Tagged: Winter

On the Road: Dean Moriarty’s Fur-collar Flight Jacket

Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty in On the Road (2012)

Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty in On the Road (2012)

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Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty, impulsive drifter based on Beat Generation figure Neal Cassady

New York to San Francisco, via New Orleans, Winter 1949

Film: On the Road
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Director: Walter Salles
Costume Designer: Danny Glicker

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Yesterday was the 65th anniversary of when On the Road was published on September 5, 1957. Jack Kerouac’s seminal Beat Generation novel had been years in the making, beginning with his continuous, single-spaced 120-page “scroll” that he typed across three weeks in April 1951, almost immediately after returning from the last of the book’s depicted travels.

With the coming of Dean Moriarty began the part of my life you could call my life on the road. Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see the country, always vaguely planning and never taking off. Dean is the perfect guy for the road because he actually was born on the road, when his parents were passing through Salt Lake City in 1926, in a jalopy, on their way to Los Angeles.

Though Kerouac hardly shied away from including seedier details of his friend’s life, On the Road became something of a hagiography centered around Dean Moriarty, the alter ego he developed for his real-life pal Neal Cassady. With the same excitement of the Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton, and George Shearing performances they celebrate, the impulsive Dean steals the spotlight much as he and his fellow travelers steal to support their travels, or offset “the cost of living”, as they rationalize.

Despite considerable interest—including from the author himself—in cinematic adaptations, it wouldn’t be until more than a half-century passed that cameras would finally roll on bringing On the Road to the screen. Francis Ford Coppola had held the rights since 1979, holding on through decades of development hell until the artistic critical success of The Motorcycle Diaries encouraged him to hand over the reins to director Walter Salles and writer José Rivera. Salles again collaborated with cinematographer Éric Gautier, whose photography brought mid-century America back to life across the small towns, sandy deserts, and snowy hillsides that resisted generations of change.

Garrett Hedlund’s appropriately kinetic performance as the dangerously charismatic Dean also emerged as one of the strongest aspects of Salles’ On the Road adaptation, with Owen Gleiberman writing for Entertainment Weekly that “the best thing in the movie is Garrett Hedlund’s performance as Dean Moriarty, whose hunger for life—avid, erotic, insatiable, destructive—kindles a fire that will light the way to a new era.” Continue reading

The Sopranos: Saying Goodbye to Paulie Walnuts

Tony Sirico as "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri in "Made in America", The Sopranos' series finale.

Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri in “Made in America”, The Sopranos‘ series finale.

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Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran

Kearny, New Jersey, Late Fall 2007

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Made in America” (Episode 6.21)
Air Date: June 10, 2007
Director: David Chase
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

This weekend, fans of The Sopranos mourned the death of Tony Sirico, who had played the eccentric gangster “Paulie Walnuts” in addition to appearances in movies like GoodfellasDead Presidents, and Cop Land.

Sirico was born July 29, 1942 in Brooklyn, beginning a colorful life that would be paralleled by his character’s succinct autobiography as shared in a third-season episode:

I was born, grew up, spent a few years in the Army, a few more in the can, and here I am: a half a wise guy.

Continue reading

Brad Pitt as Jesse James

Brad Pitt as Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Brad Pitt as Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

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Brad Pitt as Jesse James, legendary outlaw

Missouri, Fall 1881 through Spring 1882

Film: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Release Date: September 21, 2007
Director: Andrew Dominik
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris

Background

An old adage advises us to never meet our heroes, as they’re sure to disappoint. This theme permeates one of my favorite Westerns, Andrew Dominik’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, depicting the months leading up to the titular betrayal that surprised the country 140 years ago today.

All these years later, Jesse James remains a household name, wisely portrayed on screen by A-lister Brad Pitt to reinforce to audiences the presence that the bandit would have commanded during his heyday. Continue reading

California Split: George Segal’s Aran Turtleneck

George Segal as Bill Denny in California Split

George Segal as Bill Denny in California Split (1974)

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George Segal as Bill Denny, magazine writer and casual gambler

Los Angeles, Winter 1973

Film: California Split
Release Date: August 7, 1974
Director: Robert Altman
Costumer: Hugh McFarland

Background

In honor of George Segal, who died a year ago today, today’s post introduces us to his character in California Split, directed by Robert Altman and described by Tim Grierson and Will Leitch for Vulture as the greatest movie about gambling ever made, “one of the high watermarks of ’70s hangout cinema.” Continue reading

On the Road: Sam Riley Channels Kerouac in Dark Blue Flannel Plaid

Sam Riley as Sal Paradise in On the Road

Sam Riley as Sal Paradise, Jack Kerouac’s alter ego, in On the Road (2012)

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Sam Riley as Sal Paradise, aspiring writer based on future Beat icon Jack Kerouac

Queens, New York, Winter 1947

Film: On the Road
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Director: Walter Salles
Costume Designer: Danny Glicker

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Jack Kerouac was born 100 years ago today on March 12, 1922 in Lowell, Massachusetts. His 1957 roman à clef On the Road became a defining work of what would be called the Beat Generation, chronicling the author’s wanderings in the late 1940s with contemporaries like William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg, all thinly disguised in the novel with pseudonyms.

Kerouac had started work on the novel almost immediately upon returning from his travels, the original draft being a continuous, single-spaced 120-page “scroll” that he typed across three weeks in April 1951. This free-flowing stream of consciousness has been called the ideal medium that captured the mad impulses that drove his adventures with Cassady, represented by the larger-than-life character Dean Moriarty. Continue reading

True Romance: Clarence’s Rockabilly Wedding Style

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette in True Romance (1993)

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Christian Slater as Clarence Worley, comic store clerk and rockabilly enthusiast

Detroit, Winter 1992

Film: True Romance
Release Date: September 10, 1993
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Designer: Susan Becker

Background

Happy Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of today’s love-centered holiday, it felt like the right time to start exploring the style of True Romance, specifically the slapdash quasi-rockabilly wardrobe worn by its leading character, the energetic comic enthusiast-turned-killer Clarence Worley (Christian Slater).

True Romance begins with Clarence striking out at a bar before celebrating his birthday in solitude at a local cineplex with a Sonny Chiba triple feature… instantly signaling writer Quentin Tarantino’s involvement to the informed viewer. Among the scattered audience, Clarence makes the acquaintance of the bleach-haired amateur call girl Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette). Despite Alabama’s post-coital admission that Clarence’s boss hired her to assuage Clarence’s birthday loneliness, the two almost immediately fall in love and impulsively marry, appropriately scored by Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”. Continue reading

The Pink Panther: Robert Wagner’s Après-ski Style

Robert Wagner and Capucine in The Pink Panther

Robert Wagner and Capucine in The Pink Panther (1963)

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Robert Wagner as George Lytton, smooth con artist and aspiring jewel thief

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Winter 1963

Film: The Pink Panther
Release Date: December 19, 1963
Director: Blake Edwards
Wardrobe Supervisor: Annalisa Nasalli-Rocca

Background

Given the ridiculous nature of the later entries that focus more heavily on the madcap misadventures of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), it may surprise first-time viewers to see The Pink Panther so fashionably depict the elegance of winter jet-setters as they take to the Alpine ski resorts of Cortina d’Ampezzo in northern Italy, spending days on the slopes and evenings by the fire.

As February extends into the Olympic games and ski-trip season, I had wanted to revisit the stylish skiwear seen in The Pink Panther, only to realize that Robert Wagner’s 92nd birthday today coincides with the timing of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Wagner appeared in The Pink Panther as George Lytton, a small-time con man and nephew of the suave Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven). After George discovers his urbane uncle is actually a master jewel thief known as “The Phantom”, he sets out to learn from Sir Charles… even attempting to seduce his mistress, Simone Clouseau (Capucine), who just happens to be the wife of the bumbling Sûreté inspector on their trail. Continue reading

Downhill Racer: Redford’s Ski Jacket and Olympic Team Sweater

Robert Redford as David Chappellet in Downhill Racer

Robert Redford as David Chappellet in Downhill Racer (1969)

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Robert Redford as Dave Chappellet, U.S. Olympic ski team star

Switzerland, Winter 1968

Film: Downhill Racer
Release Date: November 6, 1969
Director: Michael Ritchie
Costume Designer: Edith Head (uncredited!)
Wardrobe Credit: Cynthia May

Background

In the spirit of the 2022 Winter Olympics that opened last night in Beijing, I wanted to revisit one of my favorite movies around the winter games, Downhill Racer.

Released just a month after his breakthrough performance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford stars as the cocky skier Dave Chappellet, whose well-honed talent on the slopes lands him on the U.S. Olympic team. His only internal competition had been the promising talent Johnny Creech (Jim McMullan), whose own hopes for the gold were dashed after he was badly injured just weeks before the games. The resentful team and their passionate coach, Eugene Claire (Gene Hackman), find themselves looking to Chappellet as their best hope fo securing a gold medal. Continue reading

Jeffrey Wright in Hold the Dark

Jeffrey Wright and Riley Keough in Hold the Dark

Jeffrey Wright and Riley Keough in Hold the Dark (2018)

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Jeffrey Wright as Russell Core, thoughtful and grizzled wolf expert

Alaska, December 2004

Film: Hold the Dark
Release Date: September 28, 2018
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Costume Designer: Antoinette Messam

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

With another snowstorm predicted for this weekend, I tend to find strange comfort in dark, brooding winter-set tales. A recent search to replenish my cinematic catalog led me to the moody Hold the Dark, an under-promoted Netflix release starring Jeffrey Wright as a wolf expert summoned to a remote Alaskan town by a quietly distressed mother, Medora Slone (Riley Keough), who hopes he can use his skills to hunt the wolf she believes responsible for the disappearance of three local children, including her own six-year-old son.

Despite his doubts that the activity can be attributed to wolf behavior, Core investigates and finds himself enveloped in a bleak and brutal mystery appropriately dark for a grim place that gets less than six hours of sunlight each day. Continue reading

Tom Hanks in Greyhound

Tom Hanks as Commander Ernest Krause in Greyhound

Tom Hanks as CDR Ernest Krause in Greyhound (2020)

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Tom Hanks as CDR Ernest Krause, USN, commanding officer of USS Keeling

North Atlantic Ocean, February 1942

Film: Greyhound
Release Date: July 10, 2020
Director: Aaron Schneider
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss
Military Costume Consultant: Steve McColgan

Background

…the goods will be delivered by this nation, whose Navy believes in the tradition of “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 27, 1941

Greyhound begins just over three months after the United States entered World War II and nearly five months after FDR’s address for Navy and Total Defense Day, in which he reinforced with the above words the protection that the U.S. Navy would offer merchant ships carrying supplies to support the Allied war effort. The eponymous “Greyhound” is the codename for USS Keeling, one of the American destroyers assigned to protect a 37-ship convoy on its way to Liverpool.

We join up with the multi-national convoy HX-25 as it enters its first of two days traveling through the “Black Pit”, the area of the North Atlantic considered most vulnerable as it was beyond the range of air cover. Leading the convoy’s military escort from the bridge of USS Keeling is straight-laced Commander Ernest Krause, played by Tom Hanks. Continue reading