William Powell as Nick Charles, retired private detective
San Francisco, New Year’s Eve 1936
Film: After the Thin Man
Release Date: December 25, 1936
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Wardrobe Credit: Dolly Tree
Happy New Year! Dashiell Hammett and “One-Take Woody” Van Dyke continued the runaway success of The Thin Man by reuniting William Powell and Myrna Loy as crime-solving power couple Nick and Nora Charles, coming home to San Francisco after solving the famous “Thin Man” case during their holiday in New York. The three-day train ride returns Nick and Nora to the City by the Bay just in time for New Year’s Eve, where they find their home commandeered by revelers that have already kicked off their celebrations.
Gene Hackman as Reverend Frank Scott, fiery, independent-minded minister
aboard the S.S. Poseidon en route Athens, New Year’s Eve 1972
Film: The Poseidon Adventure
Release Date: December 12, 1972
Director: Ronald Neame
Costume Designer: Paul Zastupnevich
Happy New Year’s Eve… and #TurtleneckThursday? After this disaster of a year, I can’t think of a better movie to bid good riddance to 2020 than one of the most famous disaster movies of the ’70s.
Produced by “Master of Disaster” Irwin Allen, The Poseidon Adventure followed the Airport template of a star-studded cast fighting to survive a perilous disaster while tackling their own personal issues. While Airport had originated the disaster film boom of the ’70s, The Poseidon Adventure proved its enduring box office power, recouping more than 25 times its initial budget and paving the way for a decade’s worth of similar stories set amidst tropical storms, within fire-prone skyscrapers, and even aboard a famous airship.
Unlike the ill-fated Titanic which sank during its maiden voyage in 1912, the fictional S.S. Poseidon—partially filmed aboard the decommissioned Cunard liner RMS Queen Mary—is making one last run before it will be scrapped in Athens. The cautious Captain Harrison (Leslie Nielsen) finds his authority challenged by the ship’s aggressive owner Linarcos (Fred Sadoff), establishing the dangers of hubris that would remain a consistent theme throughout the disaster sub-genre.
Down in the ship’s elegant dining room, the Poseidon‘s glamorous passengers are celebrating New Year’s Eve amidst their own personal dramas or crises of faith. Seated at the captain’s table are New York detective Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), his ex-prostitute wife Linda (Stella Stevens), and Reverend Frank Scott (Gene Hackman), a controversial cleric yet popular passenger who had captivated a congregation earlier that day with his religious philosophy said to be based on director Ronald Neame’s own hybrid of Christian, Buddhist, and New Age spiritualist beliefs.
While the champagne pops and auld acquaintances be forgot, the crew learns of a massive undersea earthquake that results in a rare wave that strikes the ship broadside, capsizing the S.S. Poseidon and quite literally turning the lives of its passengers upside down.
We’re floating upside-down… we’ve gotta climb up.
Bing Crosby as Bob Wallace, Broadway crooner and World War II veteran
Pine Tree, Vermont, December 1954
Film: White Christmas
Release Date: October 14, 1954
Director: Michael Curtiz
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Merry Christmas to all BAMF Style readers who celebrate! After a turbulent year, I know I’ve found comfort in the warm familiarity of the 1954 holiday classic White Christmas starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a pair of war buddies-turned-producers who stage yet another “yuletide clambake” to support their popular general (Dean Jagger)… as if you hadn’t already seen it!
Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza, neurotic (but inventive) retiree
Queens, New York, Tuesday, December 23, 1997
Episode: “The Strike” (Episode 9.10)
Air Date: December 18, 1997
Director: Andy Ackerman
Created by: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
Costume Designer: Charmaine Nash Simmons
Fed up with the materialism around the holidays? Do you wish the holidays were less about forgiveness and cheer and more about directly telling people what they’ve done to upset you over the past year? Happy Festivus!
Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough Mafia enforcer
Philadelphia, Christmas 1960
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
Last year’s holiday season, there was plenty of buzz around The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s latest mob epic which had been released to Netflix following a brief limited theatrical run. At 209 minutes, The Irishman clocked in as Scorsese’s longest movie to date, following real-life enforcer Frank Sheeran (Robert de Niro) through his connections to the mob via Philadelphia boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his friendship with outspoken labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
Everything seems to change for the boys after the Kennedy administration puts the mob in the government’s crosshairs, but they get one final moment of peace at Christmas 1960, just less than a month before JFK would take office. Frank and Russell gather with their families for an intimate holiday celebration where the only real tension is Frank’s 11-year-old daughter Peggy withholding her affection for the Bufalino patriarch, refusing to see him as a benevolent “Uncle Russell” despite his Christmas gift of skates lined with a C-note.
On #MafiaMonday with just a week until Christmas, let’s look a little deeper at Frank Sheeran’s seasonal style during this brief holiday scene. Continue reading
If you’ve been following BAMF Style for a few years, you know I like to take a break from the enviable style of Grant, McQueen, Poitier, and their ilk to tackle a problem many of us have faced: how to dress for the office Christmas party. Given that corporate America’s closets tend to have more in common with Michael Scott than with Steve McQueen, the American version of The Office rose to the occasion to address the phenomenon of ill-fitting sweaters and ill-advised ties that seems to plague my fellow cubicle-dwellers as they don their gay apparel for the holiday season.
2020 being the year that it’s been, many staff parties have been relegated to holiday happy hours via Zoom or Teams where there will likely be a better chance of catching glimpse of a co-worker’s sweatpants than Christmas ties. For this year’s ranking of Dunder Mifflin duds, it thus feels more appropriate to settle in for Michael Scott’s vision of a more intimate holiday gathering… which also hosts its fair share of snowball scenes that would no doubt result in severe HR violations.
“Classy Christmas” aired ten years ago, the second of three episodes to be directed by Rainn Wilson. It also marked Michael Scott’s final Christmas celebration at Dunder Mifflin Scranton before Steve Carell left the series at the end of the seventh season.
Sammy Davis Jr. as Josh Howard, casino heister, sanitation worker, and World War II veteran
Las Vegas, January 1960
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: August 10, 1960
Director: Lewis Milestone
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup
Tailor: Sy Devore
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Sammy Davis Jr. was born 95 years ago today in Harlem. Nicknamed “Mr. Show Business” in recognition of his vast talents, Davis had gotten an early start to performing when he joined his father and uncle to create the Will Mastin Trio, named after his uncle. Following his service in World War II, Davis cultivated his career as a singer, dancer, actor, and comedian.
Davis’ natural talent, stage presence, and quick wit brought him into the orbit of pallies Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, who were forming the seeds of what would become immortalized as the Rat Pack. (Sinatra wisely followed Davis’ suggestion that the group not call themselves “the Clan”, instead referring to themselves as “the Summit.”)
1960 was the high watermark for the Summit, when they pulled together an ensemble cast to make Ocean’s 11, a stylish heist film set in Las Vegas. Continue reading
Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, aka Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp, megalomaniac terrorist
Piz Gloria, Switzerland, December 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
‘Twas Christmastime at Piz Gloria, when all through the clinic
Not a creature was stirring, not even the agent from MI6.
The Angels of Death were snuggled in bed with care
in hopes that Sir Hilary’s bezants soon would be there.
As of 2020, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains the only James Bond movie prominently set during yuletide, as 007 (George Lazenby) disguises himself as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray in order to get close to SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas), under the pretense of investigating Blofeld’s claim to the title of Count Balthazar de Bleuchamp.
On the 00-7th of December, let’s see how one of Bond’s most iconic nemeses dresses for the holidays.
Tony Sirico as “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri, mob captain and Army veteran
New Jersey, early 2000s
Series: The Sopranos
– “From Where to Eternity” (Episode 2.09, dir. Henry J. Bronchtein, aired 3/12/2000)
– “Second Opinion” (Episode 3.07, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired 4/8/2001)
– “…To Save Us All from Satan’s Power” (Episode 3.10, dir. Jack Bender, aired 4/29/2001)
– “Army of One” (Episode 3.13, dir. John Patterson, aired 5/20/2001)
– “Mergers and Acquisitions” (Episode 4.08, dir. Dan Attias, aired 11/3/2002)
– “Whoever Did This” (Episode 4.09, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired 11/10/2002)
– “Where’s Johnny?” (Episode 5.03, dir. John Patterson, aired 3/21/2004)
– “The Ride” (Episode 6.09, dir. Alan Taylor, aired 5/7/2006)
– “Made in America” (Episode 6.21, dir. David Chase, aired 6/10/2007)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
Heh, heh… happy #MafiaMonday, folks. In response to a request I received from a BAMF Style reader, today’s subject would be particularly recognizable for fans of The Sopranos as a sartorial signature from the wardrobe of the singular Paulie Walnuts.
Walter Matthau as Zachary Garber, New York City Transit Authority police lieutenant
New York City, December 1973
Film: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Release Date: October 2, 1974
Director: Joseph Sargent
Costume Designer: Anna Hill Johnstone
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today would have been the 100th birthday of Walter Matthau, perhaps best known to today’s audiences for his roles opposite Jack Lemmon such as The Odd Couple and the Grumpy Old Men movies, though the New York-born actor’s rich filmography expands a range of genres from westerns and war movies to comedies and crime capers. One of my favorites falls into the latter category, the action thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Continue reading