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
Cary Grant as Philip Shayne, smooth, sophisticated, and suave investment executive and “perfect gentleman”
Bermuda, Spring 1962
Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann
Tailor: Cardinal Clothes (credited “for Cary Grant’s suits”)
After being first splashed, then swept, off her feet by the charming tycoon Philip Shayne (Cary Grant), unemployed Manhattanite Cathy Timerblake (Doris Day) finds herself accepting his impromptu invitation to join her for a summery respite in Bermuda. “Nowhere else in the world an you see beaches with pink sand,” Philip promises.
Having purchased every seat on a Pan Am passenger jet to Bermuda, Philip is there to meet her as she deplanes, chauffeuring her in his 1961 Citroën roadster to their luxurious suite at the Victoria Hotel, which is doubled on screen by the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica. Continue reading
Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, laidback stoner and bowler
Los Angeles, Fall 1991
Film: The Big Lebowski
Release Date: March 6, 1998
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
If you know what day it is, you probably have a good idea about why BAMF Style is returning to the less-than-formal style of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski today.
While his Pendleton cowichan knit cardigan from a previous post is arguably his signature wardrobe staple, today’s post takes a look at a truly one-of-a-kind item from The Dude’s laidback closet. Continue reading
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, advertising creative director and whiskey aficionado
All around the United States, Summer 1968 through Summer 1969
Series: Mad Men
– “For Immediate Release” (Episode 6.06), dir. Jennifer Getzinger, aired 5/5/2013
– “The Better Half” (Episode 6.09), dir. Phil Abraham, aired 5/26/2013
– “Time Zones” (Episode 7.01), dir. Scott Hornbacher, aired 4/13/2014
– “The Strategy” (Episode 7.06), dir. Phil Abraham, aired 5/18/2014
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead! Continue reading
Tony Musante as Eddie Hagan, smooth and ruthless fringe mobster
Kansas City, Summer 1931
Film: The Grissom Gang
Release Date: May 28, 1971
Director: Robert Aldrich
Costume Designer: Norma Koch
The Grissom Gang had intrigued me ever since I was in eighth grade. I was flipping through a book about crime cinema from the school library when I found myself paused on a full-page photo of a man in a bloody white dinner jacket stumbled out of a roadster while Kim Darby sat in the passenger seat with her mouth agape. I had been newly introduced to Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger, and other films depicting that famous 1930s crime wave, but The Grissom Gang remained elusive.
Half a decade later, I was a college student with a considerably better budget and the vast resources of the internet at my disposal. I finally managed to track down a DVD of The Grissom Gang and, despite what the critics said, I was far from disappointed. Granted, I had no idea what to expect, so a sweaty, exploitative period crime piece from The Dirty Dozen was exactly what I was happy to get.
The Grissom Gang was the second major cinematic adaptation of James Hadley Chase’s 1939 novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, following the poorly received British-made noir wannabe from 1948. When Robert Aldrich stepped into the wheelhouse for his adaptation, he kicked the setting back to the early 1930s when the Depression-era desperadoes reigned from powerful organized crime figures down to the lowliest highway robbers.
Lee Marvin as Walker, revenge-driven armed robber
Santa Monica, Summer 1967
Film: Point Blank
Release Date: August 30, 1967
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Margo Weintz
With the first day of autumn only a day away, we’re looking ahead to fall fashion from a tough guy. In John Boorman’s 1967 neo-noir Point Blank, Lee Marvin starred as Walker, the unsmiling thief out for revenge after he was left for dead on Alcatraz Island by his one-time partner Mal Reese (John Vernon).
Having patched up his wounds, Walker seeks out the help of his sister-in-law Chris (Angie Dickinson), who agrees to lend her own particular brand of charm to assist Walker in retrieving the $93,000 he believes he is rightfully owed. Continue reading
Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, narcissistic profligate playboy
Italy, Summer 1959
Film: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Release Date: December 25, 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Costume Design: Ann Roth & Gary Jones
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
My last post focused on one of the unlucky Mr. Greenleaf’s unique summer shirts that fell into the hands of an envious Tom Ripley in Purple Noon (Plein Soleil), the 1960 French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Highsmith’s novel was adapted under its original title by writer and director Anthony Minghella in 1999, starring Jude Law as the expatriate playboy Dickie Greenleaf and Matt Damon as the obsessive Ripley.
Elvis Presley as “Lucky” Jackson, mechanic and aspiring race car driver
Las Vegas, Summer 1964
Film: Viva Las Vegas
Release Date: May 20, 1964
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Donfeld (Donald Lee Feld)
Regarded as one of the better movies of Elvis Presley’s acting career, Viva Las Vegas stars the singer opposite Ann-Margret, and it’s reported that the very real chemistry between the two was indicative of their off-screen friendship that briefly grew into romance.
On screen, however, Elvis played “Lucky” Jackson, a mechanic who wins – then literally loses – the money he had hoped to use to finance his own race car. To raise the money back, he takes a part-time gig in the Fabulous Flamingo casino in Las Vegas, where he meets sultry swimming instructor Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret, of course).
Danny Huston as Ben “the Butcher” Diamond, sadistic and volatile Miami gangster
Miami Beach, Summer 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Crossroads” (Episode 2.04, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired July 12, 2013)
– “Sitting on Top of the World” (Episode 2.06, dir: David Petarca, aired July 26, 2013)
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
Easing into the end of July, I’m taking a look at the sunny summer style of Ben “the Butcher” Diamond, the ruthless gangster played to brutal perfection by Danny Huston on Starz’s Magic City. Continue reading