Cillian Murphy as Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, cunning Peaky Blinders gang leader and jaded WWI veteran
Birmingham, England, Fall 1919
Series: Peaky Blinders
Air Dates: September 12, 2013 – October 17, 2013
Directors: Otto Bathurst (Episodes 1.01 – 1.03) & Tom Harper (Episode 1.04 & 1.06)
Creator: Steven Knight
Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie
Tailor: Keith Watson
The fourth season of BBC Two’s brutally entertaining Peaky Blinders premiered last month in the U.K. and should arrive on Netflix just in time for Christmas for American fans eager to see Birmingham’s favorite crime family boozing and bleeding its way through the 1920s.
Car Week thus begins with a flashback to the show’s first season as Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and his brothers roll up to a rendezvous with the Lee family in their flivver, a beautiful black Ford Model T that coordinates with Tommy’s dark three-piece suit and overcoat. Continue reading
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, “professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and – how does one say it? – obtainer of rare antiquities”
New England, Fall 1936
Film: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Release Date: June 12, 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Designer: Deborah Nadoolman
Following the exciting opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film transitions from a South American jungle to the genteel setting of the fictional Marshall College in Connecticut where Dr. Jones is introduced as a highly popular instructor of the college’s Archaeology 101 course. Continue reading
James Stewart as George Bailey, banker and depressed family man
Bedford Falls, NY, Christmas Eve 1945
Film: It’s a Wonderful Life
Release Date: December 20, 1946
Director: Frank Capra
Costume Designer: Edward Stevenson
Jimmy Stewart and director Frank Capra have both called It’s a Wonderful Life the favorite film of each of their prolific careers. Stewart cites George Bailey as his favorite character that he’s played, and Capra would annually screen the film for his own family each Christmas.
First released 60 years ago this week, the film earned mixed reviews and was ultimately considered a financial disappointment, earning only $3.3 million during its initial box office run against its considerably expensive $3.7 million budget. (It also earned the ire of the FBI for its “Communist tricks” of “represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture,” but that’s a whole different story.) Continue reading
George Lazenby as James Bond, British secret agent posing as heraldry expert Sir Hilary Bray
Swiss Alps, Christmas Eve 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Tailor: Dimi Major
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
For the 00-7th of December, I’m reflecting on James Bond’s first Christmas season on-screen, which he spends in the Swiss Alps under the guise of Sir Hilary Bray (a different Hilary than the Hillary that has been so frequently in the news… although one could technically call his outfit here a “pantsuit” as well.)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service sends James Bond in search of his long-time rival, megalomaniac Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas). In his inaugural and ultimately lone outing as 007, George Lazenby’s Bond spends a major portion of the film disguised as Sir Hilary Bray, a brilliant but banal “sable basilisk” from the College of Arms in London. Continue reading
Michael Pitt as Jimmy Darmody, ambitious war veteran and “half a gangster”
Atlantic City, January 1920
Series: Boardwalk Empire
* “Boardwalk Empire” (Episode 1.01, aired September 19, 2010, dir. Martin Scorsese)
* “The Ivory Tower” (Episode 1.02, aired September 26, 2010, dir. Tim Van Patten)
* “Broadway Limited” (Episode 1.03, aired October 3, 2011, dir. Tim Van Patten)
* “Anastasia” (Episode 1.04, aired October 10, 2011, dir. Jeremy Podeswa)
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
WARNING! Spoilers ahead! Continue reading
Gene Hackman as “Buck” Barrow, bank robber, ex-convict, and family man
Texas, May 1933
Film: Bonnie & Clyde
Release Date: August 13, 1967
Director: Arthur Penn
Costume Designer: Theadora Van Runkle
Happy birthday to Gene Hackman, who turns 86 years old today!
Bonnie and Clyde marked the first major role for Hackman, who had spent much of the ’60s as a struggling actor who shared rooms with fellow struggling actors Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall. 1967 turned out to be a banner year for the friends and roommates, earning Hackman and Hoffman their first Academy Award nominations.
Hackman brings an easygoing charm to the role of the more famous Clyde’s older brother Buck, and the film gets many of the “on paper” details right about Buck. As Clyde’s older brother, he had more experience tangling with the law and spent the first few months of Clyde’s criminal career in the Texas state prison. He had escaped once, but – as Hackman tells Warren Beatty’s Clyde – it was his new wife Blanche that talked him into returning to prison to serve out the rest of his sentence, and he would be pardoned 15 months later. Buck and Blanche journeyed to visit Bonnie and Clyde, ostensibly for a reunion and possibly for Buck to try and talk Clyde into following his good example. Of course, the murder of two Joplin policemen during this reunion meant Buck would be wanted again as well, and the brothers led the motley “Barrow Gang” in a string of small-town stickups and kidnappings over the next three months. Continue reading
Clint Eastwood as Joe Kidd, laconic hunter and former bounty hunter
New Mexico, Spring 1902
Film: Joe Kidd
Release Date: July 14, 1972
Director: John Sturges
Penned by Elmore Leonard, Joe Kidd is a unique revisionist Western starring Clint Eastwood as the titular ex-bounty hunter who finds himself reluctantly hired to join a posse tracking down a group of Mexican revolutionaries fighting for land reform.
Although the Joe Kidd character could be interchanged with any of Eastwood’s usual taciturn and iron-willed Western heroes (not that he’s any less entertaining for it!), the movie benefits from its interesting and oft-ignored setting and context as well as the usual Elmore Leonard touch of an array of unique characters populating the film’s world.
At the outset, Joe is locked up in the small town of Sinola, New Mexico as he awaits his trial for poaching. When he is asked if he knew it was illegal to hunt on reservation land, Joe responds:
Well the deer didn’t know where he was, and I wasn’t sure either.
What’d He Wear?
Audiences had become well-acquainted with the sight of Clint Eastwood’s familiar “Man With No Name” guise in Westerns, so it must have caught many audiences off-guard when Joe Kidd is first introduced in a suit – albeit, a raggedly worn one after his night in the slammer. Continue reading