Crisp Precision: Lindsay Crouse in House of Games

Style in film-Lindsay Crouse House of Games 
Her outfits are mannish; her words are enunciated with cold, distant, crisp precision; her presence is uptight and cautious; her sculpted face never crumples. Some have criticized Lindsay Crouse’s performance in House of Games as robotic, a total absence of appeal, even unsettling. I beg to differ.

I am no feminist, but why are female characters, unlike male characters, expected to be read for signs of sympathy and vulnerability? Because I think Lindsay Crouse is great in the film; her role is intentional, her manner of speaking, deliberate and practiced. It makes for a fascinating character study. Besides the film’s spectacular set-up (“The true joy of watching this film is in savoring its fine appreciation of a good game,” Jörn Hetebrügge describes it in the book Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites ), it’s her character that engages the viewer’s rooting interest. What will she do next, what is she looking for, how far is she willing to go, is it revenge she’s after, is it a deep-down repressed satisfaction, or both? Even after the night she spends in the hotel room with Mike (Joe Montegna), there is nothing to give away her true feelings. Wouldn’t it have been a cliché if she had?
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-21 

“It’s called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me your confidence?
No. Because I give you mine.”

House of Games marked David Mamet’s directorial debut. He had already earned his reputation as a playwright (winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for Glengary Glenn Ross) and screenwriter (The Verdict (1982), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), The Untouchables (1987)). Mamet has a distinctive, pragmatic style of dialogue, dubbed “Mamet Speak”: poignantly stylised, cynical, abrupt, reminding of film noir dialogue. That’s probably what I liked the most about the film, the overall neo-noir feel. Only it gets even better: the male and female characters are reversed. It’s not the morally ambiguous male anti-hero alientated from society who falls in the traps of the femme fatale, but a successful woman psychiatrist who falls into the traps of a con artist. It’s her who turns you into a willing accomplice.
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-3

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-2

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-4 
Crouse’ Dr. Margaret Ford is a successful psychologist who sees her career as more than just a profession – it’s her calling. Ford’s best-selling book, Driven: Obsession and Compulsion in Everyday Life, is a treatise on compulsive behavior, and it is her drive for her chosen profession that draws Margaret into an unfamiliar, underground world of professional grifters. As she continues to venture with the swindlers, it becomes clear that she herself has some unsolved issues of her own. Though, even prior to her involvement with them, she makes a couple of occasional-but-noticeable Freudian slips, something which later plays a significant role during a pivotal scene in the film. It’s also worthy of note that she doesn’t reveal her name to any of the con men until that very scene. That should tell us something about who’s playing whom.

Because, besides the behavioral hints I mention above, there is also one visual element that I do not believe is coincidental: the colour red that first appears in the outfit of the admirer who is nervously approaching dr. Ford asking for an autograph (she’s all dressed in red), then the red taxi cab that Margaret takes after her first visit to the House of Games, and, finally, the red convertible car she has to steal to get away after she is made to believe she has killed a man. Take it as an alarm signal for everyone, from the grifters, to yourself, the viewer: You have to pay attention!
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-5

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-6

Lindsay Crouse House of Games 
Slant Magazine was referencing an interview in which Lindsay Crouse made a compelling analysis of House of Games as a dream film – a non-representational narrative built from bits of Margaret’s personality. The costumes are part of that personality. So let’t pay attention to them, too – Nan Cibula was the costume designer. Margaret Ford scarcely wears jewellery. Just a classic leather-strap watch, and delicate, barely-there earrings. She wears her hair cut short. Her shirts, completely buttoned up, vary from white to white with blue stripes, and blue. Her suits are sober, wide shouldered, and navy, grey or light blue coloured.
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-7 
I’d like to elaborate on that remark about the unattractiveness and masculinity of Margaret’s outfits. It was the eighties, the decade of power dressing. Women’s clothes were inspired by men’s wear. The power suit is the term coined in the 1980s to describe a skirt suit worn by career women, with the jacket resembling a man’s suit jacket in cut, but having the shoulders heavily padded and exaggerated. Women embraced the sober suit in pursuit of an image that would convey self-confidence, decidedness, affluence and success in the business and social world. “The simple tailored wool suit in neutral navy or slate blue gray, worn with non-sexual blouses, imitated uniform at rank, which, by design, was authoritative,” argued John Malloy in his book, Women Dress for Success. To label Margaret Ford’s clothes as unappealing and leave it at that, is to miss part of the point. Her clothes may be indicative of stunted sexuality, but they are just as much indicative of professional objectivity.
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-10

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-8

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-13

Fashion on Film Lindsay Crouse House of Games 
And then there is the trousers look (my favourite). Tailored, pleated trousers in a shade of beige, a powder pink waist-long jacket, and heels. Still masculine inspired, but there is something new to it. She’s put on a coloured necklace. It is not ostentatious, I wouldn’t have noticed it if she hadn’t played with it (see first image in the set above) in that scene when she returns to the House of Games. But there has been a change. “Is it something that gives you joy? Good.”, says her friend approvingly when Margaret refuses her dinner invitation saying that she has other plans. And I think this joy she feels hints more at the fact that she is beginning to like the game than that she’s becoming attracted to Mike.
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-16

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-15

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-17 
In the final scene, Mamet first shows Margaret from behind. She is wearing a floral dress in vibrant colors, perfectly blending in the setting of luscious vegetation. She turns around and we see her red-rimmed sunglasses, red clutch and white oversized earrings – the kind that don’t go unnoticed anymore. She has the same calm and calculated manner of speaking when approached by a reader asking her to sign his copy of her book. But something is different. She has taken a trip and “forgiven herself”, she tells her friend who had given her this exact piece of advice without her knowing what Margaret had done. Ford steals a gold cigarette lighter from a purse, and her smug smile of self-satisfaction afterwards, as she lits her cigarette with it, reveals that she has fallen into the addictive lure of being a con artist herself. That is what brings her joy.
 
Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-18

Style in film Lindsay Crouse House of Games-20

Note: This article has also appeared on The Big Picture magazine

photos: film stills captured by me | Filmhaus

Posted by classiq in Style in film | | Leave a comment

On the Trails of 007

On the Trails of James Bond Issos beach Corfu 
This time last week I was still basking in the sun of Corfu island. I would be lying if I said that the fact that the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only was partly filmed there didn’t play a part in my choice of our latest vacation in Greece. When we arrived at Issos beach, on the southwest coast of Corfu (the Achillion Palace and the Old Fortress in Corfu Town, Paleokastritsa Bay and Pagi village were also among the filming locations – we didn’t get to visit the latter one, because hopping on the island with a two-year-old is quite an adventure in itself), on our second day on the island and casually mentioned it to my husband (I had kept it to myself), he gave me a you-are-definitely-a-bigger-film-fanatic-than-I-am kind of look. Although, I had been known to check out filming locations before for holiday destinations.

And, to be 100% honest, this little 007 fact is also the reason why I am sharing a few images today. It was our son’s first seaside holiday (we have a sea lover!) and it was special. I want it to remain special, so I will be keeping the most beautiful photographs (you can see a few more on my Instagram), views and memories to myself and my family. More wild and golden sand beaches were visited, spectacular sunrises and sunsets were witnessed every single day, unstoppable laughs happened. And it felt so damn good to go remote for more than a week. As one should. Because life is lived in the undocumented. For your eyes and your loved ones’ only.
 
Issos beach Corfu

IMG_3369

On the Trails of James Bond Issos beach Corfu

On the Trails of 007 Issos beach Corfu island

On the Trails of James Bond Issos beach Corfu  
PS: I may have hunted Bond on Issos beach, but everyone in my family agreed on contiguous Marathiá and Agía Varvára (aka Santa Barbara, Maltás, Martás) as our favourites on the island.
 
On the Trails of 007 Corfu island

Santa Barbara Beach Corfu

photos by me

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One Day That Summer: Shirley MacLaine on the Set of “Can Can”

One Day That Summer Shirley MacLaine by Bob Willoughby  
Summer may be over, but the series One Day That Summer continues on the blog with my conversations with photographers and photography collectors to bring you exclusive stories from behind the lens, whether travel photography or pictures from the movie sets.
 
He wanted to tell a story, not sell a story, through his photographs. Bob Willoughby introduced photojournalism to a previously highly staged field and revealed the actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood “as themselves, not merely as the characters they played”. He would roam the set freely, mingle with directors and actors, invent the remote-camera, hide behind the crew, become part of the decor – spontaneous moments look best on film, always, and, in that regard, a good photographer is the one you don’t even get to see – and granted the public unprecedented, unedited access behind the closed doors of Hollywood. Willoughby, who studied film at the University of South California and design with renowned graphic designer Saul Bass at the Kahn Institute of Art, loved the big screen and those on it, and it just shows that his work stemmed from passion for and understanding of cinema. This portrait of Shirley MacLaine, on the set of the film Can Can, 1959, is proof of the wonderful perception with which the photographer captured the actors and directors on and off the set, in moments of repose and high drama.

I have talked to David Fahey, the owner of the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles to find out just what it was that gained Bob Willoughby the trust and backstage access of the first rate actors of the ’50s and ’60s, and whether they truly do not make movie stars like they used to. The Fahey/Klein Gallery is one of the leaders in the exhibition and sales of fine art photography, devoted to the enhancement of the public’s appreciation of the medium of photography, with an extensive activity in curating and collecting the works of some of the most appreciated photographers of the 20th century.
 

“He was a smart observer and he recognized the soul
of the story, like he could also identify
the soul of his subjects.”

 
Many film-makers are very particular about the set photographers they allow to document their work. Bob Willoughby was, in fact, Hollywood’s first behind the scenes photographer, the first “unit photographer”, the one who made the movie stars human, capturing some of the most famous and best actors of the 1950s and 1960s with their guard down, not posing for the camera, at their highs and lows. And yet, they trusted him completely. What was it that gained him their trust?
He was simply an excellent photographer whose distinctive images not only captured the humanity in each subject, but were also dramatic, memorable, and interpretative portraits. His first LIFE Magazine cover, of Judy Garland during the filming of “A Star is Born” exemplified his special talent. For other subjects thereafter, it was easy to trust a photographer who had the endorsement of Warner Bros., Judy Garland, and LIFE Magazine. They all trusted him and he came through, thus, communicating to potential subjects that you can trust he will make them look great and memorable. In the movie business, this is what matters most.

Sydney Pollack wrote in the introduction to Willoughby’s 2003 autobiography: “Sometimes a film-maker gets a look at a photograph taken on his own set and sees the ‘soul’ of his film in one still photograph. It’s rare, but it happens. It happened to me in 1969, the first time I looked at the work of Bob Willoughby during the filming of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?.” What do you think was Bob’s secret in his ability to capture the entire essence of a film in a photograph?
Bob’s secret was his talent, experience, and curiosity. When he worked on a film, he was there every day. He probably read the script beforehand. I think, during the filmmaking process he recognized the moments that were most meaningful to the overall story. In a sense, he was editing—in his head—what he was seeing being filmed. Because of many takes, he had the opportunity to refine the essence of the film, which he was viewing being made. He was a smart observer and he recognized the soul of the story, like he could also identify the soul of his subjects.

Is there still interest in the Old Hollywood in the collecting world?
Yes, there is interest in collecting early Hollywood photographs. The best films live forever. The best actors and actresses also live forever. These subjects represent different ideas and thoughts people have. Their portraits are collectable also because they represent a time and place that we want to remember. People in the United States, Europe and Asia love old Hollywood films, and the actors that appeared in them, continue to be recognizable in photographs. The photography that came from the best Hollywood photographers has significantly influenced the style of later photographers from Edward Steichen to Helmut Newton, among many others.

Do you think this interest in the old Hollywood could also stem from the fact that the quality of stardom has been absolutely debased, and that, back then, stars were individuals? Now it’s like they come out of the same factory.
In the Golden Age of Hollywood, stars were primarily seen in the movies that were made and, occasionally, in a magazine profile. Today, there are many more platforms to disseminate entertainment and news, including entertainment news programs (devoted to the “real lives” of Hollywood stars “behind-the-scenes”). The audiences today can’t get enough information on their favorite stars. Access to this information is ubiquitous. Select stars today are hungry for exposure, and the competition is fierce. Their ever-present face seems like it is everywhere. The press agents and news agencies help with this process. Consequently, it appears like today’s stars are coming out of the same factory.

The smart personalities control their image – monitor how often their press is disseminated – and make sure their image appears in the most upper-end, influential media outlets (i.e. Vanity Fair, Oprah Winfrey etc.).

I think the right objective is to limit one’s exposure, like Bob Dylan, who you only hear about occasionally. When press and exposure does occur, it appears more interesting and appealing. The biggest stars really control their image.

The wild cards are the paparazzi and the exploitative fan magazines. These two factors can have a negative effect and need to be controlled as much as possible.

photo by Bob Willoughby, courtesy of The Fahey/Klein Gallery

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The Art of Film Posters: Interview with Designer Dylan Haley

Buster Keaton film poster Dylan Haley

Original poster for the Buster Keaton film “The General” (1926), restored and rereleased by Kino Lorber.

 
About the importance and role of movie posters, I have talked before. That they are meant to talk to the audience before the film does, it should go without saying. That a great movie poster is one that has been burned onto the public consciousness and springs to mind as soon as you hear the film’s name, it is generally accepted. But what exactly makes good poster design? And where does the artistic process start? Is the public’s craving for the unique and for hand-drawn illustration starting to grow in the era of technology and digital graphic design and photography? I have talked about all that, and more (by the way, I believe Claude Chabrol is underrated, too), with Dylan Haley, a Californian artist and graphic designer now based in New Zealand, in our recent interview.

I came across Dylan’s work not long ago, when I found out that Kino Lorber had restored and rereleased four Buster Keaton films, including The General, unequivocally one of the best comedies of all time. The posters instantly made me smile. Dylan’s designs are a comedic touch in themselves, fitting so well into Keaton’s unique sense of humour. There is something in that simple yet whimsical mixture of black and white stills and multi-coloured hand-lettering that frees the comic imagination. Just like the silence of the images in Buster Keaton’s brilliant comedies. “A good comedy can be written on a postcard,” Keaton said. Dylan Haley’s designs are like a first step, or postcard if you’d like, to Buster Keaton’s comedic world. They make you start filling in the story before you even begin to watch the film – and if you haven’t already, you should start watching his movies.
 
Private property film poster by Dylan Haley

Original poster for the film “Private Property” (1960), restored and rereleased by Cinelicious Pics.

 
Are people still interested in movie posters? Are film posters important?
Well, of course I think they are important. Even in this digital era, a poster still represents a film. The best way to see it is inside a glass case at your local theater, but even online, at a small size, it is a powerful tool to emotionally explain a film. I think a poster is a part of a film, just like an actor’s performance or screenplay is. Also, if a poster is a good one, it will have a life past the release date, and will always linger as a reminder of the film it represents.

I completely agree that the poster is part of the film. I believe poster art (just as the art of the title sequence) is a medium designed to speak to the public before the film does, the window to the world or story waiting for you to discover. They can add a whole extra dimension to the picture. How would you regard your work? Because I also view it as a manifesto against the “floating heads syndrome”.
First and foremost, I do take very seriously the task of honoring the film itself, and the job of “selling” the film. You can never properly sum up an entire film in one poster image, so, instead, I try to express a feeling.

There is a film critic I love, named Anthony Lane, who writes for The New Yorker, he writes these wonderful reviews that are so smart and funny. He actually expresses his own self and tells all kinds of meandering side stores in the context of a film review. He doesn’t remove himself from the picture. I suppose I try to do that, to bring my own self and imagination into the world of the film.

The “floating head” technique is not necessarily bad, but I think it has become a term used for tacky, thoughtless poster design in general. It’s also just a way to cram all the “big name” actors onto the poster. It is sad to see. In the old days, even trashy, poorly written populists films had wonderfully imaginative posters. There are so many B-Movie posters from the 70’s, for example, where the poster is by far the best thing about the film! These days, for some reason, I think people are afraid to be creative. I think Photoshop may have something to do with it also.
 
Private Property art work by Dylan Haley

Private Property art work by Dylan Haley

Original blu-ray package design for the film “Private Property” (1950).

 
What makes a good movie poster?
Well, this is a hard question to answer… Of course, like I said, it needs to honor the film while quickly and easily expressing a mood and feeling in an enticing way. But, really, it just needs to look good! Well, I suppose it needs to do both. There is a great poster by Hans Hillman for the Godard film Weekend that has no images, it’s just the words “Weekend” across the whole poster, and the letters have been warped. It’s a great poster, but I can’t imagine turning in a design like that with no visual information about the movie. I guess, for my money, I want to know a little more… but not too much!

Sometimes, a good poster comes down to just picking the perfect image from the film, which is not as easy to do as it may seem. Some images look great but they aren’t dynamic enough to carry a poster design. Every poster is different, and every film is different. A great poster doesn’t need to be clever necessarily, or subtle…. but, of course, it also can be these things. As long as there is a little bit of a love and soul in the poster, that is the most important.

You recently did some beautiful posters for four Buster Keaton movies restaurated by Kino Lorber. Do you think they will attract a new audience for silent cinema?
That is nice of you to say. Hopefully, they will get ME to see some more old silent film. I have only seen a few silent films, but I loved them. You forget that they are silent and just follow the story, same as you do with a subtitled film. Well, that was the goal with the Buster Keaton posters, to make them accessible to the “art-house” crowd, not just to the people who were alive when the films actually came out. Did it work? I do not know, I hope so.
 
Buster Keaton College poster Dylan Haley

Original poster for the Buster Keaton film “College” (1927), restored and rereleased by Kino Lorber.

 
I love film. My husband and I own a huge collection of DVDs and blu-rays. I pay attention to a DVD cover art and package whenever I purchase a new release. From my experience and from my talks with writers, I have learned that the cover of a book counts. Does a DVD cover count?
Again, of course it counts to me. I don’t know if it does matter to everyone. A friend just sent me a book which is apparently very, very good and has won all these book awards, and I can barley open it because I can’t stand the cover. The cover is just this terrible full color photo of the author looking right at you in this almost comically serious way. As you say, good cover art can really set the tone and the mood for a film or book before it has even begun… it is part of the whole experience.

Another point… If you are going to buy a Blu-Ray, or a book, or a record, then it’s going to be living in your house with you, and if it’s ugly then who wants it around? I had another book with a book cover so bad I ended up just ripping it off! But most things have bad design, cans of tomato sauce, cereal boxes…. when I go grocery shopping, I will always buy whichever product has the best packaging. For some reason, hot sauce products from Mexico always have wonderful designs and illustrations on them… it makes me happy to see… Indian foods as well.

Speaking of film package design, I was particularly drawn to your original poster and blu-ray art work for Private Property and Funeral Parade of Roses. Minimalistic and effective (summarise and symbolise), it grabs your attention and simply makes me want to watch the movies. Could you tell me where does your creative process begin? Do you watch the film first, try to understand the rhythm, the structure, the mood?
It is very important to watch the film first…. I did not realize that in the beginning. I found that I have to really think about the essence of the film… a lot can be happening in a film, but I need to ask myself: what is MOSTLY happening? What is the main thing that is going on? Or what part of the film is most interesting to me? The film Private Property (1960) has a very straight forward storyline, but what makes it great is this sexiness and danger and tension, so I just focussed right on that and did not bother being subtle about it. That film is so simple the poster practically tells you everything that could be said about it. Funeral Parade of Roses (1969), on the other hand, is just this amazing and insane film with so much going on so many different levels with so many characters who themselves change throughout the film. But, overall, the film comes down to the relationship between these two characters. And it is a warped relationship (to say the least)… So I found a still of the two of them that had some weight to it, and I put this “zoom” effect on it, to communicate a twisted mood. Actually, the whole film is pretty twisted, so it speaks to the whole aesthetic of the movie as well.

Other than that, I just look at as many great posters as I can for inspiration. I have been struggling to make myself believe that I could make posters as good as some of these great old posters that I love. I think the bar is so low these days that we, designers, can get lazy and go on to just slap a title over some lightly altered photo and call it a day and the distributor will be happy. I am now asking myself, will this poster be good enough for someone to frame and put it on the wall? That is my goal. I also want to bring more hand drawn and non digital elements into my designs.

Do you think hand drawn poster illustration will see a revival in the more traditional sense? Technology has indeed changed the concept of graphic design and illustration (just as it has changed the concept of photography), but that is precisely why I believe the craving for the unique has grown stronger. Do you agree?
Yes, I do think that illustration could get big again… and I think already it is becoming a little more common. There is a bit of a craft movement happening these days with pottery, and hand-made weavings and furniture, etc. People can buy “nice” things so cheap these days, but something by hand is always so much more special. One of the issues with it is that the studios really want their actors faces on these posters as it has been confirmed that the public loves their celebrities. That being said, you can do a recognizable illustration of an actor… I think the real issue is just time and an extra effort to actually get your hands dirty.

I actually was an illustration major in college! I am a little ashamed that I have not been bringing it more into my film poster work. To be honest, I do not even have a proper work space dedicated to drawing and painting, etc…. but that is changing! I have started to build a desk that will fit into the corner of my work space. I am really looking forward to getting into some different techniques.
 
Le gai savoir film poster by Dylan Haley

Original poster for Jean Luc Godard’s “Le gai savoir” (1969), restaurated by Kino Lorber.

 
Has any designer, or anyone else in particular, influenced and inspired your work?
Hans Hillmann is my favorite designer right now, he is just amazing. Once I discovered who he was I realized he had done so many of my favorite posters, but I never realized it was all done by the same person. I have also just discovered a podcast about movie poster design called Poster Boys, done by two amazing designers, Sam Smith and Brandon Schaefer. It has been so good for me to listen to, I’m learning about other designers, but I am also just listening to them discuss the work of designing a film poster. Being a designer can be an isolated life, so it’s great to hear other people who are in the trenches discussing the same issues.

Actually, Hans Hillmann is one of my favourite designers, too. His posters for John Cassavetes’ Shadows, for Buñuel’s Los Olvidados and for Louis Malle’s Le feu follet (The Fire Within, 1963) are among my favourites of his works. If you could choose one (or more) film, classic or new, to make the poster art for, which one would it be?
Well, my dream came true earlier this year as I had a chance to design not one, but two Jean-Luc Godard posters… I couldn’t believe it. Other than that, I would love to do a poster for a drugged out biker film from the 70’s, Like Hell’s Angeles, or a surfing film. Surfing and motorcycles are so iconic and beautiful, just to be able to work with that imagery would be great.

I don’t really think about this though, I have been able to work on some great films lately. As good as I could hope for. I feel very lucky for the opportunity.

Could you name five of your favourite films?
Another hard question… if I was asked on another day I could have said something different… but today I will say:

La Dolce Vita… or 8 1/2 (which in my mind is somehow the same film) – Fellini
Gummo – Harmony Korine
Mulholland Drive – So good… by David Lynch, of course
Buffalo 66 – by Vincent Gallo
Innocents with Dirty Hands (Les innocents aux mains sales) – by Claude Chabrol, who is so underrated I think. This film is so trashy but also so cool and retro and French, I love it.

Honorable mention: Idiocracy – Mike Judge

You wish people appreciated more:
Ha, I assume you are referring to the world of design in this question.

No, I am referring to the world in general.
Then I will answer and say I wish people right now in America would appreciate that no person is an island and if everyone only looks out for themselves the world becomes a much scarier place. The lack of empathy that has come alive in recent years is just so horrible to watch. Since I now live in New Zealand I feel like I am watching a movie when I hear about what is happening in America, it is too insane to be true. Maybe it will all make a great movie one day.
 
Funeral Parade of Roses poster by Dylan Haley

Original poster for the film “Funeral Parade of Roses” (1969), restored and rereleased by Cinelicious Pics.

posters and art work by Dylan Haley | photos courtesy of the designer | Website: Type Goes Here

Posted by classiq in Film, Interviews | | Leave a comment

Simply, Bogart

Bogie A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart 
Autumn is just one day away (although I am going to ignore that and stretch summer just a touch longer, to the 22nd of September, the official end of summer), so it makes perfect sense to start talking and seeking real style again. As if I needed a reason to talk about Humphrey Bogart.

Bogart made personal style into an art form. He was a very smart and well-read man, he struck a chord with men and women alike and he hated the whole “movie star” thing. He made a parody of the “stars-at-home” images suggesting a healthy outdoor life, by posing for the camera while sitting on the couch, dressed in a white shirt and tailored trousers with socks and sandals, and surrounded by his dog, tennis racquet, golf clubs, and fishing rod. He stood apart through his honesty, integrity and confidence. He was a template for masculinity. Even in those days, when class and genuine style were the norm, Bogart raised above it. He thought he was no better than anyone else and that’s how he lived his life. “A man with a tough shell hiding a fine core. […] By showily neglecting the outward forms of grace, he kept inferior men at a distance.” – Alistair Cooke, in the book Bogie: A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart, by Richard Schickel and George Perry.
 
Bogie A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart

Bogie A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart 
Humphrey Bogart had an unmatched magnetism, which hasn’t dissipated with time. “His reputation never depended on his looks, but on the force of his exceptional talent, the intelligence, subtlety and depth he brought to his performances.” That’s exactly where his true sense of style stemmed from. A sense of style that was built in time, just like his stardom. “He was no overnight sensation, his ascendency took time and patience.” Don’t all good things take time and patience?

The Maltese Falcon (1941) established the emblematic image of the trench-coated, hunch-shouldered figure of Bogart, the front brim of his fedora tilted downward. Not only was film noir defined, but also the quintessence of the private eye: hard boiled, cynical, ruthless, courageous, driven by an ethical code that he alone understands and respects. That look became his trademark.

In The Big Sleep (1946), simplicity was the key word for Marlowe’s wardrobe: plain shirt, plain tie, plain jacket, trench, a great overcoat, and a few great little details like the fedora, the watch and the perfect pocket square – you don’t have to try too hard, it doesn’t take much effort, but it’s all it takes to dress well. In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), his look wasn’t that polished (John Huston took his actors from the comfort of the studio and exiled them in the dusty aridity of Mexico, an environment that plays out as a true character, willing to challenge whatever good is left in a man), but his acting was taut and edgy, one of his most memorable roles. No one was prepared for Bogart’s bold performance, different from what he had done so far, “acting that is clearly based on observation and imagination rather than on attractively polished aspects of his private self,” a performance that would only be equaled by his part in In A Lonely Place (1950).

And, in real life, Bogie found a woman that matched his style, his class. Lauren Bacall’s name was often tied to Bogart (much to her annoyance), but I believe each burnished the other’s legend. They simply were that good together.

Humphrey Bogart remains one of the most legendarily well-dressed film stars of all time, his style on and off screen as iconic as anything else about him. And not one note of false glamour to amuse the public.
 
Bogie A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart

Bogie A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart

Bogie A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart

photos by me from the book Bogie: A Celebration of the Life and Films of Humphrey Bogart | quotes from the book

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