Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button, reverse-aging adventurer and family man
New Orleans, Fall 1967
Film: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Release Date: December 25, 2008
Director: David Fincher
Costume Designer: Jacqueline West
Now that spring is here, venturing outside will require not a heavy wool coat but instead some intentional lightweight layering, a casual sartorial approach mastered by Steve McQueen in the ’60s and revived with Jacqueline West’s thoughtful costume design in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The premise of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is very curious indeed, following the story of a man born on Armistice Day 1918 with the appearance of an octogenarian who ages in reverse over the course of the 20th century. Early in his youth, the titular Benjamin makes the acquaintance of Daisy, a young girl who—like the rest of us—ages in the traditional fashion. The two reconnect several times over the following decades, but it isn’t until the early 1960s when Benjamin (Brad Pitt) and Daisy (Cate Blanchett)—now each in their 40s—are able to establish a lasting connection. Continue reading
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief
New Jersey, Summer 1998
Series: The Sopranos
– “The Sopranos” (Episode 1.01, dir. David Chase, aired 1/10/1999)
– “46 Long” (Episode 1.02, dir. Dan Attias, aired 1/17/1999)
– “Pax Soprana” (Episode 1.06, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 2/14/1999)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the first episode of The Sopranos, the first time that the HBO logo fizzed away to the thumping sound of A3’s “Woke Up This Morning” as we follow Tony Soprano from the Holland Tunnel along the New Jersey Turnpike to his north Jersey home.
We are introduced to Tony himself in the first shot of the show as he sits, bemused by a nude statue in his new doctor’s waiting room. We soon learn that the doctor is Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), a psychiatrist, and that this ain’t the kind of mob entertainment you’re used to watching. Continue reading
Elvis Presley as Danny Fisher, swaggering nightclub singer and high school dropout
New Orleans, Summer 1958
Film: King Creole
Release Date: July 2, 1958
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Happy birthday to Elvis Presley, born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi.
The King of Rock & Roll considered Danny Fisher in 1958’s King Creole to be his favorite role in the dozens of movies he made over the course of his 13-year film career. Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, former United Nations investigator
Philadelphia, Fall 2012
Film: World War Z
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Director: Marc Forster
Costume Designer: Mayes C. Rubeo
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
As Halloween approaches and witches, vampires, and zombies prepare their annual big screen takeover, there’s still talk in the air of a sequel to World War Z, the 2013 thriller starring Brad Pitt as a former U.N. investigator tasked with saving his family – oh, and the world – during a viral outbreak that spawns a zombie apocalypse.
The film is loosely adapted from Max Brooks’ innovative novel, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, that employed a docudrama-style narrative as “collected” by a U.N. commissioner, measuring the geopolitical impact of the plague and its subsequent conflicts. In fact, it was the geopolitical themes that drew Brad Pitt to the idea of a film adaptation, though they were dropped during the transition to the big screen in favor of more traditional “zombie film” elements.
Steve McQueen as Eric “the Kid” Stoner, hotshot poker player
Louisiana, Fall 1936
Film: The Cincinnati Kid
Release Date: October 15, 1965
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
The Cincinnati Kid was released today in 1965 with Steve McQueen in the title role as the actor was paving his way to stardom through the decade with a string of iconic movie including The Great Escape (1963), The Sand Pebbles (1966), and finally Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair in his banner year of 1968.
McQueen’s timeless sense of cool adds an era-defying quality to his performance as poker prodigy Eric “the Kid” Stoner. The Kid’s simple, functional wardrobe was hip enough to be contemporary to the 1960s while also reflective of the film’s 1930s setting. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself
Oklahoma to California, Fall 1970
Series: Mad Men
– “The Milk and Honey Route” (Episode 7.13), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 5/10/2015
– “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14), dir. Matthew Weiner, aired 5/17/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
To honor the anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, published today in 1957, I’m taking a look at “The Milk and Honey Route,” the penultimate episode of Mad Men in which Don Draper’s journey to find himself drives him through the heart-land of darkness.
Rod Taylor as Mitchell “Mitch” Brenner, smooth defense lawyer
Bodega Bay, California, Summer 1963
Film: The Birds
Release Date: March 28, 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rita Riggs
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
After the massive success of Psycho in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock knew his next thriller had to go above and beyond to meet the public’s expectations from the Master of Suspense. Inspiration fell from the skies the following summer when the California town of Capitola was besieged one August day by hundreds of sooty shearwaters slamming into their rooftops and littering the streets with bird corpses. Hitch, who vacationed in nearby Santa Cruz, saw the storytelling potential in this unique type of fear and immediately set to work developing a story with screenwriter Evan Hunter, adapting Daphne du Maurier’s novella The Birds from its postwar English setting to contemporary coastal California.