Were
Release Date: October 19, 1973
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins & Moss Mabry
Don’t take any crap…to the both of us… and all the absent friends, class of ’37.
Navy pals-turned-Tinseltown teammates Hubbell (Robert Redford) and J.J. (Bradford Dillman) cynically reflect on the decade since they graduated from college together, one world war and sold-out script later.
Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka, disciplined ex-Yakuza
Kyoto, Japan, Spring 1974
Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Today would have been the 90th birthday of Ken Takakura, the Nakama-born actor with a record four Japan Academy Prizes for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. His presence in yakuza films through the 1960s brought him to the attention of screenwriting brothers Leonard and Paul Schrader, who wrote their action drama The Yakuza with Takakura in mind. Continue reading
Gene Hackman as Reverend Frank Scott, fiery, independent-minded minister
aboard the S.S. Poseidon en route Athens, New Year’s Eve 1972
Film: The Poseidon Adventure
Release Date: December 12, 1972
Director: Ronald Neame
Costume Designer: Paul Zastupnevich
Happy New Year’s Eve… and #TurtleneckThursday? After this disaster of a year, I can’t think of a better movie to bid good riddance to 2020 than one of the most famous disaster movies of the ’70s.
Produced by “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen, The Poseidon Adventure followed the Airport template of a star-studded cast fighting to survive a perilous disaster while tackling their own personal issues. While Airport had originated the disaster film boom of the ’70s, The Poseidon Adventure proved its enduring box office power, recouping more than 25 times its initial budget and paving the way for a decade’s worth of similar stories set amidst tropical storms, within fire-prone skyscrapers, and even aboard a famous airship.
Unlike the ill-fated Titanic which sank during its maiden voyage in 1912, the fictional S.S. Poseidon—partially filmed aboard the decommissioned Cunard liner RMS Queen Mary—is making one last run before it will be scrapped in Athens. The cautious Captain Harrison (Leslie Nielsen) finds his authority challenged by the ship’s aggressive owner Linarcos (Fred Sadoff), establishing the dangers of hubris that would remain a consistent theme throughout the disaster sub-genre.
Down in the ship’s elegant dining room, the Poseidon‘s glamorous passengers are celebrating New Year’s Eve amidst their own personal dramas or crises of faith. Seated at the captain’s table are New York detective Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), his ex-prostitute wife Linda (Stella Stevens), and Reverend Frank Scott (Gene Hackman), a controversial cleric yet popular passenger who had captivated a congregation earlier that day with his religious philosophy said to be based on director Ronald Neame’s own hybrid of Christian, Buddhist, and New Age spiritualist beliefs.
While the champagne pops and auld acquaintances be forgot, the crew learns of a massive undersea earthquake that results in a rare wave that strikes the ship broadside, capsizing the S.S. Poseidon and quite literally turning the lives of its passengers upside down.
We’re floating upside-down… we’ve gotta climb up.
Burt Lancaster as Steve Thompson, larcenous armored car driver
Los Angeles, Summer 1948
Film: Criss Cross
Release Date: January 19, 1949
Director: Robert Siodmak
After directing the actor’s debut screen performance in quintessential film noir The Killers (1946), Robert Siodmak reteamed with Burt Lancaster three years later for Criss Cross, a quick, moody thriller that begins in media res with Steve Thompson (Lancaster) in the evening shadows of a nightclub parking lot, embracing his ex-wife Anna (Yvonne De Carlo).
As De Carlo makes her plea to the camera that Film Noir Foundation founder Eddie Muller called “noir’s defining moment”, we learn that the former spouses are forced into secrecy to avoid detection from Anna’s slick gangster boyfriend Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea), with whom Steve is planning a six-figure “chance of a lifetime” heist the following day.