Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook, expatriate jazz saxophonist
Paris, Fall 1960
Film: Paris Blues
Release Date: September 27, 1961
Director: Martin Ritt
Ten years ago, the United Nations established April 30 as International Jazz Day, a global celebration envisioned by Grammy-winning musician and UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The observance feels ideal for taking a first look at the sleek style in Martin Ritt’s cooler-than-ice 1961 drama, Paris Blues, starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as yankee jazzmen making their living in a French nightclub and romancing a pair of American tourists played by Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Continue reading
Gene Barry as Dr. Ray Flemming, smarmy psychiatrist
Los Angeles, Spring 1967
Film: Prescription: Murder
Original Air Date: February 20, 1968
Director: Richard Irving
Costume Designer: Burton Miller
This week in 1968, TV audiences were introduced to an unassuming yet indefatigable homicide detective in a wrinkled raincoat whose humble mannerisms and appearance belied an uncanny ability to bring murderers to justice. Oh, and just one more thing… that detective was named Columbo.
Peter Falk wasn’t the first to play the detective, nor was he even the first choice when Richard Levinson and William Link’s stage play was adapted for TV as Prescription: Murder, the first episode of what would become the long-running series Columbo. Bert Freed had originated the role in a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, to be followed by Thomas Mitchell when Levinson and Link debuted the play Prescription: Murder two years later in San Francisco.
Prescription: Murder establishes many trademark elements of Columbo, including the delayed introduction of the shrewd but shabbily dressed lieutenant himself until after we watch the murderer of the week commit his—or her—crime.
Gene Barry set a standard in Prescription: Murder that the killers foiled by Columbo would follow for decades to come: arrogant, well-dressed, and clever enough to pull together a murder scheme that keeps them above suspicion… from all but Lieutenant Columbo, of course. Continue reading
Frank Sinatra as Dan Edwards, workaholic advertising executive
Los Angeles, Fall 1965
Film: Marriage on the Rocks
Release Date: September 24, 1965
Director: Jack Donohue
Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett
Kick back on this chilly #SinatraSaturday with the mid-century comedy that reunited Rat Pack pallies Frank and Dean, the duo’s final on-screen collaboration until Cannonball Run II, twenty years later.
Marriage on the Rocks stars FS as Dan Edwards, a buttoned-up businessman who—thanks to madcap circumstances—ends up swapping lifestyles with his swingin’ pal Ernie… played by who else but Dean Martin? Continue reading
Nicolas Cage as Rick Santoro, flashy homicide detective and compulsive gambler
Atlantic City, September 1998
Film: Snake Eyes
Release Date: August 7, 1998
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Odette Gadoury
Folks, today is Nicolas Cage’s birthday so we’re going to celebrate in style by taking a look at the film that won Cage the esteemed Blockbuster Entertainment Award in the category of Favorite Actor (Suspense).
Has anyone been asking to read about the threads Nic Cage wore in the 1998 box office bomb Snake Eyes? No. Is that going to stop me after the absolutely insane year that we’ve just had? Also no.
After I shared some of my favorite budget-friendly movie and TV-inspired summer shirts this year, I also received some interest in a similar post for the autumn so my thoughts immediately went to rounding up some fall-friendly flannel shirts, jackets, and shackets based on my favorite types of movies to watch around this time of year.
My taste in fall movies runs from the rough to the refined. Having grown up watching The Dukes of Hazzard, I always had a soft spot for the low-budget “hick flicks” (and I use the term endearingly) often rolled out during the ’70s by groups like American International Pictures or New World Pictures. The latter distributed Moonshine County Express, one of many movies I saw for the first time while under quarantine this year, and a clear bridge between Burt Reynolds’ early fare like White Lightning and the more formulaic world of the Duke boys in Hazzard County.
Of course, it also wouldn’t be fall without the melodramatic sophistication of Douglas Sirk or his romantic heroes with a taste for flannel as modeled by Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows or by his spiritual successor Dennis Haysbert in the autumnal drama Far From Heaven, Todd Haynes’ 2002 ode to Sirk.
Finally, the holidays means we’re in Die Hard season with both the 1988 original film and its 1990 sequel each set during an action-packed Christmas Eve. Bruce Willis’ cynical hero may be tragically underdressed for his adventure in Nakatomi Tower, but he makes up for it two years later by keeping his shirt and shoes while battling baddies in the snow.
Please feel free to add your own observations or flannel favorites in the comments! Continue reading
Alain Delon as Jean Laurier, aka “Scorpio”, dangerous freelance assassin, former French paratrooper, and cat lover
Washington, D.C., and Vienna, Spring 1973
Release Date: April 19, 1973
Director: Michael Winner
Wardrobe Master: Philippe Pickford
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy 85th birthday to French cinema icon Alain Delon, whose November 8, 1935 birthday makes him a Scorpio and thus a fitting choice for the title role in Michael Winner’s 1973 espionage thriller Scorpio. (Interestingly, Delon was re-teamed with The Leopard co-star Burt Lancaster, whose November 2, 1913 birthday makes him a Scorpio as well!) The astrological overtones sneak into the script as well as a CIA officer suggests to Delon’s character Jean Laurier that his codename “Scorpio” suits him:
We named you well, you’re a perfect Scorpio! You have a penchant for intrigue, violence…
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
Montclair, New Jersey, Fall 2007
Series: The Sopranos
– “The Ride” (Episode 6.09, dir. Alan Taylor, aired May 7, 2006)
– “Chasing It” (Episode 6.16, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired April 29, 2007)
– “The Blue Comet” (Episode 6.20, dir. Alan Taylor, aired June 3, 2007)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On the seventh anniversary of James Gandolfini’s death, I chose to celebrate the actor’s legacy with another look from the landmark HBO series The Sopranos. (Fans of the Skip’s outfits should already be following my friend @TonySopranoStyle on Instagram!)
In the series’ penultimate episode, “The Blue Comet”, Tony Soprano had no idea that this therapy session would be his last, blissfully idling his time in Dr. Jennifer Melfi’s waiting room by purloining a pepper-marinated steak recipe from Departures magazine. Unbeknownst to him, it’s one ravaged periodical too many as Dr. Melfi is already having serious concerns about having potentially spent the last seven years enabling a dangerous sociopath rather than helping him.
Steve McQueen as Steve Andrews, headstrong teenager
Chester County, Pennsylvania, Summer 1957
Film: The Blob
Release Date: September 12, 1958
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
As today would have been Steve McQueen’s 90th birthday, let’s take a look at his first starring role, a sci-fi/horror drive-in favorite called The Blob. A personal favorite of producer Jack H. Harris, The Blob was filmed on location in southeastern Pennsylvania on a low budget that, depending on the source, has been quoted as anywhere between $110,000 and $240,000, a cost kept low thanks in part to the low $3,000 salary that the then-struggling actor McQueen had accepted to afford short-term expenses like food and rent.
After two uncredited movie roles and scattered TV bit parts across the mid-1950s, McQueen’s credited feature film debut was in Robert Stevens’ 1958 crime drama Never Love a Stranger, which also featured his future Bullitt co-star Felice Orlandi. Less than a week after the premiere episode of Wanted Dead or Alive aired on CBS in September 1958, The Blob was released in theaters with “Steven McQueen” first-billed.
Fred Astaire as Tony Hunter, musical comedy star
New York, Spring 1953
Film: The Band Wagon
Release Date: August 7, 1953
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Mary Ann Nyberg
On National Dance Day (July 27), who better to feature on BAMF Style than that most elegant, sophisticated, and talented of dancers, Fred Astaire. In particular, let’s look at an iconic dance sequence in The Band Wagon, that most homaged and visually spectacular of Astaire’s prolific filmography.
We encounter song and dance man Tony Hunter as he gets out his aggression about the Faustian creative direction of what was supposed to be his latest lighthearted musical comedy as well as his contentious relationship with his co-star, virtuoso ballerina Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse). Continue reading