James Garner as Philip Marlowe, cynical private detective
Los Angeles, Spring 1969
Release Date: October 22, 1969
Director: Paul Bogart
Costume Design: Florence Hackett & James Taylor
Save for a single season of a loosely adapted ABC TV series, he character of Philip Marlowe had gone more than two decades without a cinematic portrayal at the time Marlowe was released in 1969. Directed by the appropriately named Paul Bogart (no relation), this adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s 1949 pulp novel The Little Sister updated the setting to contemporary Los Angeles.
James Garner took some criticism for his take on the famous private eye, but I think the likable actor’s vulnerable sincerity works for his interpretation of Chandler’s anti-hero. Continue reading
John Wayne as Sean Thornton, Irish-American former prizefighter
Inisfree, Ireland, spring during the 1920s
Film: The Quiet Man
Release Date: July 21, 1952
Director: John Ford
Costume Designer: Adele Palmer
John Ford’s cinematic love letter to his ancestral home remains a perennial St. Patrick’s Day favorite, even if it is a somewhat overly sanitized depiction of Irish life in the 1920s. As Duke’s outfit from The Quiet Man has been requested by at least three different BAMF Style readers over the last few years, I couldn’t imagine a better time to feature it than on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Based on a 1933 short story by Maurice Walsh, The Quiet Man stars Ford’s favorite actor John Wayne as Sean Thornton, a former boxer from Pittsburgh who is returning home to reclaim his family’s land in Ireland. Continue reading
Jack Davenport as James Spencer, aka “Lancelot”, smooth British agent
Argentina, Winter 2014
Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
James Spencer, aka “Lancelot” (Jack Davenport), is introduced to audiences in the manner one would expect of a story’s hero. He transitions between dry wit and superhuman agility as he deftly takes out a room full of assassins in his attempt to rescue Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) from his kidnappers.
The vignette concludes with a Lancelot in the traditional pose of an action hero, gun up and smirking while on bended knee… Continue reading
Joe Spinell as Willi Cicci, slick Corleone mob family “button man”
New York City, August 1955
Film: The Godfather
Release Date: March 15, 1972
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
When the boss says push the button on a guy, I push the button, see, Senator?
Today’s #MafiaMonday post focuses on one of the more celebrated minor characters of The Godfather, Corleone family enforcer Willi Cicci, who stands out with his slick sense of style and laidback demeanor. Imagine if Dean Martin had grown a mustache and joined the mob… that’s Willi Cicci for ya.
Cicci best gets the opportunity to explain his short yet memorable role in The Godfather when testifying in front of a Senate committee in the film’s sequel. When we first meet him in The Godfather, Cicci is getting a shave in a hotel barbershop with an unflappable, can’t-be-bothered attitude that may trick first-time viewers into thinking he is one of the many targets that Michael Corleone has marked for death on this transformative day for the New York Mafia.
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
Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, troubled and crooked Vinci PD detective
Ventura County, California, fall 2014 to spring 2015
Series: True Detective
Air Dates: June 21, 2015 – August 9, 2015
Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Costume Designer: Alix Friedberg
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The second season of HBO’s True Detective is, in my opinion, better judged when on its own than against its masterful and delightfully idiosyncratic first season. The second season brought together Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, and Vince Vaughn in an acid neo-noir more in the pulp crime tradition of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler’s worlds than that of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart.
Even the show’s fictional and corrupt berg of Vinci, California, shares some undeniable similarities with the Bay City of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels, though it was indeed based on the rough industrial city of Vernon, where it was partially filmed.
Our self-destructive, repressed, and expendable cop protagonists, portrayed by the Farrell-McAdams-Kitsch triad, practice maverick techniques that border on impropriety but their ideals and values align them with the incorruptible Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade… naturally leading to the straight-out-of-pulp “last stand” holed up in a secluded motel room with seemingly endless bottles of whiskey. Continue reading
- Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, conniving former tennis pro
- Robert Cummings as Mark Halliday, romantic American crime writer
- Anthony Dawson as C.A. Swann, opportunistic con man
- John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard, clever Scotland Yard detective
London, Fall 1953 and Spring 1954
Film: Dial M for Murder
Release Date: May 29, 1954
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Credits: Moss Mabry & Jack Delaney
WARNING! Spoilers ahead! Continue reading