Sean Connery as Colonel John Arbuthnot, British Indian Army commanding officer
Istanbul, December 1935
Film: Murder on the Orient Express
Release Date: November 24, 1974
Director: Sidney Lumet
Costume Designer: Tony Walton
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Sean Connery, born August 25, 1930!
After playing James Bond in six films over the course of a decade, Connery was more than tired of the demanding role that had made him a star, and he began seeking work in different projects. One of his first films after putting 007 behind him (for the second time) was as part of the ensemble cast of Murder on the Orient Express, a 1974 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic 1934 mystery novel. 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
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd Russian-born British government triple agent
Port Arthur, China (then Manchuria), February 1904
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “Prelude to War” (Episode 2)
Air Date: September 7, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Today’s Throwback Tuesday installment throws us all the way back to February 1904 on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War. According to Reilly: Ace of Spies, the newly minted Sidney Reilly is stationed in Port Arthur, Manchuria, ostensibly under the cover of a shipping agent but secretly working with the Japanese military developing their plans for a sneak attack to take the port away from the Russians. Reilly is shown to be a cold pragmatist, working with Japan against his better judgement and dispassionate regarding his poor wife, Margaret (Jeananne Crowley), whom he had married three years earlier after the mysterious* death of her clergic husband.
* Reverend Hugh Thomas’s death was even more mysterious in real life, with many suspecting that Reilly posed as a doctor in order to poison the clergyman.
Aidan Turner as Philip Lombard, adventurer and ex-mercenary
Devon, England, August 1939
Series Title: And Then There Were None
Air Date: December 26-28, 2015
Director: Craig Viveiros
Costume Designer: Lindsay Pugh
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None has been one of my favorite books since my sister first innocuously tossed me a copy in fifth grade. She had been reading it for a high school English class and correctly deduced that I would like it. What followed was a night-long reading experience that deluged me into such a state of overwhelming psychological horror that I have been trying desperately to duplicate ever since. It set off a course of events that caused me to eagerly consume as much of Christie’s work as I could, although few works of fiction have ever been able to deliver quite the same effect.
I eagerly sought out a filmed adaptation and discovered – back in the pre-DVD days of the internet’s infancy – that a relatively straightforward English version had been released in 1945, truer to the source than the many remakes in the following decades. I immediately scooped it up and enjoyed the classic flick with its lighthearted gallows humor and romanticized ending that Christie herself had penned for the play adaptation, but I still yearned for the sense of hopeless dread that pervaded the original novel. Continue reading
Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Oxfordshire, England, Fall 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
For the 00-7th of March, I’m finally getting around to my first post celebrating Timothy Dalton’s brief tenure as James Bond. After a few tumultuous years for the Bond franchise which saw Roger Moore going head to head with Sean Connery’s Never Say Never Again, Pierce Brosnan briefly signed to take over the role before Remington Steele came calling back, and a geriatric Roger Moore going head to head with Grace Jones in A View to a Kill, the franchise gave itself its first attempt at a reboot.
Timothy Dalton had long been considered for the Bond role, first approached nearly 20 years earlier when Sean Connery walked away after You Only Live Twice. Dalton made the mature decision of realizing that – not yet 25 years old – he wasn’t old enough for every man’s dream role nor did he want to try to steal the spotlight from Connery. After Moore’s retirement and Brosnan’s recall to TV in 1986, Dalton was again approached and finally decided to take the role.
Dalton had been a fan of Ian Fleming’s novels, so his portrayal meant a return to the basics: less lavish outrageousness and more grounded seriousness. Dalton’s Bond was a seasoned, professional spy who shared his predecessors’ appreciation – if not weakness – for fast cars, women, and martinis.
In this scene, Bond is called to MI6’s Blayden House (actually Stonor House in Oxfordshire), where his superiors are debriefing with General Georgi Koskov, the loquacious ex-KGB official played by Jeroen Krabbé, the Dutch actor who seemingly specializes in playing charmingly eccentric villains whose treachery is always discovered in the final act. Continue reading
Daniel Craig as James Bond, rogue British government agent
Scotland, Spring 2012
Release Date: November 9, 2012
Director: Sam Mendes
Costume Designer: Jany Temime
After a relentless cross-continental game of cat and mouse (or, more accurately, rat and rat), James Bond and Raoul Silva finally come to a head at Bond’s childhood home of Skyfall Manor in the Scottish Highlands. The stakes have been raised by the appearance of M, a rare sight in a Bond action scene and here a gun-toting queen in Bond and Silva’s chess game.
Bond, M, and the estate’s old gamekeeper Kincaide (Albert Finney) prepare for the inevitable assault with a charmingly dark twist on Kevin McCallister’s booby-trapping exploits, with an armor-plated Aston Martin DB5 replacing a train-hopping Michael Jordan cutout. With the stage set, all the three armed stalwarts can do is wait. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Harry Longbaugh, aka “The Sundance Kid”, laconic and sharp-shooting American outlaw
Colorado, Fall 1898
Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Release Date: October 24, 1969
Director: George Roy Hill
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Last year, we celebrated Robert Redford’s 78th birthday (and Throwback Tuesday, which I’ve decided can be a thing) by breaking down the Sundance Kid’s traveling suit when he and Butch Cassidy pack up and head to Bolivia. This year, for Bob’s 79th, we’ll look at his main outfit leading up to that – a badass assortment of Western wear that epitomize American outlaw style at the turn of the century.
What’d He Wear?
Although the film’s audience would be hard-pressed to call either Butch or Sundance a true villain despite their criminal vocations, Sundance is certainly the darker-demeanored of the two, reflected by his attire. In Bolivia, he wears a black suit and black hat. While still conducting his banditry in the U.S., he wears all black save for a brown corduroy jacket. By default, he becomes the film’s personification of the “black-hatted outlaw” trope although his easy charm differentiates him from more villianous contemporaries like Lee Van Cleef in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The one major non-black part of his American banditry outfit is the brown wide-waled corduroy jacket. The jacket looks as well-traveled as Sundance himself, providing him comfortable and surprisingly fashionable outerwear that allows a wide range of motion for a man whose job includes jumping on and off of moving trains. Continue reading