Alexander Skarsgård as Gadi Becker, taciturn Mossad agent, and
Amir Khoury as Salim Al-Khadar, aka “Michel”, Palestinian revolutionary leader
Athens to Munich, Spring 1979
Series: The Little Drummer Girl (Episodes 1-3)
Air Date: October 28, 2018 to November 11, 2018
Director: Park Chan-wook
Costume Design: Sheena Napier & Steven Noble
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
John le Carré was one of the most prolific espionage authors, penning more than two dozen novels including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and The Tailor of Panama, many of which were successfully adapted as movies or limited series that made the most of le Carré’s richly drawn worlds of deception.
Le Carré died in December 2020 at the age of 89, following in death within the month by his half-sister Charlotte Cornwall. Charlotte reportedly inspired the titular character at the center of his novel The Little Drummer Girl about a free-spirited, idealistic, and impressionable actress named Charmian “Charlie” Ross who gets pulled into the world of espionage. Continue reading
Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos, urbane but dangerous heroin smuggler
St. Cyril’s, Greece, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Wardrobe Master: Tiny Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This year marks the 40th anniversary of one of my favorite James Bond movies, For Your Eyes Only, the grounded espionage adventure that brought 007 back down to Earth after Roger Moore’s space-trotting adventure in the polarizing Moonraker.
Subdued and serious, For Your Eyes Only was a departure from the underwater cars and land-going gondolas of Sir Roger’s previous outings, realigning itself with Ian Fleming’s stories after borrowing from the author’s 1960 short story of the same name as well as “Risico”, a story from the same volume that introduced the warring smugglers Columbo and Kristatos, portrayed on screen by Chaim Topol and Julian Glover, respectively.
As in “Risico”, Bond aligns with Columbo after realizing that his initial ally Kristatos is actually his enemy. Glover portrays Aristotle Kristatos with the sinister sophistication that made him a popular villain across ’80s franchise films from The Empire Strikes Back to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Continue reading
Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
India, Spring 1983
Release Date: June 6, 1983
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Born 93 years ago today on October 14, 1927, the great Sir Roger Moore continues to hold the record for the number of films in which he starred as James Bond, playing agent 007 a total of 00-7 times. (Sean Connery also played Bond seven times, though 1983’s Never Say Never Again is considered “unofficial” as it wasn’t made by EON Productions.) In anticipation of Daniel Craig’s final 007 movie No Time to Die—its release yet again delayed for another six months—let’s explore an exciting climactic scene from Sir Roger’s penultimate film as James Bond. Continue reading
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.
Desi Arnaz as Nicky Collini, civil engineer
Northern California, Late Summer 1953
Film: The Long, Long Trailer
Release Date: February 18, 1954
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Costume Designer: Helen Rose
As this year’s summer travel season in the U.S. looks to be more centered around road trips in response to the coronavirus pandemic, RV rentals and purchases have been surging at an unprecedented rate that recalls the heyday of “the great American road trip” as depicted in The Long, Long Trailer. Adapted from Clinton Twiss’ novel of the same name, this Lucy and Desi vehicle zaps into the wanderlust zeitgeist that captured the imagination of Americans during the fabulous fifties as everyone from Harry Truman to Jack Kerouac hit the newly expanded network of highways and byways as they explored the continental United States.
Were I transported back to the 1950s with the mission of taking in the country from the road, I’d likely be piloting a ’57 Chevy Nomad with a Super Turbo Fire V8 across Route 66 from Missouri to California, though it’s solely this latter state that hosts newlyweds Nicky and Tacy Collini as they plot their new nomadic life in a homey silver-and-yellow Redman New Moon hauled up the coast by a cream-colored Mercury convertible.
Ken Takakura as Ken Tanaka, disciplined ex-Yakuza
Tokyo, Spring 1974
Film: The Yakuza
Release Date: December 28, 1974
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Fans of ’70s action would no doubt appreciate The Yakuza, Paul Schrader’s debut screenplay, co-written with his brother Leonard Schrader based on Leonard’s own experiences in Japan. A driving factor that compelled the brothers to finish their initial script was the stoic screen presence of Ken Takakura, who appeared in the film as the ex-akuza gangster who now teaches kendo.
Ken takes up his sword as part of his giri with Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum), formerly a U.S. Marine MP who had dated Ken’s sister while serving in Tokyo during the post-WWII occupation of Japan. Loosely defined as a lifelong debt that can never truly be repaid, the giri concept is central to The Yakuza, in which Ken describes it to Harry as “the burden hardest to bear” and refuses to rid himself of his obligation even when Dusty (Richard Jordan) suggests that the nature of his debt is relatively arbitrary.
Having arrived in Japan in search of his associate’s kidnapped daughter, Harry seeks out Ken’s assistance, but the blood they spill rescuing the young woman results in Yakuza contracts placed on both Harry and Ken, a threat that can only be eliminated by Ken killing the powerful gangster Tono (Eiji Okada) with a sword. While Harry arms himself with a .45 and a double-barreled shotgun, Ken takes a katana to appropriately exact his vengeance on the dangerous crime boss.
James Garner as Pete Aron, determined Formula One driver
Monaco, Spring 1966
Film: Grand Prix
Release Date: December 21, 1966
Director: John Frankenheimer
Costume Supervisor: Sydney Guilaroff
The 2020 Monaco Grand Prix was to begin today, which also commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Monaco Grand Prix’s first inclusion in the inaugural FIA World Championship. Unfortunately, the spread of the dangerous coronavirus pandemic resulted in the race being cancelled for the first time since the 1954 Formula One season.
“In my opinion, still the best picture ever made about auto racing,” wrote James Garner in his memoir, The Garner Files, an opinion into which I put a lot of stock given the actor’s real-life passion for racing and his characteristic modest regarding his own cinematic career. 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
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.
Rod Taylor as Bruce Templeton, charismatic aerospace lab chief
Long Beach, California, Spring 1966
Film: The Glass Bottom Boat
Release Date: June 9, 1966
Director: Frank Tashlin
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (credited with Doris Day’s costumes only)
In the years since I’ve started this blog, I’ve discovered that there are many unsung “style heroes” that are often lost in the discussion of Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Steve McQueen, including actors like Rod Taylor who brought understated elegance to flatteringly tailored suits and timeless casual attire alike.
I was first familiar with Taylor in The Glass Bottom Boat, one of my grandma’s favorite movies and one that we used to watch until we wore the VHS tape thin. Last year, I was delighted to see that my friends Shawn Bongiorno and Ryan Hall had collaborated on a series of Instagram posts that highlighted a look from the movie, and that inspired us to put our heads together and take a deeper dive at a springtime essential that Taylor wears.