Tagged: What to Wear on a Road Trip

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

The Irishman: Joe Pesci’s Tan Road Trip Sports Coat

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in The Irishman (2019)

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in The Irishman (2019)

Vitals

Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, old-school northeast Pennsylvania Mafia boss

Philadelphia to Detroit, Summer 1975

Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy 77th birthday, Joe Pesci! The Newark-born actor emerged from nearly 20 years of retirement to again collaborate with director Martin Scorsese and star Robert De Niro in The Irishman, which is up for multiple Academy Awards tonight including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, and Best Supporting Actor for both Pesci and his co-star Al Pacino.

Should Pesci take home the statue tonight, it would be his second Academy Award after he received a well-deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor recognizing his work in Goodfellas. Continue reading

Gun Crazy: John Dall’s Tweed Jacket

John Dall as Bart Tare in Gun Crazy (1950)

John Dall as Bart Tare in Gun Crazy (1950)

Vitals

John Dall as Bart Tare, armed robber on the run

San Lorenzo Valley, California, Fall 1949, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Spring 1950

Film: Gun Crazy
(also released as Deadly is the Female)
Release Date: January 20, 1950
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Costume Designer: Norma Koch (credited with Peggy Cummins’ costumes only)

Background

Fifteen years after armed robbers Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were ambushed and killed on a rural Louisiana road, one of the first attempts to adapt their story for the silver screen arrived in theaters. Sure, there had been Fritz Lang’s sympathetic melodrama You Only Live Once (1937) and the FBI-endorsed propaganda Persons in Hiding (1939), but Gun Crazy—released exactly 70 years ago today—most effectively latched onto the intrigue of a gun-toting couple on the run, and, “more than any other, emphasizes the powerful attraction of weaponry in the growing legend of Bonnie and Clyde,” according to John Treherne, author of The Strange History of Bonnie and Clyde.

Gun Crazy‘s telling original title of Deadly is the Female reflects the narrative leaning into the noir-esque premise of a dominating femme fatale, an expert in firearms who seduces her lovestruck fella into a life of crime… an inverse of the generally accepted reality of the relationship between violent manipulator Clyde Barrow and the vulnerable and troubled Bonnie Parker.

A year after his chilling turn as the calculating, Loeb-like murderer in Hitchcock’s Rope, John Dall stars as the malleable Bart Tare, who finds himself fatefully—and fatally—drawn to the voluptuous carnival sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), “the darling of London, England,” though it’s a toss-up whether it’s her tight pants, knowing wink, or dueling pistols that sink the hook into the already doomed Bart. Continue reading

Desi’s Sky Blue Nylon Jacket and Jeans in The Long, Long Trailer

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini in The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

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

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to write about many movies that carry meaningful or nostalgic significance for me, but one that has gone sadly under-discussed (until now) is The Long, Long Trailer, a movie that I would watch so frequently with my grandma—who was born 98 years ago today—that we wore the VHS tape nearly to shreds.

Watching this movie again after more than 20 years was a welcome blast from the past, a nostalgic sensation not only for the personal reasons cited above but also as a glimpse into the glory days of “the great American road trip” during the postwar boom when roadside Googie architecture sprang up to meet the increasing need for motels and diners offering respite and rest for weary motorists.

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Mad Men, 1970 Style – Don’s Denim Trucker Jacket

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.14: "Person to Person")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.14: “Person to Person”)

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, former ad man in search of himself

Bonneville Speedway, Utah, to California, Fall 1970

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14)
Air Date: May 17, 2015
Director: Matthew Weiner
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Moving forward has been the theme of Don Draper’s life, a trajectory made plainly simple at the start of the final episode of Mad Men as a denim-clad Dick Whitman barrels toward the viewers through the desert at more than 130 miles per hour.

Back in New York, Don’s naïve secretary Meredith (Stephanie Drake) shares her concern with Roger Sterling that her former boss may have died, ultimately suggesting that “I hope he’s in a better place.” Geographically, maybe. Mentally, absolutely.

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Tom Cruise in Rain Man

Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man (1988)

Vitals

Tom Cruise as Charlie Babbitt, yuppie exotic car sales executive

Across the United States, Summer 1988

Film: Rain Man
Release Date: December 16, 1988
Director: Barry Levinson
Wardrobe Credit: Bernie Pollack

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Let’s kick off this summer’s #CarWeek! As today, July 3, is Tom Cruise’s birthday, there’s hardly a more appropriate subject than the iconic Buick Roadmaster he drives for his trip across the United States with Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

Cruise stars as Charlie Babbitt, an L.A. yuppie with a failing exotic car import and sales business who just had to postpone a romantic getaway with his girlfriend Susanna (Valeria Golino) to return to Cincinnati for his estranged father’s funeral. With his business in trouble, Charlie at least looks forward to the promise of a substantial inheritance until he learns that his sole endowment from the millionaire’s estate is the very 1949 Buick convertible that drove father and son apart in the first place… Continue reading

Jack Nicholson’s Red Nylon Jacket in Five Easy Pieces

Jack Nicholson as Robert "Bobby" Dupea in Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Jack Nicholson as Robert “Bobby” Dupea in Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Vitals

Jack Nicholson as Bobby Dupea, aimless oil worker and classical piano prodigy

Bakersfield, CA, to Puget Sound, Fall to Winter 1970

Film: Five Easy Pieces
Release Date: September 12, 1970
Director: Bob Rafelson
Wardrobe Credit: Bucky Rous

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Happy birthday, Jack Nicholson! The prolific actor was born 82 years ago today on April 22, 1937.

Five Easy Pieces remains among my favorite of Nicholson’s extensive filmography. His performance as Bobby Dupea—”a man condemned to search for the meaning of his life,” according to director Bob Rafelson—earned the actor his second of 12 Academy Award nominations.

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