Charlton Heston as CAPT Matthew Garth, U.S. Naval Aviator
Pearl Harbor to Midway Island, Spring 1942
Release Date: June 18, 1976
Director: Jack Smight
Many familiar with World War II history are familiar with the significance of Monday’s date as, on June 6, 1944, the Allies landed at Normandy in northern France as part of the “D-Day” invasion that laid the groundwork for the eventual Allied victory. Two years earlier, the Americans had been engaged in yet another decisive battle that would turn the tide of the second World War.
The Battle of Midway had commenced 80 years ago today on June 4, 1942, following intelligence gathered by the U.S. Navy that allowed it to prepare for a counterattack against the Imperial Japanese Navy. Three days of battle followed, with American forces destroying all four Japanese fleet carriers that had engaged and—in both a tactical and symbolic victory—had also been part of the six-carrier force that attacked Pearl Harbor six months earlier.
Though the Americans also suffered the loss of a carrier, a destroyer, and approximately 150 aircraft, casualties were considerably higher on the Japanese side (including nearly double the amount of aircraft lost), marking an early turning point of the Pacific War in favor of the Allies and which historian John Keegan has called “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.”
In addition to an 18-minute color documentary directed during the battle by John Ford, the Battle of Midway has been the subject of two major movies, mostly recently in 2019. A star-studded retelling of the battle and its lead-up was produced by The Mirisch Company in 1976, starring—among many others—Henry Fonda as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet. Having served in the Navy in real life during World War II, Fonda had actually partly narrated Ford’s 1942 documentary and also appeared as an unnamed admiral inspired by Nimitz in the 1965 epic In Harm’s Way.
The cast was rounded out by both established international stars from Robert Mitchum to Toshiro Mifune and relative newcomers like Dabney Coleman, Erik Estrada, and a non-mustached Tom Selleck. Being made just over 30 years after World War II ended meant a number of actual veterans among its cast; in addition to Fonda, Glenn Ford, Charlton Heston, Hal Holbrook, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Webber had all served.
Though most of its characters are real-life figures, Midway centers around a fictionalized hero in the form of naval aviator CAPT Matthew Garth (Heston), for whom the battle presents the culmination of his increasing personal and professional troubles. Continue reading
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States and U.S. Navy veteran
Off the New England coast, August 1962
Photographs by Robert Knudsen
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars and style icons rather than from specific productions.
On the anniversary of his May 29, 1917 birthday, I wanted to revisit the 35th President of the United States, who has often been credited as the man who brought a new sense of style to the White House during the brief Age of Camelot.
One of my most visited posts on this page was a comprehensive look at John F. Kennedy’s style, from suits and sport jackets to white tie and windbreakers, which I had published to commemorate his legacy on the 50th anniversary of his November 1963 assassination… and which I imagine is in dire need of revision after nearly a decade.
Kennedy once said: “Sailing has given me some of the most pleasant and exciting moments of my life. It also has taught me something of the courage, resourcefulness, and strength of men who sail the seas in ships.” Continue reading
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
Miami Beach, Fall 2007
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Remember When” (Episode 6.15)
Air Date: April 22, 2007
Director: Phil Abraham
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
Even gangsters get to go on spring break! Of course, being gangsters, Tony Soprano’s trip to Florida with Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) is less about tequila shots on the beach and more about laying low to avoid the heat after an old murder resurfaces from 1982… but the two wiseguys still get plenty of time to relax in the sun while the remaining arm of the DeMeo crime family scrambles to control any potential damage. Continue reading
Lee Marvin as Walker, drunken sailor and future thief
San Francisco, early 1960s
Film: Point Blank
Release Date: August 30, 1967
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Margo Weintz
Lee Marvin, Academy Award-winning actor and U.S. Marine Corps veteran of World War II, was born 98 years ago today on February 19, 1924. Marvin would be established as one of the most charismatic tough guys of the screen, particularly due to movies like The Killers (1964), The Professionals (1966), The Dirty Dozen (1967), and Point Blank (1967).
Adapted from Donald E. Westlake’s pulp crime novel The Hunter (published under the pseudonym Richard Stark), Point Blank stars Marvin as the mononymous Walker, a thief left for dead by his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) and his double-crossing partner-in-crime Mal Reese (John Vernon) after a dangerous heist. Continue reading
Tom Hanks as CDR Ernest Krause, USN, commanding officer of USS Keeling
North Atlantic Ocean, February 1942
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Director: Aaron Schneider
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss
Military Costume Consultant: Steve McColgan
…the goods will be delivered by this nation, whose Navy believes in the tradition of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 27, 1941
Greyhound begins just over three months after the United States entered World War II and nearly five months after FDR’s address for Navy and Total Defense Day, in which he reinforced with the above words the protection that the U.S. Navy would offer merchant ships carrying supplies to support the Allied war effort. The eponymous “Greyhound” is the codename for USS Keeling, one of the American destroyers assigned to protect a 37-ship convoy on its way to Liverpool.
We join up with the multi-national convoy HX-25 as it enters its first of two days traveling through the “Black Pit”, the area of the North Atlantic considered most vulnerable as it was beyond the range of air cover. Leading the convoy’s military escort from the bridge of USS Keeling is straight-laced Commander Ernest Krause, played by Tom Hanks. Continue reading
Robert Redford as John Gage, smooth billionaire and proposer of indecency
Off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, Summer 1993
Film: Indecent Proposal
Release Date: April 7, 1993
Director: Adrian Lyne
Costume Design: Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, Bernie Pollack, & Bobbie Read
Happy birthday, Robert Redford! To celebrate the screen legend and style icon turning 85 today, I asked my Instagram followers a few weeks ago which of Redford’s yet-uncovered looks I should cover in today’s post: his black tuxedo for his on-screen introduction in 1974’s The Great Gatsby or the cream Cerruti suit he wears for consummation of the eponymous Indecent Proposal. With more than 3,000 votes cast, it was a close race, but Indecent Proposal won by just over 70 votes.
For those who haven’t seen Indecent Proposal, Redford stars as super-billionaire John Gage who—rather than launching himself into space—offers to provide a struggling young couple, David and Diana, with one million dollars… in exchange for one night with Diana. Continue reading
Jack Hedley as Sir Timothy Havelock, marine archaeologist contracted by the British Secret Service
Ionian Sea off the Albanian coast, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Wardrobe Master: Tiny Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
For Your Eyes Only, my favorite James Bond movie of the Roger Moore era, was released 40 years ago today! To celebrate, I wanted to shift focus from 007 to the stylish and significant—but only briefly seen—character of Sir Timothy Havelock.
Paul Newman, acclaimed actor, activist, and Navy veteran
Florida Keys, Summer 1967
Photographs by Mark Kaufmann
Part of BAMF Style’s Iconic Photo Series, focusing on style featured in famous photography of classic stars rather than from specific productions.
June 18 is annually celebrated as “National Go Fishing Day”, an observance encouraging Americans to take some time to take a break and cast a line.
Following his acclaimed performance in Cool Hand Luke, Paul Newman turned to the comfort of rod and reel on a friend’s fishing boat off the Florida Keys. The actor was in the midst of his directorial debut—directing his wife Joanne Woodward in Rachel, Rachel—but looks as stress-free as it gets as he stands top side with a beer in one hand and rod in the other.
Bill Murray as Steve Zissou, vengeful oceanographer and documentarian
Mediterranean Sea, Fall 2003
Film: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Wes Anderson
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Much as action movies through the ’90s were often pitched as “Die Hard on a…”, the plot for Wes Anderson’s cult classic The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou could be overly simplified as “what if Moby-Dick was about Jacques Cousteau?” though fans know there’s so much more to it than that!
With Bill Murray’s characterization weaving between homage and affectionate parody, Zissou was clearly Anderson’s ode to the iconic oceanographer and diving pioneer, right down to the red ribbed beanies worn by the crew of Zissou’s research ship Belafonte. Continue reading
Nick Nolte as David Sanders, vacationing scuba diver
Off the Bermuda coast, Summer 1976
Film: The Deep
Release Date: June 17, 1977
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Ron Talsky
Okay, yes, I acknowledge that one of the few reasons anyone might still be talking about The Deep more than 40 years later is… well, the same reason anyone talked about it when it was released.
The Deep‘s enduring cultural significance indeed resulted from a costuming decision, though not related to anything Nick Nolte wore but rather Jacqueline Bisset’s simple but oh-so-memorable white tee during the underwater opening sequence.
Once I registered what all the fuss was about, I also observed that Nolte—playing Bisset’s partner, David Sanders—begins the movie wearing an aquatic-adjacent outfit appropriate for gents developing their spring-to-summer transitional wardrobe or dressing for any seagoing getaways over Memorial Day weekend. Continue reading