Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, eagerly romantic millionaire and bootlegger
Long Island, New York, Summer 1922
Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin
On the eve of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday, let’s look at the most recent major adaptation of his most famous work, The Great Gatsby. Fitz’s 1925 novel had been adapted for the big screen at least four times before Baz Luhrmann directed his colorful spectacle during the past decade.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, eccentric and ambitious aviation and movie mogul
Los Angeles, September 1935
Film: The Aviator
Release Date: December 25, 2004
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
85 years ago today on September 13, 1935, a sleek silver aircraft rocketed through the air over Santa Ana, California, at a record-breaking speed over 350 miles per hour, making four passes over Martin Field before a crash-landing that deposited its owner—one of the wealthiest and most ambitious men in America at the time—into a beet field, alive and hardly discouraged. As Howard Hughes’ colleagues ran over to extract the 29-year-old entrepreneur and aviator from the wreckage of the H-1 Racer, he hardly had his own safety in mind, issuing the command: “We can fix her, she’ll go faster!”
Gregory Peck as Harry Street, expatriate writer and former newspaper reporter
French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Summer 1936
Film: The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Release Date: September 17, 1952
Director: Henry King
Wardrobe Supervisor: Charles Le Maire
Despite its wintry title, The Snows of Kilimanjaro was expanded significantly from Ernest Hemingway’s original short story for Henry King’s lush 1952 cinematic adaptation, featuring plenty of summertime fun in Côte d’Azur during its prewar heyday.
The rest of the world may have been suffering from the Great Depression, but Papa surrogate Harry Street has risen to literary stardom and is now living la belle vie, adrift in the Mediterranean while his latest paramour “Frigid Liz, the semi-iceburg of the semi-tropics” frolics in the warm sea around him. Though lovely, Countess Elizabeth (Hildegard Knef) is hardly the treasured Cynthia (Ava Gardner), and Harry admits he’s only attracted to Liz for her elusive qualities, describing in Papa-esque prose that “she was something to hunt down and trap and capture.”
In addition to today being the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, who entered the world July 21, 1899, today is also my 31st birthday!
Humphrey Bogart as Frank McCloud, taciturn war veteran and former newspaperman
Key Largo, Florida, Summer 1948
Film: Key Largo
Release Date: July 16, 1948
Director: John Huston
Wardrobe Credit: Leah Rhodes
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Released today in 1948, John Huston’s moody noir Key Largo marked the fourth and final of Bogie and Bacall’s on-screen collaborations, closing out their celluloid romance the way it began in To Have and Have Not (1944) with a talent-packed cast (including Dan Seymour as a heavy heavy) in a tropical locale shrouded in shadows, storms, and gunplay. The claustrophobia of our characters’ forced isolation against the looming summer storm outside and the raging tension inside made it particularly impactful viewing during months in lockdown.
James Garner as Pete Aron, determined Formula One driver
Monaco, Spring 1966
Film: Grand Prix
Release Date: December 21, 1966
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Supervisor: Sydney Guilaroff
The 2020 Monaco Grand Prix was to begin today, which also commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Monaco Grand Prix’s first inclusion in the inaugural FIA World Championship. Unfortunately, the spread of the dangerous coronavirus pandemic resulted in the race being cancelled for the first time since the 1954 Formula One season.
“In my opinion, still the best picture ever made about auto racing,” wrote James Garner in his memoir, The Garner Files, an opinion into which I put a lot of stock given the actor’s real-life passion for racing and his characteristic modest regarding his own cinematic career. Continue reading
Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, flight attendant and money courier
Los Angeles, Summer 1995
Film: Jackie Brown
Release Date: December 25, 1997
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Mary Claire Hannan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today marks a BAMF Style first, focusing on a badass woman from the movies: Pam Grier as the eponymous lead in Jackie Brown, adapted by Quentin Tarantino from Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. QT had long been a fan of Grier—and rightly so!—including a reference to her in his debut feature, Reservoir Dogs (1992). He had hoped to secure a role for her in Pulp Fiction (1994) until he realized that the actress’ strong presence would make it difficult for audiences to accept Eric Stoltz yelling at her on screen.
After Tarantino and Roger Avary acquired the film rights to three of Elmore Leonard’s novels, the director reportedly “fell in love” with Rum Punch, selecting that as his next feature. In the hopes of hiring Grier for the lead, he changed the character from the white Jackie Burke to the black Jackie Brown, her new surname alluding to Pam Grier’s famous role in Foxy Brown (1974). This character modification wasn’t Tarantino’s only homage to Grier’s career, as the soundtrack also included pieces from Roy Ayers’ original score for Coffy, the blaxploitation classic that provided Grier with her star-making role upon its release 47 years ago on May 13, 1973. Continue reading
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Isaac “Ike” Evans, tough and shrewd hotel owner
Miami Beach, Spring into Summer 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Crime and Punishment” (Episode 2.01), dir. Clark Johnson, aired 6/14/2013
– “Adapt or Die” (Episode 2.03), dir. Ed Bianchi, aired 6/28/2013
– “…And Your Enemies Closer” (Episode 2.07), dir. Simon Cellan Jones, aired 8/2/2013
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
In celebration of my friend and BAMF Style reader Eric’s birthday today, I wanted to pay tribute to the Magic City superfan by highlighting more of the magnificent mid-century fashions worn by Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), boss of Miami Beach’s ritzy Miramar Playa hotel.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious advertising creative director
New York City, Spring 1960 and 1962
Series: Mad Men
– “5G” (Episode 1.05), dir. Lesli Linka Glatter, aired 8/16/2007
– “Red in the Face” (Episode 1.07), dir. Tim Hunter, aired 8/30/2007
– “The New Girl” (Episode 2.05), dir. Jennifer Getzinger, aired 8/24/2008
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Happy birthday to Jon Hamm, born March 10, 1971, and arguably most famous for his Emmy-winning performance on AMC’s Mad Men as suave 1960s ad man Don Draper.
Donald Draper? What kinda name is that?
Clark Gable as Michael Hamilton, Philadelphia lawyer and World War II veteran
Naples to Capri, Italy, Late Summer 1959
Film: It Started in Naples
Release Date: August 7, 1960
Director: Melville Shavelson
Costume Designer: Orietta Nasalli-Rocca
Screen legend Clark Gable was born 119 years ago today on February 1, 1901, the start of a storied life that included an Academy Award for It Happened One Night (1934), acclaimed performances in iconic movies like Gone with the Wind (1939) and Mogambo (1953), and decorated service with the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II. While The Misfits (1961) co-starring Marilyn Monroe was Gable’s final film to be theatrically released, It Started in Naples was his final performance released during his lifetime. Continue reading
James Cagney as Tom Powers, dangerous gangster and bootlegger
Chicago, Spring 1922
Film: The Public Enemy
Release Date: April 23, 1931
Director: William A. Wellman
Costume Designer: Edward Stevenson
Wardrobe Credit: Earl Luick
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
One hundred years ago at midnight tonight, on January 17, 1920, the Volstead Act went into effect, beginning a 13-year prohibition of the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States… and kicking off what Herbert Asbury referred to in his informal history of the Chicago underworld as “the saturnalia of crime and corruption which has been called ‘a noble experiment’,” due to the resulting surge in organized crime that effectively gave rise to the modern gangster.
As moving pictures evolved as a popular medium in the waning years of Prohibition, so too did the gangster movie. Warner Brothers took the lead, exposing audiences to snarling violent hoodlums based on the real-life criminals who bloodied the streets of New York and Chicago. It was in the 1931 hit The Public Enemy that James Cagney made his star-making turn as the psychopathic gangster Tom Powers.