Tagged: Turtleneck

Matt Helm’s Pink Silk Sport Jacket in The Silencers

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers (1966)

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers (1966)

Vitals

Dean Martin as Matt Helm, smooth secret agent and photographer

New Mexico to Phoenix, August 1965

Film: The Silencers
Release Date: February 18, 1966
Director: Phil Karlson
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Tailor: Sy Devore

Background

Dean Martin infused his lounge lizard persona into a James Bond-like spy for his four-film portrayal of Matt Helm, a playboy whose love for turtlenecks, womanizing, and drinking above actual spying may make him more of an antecedent for the character of Sterling Archer than of 007 himself.

With a bossa nova score by Elmer Bernstein and a hip mid-sixties sartorialism styled by costume designer Moss Mabry and the Rat Pack’s go-to tailor Sy Devore, the Matt Helm series serves as a swingin’ time capsule to the waning heyday of hi-fis and hedonism. Though it may be dated, the series—particularly this first film, The Silencers—seems perfectly content with that and, in fact, it may be an intentional way for the 1966 zeitgeist to remain intact for modern audiences. Never taking itself too seriously, packed with decent talent, and sticking to a tight, quick-paced plot, The Silencers differentiates itself from its contemporary spy spoofs like Casino Royale in that it can still entertain 50 years later.

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The Yakuza: Robert Mitchum’s Tan Parka and Turtleneck

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer in The Yakuza (1974)

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer in The Yakuza (1974)

Vitals

Robert Mitchum as Harry Kilmer, tough former detective

Tokyo, Spring 1974

Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The unique neo-noir Japanese gangster movie The Yakuza was conceptualized by brothers Paul and Leonard Schrader based on Leonard’s letters to Paul while living in Japan, particularly about the yakuza and the screen presence of Ken Takakura. While Takakura was almost always guaranteed to play a role, the crucial positions of the director and the lead actor—who would portray an aging former detective sent to Japan in service to an old friend—were still in transition.

Early in the pre-production stages, it looked like Robert Aldrich would direct with Lee Marvin in the lead role, until Marvin’s clash with Warner Brothers led to Robert Mitchum taking the role. Continue reading

Spectre – Bond’s Navy Coat for Austrian Winter

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre (2015)

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre (2015)

Vitals

Daniel Craig as James Bond, British government agent

Altaussee, Austria, Winter 2015

Film: Spectre
Release Date: October 25, 2015
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Jany Temime

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

For the 00-7th of March, Daniel Craig’s birth month (the actor turned 51 on March 2), let’s explore how someone like James Bond keeps warm for a winter mission. Continue reading

The Yakuza: Ken Takakura in Gray Herringbone

Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka in The Yakuza (1974)

Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka in The Yakuza (1974)

Vitals

Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka, disciplined ex-Yakuza

Tokyo, Spring 1974

Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

Background

The Yakuza was the first screenplay credited to either Paul Schrader or Leonard Schrader, whose experiences in Japan inspired his brother to write the story. Leonard returned to the United States, where he spend the holiday season in Venice co-writing the screenplay’s first draft with Paul, who would later famously collaborate with Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver and Raging Bull among others. While the brothers watched many yakuza films for inspiration, what impressed them the most was the stoic screen presence of Ken Takakura, the Nakama-born actor who’d made his screen debut two decades earlier.

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Hendley in The Great Escape

James Garner as Flight Lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

James Garner as Flight Lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

Vitals

James Garner as Robert Hendley, American-born RAF Flight Lieutenant and “scrounger”

Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944

Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson

Background

Steve McQueen’s daring Captain Hilts may get all the glory of The Great Escape‘s legacy, but James Garner’s affable and resourceful “scrounger” Hendley remains one of my favorite characters from any war movie.

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Ronin: De Niro’s Brown Suede Jacket

Robert De Niro as Sam in Ronin (1998)

Robert De Niro as Sam in Ronin (1998)

Vitals

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

Nice, France, December 1997

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

Background

I recently received a request to explore Robert De Niro’s outfit in Ronin when his ex-CIA thief Sam accompanies Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) on a recon mission in Nice. Deirdre has hired Sam’s crew to attack an armed convoy to steal an unidentified briefcase that would serve as the film’s MacGuffin.

Rather than bothering with spy cameras and tactics, Sam merely brings Deirdre and his Leica R6 2 camera to the luxurious Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic (actually located in Cannes), posing as a pair of tourists and thus not raising any suspicions as they take a considerable amount of photos to prepare for the job. Continue reading

Jack Lemmon as “Bash Brannigan”

Jack Lemmon as Stanley Ford (in his "Bash Brannigan" persona) in How to Murder Your Wife (1965)

Jack Lemmon as Stanley Ford (in his “Bash Brannigan” persona) in How to Murder Your Wife (1965)

Vitals

Jack Lemmon as Stanley Ford, comic strip artist and dedicated bachelor

New York City, Summer 1964

Film: How to Murder Your Wife
Release Date: September 20, 1965
Director: Richard Quine
Wardrobe: Izzy Berne & Marie Osborne

Background

Happy birthday to Jack Lemmon, a class act and one of my all-time favorite actors.

One of the first Jack Lemmon movies I had ever seen was the problematically titled How to Murder Your Wife, a VHS tape belonging to my grandma that she had I must have watched a dozen times during my childhood. Lemmon played Stanley Ford, an artist dedicated to two things: his espionage comic strip Bash Brannigan and remaining an unattached bachelor. The latter ambition is quelled during a drunken stag party when he meets and immediately marries a beautiful blonde stripper (Virna Lisi) who, as luck would have it, doesn’t know a word of English. Continue reading