Tagged: What to Wear on a Road Trip

Detour: Tom Neal’s Borrowed Clothes and Borrowed Lincoln

Tom Neal as Al Roberts in Detour (1945)

Tom Neal behind the wheel of a ’41 Lincoln as Al Roberts in Detour (1945)

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Tom Neal as Al Roberts, hitchhiking nightclub pianist

Across the United States, especially Arizona to California, Spring 1945

Film: Detour
Release Date: November 30, 1945
Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Wardrobe Designer: Mona Barry

Background

On the last day of #Noirvember, let’s also kick off #CarWeek with a look at one of the best examples of “road noir” with Detour, the enduring B-movie that saw a limited release 76 years ago today on November 30, 1945, just over two weeks after its initial premiere in Boston.

Martin M. Goldsmith worked with an uncredited Martin Mooney to adapt his own 1939 novel of the same name into a screenplay. Known as “the King of PRC” for his reputation as an efficient director working for the Poverty Row studio Producers Releasing Corporation, the Austrian-born Edgar G. Ulmer filmed Detour in less than a month in the summer of 1945, with a shoestring budget of less than $100,000; for comparison, this was less than 10% of the final budget for that year’s winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, The Lost Weekend. (Perhaps overstating his efficiency, Ulmer would later cite that he made the movie in six days for $20,000.)

Detour was my gateway to film noir, thanks to a multi-pack DVD that I was gifted in high school that included many pulp classics like D.O.A.The HitchhikerQuicksand, and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, many of which—like Detour—were regularly available in budget-friendly home video releases as they had fallen into the public domain. Clocking in at just over an hour, the story may be simple, but it contains all the characteristic noir themes and stock characters, including the femme fatale (and how!) and the wrongly accused man whose questionable ethics and unfortunate circumstances launch him headway into increasingly dangerous circumstances.

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Easy Rider: Peter Fonda as “Captain America”

Peter Fonda as Wyatt in Easy Rider (1969)

Peter Fonda as “Captain America” in Easy Rider (1969)

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Peter Fonda as Wyatt, aka “Captain America”, freedom-loving biker

Across the southern United States from Los Angeles through Louisiana, February 1968

Film: Easy Rider
Release Date: July 14, 1969
Director: Dennis Hopper

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

When I learned the second Saturday of October is commemorated as National Motorcycle Ride Day, I realized I’d gone far too long without shining a sartorial lens on Dennis Hopper’s iconic cult classic, Easy Rider.

Conceptualized by Hopper, Fonda, and screenwriter Terry Southern, Easy Rider‘s chaotic production and controversial themes have been the product of considerable discussion since its release during that seminal summer of ’69. To some, it explores the death of the American dream through the concept of freedom, asking what it really means to be a free American.

Set to classic rock like The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Roger McGuinn, and Steppenwolf, we follow two bikers in their journey across the United States, from the open desert of the southwest into the close-knit conservative communities of the deep South. Hopper co-stars as the the mustached hippie rider Billy, but the arguable leader of the duo is the flag-bedecked Wyatt (Peter Fonda), celebrated by his pal as “Captain America”. After all, if a red, white, and blue-blooded Captain America can’t safely and freely ride across the nation, who can? Continue reading

Sinatra’s Cannonball Run II Cameo

To kick off this year’s summer #CarWeek series (and on #SinatraSaturday, no less), today’s post explores the Chairman and his car as he joins a star-studded cast for a cross-country race in one of the most famous “car movie” series this side of Fast and the Furious.

Frank Sinatra, joined by Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Shirley MacLaine on the set of Cannonball Run II (1984)

Frank Sinatra, joined by Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Shirley MacLaine on the set of Cannonball Run II (1984)

Vitals

Frank Sinatra as himself, entertainment legend

Las Vegas, Summer 1983

Film: Cannonball Run II
Release Date: June 29, 1984
Director: Hal Needham
Costume Design: Kathy O’Rear, Norman Salling, and Don Vargas

Background

Look, we’re all aware that Cannonball Run II isn’t Frank Sinatra’s best movie. (And, let’s face it, even if it was his only movie, it still wouldn’t be his best!) But, after observing the fun that his Rat Pack pallies Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., had in the first installment, FS arranged for a short cameo that would yield him second billing in the cast and a $30,000 payday, which he donated to charity.

According to Hal Needham, three versions of the script were written to accommodate the Chairman of the Board: one that would require one week of work, a second that would require two days, and a third version where Frank would only be needed on the set for one day. Perhaps aware that this wasn’t exactly The Manchurian Candidate, Frank wisely chose the latter option, showing up for his day on screen behind the wheel of his own red Dodge Daytona Turbo Z.

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Dressing for Summer Travel: Road Trips and Airplanes

Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the Field (1963)

Sidney Poitier’s tropical shirt in Lilies of the Field (1963) takes his style to the next level behind the wheel of his road-ready station wagon.

With this summer looking like more of a realistic travel season than last year for those looking to safely get away, I wanted to round up some of what I’ve learned in nearly a decade of paying attention to and writing about style and apply it realistically to how I dress for summer travel!

These guidelines may not work for everyone’s sense of taste, style, or comfort—and I’d always advocate for individuality over blindly adhering to what some non-expert on the internet (yours truly) has to say—but I thought it could be helpful to develop a guide based on what has worked for me, particularly in the wake of takes reporting that some are having trouble rediscovering the purpose of their clothing after spending much of the pandemic locked down in leisure-wear.

Of course, leisure-wear might be all you need to pack for summer vacations this year, but it still helps to have something a little practical for the journey, whether by air or on the road… Continue reading

The Little Drummer Girl: Michel’s Green Suede Jacket

Alexander Skarsgård and Amir Khoury in The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

Alexander Skarsgård and Amir Khoury in The Little Drummer Girl (2018)

Vitals

Alexander Skarsgård as Gadi Becker, taciturn Mossad agent, and
Amir Khoury as Salim Al-Khadar, aka “Michel”, Palestinian revolutionary leader

Athens to Munich, Spring 1979

Series: The Little Drummer Girl (Episodes 1-3)
Air Date: 
October 28, 2018 to November 11, 2018
Director: 
Park Chan-wook
Costume Design: Sheena Napier & Steven Noble

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

John le Carré was one of the most prolific espionage authors, penning more than two dozen novels including The Spy Who Came in From the ColdTinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Tailor of Panama, many of which were successfully adapted as movies or limited series that made the most of le Carré’s richly drawn worlds of deception.

Le Carré died in December 2020 at the age of 89, following in death within the month by his half-sister Charlotte Cornwall. Charlotte reportedly inspired the titular character at the center of his novel The Little Drummer Girl about a free-spirited, idealistic, and impressionable actress named Charmian “Charlie” Ross who gets pulled into the world of espionage. Continue reading

Robert De Niro in Midnight Run

Robert De Niro as Jack Walsh in Midnight Run (1988)

Robert De Niro as Jack Walsh in Midnight Run (1988)

Vitals

Robert De Niro as Jack Walsh, tough bounty hunter

New York to Los Angeles, Fall 1987

Film: Midnight Run
Release Date: July 20, 1988
Director: Martin Brest
Costume Designer: Gloria Gresham

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

“This is an easy gig, it’s a midnight run for chrissakes!”

Bounty hunter Jack Walsh has withstood plenty of action and abuse tracking down fugitives for bail bondsman Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano), but the inherent danger of bringing in Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (Charles Grodin), an accountant in the crosshairs of the Mafia, has Jack demanding $100,000 for the job. A pro, Jack has an easy enough time finding the Duke in New York, but bringing him back to L.A. and his hundred-grand payday brings a fresh set of challenges between the Duke’s reluctance to fly, the interference of the FBI, a rival bounty hunter sabotaging him at each step, and—oh!—a couple of deadly doofuses sent by the mob to whack the Duke… and anyone who gets in their way.

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Lilies of the Field: Sidney Poitier’s Lee Westerner Jacket and Jeans

Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963)

Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963)

Vitals

Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith, helpful handyman

Arizona, Summer 1963

Film: Lilies of the Field
Release Date: October 1, 1963
Director: Ralph Nelson
Wardrobe Credit: Wesley Sherrard

Background

“That is your car?” Mother Maria asks Homer Smith, to which he proudly corrects: “That’s my home!” With that attitude, Homer would have been well-prepared for a road trip decades later in the 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic found Americans taking to the road for their summer getaways in increased numbers said to recall the age of the mid-century “great American road trip.”

In his Academy Award-winning role, Sidney Poitier plays handyman Homer Smith, traveling through the Arizona desert when his station wagon’s dire need for water brings him to the Catholic convent overseen by the solemn Maria (Lilia Skala), who requests that the newcomer stop to assist with a roofing repair. His initial reluctant assistance leads to staying for dinner and an enthusiastic English lesson (“phonograph… record!”) to the German sisters, parlayed into spending the night camped out in the back of his Plymouth, where Mother Maria corners him the next morning and asks—er, orders—him to stay and build the nuns a chapel. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Raoul Duke’s Terrycloth Acapulco Shirt

Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

Vitals

Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke, “doctor of journalism” and alter ego of Hunter S. Thompson

Las Vegas, Spring 1971

Film: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Release Date: May 22, 1998
Director: Terry Gilliam
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss

Background

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold…

…and, with the scream of a bright fireapple red Chevy convertible speeding through the desert scored by Big Brother and the Holding Company’s manic “Combination of the Two”, we’re off and running with Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo on their way to a hallucinogenic weekend romp in Sin City. Johnny Depp’s opening narration as the notorious Dr. Duke transcribes verbatim the opening lines of Hunter S. Thompson’s landmark roman à clef Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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Desi Arnaz’s Flight Jacket and Jeans in The Long, Long Trailer

Lucy, Desi, and Liz. Elizabeth Taylor dropped by the MGM lot for a photo op with the two stars of The Long, Long Trailer (1954). Arnaz had reportedly bet MGM that The Long, Long Trailer would make more than its then-highest grossing comedy, Father of the Bride, starring Taylor. Arnaz won the $25,000 bet.

Lucy, Desi, and Liz.
Elizabeth Taylor dropped by the MGM lot for a photo op with the two stars of The Long, Long Trailer. Arnaz had reportedly bet MGM that The Long, Long Trailer (1954) would make more than its then-highest grossing comedy, Father of the Bride, starring Taylor. Arnaz won the $25,000 bet.

Vitals

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer

Northern California, Late Summer 1953

Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose

Background

As this year’s summer travel season in the U.S. looks to be more centered around road trips in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RV rentals and purchases have been surging at an unprecedented rate that recalls the heyday of “the great American road trip” as depicted in The Long, Long Trailer. Adapted from Clinton Twiss’ novel of the same name, this Lucy and Desi vehicle zaps into the wanderlust zeitgeist that captured the imagination of Americans during the fabulous fifties as everyone from Harry Truman to Jack Kerouac hit the newly expanded network of highways and byways as they explored the continental United States.

Were I transported back to the 1950s with the mission of taking in the country from the road, I’d likely be piloting a ’57 Chevy Nomad with a Super Turbo Fire V8 across Route 66 from Missouri to California, though it’s solely this latter state that hosts newlyweds Nicky and Tacy Collini as they plot their new nomadic life in a homey silver-and-yellow Redman New Moon hauled up the coast by a cream-colored Mercury convertible.

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Martin Sheen in Badlands

Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers in Badlands (1973)

Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers in Badlands (1973)

Vitals

Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers, garbage collector-turned-spree killer

South Dakota through the Montana Badlands, Spring 1959

Film: Badlands
Release Date: October 15, 1973
Director: Terrence Malick
Costume Designer: Rosanna Norton (uncredited)
Wardrobe Credit: Dona Baldwin

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Terrence Malick made his impressive cinematic debut writing, producing, and directing Badlands, the romanticized re-interpretation of the infamously violent crime spree of Charles Starkweather and his teenage girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, that left ten dead across the Great Plains during eight brutal and bloody days in January 1958. Continue reading