Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, nervous and aimless college graduate
Los Angeles, Summer to Fall 1967
Film: The Graduate
Release Date: December 22, 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Costume Designer: Patricia Zipprodt
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Thelma & Louise, and The Sopranos, I felt like I had seen or heard about the famous ending of The Graduate in depth before actually seeing the movie itself. Given that the iconic movie is over 50 years old, I hope I wouldn’t invite too much ire by discussing its famous ending openly in discussing Benjamin Braddock’s style as he desperately races through southern California in the hopes of halting Elaine Robinson’s wedding to the dreaded Makeout King.
Having recently gotten engaged myself (yay!), it felt appropriate to end this installment of #CarWeek with the cherry red Alfa Romeo that factored so significantly in Benjamin’s life following his graduation, whether it it was on his burlesque-and-burgers date with the bright-eyed Elaine (Katharine Ross), furtive assignations with her mother (Anne Bancroft), or on his gas-guzzling dash to get him to the church on time scored by Simon & Garfunkel’s enduring folk banger “Mrs. Robinson”. Continue reading
Denzel Washington as Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, former aircraft mechanic and World War II veteran
Los Angeles, Summer 1948
Film: Devil in a Blue Dress
Release Date: September 29, 1995
Director: Carl Franklin
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
#Noirvember continues with Devil in a Blue Dress, adapted from Walter Mosley’s excellent 1990 novel of the same name introducing readers to Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, an Army veteran making his way in postwar Los Angeles. Though he would later transform into a full-time private detective, Devil in a Blue Dress establishes Easy as a neo-Hitchockian hero, an everyman who finds himself at the center of a dangerous mystery after losing his job at an aircraft assembly plant.
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
Newark, New Jersey, Spring 2006
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Members Only” (Episode 6.01)
Air Date: March 12, 2006
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Fans of The Sopranos are eagerly awaiting the release of David Chase’s prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, directed by Alan Taylor and set during the late 1960s. The movie was originally scheduled for release at the end of this week, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the release until March 2021. While it’s too soon for me to take a full look at the style of The Many Saints of Newark, @tonysopranostyle on Instagram has been comprehensively covering many of the outfits seen on set, including those worn by Jon Bernthal as Tony Soprano’s father “Johnny Boy” Soprano and by Michael Gandolfini as a teenage version of his father’s iconic TV character.
In recognition of what would have been James Gandolfini’s 59th birthday last Friday, today’s #MafiaMonday post explores a pivotal scene from the acclaimed series’ sixth season premiere. Continue reading
Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, tough San Francisco Police Department inspector
San Francisco, August 1972
Film: Magnum Force
Release Date: December 25, 1973
Director: Ted Post
Costume Supervisor: Glenn Wright
When the first Dirty Harry sequel was being conceptualized in the early 1970s, Clint Eastwood recalled a plot line introduced by Terrence Malick in an unused first draft for Dirty Harry that was fleshed out by John Milius to center around a group of young rogue officers in the San Francisco Police Department who formed a secret vigilante “death squad” to rid the city of its worst criminals. This neatly responded to criticism of Harry Callahan’s methods from the first film, illustrating that while Harry may be an antihero comfortable with skirting red tape to get the job done, he doesn’t extend down into the villainous domain that truly takes the law into their own hands, illustrated by the movie’s repeated motif that “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Continue reading
John Wayne as Lon “McQ” McHugh, taciturn Seattle PD lieutenant
Seattle, Fall 1973
Release Date: February 6, 1974
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Luster Bayless
Today marks the birthday of John Wayne, the American icon who reinvented his half-century image as a stalwart of Westerns and war movies by taking on a duo of contemporary cop roles, beginning with McQ in 1974 and followed up with Brannigan the following year.
Born May 26, 1907, Duke was over 60 as he watched younger stars like Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood steal the action movie thunder with urban-set police thrillers. While McQueen’s impressive wheelmanship would be incorporated into McQ, it was the “shoot first, ask later” style of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry that particularly resonated with the old-school star as the opening sequence of McQ finds Duke’s rugged Seattle detective foiling a dockside hitman with his own six-shooter. Continue reading
Robert Mitchum as Lucas “Luke” Doolin, moonshine driver and Korean War veteran
Rillow Valley, Tennessee, Fall 1957
Film: Thunder Road
Release Date: May 10, 1958
Director: Arthur Ripley
Wardrobe Credit: Oscar Rodriguez
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
There’s a Treasury agent down the line someplace with three bumpers hangin’ on his car.
For the first Car Week post of this year, and just in time for the fourth of July, BAMF Style celebrates the all-American tradition of car-racing and its moonshine-running origins with the 1958 action film Thunder Road.
Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp, expatriate American journalist
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Summer 1960
Film: The Rum Diary
Release Date: October 28, 2011
Director: Bruce Robinson
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood
“In summary, this airman, although talented, will not be guided by policy,” heralded Hunter S. Thompson’s honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force in November 1957, a considerable understatement given the iconic writer’s eventual symbolic anti-authoritarian status.
Following his discharge, Thompson tried a few journalistic stints in New York but was fired by Time (for insubordination) and the Middletown Daily Record (for damaging a candy machine) and moved to Puerto Rico in 1960.
Having failed to procure a position with the San Juan Star, Thompson wrote for the El Sportivo sporting magazine… though it folded quickly after his arrival. His experiences in San Juan formed the basis of The Rum Diary, a novel that he penned shortly after his return to the U.S. the following year, although it wasn’t published for more than three decades.
While it would be inaccurate to describe The Rum Diary as a strict roman à clef, its morose, restless narrator Paul Kemp is clearly modeled on Thompson himself, and Thompson’s friend Johnny Depp was naturally tapped to play the role in the film adaptation. Continue reading
James Dean as Jim Stark, confused suburban high school student and loner
Los Angeles, Spring 1956
Film: Rebel Without a Cause
Release Date: October 27, 1955
Director: Nicholas Ray
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Sixty years ago today – September 30, 1955 – was the famous fatal car crash that ended James Dean’s life at the age of 24. At the time of his death, he had only completed acting in three films (other than uncredited bit parts), but those performances made more of an impact than anyone could have guessed.
After his breakout role in East of Eden in 1955, Dean quickly followed it up with his performance as the troubled and tortured Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, a representation of teenage angst that gave a glimmer of hope to millions of teens throughout the country who were disgusted by the falsely naive and puritanical state of 1950s society. Teens could actually relate to the frustrated Jim Stark rather than the squeaky clean Andy Hardy or mischievous doe-eyed Beaver Cleaver. Dean’s electric performance captivated young audiences that began copying his style. Continue reading
Clint Eastwood as Insp. Harry Callahan, reassigned San Francisco inspector
San Francisco, Summer 1976
Film: The Enforcer
Release Date: December 22, 1976
Director: James Fargo
Costume Designer: Glenn Wright
After receiving the news that his friend, Inspector Frank DiGiorgio (played by Robert Mitchum’s brother John Mitchum), has been mortally wounded in a gunfight with Patty Hearst-like thugs, Harry immediately heads to the hospital like any good friend would.
It becomes one of the few days in cinema history that begins with visiting a friend in the hospital and ends with holding a bomber at gunpoint in a church pew… with some rocket launcher testing in between. Continue reading