Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent
Las Vegas, Spring 1971
Film: Diamonds are Forever
Release Date: December 17, 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Master: Ray Beck
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
It’s Friday the 13th! Considered an unlucky day by some, this summer occurrence feels like just the right time to follow James Bond as he tests his own luck in a Las Vegas casino in Diamonds are Forever, the 1971 film that convinced Sean Connery to portray the British secret agent one more time.
Luck appears to be initially on 007’s side as he wins $50,000 at craps and makes the acquaintance of the voluptuous Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood).
Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire criminal mastermind
Boston, June 1968
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Thomas Crown Affair, Norman Jewison’s stylish 1968 thriller starring Steve McQueen as the titular mastermind who finds himself in a passionate cat-and-mouse game opposite a glamorous insurance investigator played by Faye Dunaway.
Steve McQueen sports Thomas Crown’s navy suits all over Boston, proudly wearing them for his adventures by land, sea, and air… Continue reading
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, Late Summer 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley, Purple Noon put French actor Alain Delon on the international map. Only 24 years old when Purple Noon was released, Delon earned the endorsement of Ms. Highsmith herself for his performance as the smooth and wily young con artist whose petty crimes and deceptions graduate to multiple murders over the course of the film.
“It’s insidious, the way Highsmith seduces us into identifying with him and sharing his selfishness,” Roger Ebert wrote of both the novel and this cinematic adaptation in his 1996 review. “Ripley believes that getting his own way is worth whatever price anyone else might have to pay. We all have a little of that in us.” Continue reading
Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik
St. Petersburg, Russia, October 1910, and
London, November 1918
Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
– “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses” (Episode 6), dir. Jim Goddard, aired 10/5/1983
– “After Moscow”(Episode 9), dir. Martin Campbell, aired 10/26/1983
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Reilly: Ace of Spies fictionalizes the exploits of Russian-born spy Sidney Reilly, often cited as a real-life basis for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. While the showrunners must have been cognizant of the need to place their suave British secret agent in a tuxedo, the series’ narrative also coincided with the rise of the dinner jacket over the first quarter of the 20th century.
James Stewart as John “Scottie” Ferguson, former San Francisco detective
San Francisco, Fall 1957
Release Date: May 9, 1958
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today is the 60th anniversary of the release of Vertigo, Hitchcock’s noir-esque thriller and the last of his collaborations with James Stewart. Hitch blamed Jim for the film’s lack of success at the box office, but history would give Jim the last laugh as a 2012 reevaluation for BFI’s Sight & Sound led to a poll of critics choosing Vertigo as the greatest film of all time, beating out long-standing #1 choice Citizen Kane. Continue reading
Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe, American private investigator
London, September 1977
Film: The Big Sleep
Release Date: March 13, 1978
Director: Michael Winner
Costume Designer: Ron Beck
Philip Marlowe is a bold dresser. We learn that from the opening paragraph of Raymond Chandler’s inaugural novel, The Big Sleep, with the description of the detective’s powder blue suit, dark blue underpinnings, and socks with clocks. The rest of the United States may have adopted a somber approach to dressing during the years of the Depression, but Marlowe is an L.A. private eye. He’s gotta turn heads.
Decades after the novel’s publication and Bogie and Bacall sizzled in its first cinematic adaptation, the story was once again slated for the silver screen. Continue reading
Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, baseball prodigy and “middle-aged rookie”
New York, June 1939
Film: The Natural
Release Date: May 11, 1984
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Design: Gloria Gresham & Bernie Pollack
Baseball season is back and in full swing (forgive the pun), and I’m feeling much better about it this year after my hometown Pirates won their home opener against the Twins yesterday, making us 4-0 for the season… after last year, I’ll take all the hope I can get! In the spirit of America’s pastime, today’s post explores one of the great baseball movies ever made.
Based on Bernard Malamud’s 1952 debut novel – and considered by many to be an improvement on it – The Natural stars Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, an earnest, homespun, and sincere baseball player whose sole ambition is glory on the diamond. As he himself wonders, “What else is there?”
Of course, when we first meet Roy Hobbs in media res, you’d never know it to look at him that he was about to embark on his last shot at big-league stardom.