Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss, taciturn welder, hunter, and Vietnam veteran
Del Rio, Texas, to Mexico, Summer 1980
Film: No Country for Old Men
Release Date: November 9, 2007
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Having found two million dollars in a briefcase at the scene of a drug deal gone sour, laconic welder Llewelyn Moss also finds himself the target of multiple groups of criminals.
Moss packs up his wife (Kelly MacDonald) and heads to the border town of Del Rio, Texas, where he shacks up in a motel. Eventually, Llewelyn is forced to face the fact that he’s not as wily as he thinks… however, he is crafty. Continue reading
Sean Connery as Jim Malone, tough and honest Chicago beat cop
Chicago, September 1930
Film: The Untouchables
Release Date: June 3, 1987
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The Untouchables is a highly entertaining – yet highly fictionalized – saga of the successful legal campaign to bring down Al Capone’s criminal enterprise that terrorized Chicago through the 1920s with an all-star cast including Robert De Niro as Capone himself.
Eliot Ness had made a name for himself in the final years of Chicago’s beer wars as a relentless Prohibition agent, and he would use his fame decades later to pen The Untouchables, a memoir in which he credits himself with practically single-handedly sending Capone to prison. In real life, Ness’ raids were indeed disruptive, but it was the work of modest investigators U.S. Attorney George E.Q. Johnson and IRS agent Frank Wilson that eventually led to the charges that successfully convicted Capone. Continue reading
William Holden as Pike Bishop, grizzled bandit gang leader
Coahuila, Mexico, Spring 1913
Film: The Wild Bunch
Release Date: June 18, 1969
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Costume Designer: James R. Silke
We’ve got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast.
…is what Pike Bishop wisely tells his men, an aging group of outlaws still anachronistically robbing banks and trains on horseback with a six-shooter on their hips. Pike knows the times are changing, and it doesn’t take a water-cooled machine gun or a Mexican general’s Packard to drive the point home to them.
Today would have been the 97th birthday of William Holden, who starred in classics like Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Sabrina, The Bridge on the River Kwai before taking on the role of the anachronistically self-aware Pike Bishop. Holden was one of many actors considered by Sam Peckinpah for the role; Lee Marvin had actually been cast but then turned it down to accept the higher-paying lead in Paint Your Wagon. It turned out well for Holden, who developed the character into one of the greatest movie badasses of all time… as even that sterling news source MTV agreed. Continue reading
Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber
Tucson, Arizona to Crown Point, Indiana, Winter 1934
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George
“Hey wait, Nick, didn’t you already do a post on Dillinger’s prison suit?” ask many of my astute followers who also happen to know my first name.
While many folks of this generation were introduced to John Dillinger and his band of Depression-era desperadoes through the 2009 film Public Enemies, it was probably the tenth (at least) major production featuring Dillinger as a character. My personal favorite is the 1973 John Milius gunfest Dillinger featuring manly and scraggle-toothed actor Warren Oates in the title role.
As usual for Milius, the film doesn’t hold back in terms of violence, upping the Dillinger gang’s body count from around a dozen to more than fifty. Oates plays Dillinger as an cheeky outlaw who loves being just that – not a misunderstood farm boy who was led into a life of crime by police.
Yesterday marked the 79th anniversary of Dillinger’s legendary “wooden gun” breakout from the Lake County jail in Crown Point, Indiana. While Public Enemies had Dillinger already in prison garb by this time, Dillinger kept him in his black suit worn when he was arrested. Continue reading