Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle, charismatic pagan cult leader
The Hebrides, Scotland, Spring 1973
Film: The Wicker Man
Release Date: December 6, 1973
Director: Robin Hardy
Costume Designer: Sue Yelland
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy Halloween! This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Wicker Man, Robin Hardy’s Scottish-set drama that helped define the folk horror subgenre.
After more than a decade portraying the debonair yet dangerous Count Dracula in a half-dozen Hammer films, Christopher Lee met with screenwriter Anthony Shaffer in 1971 to discuss collaborating on a more unique type of horror. Shaffer’s subsequent conversations with director Robin Hardy centered their focus on old religion, like the practices depicted in David Pinner’s 1967 novel Ritual, which Shaffer set out to adapting into what would become The Wicker Man.
The Wicker Man follows the devout and unimaginative police sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) to the remote island of Summerisle in the Hebrides, facing polite but firm resistance as he investigates a young girl’s disappearance leading up to the island’s annual May Day celebrations. Howie’s investigations direct him to the island’s much-discussed leader, the mannered Lord Summerisle who describes himself to Howie as “a heathen, conceivably, but not—I hope—an unenlightened one.” Continue reading
Robert Ayres as Arthur Godfrey Peuchen, resourceful Canadian industrialist and yachtsman
North Atlantic Ocean, April 1912
Film: A Night to Remember
Release Date: July 3, 1958
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Costume Designer: Yvonne Caffin
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
111 years ago tonight, around 11:40 PM on Sunday, April 12, 1912, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. The ship would sink in less than three hours, taking more than 1,500 to their death and leaving just over 700 survivors in open boats scattered across the sea, waiting for rescue.
“Women and children first” had the been the standing order of survival as lifeboats were loaded and lowered, first cautiously and then with increasing alarm as those aboard realized the ship’s desperate condition. Unfortunately, there was only room in the lifeboats for about half of those aboard and a fatal combination of initial trepidation among the passengers and restrictive attitudes by some officers responsible loading the boats resulted in most not being filled to capacity.
Nearly half of the survivors were men, though this still translated to only about 20% of the male passengers and crew that had been aboard the liner. One of these men was Arthur Godfrey Peuchen, a chemical manufacturer and militia major from Toronto who was three days shy of his 53rd birthday as he sat shivering in lifeboat number 6. Continue reading
Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, widowed ex-Imperial Austro-Hungarian Navy officer
Salzburg, Austria, Spring 1938
Film: The Sound of Music
Release Date: March 2, 1965
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Happy birthday, Christopher Plummer! Born 91 years ago in Toronto, the distinguished actor continues to be a familiar face on screen, most recently as the doomed mystery writer at the center of Knives Out (2019). Plummer’s most recognizable performance remains arguably that of Georg von Trapp, the Austro-Hungarian patriarch whose family of young singers was depicted in The Sound of Music.
Sean Connery as Jim Malone, tough and honest Chicago beat cop
Canadian border, September 1930
Film: The Untouchables
Release Date: June 3, 1987
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
Recently recruited off the streets of Chicago, aging beat cop Jim Malone is more than happy to bring his grizzled brand of tough justice to the Canadian border to assist federal agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and their small but effective band of “untouchable” lawmen in stopping an illegal shipment of liquor from making its way into the United States.
Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis, determined psychiatrist
Illinois, Halloween 1978
Release Date: October 25, 1978
Director: John Carpenter
Wardrobe Credit: Beth Rodgers
Based on a timely recommendation that I received from my friend @agentlemansarmour leading up to Halloween last year, I’d like to commemorate October 31 this year with a look at John Carpenter’s Halloween, the influential 1978 horror flick cited as kicking off the “Golden Age” of slasher movies and one of the most successful and profitable independent films of all time, grossing more than $70 million with a budget of less than $325,000. The suggestion particularly requested a look at the fall-friendly tweed jacket and raincoat worn by the movie’s ostensible protagonist, knowledgable psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis as portrayed by Donald Pleasence, who would reprise the role four more times before Malcolm McDowell took over for Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot.
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
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 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