Steve McQueen, iconic American actor
Fall 1964, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Photographs by William Claxton
Happy birthday to Steve McQueen, born March 24, 1930, in Beach Grove, Indiana, then a small town of barely more than 3,500 people. By the age of eight, he had already received his first bike (well, a tricycle) and his first watch (a gold pocket watch from his uncle), two items that would become very important to his life and legacy. By the time McQueen died of cardiac arrest in November 1980, the “King of Cool” had cemented a place among the greatest American icons of screen and style through his performances in films like The Great Escape, Bullitt, and The Thomas Crown Affair, and his lifelong passion for racing and rebellion.
Robert De Niro as Sam, professional mercenary thief and ex-CIA operative
Nice to Paris, France, December 1997
Release Date: September 25, 1998
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Designer: May Routh
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Several BAMF Style readers have requested to see Robert De Niro’s style from Ronin, the sensational and fast-paced thriller that follows a team of mercenaries carrying out a high-profile robbery in France. The film has been particularly singled out for its realistic car chases, filmed across stunning French settings by cinematographer Robert Fraisse as De Niro et al pursue their prey in European luxury sedans from more modern Audis and BMWs to a classic Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 performance sedan.
Shortly before Christmas, the mercenaries carry out their heist, ambushing a well-armed convoy in La Turbie and absconding with the film’s MacGuffin. A running gun battle and car chase ensues as the mercenaries pursue the surviving convoy to the port of Nice. The convoy is exterminated, but mercenaries Sam (De Niro) and Vincent (Jean Reno) then realize that they’ve been double-crossed by a deceptive confederate. Continue reading
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd anti-Bolshevik and former British agent
Long Island, Fall 1924
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “The Trust” (Episode 10)
Air Date: November 2, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Following his trial in absentia for plotting against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, British agent Sidney Reilly (Sam Neill) has been living in exile in New York, feverishly plotting an anti-Bolshevik invasion of Russia to be led by his comrade Boris Savinkov. Continue reading
Steve McQueen as Ralph “Papa” Thorson, real-life bounty hunter
Los Angeles (among other locales), Fall 1979
Film: The Hunter
Release Date: August 1, 1980
Director: Buzz Kulik
Costume Designer: Thomas Welsh
On the anniversary of Steve McQueen’s passing, I’d like to explore his style in the final film he made before his untimely death at the age of 50 on November 7, 1980.
The Hunter starred McQueen as Ralph “Papa” Thorson, a colorful real-life bounty hunter who had reportedly logged more than 5,000 cases throughout his career including the capture of would-be presidential assassin and Manson family follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme.
The concept of a bounty hunter conjures the image of a deadly serious and dangerous enforcer. The real Ralph Thorson certainly looked the part at 310 pounds and 6’2″ though Christopher Keane’s 1976 biography counters this image by describing Thorson’s many roles and talents as “a church bishop, Master bridge champion, renowed astrology, criminology alumnus of the University of California Berkeley, child nutritionist, [and] aficionado of classical music.” Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence officer
London, April 1944
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
Following their adventures in Morocco, glamorous spy couple Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) “settle down” for their shared life in World War II-era London, spending their time picking mushrooms when not in service to their respective governments.
For these [not so] innocent outings, Max shows off his stylish approach to “smart casual” civilian attire anchored by a brown suede vintage-inspired jacket custom made for Brad Pitt by costume designer Joanna Johnston’s team. Continue reading
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
San Francisco has always been a popular setting for detective movies. From 1940s film noir like The Maltese Falcon through the gritty ’60s and ’70s era with movies like Bullitt, Dirty Harry, and McQ, Hollywood has made the most of its picturesque neighbor to the distant north.
Though Alfred Hitchcock had filmed in the Bay area before, Vertigo was his first cinematic effort actually set in San Francisco and he makes the most of his setting. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious ad exec and suburban dad
Ossining, New York, July 1963
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Seven Twenty Three” (Episode 3.07)
Air Date: September 27, 2009
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
“Why can’t you stare into the eclipse? I mean, what’s it gonna do, really? I stare at the sun every day,” wonders Carlton Hanson (Kristoffer Polaha), the philandering husband in Don and Betty Draper’s suburban social set.
After a few dismissive seconds staring through his sunglasses, Don merely responds by asking “You stare at the sun every day?”