Tagged: White Shirt

James Mason’s White Colonial Casual-wear in Island in the Sun

James Mason as Maxwell Fleury in Island in the Sun

James Mason as Maxwell Fleury in Island in the Sun (1957)

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James Mason as Maxwell Fleury, short-tempered plantation owner

On the fictional Caribbean island of Santa Marta, Spring 1955

Film: Island in the Sun
Release Date: June 12, 1957
Director: Robert Rossen
Costume Design: Phyllis Dalton & David Ffolkes

Background

Today’s post celebrates the great James Mason, who was born 113 years ago today on May 15, 1909. Whether playing a hero or villain or navigating a moral gray area in between, the velvet-voiced Mason brought a dignified presence to his performances.

Opposing the shining talents of Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge, Mason stars in this vividly photographed but dark-hearted drama as Maxwell Fleury, a privileged aristocrat dwelling on one of his family’s estates on the eponymous island.

Upon returning home in his sleek new Jaguar roadster one afternoon, he finds Egyptian cigarettes in his ashtray that fuel his baseless paranoia regarding his wife’s marital fidelity, a suspicion that dangerously spirals as the summery Santa Marta heat intensifies. Continue reading

Don Draper’s Dinner Party Plaid Jacket in “Signal 30”

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men, Episode 5.05: “Signal 30”. From photo by Michael Yarish/AMC.

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Jon Hamm as Don Draper, smooth ad man

Cos Cob, Connecticut, Summer 1966

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Signal 30” (Episode 5.05)
Air Date: April 15, 2012
Director: John Slattery
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

To commemorate Jon Hamm’s 51st birthday today, let’s return to his Emmy-winning performance as the conflicted advertising director Don Draper. After four stylish seasons set across the early ’60s, Mad Men‘s fifth season took a darker and experimental turn with its storytelling, reflective of the more disturbing events of a decade that was evolving from the idealistic ’50s into an violent age of assassinations, serial murder, and war.

Following the dark “Mystery Date” with its homicidal fever dreams and Richard Speck references, the fifth episode “Signal 30” took its title from the gruesome instructional film illustrating the dangers of the road, shown to new drivers like Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s ambitious but insecure account manager, who could be argued as the central character of this episode.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner described “Signal 30″—which he co-wrote with Dog Day Afternoon‘s Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Pierson—as “probably the saddest episode we’ve ever had.”

Directed by series regular John Slattery, “Signal 30” is an episode of plumbing mishaps and forbidden passions, culminating in office fisticuffs. These passions range from Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) continuing his literary side hustle against the wishes of his employers, Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) fighting his own battles with personal and professional masculinity, a business trip to a brothel where all attendees but Don indulge themselves, and Pete’s disturbing crush on a teenage girl in his driver’s ed class.

But before Pete lecherously throws himself at anything on legs—or throws any punches at colleagues—he and his delightful wife Trudy (Alison Brie) welcome the Drapers and Cosgroves for a dinner party. Perhaps appropriate for the only season of Mad Men where we don’t see him engaging in extramarital romance, Don allows his new wife Megan (Jessica Paré) to talk him into swapping his staid suit jacket out for a loudly checked sports coat more on trend for the middle of the swingin’ sixties. Continue reading

Being the Ricardos: Desi Arnaz’s Real vs. Reel Blue Suit

Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos

Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos (2021)

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Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, Cuban-born bandleader, actor, and TV producer

Los Angeles, September 1952

Film: Being the Ricardos
Release Date: December 7, 2021
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Costume Designer: Susan Lyall

Background

I grew up watching I Love Lucy, my childhood punctuated by many memories of me channeling inordinate levels of anxiety at Lucy’s antics into pacing around my grandmother’s kitchen while the decades-old drama unfolded in black-and-white from the small TV tucked on a corner countertop. Almost thirty years later, I still can recollect Lucy pitching Vitameatavegamin or stomping grapes with better clarity than anything I may have binged on Netflix over the last year.

As the real Desi Arnaz was born 105 years ago today on March 2, 1917, let’s take a look at Javier Bardem’s Academy Award-nominated performance as Desi in Being the Ricardos. Continue reading

Island in the Sun: Harry Belafonte’s Brown Suit

Harry Belafonte as David Boyeur in Island in the Sun

Harry Belafonte as David Boyeur in Island in the Sun (1957)

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Harry Belafonte as David Boyeur, popular local politician

On the fictional Caribbean island of Santa Marta, Spring 1955

Film: Island in the Sun
Release Date: June 12, 1957
Director: Robert Rossen
Costume Design: Phyllis Dalton & David Ffolkes

Background

Tomorrow will be the 95th birthday of Harry Belafonte, the singer, actor, and activist born March 1, 1927. Belafonte has tireless worked in show business and to advance social causes since beginning his recording career in the late 1940s. Though he’s narrated documentaries and appeared sporadically in features in the decades since, his screen acting career were primarily throughout the ’50s in features ranging from the musicals that made obvious use of his singing talent to drama, sci-fi, and noir.

Belafonte co-starred with Dorothy Dandridge in his first three films, their collaborations concluding in the colorfully lush drama Island in the Sun, based on Alec Waugh’s novel of the same name. The eponymous island was said to be the fictitious “Santa Marta” in the Caribbean, though actually filmed on location in Barbaos and Grenada through the fall of 1956. Continue reading

Death on the Nile: Simon MacCorkindale’s White Mess Jacket

Simon MacCorkindale as Simon Doyle in Death on the Nile (1978)

Simon MacCorkindale as Simon Doyle in Death on the Nile (1978)

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Simon MacCorkindale as Simon Doyle, newlywed honeymooner

Egypt, September 1937

Film: Death on the Nile
Release Date: September 29, 1978
Director: John Guillermin
Costume Designer: Anthony Powell

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today would have been the 70th birthday of Simon MacCorkindale, the English actor whose breakthrough role was in Death on the Nile, the 1978 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery of the same name.

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Marnie: Sean Connery’s Beige Herringbone Tweed Suit

Sean Connery as Mark Rutland in Marnie (1964)

Sean Connery as Mark Rutland in Marnie (1964)

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Sean Connery as Mark Rutland, publisher

Philadelphia to Baltimore, Spring 1964

Film: Marnie
Release Date: July 22, 1964
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Men’s Costumes: James Linn

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Months before Goldfinger was released and cemented Bond-mania among the cinematic zeitgeist of the 1960s, Sean Connery got the opportunity to show audiences that he was capable of more than just suave secret-agenting with the back-to-back releases of thrillers Woman of Straw and Marnie. The latter has been celebrated as the better-regarded of the two, with some even calling it Alfred Hitchcock’s underappreciated masterpiece, though Hitch himself was more dismissive when discussing the work with François Truffaut:

I wasn’t convinced that Sean Connery was a Philadelphia gentleman. You know, if you want to reduce Marnie to its lowest common denominator, it is the story of the prince and the beggar girl. In a story of this kind you need a real gentleman, a more elegant man than what we had.

Say what you will about Connery’s performance, but I’ve considered Hitchcock’s criticism to be somewhat undeserved, particularly considering that the adaptation of Winston Graham’s 1961 novel of the same name condensed the characters of Marnie’s husband, Mark Rutland, and the psychoanalyst that Mark forces Marnie to see. Thus, Connery’s characterization requires him to convincingly depict Mark as first a charismatic cad, then a manipulative rapist, and—ultimately—a quasi-therapist whose motives are depicted more through the lens of spousal support than domination. Given the challenge of the role, I believe Connery ably rose to the occasion, bringing out more savage sides of the character than we may have believed in the hands of Hitch’s erstwhile stalwarts like Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart.

Continue reading

Sidney Poitier’s Gray Suit in To Sir, with Love

Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray in To Sir, with Love (1967)

Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray in To Sir, with Love (1967)

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Sidney Poitier as Mark Thackeray, novice high school teacher

London, June 1966

Film: To Sir, with Love
Release Date: June 14, 1967
Director: James Clavell
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson

Background

The death of Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE, was announced last Friday, prompting countless fans to recall memories of the great actor’s lasting legacy. Born February 20, 1927 in Miami to a Bahamian family, Poitier’s screen acting career took off during the 1950s, following his breakthrough performance in Blackboard Jungle (1955) with a charismatic turn in Edge of the City (1957). His Academy Award nomination for The Defiant Ones (1958) marked the first time a Black actor was nominated for Best Actor, and his ultimate win for Lillies of the Field (1963) established Poitier as the first Black recipient of the Best Actor Oscar.

Poitier’s career continued through the decade, with 1967 a particular banner year as he delivered three of his most iconic performances in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?In the Heat of the Night, and To Sir, with Love. Continue reading

The Man Who Fell to Earth: David Bowie’s Black Suit

David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth

David Bowie, on location in New Mexico during production of The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

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David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, ambitious humanoid alien

From New York City to Artesia, New Mexico, 1970s

Film: The Man Who Fell to Earth
Release Date: March 18, 1976
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Costume Designer: May Routh
Suits by: Ola Hudson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today would have been the 75th birthday of David Bowie, born in London on January 8, 1947.

Though he’d made a few screen appearances earlier in his career, The Man Who Fell to Earth was Bowie’s first prominent leading role. Adapted by Paul Mayersberg from Walter Tevis’ novel of the same name, Nicolas Roeg’s avant-garde cult classic transcends the trappings of traditional science fiction to spin the yarn of Thomas Jerome Newton, an ambitious if naïve starman who “fell to Earth” on a mission to bring water back to his home planet… only to fall even farther, seduced by the materialistic capitalism of 1970s America and all of its celebrated hedonistic indulgences of sex, television, drugs, and booze. Continue reading

White Christmas: Bing’s Fireside Flannel and Festive Socks

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace in White Christmas (1954)

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Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner and World War II veteran

Pine Tree, Vermont, December 1954

Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head

Background

Merry Christmas Eve! One of my family’s favorite perennial movies to watch during the holiday season is White Christmas, the VistaVision that opened and closed with the iconic eponymous tune that Bing Crosby had introduced over a decade earlier in Holiday Inn.

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Frank Sinatra’s 1971 Retirement Concert Tuxedo

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra sings his ’40s-era hit “All or Nothing at All” during his June 1971 retirement concert in L.A.

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Frank Sinatra, multi-talented entertainer facing retirement

Los Angeles, Summer 1971

Series: Sinatra: All or Nothing At All
Air Date: April 5-6, 2015
Director: Alex Gibney

Background

Born December 12, 1915, Frank Sinatra had recently turned 55 when he started talking seriously with close friends about retirement. For more than 30 years, the entertainer had enjoyed a landmark career, beginning with his days as a pop idol, then a career downturn in the early ’50s that was reinvigorated by an Oscar win for From Here to Eternity and a series of concept albums for Capitol Records that launched him to massive success.

Throughout the ’60s, Sinatra evolved from one of the most popular entertainers in the nation to one of the most influential entertainers across the world. He had founded his own record label with Reprise Records, been a confidante of a sitting U.S. President (before their famous falling-out), and continued to prove his success on the charts with songs like “My Way” (despite his resentment for this particular tune.)

Like so many successful 55-year-old Americans, Ol’ Blue Eyes decided to hang up his tilted hat and retire, with his final performance to be June 13, 1971, at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Alex Gibney’s 2015 HBO documentary Sinatra: All or Nothing at All was framed around the singer’s hand-chosen setlist for the concert, and how the eleven musical milestones Sinatra selected essentially told the story of his life to that point. Continue reading