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 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
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.
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
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!
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 Cold, Tinker 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 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!
“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.
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
“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
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
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.
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
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.
Martin Sheen as Kit Carruthers, garbage collector-turned-spree killer
South Dakota through the Montana Badlands, Spring 1959
Release Date: October 15, 1973
Director: Terrence Malick
Costume Designer: Rosanna Norton (uncredited)
Wardrobe Credit: Dona Baldwin
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
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
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!
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
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)
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