JAMES “HUNT THE SHUNT” | THE 1970’s HIGH-FLYIN’ LOTHARIO RUSH OF FORMULA 1

May 11, 1975– James Hunt, driver for Hesketh-Ford (and Suzy Miller, who was his wife for a short time), at the Monaco Grand Prix. –Image by © Schlegelmilch/Corbis.  Love the patch– “Sex is a high performance thing.”  While many athletes abstain from sex before competing, Hunt was physically insatiable– often having, eh-hem, relations just minutes before hopping behind the wheel to race.

The tales of James Hunt are the stuff of legends– on and off the track.  “Hunt the Shunt” was widely known for his wild indulgence in sex, drugs, booze, women– which redlined in Tokyo the two weeks leading up to his famous battle with Niki Lauda for the 1976 Formula One championship.  Hunt’s favorite hedonistic haunt in those days was the Tokyo Hilton, where he and buddy Barry Sheene (world motorcycle champion that year), settled in to party.  Like clockwork, every morning British Airways stewardesses were delivered to the hotel’s door for a 24-hour stopover.  Hunt would charm them as they checked in, and invited them up to his suite for a party — they always said yes.  Allegedly, James Hunt went on quite a run during this two week binge (33 BA stewardesses).  But, as Stirling Moss, who used to carouse with Hunt in Monte Carlo before he was married, said: “If you looked like James Hunt, what would you have done?”  via

1975, Nurburg, Germany– Hesketh-Ford Formula One racecar driver James Hunt flies during the European Grand Prix. –Image by © Schlegelmilch/Corbis.  Many of Hunt’s early races ended in disaster. Once his Formula Ford crashed and sank in the middle of a lake. He would have drowned– had he been able to afford seat belts.  His skills improved, but he never conquered his fears. In the garage before a race, it often caused him to vomit– and on the grid he’d shake so violently that his car vibrated. This potent cocktail of adrenaline and testosterone made him a fierce competitor on the track. via

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STEVE McQUEEN | LE MANS & BEYOND GRATUITOUS 1970s RACING GOODNESS

Steve McQueen at the legendary 1970 12 Hours of Sebring Race where McQueen (partnered with co-driver Peter Revson) raced with a broken left foot in a cast against racing great, Mario Andretti.  McQueen is sporting his iconic ’67 Rolex Submariner that went for $234,000 at auction in 2009.  BTW – Anyone else feeling the “Brian Johnson AC/DC ” vibe here with the black leather 8-panel cap?

Steve McQueen’s 1971 epic, Le Mans, is the racecar film that is widely hailed as the gold standard for which all such films are measured– now, and certainly well into the future.  It was filmed largely live at the actual 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans, without the benefit of computer generated imagery and modern day trickery that we rely on today.  It feels raw because it is raw.  McQueen had originally planned to enter the #26 Porsche 917K with co-driver Jackie Stewart.  Fate had other ideas–  their entry car was rejected, and McQueen was unable to get insurance for the race.  As such, Jo Siffert and Brian Redman were now given driving duties.  While it was never a commercial success, it is long on guts, and is a sensory feast when it comes to the sounds and sights of what racing is all about.  Looking back at this incredible era, it’s hard not to be struck between the eyes by the strong graphic elements of the cars, logos, racing gear,  and attitude on display at every turn.

In preparation for the filming of the movie “Le Mans”, Steve McQueen went to the 1969 race to scout filming spots around the Le Mans course. When they returned in 1970 with all their camera equipment they knew all the best camera locations for the footage they would need for the movie “Le Mans.” I wonder who has all that film footage that they took in 1969? –Nigel Smuckatelli

1970 — Steve McQueen at Sebring hanging out with Carroll Shelby.

1970 — Steve McQueen at Sebring

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TWO-LANE BLACKTOP | UNDER THE HOOD OF THE EPIC 1971 ROAD FLICK

 

“The whole idea of the road, of going from one place to another, is essentially American.”

Two-Lane Blacktop Screenwriter, Rudy Wurlitzer

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Esquire magazine printed the entire screenplay in its April ’71 issue before the movie was even released and boldly declared Two-Lane Blacktop as, “The Film of the Year.”  Set largely on old Route 66, which had seen better days, filming locations stretched from California to Tennessee, and the project was wrapped up in two months for mere pocket change– $950,000.  And while it wouldn’t quite live up to Universal’s expectations (who did little to promote it) and become a commercial success by anyone’s standards– it would survive the test of time to become a cultural icon, and one of the most loved road films ever made.

There still a lot of love for Two-Lane Blacktop even after all these ears.  Sadly, there aren’t a lot of great studio stills that have survived– finding decent pics on the internet was slim pickings.  I’ve had a few squirreled away for a spell (courtesy of Performance Pontiac Magazine, go figure) and so out they now shall come– along with a few tidbits from behind the camera.

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“I saw a picture of James Taylor on a billboard on the Sunset Strip promoting his new album.  I thought his look was right for the part of The Driver.  Regarding Laurie Bird, I took a trip to New York to meet with Rudy Wurlitzer, and, while there, met with a number of modeling agencies just to explore that field.  When you’re looking for someone that age to play that role, it’s impossible to find someone who is established, so I anticipated finding an unknown.  I checked out modeling agencies and met with people in L.A. as well and she was recommended.  Laurie was so inexperienced it never occurred to me that I would actually cast her.  She seemed so typical of what we had in mind for the character, however, that we used her as a prototype.  Rudy and I did a three-hour taped interview with her; she became the template for the character.  I still thought I could cast an actress who could play the part, but I couldn’t.  Someone then had the bright idea of screen-testing Laurie.”   –Director Monte Hellman

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“Dennis Wilson (of Beach Boys fame) was the last one to come onboard, after I ran through every actor and some other musicians.  As a matter of fact, we even met with Randy Newman.  Fred Roos, the casting director, finally suggested Dennis.  If memory serves, I saw Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and James Caan; I think I saw every young actor in Hollywood.  Dennis was very easy going. The only problem was that he was having so much fun that it was hard to find him when we were ready to shoot because he was off somewhere playing all the time.”   –Director Monte Hellman

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TSY’s FAVE FIVE ON SOUTHSIDERS MC | ICONIC BIKES THAT MADE HISTORY

Our friends over at SouthSiders MC run one of the hands-down, best bike sites going, and were kind enough to feature TSY in their ongoing feature called “Your Favorite Five”, which pretty much speaks for itself.  Picking just five bikes is near impossible, so there may be a sequel coming up…

\Via SouthSiders MC–

Blogs have become an incredible tool of communication, bringing over a decade a level of power to the multimedia publishing that print barely reached in a century.

Nevertheless, the rules remain the same : real & exclusive content, real writing, real photography make the difference that provides readers and not zappers. The Selvedge Yard is among the best true web publications. Based on the fascination for “Americana” and the American style, his maker, Jon Patrick is also a fashion contibutor to the Italian men’s fashion ruler GQ. Jon’s roots are plugged into the American Movie History.
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Some for beauty, some for brawn – all for their importance. How do you pick five? Should I stick to the classics, so its apples to apples? We’ll see…

Harley Davidson XR-750

Harley Davidson’s dominating, and sexy as all hell, flat track racer. First introduced in 1970, and seriously upgraded in 1972 as the aluminum “Alloy XR”, it not only became an icon on the dirt track, it was also Evel Knievel‘s weapon of choice. With its classic H-D orange/black graphic appeal and clean, uncluttered form – it’s a bike for the ages.

Husqvarna 1970 400 Cross
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Husky’s icon that became synonymous with another icon – Steve McQueen. Featured in his 1971 film, On Any Sunday, Husqvarnas were the most badass and beautiful motocross bikes of their day, with their 400 Cross becoming a highly coveted classic. The legendary Malcolm Smith tore it up alongside McQueen on an innovative eight-speed Husky 250, which he also used to handily dominate the competitive off-road circuit. Hell yeah, Husky!

1953 Triumph Blackbird

In the 1950s, there were more Triumphs sold in the U.S. than any other country. Their top-end Thunderbird 650cc vertical twin, with a little tinkering, could top out at 130 mph. A great bike, but fairly limited in offering. They were available in one color only – blue. So when public demand cried-out for a black Triumph, they finally released the Blackbird in 1953 – and it still slays me every time I lay eyes on her. Another important note – Brando, a motorcyclist himself, rode his own ’50 Thunderbird in the iconic film, “The Wild One”.

1940 Indian Scout

This beauty once belonged to none other than, you guessed it – Steve McQueen. Here you see the motorcycle company’s iconic Indian Head logo on the fuel tank. I personally prefer the pared-down Scout over the heavy-looking Chief, but they are beauties too. By the 1940s, Indians began to sport stunning paint jobs with up to 24 colors available, and several two-tone options – making them some of the most beautiful bikes ever produced.

Harley-Davidson Captain America Chopper

Growing up in the ’70s, there were 2 bikes that were emblazoned in my mind – Evel Knievel’s H-D XR-750, and Easy Rider’s Captain America Chopper. The vision of Peter Fonda, it was built by (I love this part…) a Black brother – Ben Hardy from Los Angeles, starting with an old ’52 Panhead Hydra-Glide bought at a Police Auction. It became an instant icon that brought choppers to the forefront of motorcycling, and really raised the bar for custom builds. Two were built for Easy Rider – one survived. Hell yeah, Captain America!

It’s hard to stop at five, I feel a “Part II” coming on…

JP

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CANNES FILM FESTIVAL RETROSPECTIVE THE DAYS OF TRUE MOVIE STAR STYLE

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Movie stars sure ain’t what they used to be.  Who are the new Redfords, Newmans and Brandos of this generation, anyway?  Right.  Is it just me, or is celebrity status a cheap date nowadays that any hack with marginal talent and a flash of skin can get into bed?  Blame the media, society, culture, you name it. Blame us after all, at the end of the day– we’re essentially feeding all of the above.  Yes, it’s a disposable, razor-thin world we’re living in– where all too often, quantity wins over quality, and fast & crass trumps character & class.  Well get me the hell out of here, thank you very much.

I’m a whole lot happier in my little black & white world.  Show me the pretty pictures…

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May, 1972 ~ Robert Redford at the Beach, Cannes, France ~ Image by © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis

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May, 1974  ~ Jack Nicholson Standing in a Pool, Cannes, France ~ Image by © Condé Nast Archive/ Corbis

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1981 ~ Scottish actor Sean Connery sits aboard a private airplane on his way to the Cannes Film Festival. ~ Image by © Richard Melloul/Sygma/CORBIS

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A JAMES DEAN TRUE LIFE LESSON | DON’T ACT IT, OR SHOW IT– JUST DO IT

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James Dean– from the haircut and setting, I’d say it’s during the filming of Rebel Without a Cause.

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Dennis Hopper said that when he was around 18 or 19 years old,  he thought of himself as one of the best, our at least on his way to being one of the best, actors in the world.  That is, until he met James Dean. Watching Dean in action as they worked together in Rebel Without a Cause, Hopper witnessed Jimmy doing things so far over his head as an actor, that at the time he couldn’t even comprehend it.  He knew Dean knew something, had something, that he didn’t, and it made him special– set apart.

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 Dennis Hopper, Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

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ONE-EYED JACKS | MARLON BRANDO’S ONE & ONLY STINT AS FILM DIRECTOR

“You may be a one eyed jack around here– but I’ve seen the other side of your face.”

1958– Marlon Brando in his 1961 film directorial debut– One Eyed Jacks.  Image by Sam and Larry Shaw.  What makes One-Eyed Jacks a phenomenon big enough to live in — along with the presence of actors like Ben Johnson as that “scum-suckin’ pig” Bob Emory, Slim Pickens as Dad’s terminally despicable deputy Lon, Katy Jurado as his stalwart wife, and Pina Pellicier as his virginal stepdaughter Luisa (until Rio deflowers her) — is the way one of the most charismatic turns of Brando’s career plays off the darkest and most ambitious characterization of Malden’s. Ultimately, in spite of Brando’s excesses and misadventures (he looked through the wrong end of a view finder when framing his first shot) as an actor-director engaged in an inspirational creative enterprise, he enjoyed himself and the film reflects it. In Songs My Mother Taught Me, he writes, “We shot most of it at Big Sur and on the Monterey peninsula, where I slept with many pretty women and had a lot of laughs,” adding that “Maybe I liked the picture so much because it left me with a lot of pleasant memories about the people in it … especially Karl Malden.”  –Stuart Mitchner

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In the years since it was first released in 1961, One-Eyed Jacks has been called everything from Marlon Brando’s Citizen Kane, to “…a jangle of artistic ambivalence”and unbelievably it was his only stint as director.  Being a huge Brando fan, I may be  a bit biased, but I love the film.  Marlon’s silent, smoldering intensity underscores the epic Western tale about one man’s quest for revenge and romance that run parallel– and at odds with each other.  There’s something there we all can relate to– deep friendships that have tragically gone bad over money or success… love born out of misunderstood, or less than noble origins, that ultimately overcomes all odds… the longing to leave the sorted past behind and start over again…  you get the picture.  It’s all in there– and beautifully set against the rugged, pounding, surf of Monterey and Big Sur.

Marlon Brando seen here directing on the set. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS.

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THE TRENCH COAT MAFIA | ICONIC OUTERWEAR THAT’S ALWAYS IN STYLE

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“The trench coat is the only thing that has kept its head above water.”

–Jack Lipman

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Having spent years ridin’ the rails on the commuter train in-and-out of Manhattan, there are clearly two leading outerwear icons that are inescapable– the Barbour Beaufort, and the timeless Burberry Trench. Both are must-haves for the Northeastern climate in terms of their functionality, versatility and style.  It’s not uncommon at all the see a Barbour over a sportcoat or suit, although I oft feel the length and proportions are somewhat off– not to mention I like to keep the Barbour waxed within an inch of it’s life, and therefore it’s not exactly the best companion for co-mingling with tailored clothing.  For me, there’s nothing better than seeing a seasoned, well put-together professional sporting the old school classic essentials– Ghurka bag, Burberry trench, J. Press suit, and cordovans.  The trench is tearin’ up the runway right now, but don’t buy it for the reviews– wear it for its epic merits.

Now, if only proper headwear would make a comeback– and I’m not talking about knit caps.

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1985– Artist David Hockney Smoking Cigar Outside Barn. –Image by © Michael Childers/Corbis

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | FRENCHMAN JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmon*

JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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Jean-Paul “Bébel” Belmondo, sometimes hailed as France’s answer to Humphrey Bogart or Steve McQueen, took the international film scene by storm in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic Breathless. Check out a primer of his best films here. Belmondo, the sexy and stylish star of the Nouvelle Vague (the new wave of cult French cinema), worked with leading directors from Louis Malle to Truffaut, and was widely heralded for his comedic and action star talents (he routinely performed his own stunts)– but for some reason, he never really connected with the mainstream American audience.

Jean-Paul Belmondo’s seemingly carefree chic and sensational style were no accident– he had an innate sartorial talent that was light years ahead of his peers, and remains the benchmark for classic French street style.  In fact, he’s easily one of the most legendary style icons of our time– no doubt about it.

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Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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STEVE McQUEEN | HOLLYWOOD’S ANTI-HERO & TRUE SON OF LIBERTY

Steve McQueen– ironically displaying his signature, perfect balance of allegiance and rebellion.

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“I live for myself and I answer to nobody.”

–Steve McQueen

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Steve McQueen personified the “anti-hero” in Hollywood at a time when the emerging counterculture in America was challenging the very definition of what a true “hero” is.  Maybe a better way to look at it is– heroism is an act.  To live an idealistic, heroic life without fault is ultimately impossible.  We all struggle with aligning our beliefs and goals in life with what is truly right.  The fact is there are grey areas that we have to be honest about.  We saw the good and bad in McQueen, and loved him anyway– in fact, we loved him for it.  He was honest about who he was.

We all know McQueen raced cars and motorcycles, but his story goes a lot deeper than that.  His father abandoned him and his alcoholic mother when he was just six-months-old.  Steve locked horns with his new stepfather, whom he called “a prime son of a bitch”.  He struggled with dyslexia in school and was partially deaf.  The young McQueen soon fell in with a street gang, and ran away from home at 14, joining the circus for a short time, and was eventually turned over to the California Junior Boys Republic in Chino Hills, California.  McQueen later worked in a brothel, on an oil rigger– and was even a lumberjack. When he was old enough he enlisted in the U.S.M.C., went AWOL and spent 41 days in the brig.  McQueen decided then and there to embrace the Marines’ discipline and beliefs and better himself. He did just that and later saved the lives of five other Marines during an Arctic exercise, pulling them from a tank before it broke through ice into the sea.  In 1950, McQueen was eventually honorably discharged.

After the Marines, McQueen used his G.I. Bill to study acting at Sanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse. He brought home extra dough by competing in weekend motorcycle races at Long Island City Raceway.  His big break came in 1958 when he landed the role of the bounty hunter, Josh Randall, in Wanted: Dead or Alive.  Steve McQueen became a household name, and his image as the anti-hero was forged through his character’s detached, mysterious, and unconventional ways– like carrying a sawed-off Winchester rifle, the “Mare’s Leg”, instead of typical six-gun carried by other gunslingers. Hollywood soon came calling, and the rest is history.

All this from a kid born into what many would consider a throw-away life.

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“When I believe in something, I fight like hell for it.”

–Steve McQueen

A young Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen in a studio still shot from The Great Escape.

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