ALTMAN’S “McCABE & MRS. MILLER” | TSY REQUIRED VIEWING

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1970 – ’71 was definitely a high-water mark for Film Director (not to mention a badass photographer to boot) Robert Altman.  Hot on the heels of M*A*S*H (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) was released and became, what many consider to be, one of Warren Beatty’s finest roles, and one of the best Westerns (or anti-Western, if you will) ever made according to many film aficionados.  It wasn’t your typical red-blooded Western by any stretch of the imagination. See it for yourself.

There was a definite charged energy on the set (shot completely in B.C.)– the reported tension between the egomaniac Beatty and the chill Altman– not to mention the sexual energy between Beatty and Christie, who were deep in the throes of a passionate love affair– is there any other kind of affair with Beatty? Then there’s the haunting film soundtrack including the legendary Leonard Cohen that accompanied Zsigmond’s “flashed” film negative. A truly ballsy move– Altman and Zsigmond shot the film “pre-fogged” through a number of filters to maintain the visual effect they wanted, rather than manipulate it in post-production. That ensured that studio wimps couldn’t later tune-down the film’s look to something more safe and conventional. Vilmos Zsigmond’s brilliant work would garner him a nomination by the British Academy Film Awards.

Enjoy these stunning images from the film and on set. Beatty, even being the huge ass that he was/is (seriously, bedded 13,000 ladies, WTF?), looks stunning (crushing it in a beard, bowler and fur coat)–and Julie Christie is definitely no slouch either. Hubba. Altman is throwing down some serious grizzly style as well– check that fringed suede jacket towards the end of the post.

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID | THE FILM THAT LAUNCHED AN ERA

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is hands-down one of my favorite films ever.  Right up there with Cool Hand Luke, but in a completely different league.  The film holds memories that go way back for me.   I have  a very special music box that plays Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” passed down by my Grandmother, that I will never part with.

Not only is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid superb in its blend of action, drama and humor (extremely quotable)– Redford and Newman never looked better.  Stunning, actually.  The wardrobe is also spot-on.  Particularly when the duo is cleaned up and donned in trim fitting suits, boots & Bowlers.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” directed by George Roy Hill, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman– it was their first on-screen pairing, and supercharged Redford’s career.  Surprisingly, Redford was offered the role of the Sundance Kid only after Jack Lemmon backed out, and Steve McQueen insisted on getting top billing over Newman.  Marlon Brando was also considered for the role, as Fox studio execs felt Redford’s image was too squeaky clean, and wanted someone edgier.

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1969 — “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” directed by George Roy Hill, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Paul Newman in the epic film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” directed by George Roy Hill.

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


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

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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.

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

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NUDIE COHN | RHINESTONE COWBOY

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The Legendary Country Western tailor to the stars — Nudie Cohn.

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Circa 1970′s, Los Angeles, CA– Hands of Nudie Cohn the Rodeo Tailor  –Image by © Jeff Albertson

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Nudie suits have been worn by just about everyone who is anyone in the world of Country/Rock music. Simply put, he made Country cool with his one-off original creations that bedazzled a long list of diverse celebs– John Wayne, Gene Autry, George Jones, Elvis, Cher, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams Sr., and groups such as, America, Chicago, ZZ top, and the Flying Burrito Bros (Gram Parsons’ “Gilded Palace of Sin” suit is considered the Sistine Chapel of Nudies).  To own a Nudie is to own something special; collected by fashion and music hounds alike– Dwight Yoakam, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Perry Farrell, Jeff Tweedy, and other A-list Rockers of today keep the Nudie flame burning, and even inspired a few of them to create their own line of signature clothing.

The man behind the amazing rhinestone-studded, hand-embroidered suits was none other than Mr. Nudie Cohn– arguably, the larger-than-life 5-foot-7 Russian Rhinestone Cowboy is the most influential and innovative fashion designer and tailor to ever bless the world of Country music.  And he couldn’t stop at clothing– he put his Midas Touch on everything around him– especially his customized fleet of Nudie-fied GM cruisers that he used to promote his LA based Nudies Rodeo Tailors shop on Lankershim Blvd.  Of the original 18 cars, the whereabouts of only 9 are known today.

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Circa 1970′s, Los Angeles, CA– Nudie costomized each of his many cadillacs, protecting his work with plastic. This one is decorated with silver dollar coins and 14 various guns. –Image by © Jeff Albertson

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DENNIS HOPPER’S “THE LAST MOVIE” | THE FILM THAT BURIED A VISIONARY

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Dennis Hopper and wife Daria Halprin at the Jack Tar Hotel San Francisco.

Dennis Hopper and wife Daria Halprin at the Jack Tar Hotel, San Francisco.

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From The Village Voice–

The Last Movie was actually to be Hopper’s first. Inspiration hit him in Durango, Mexico, during the making of the John Wayne western The Sons of Katie Elder— “I thought, my God, what’s going to happen when the movie leaves and the natives are left living in these Western sets?” Hopper hoped to make The Last Movie in 1966 but the project fell through when music producer Phil Spector withdrew financial support; his opportunity came in the wake of Easy Rider. Universal gave Hopper $850,000 and total autonomy (including final cut), so long as he stayed within budget.

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 American actor and director Dennis Hopper on the set of his film "The last Movie"  --1971.

American actor and director Dennis Hopper on the set of his film "The last Movie", 1971. -- Image by © Apis/Sygma/Corbis

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Given Easy Rider‘s epochal success, The Last Movie was the most eagerly awaited picture of 1971. After winning an award at the Venice Film Festival, Hopper’s opus opened in New York and broke the single-day box office record at the RKO 59th Street theater, site of Easy Rider‘s triumphant engagement. But unlike Hopper’s first film, The Last Movie was attacked and ridiculed by virtually every reviewer in America and was withdrawn by its distributor within two weeks. Although it achieved a negative notoriety unsurpassed until Heaven’s Gate,The Last Movie was not a financial boondoggle. Hopper’s sin wasn’t wasting money—it was something far worse. The Last Movie is an act of visionary aggression that desecrates Hollywood’s universal church.

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American actor and director Dennis Hopper on the set of his movie, 1971.  -- Image by © Apis/Sygma/Corbis

American actor and director Dennis Hopper on the set of his film "The Last Movie", 1971. -- Image by © Apis/Sygma/Corbis

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | GARY COOPER

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Gary Cooper Sportcoat

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No one before or since, epitomizes elegance and style like the legendary Gary Cooper.  No, Cary Grant doesn’t even come close.  He was a fashion protege of Gary Cooper without a doubt– even Grant’s stage name was crafted by movie studio executives to look and sound like Cooper’s.

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GaryCooperAscot

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No one has ever worn an ascot as well as Gary Cooper– a look that truly requires sartorial swagger and a deft hand.  Cooper was always in command of his clothing– never the other way around.

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Wanted- A Place in the Sun.

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You won’t fide a whole lot of actual shade at The Shady Dell, but you will find an artsy, desert haven down in Bisbee AZ.  If I had the dough, I’d pack up and head there right now to escape my winter blues.   Once New Year’s has come and gone, I am officially over it and ready for the sun.

The Shady Dell is run by a young, retro couple with a passion for 50s vintage living.  There are 9 fully-restored campers ranging from a ’49 Airstream to a ’57 El Ray– often mistaken for an Airstream, but actually more rare and coveted.  

Nestled perfectly within walking distance from each trailer is Dot’s Diner. Built in the 1950s by the pride of Wichita Kansas, The Valentine Manufacturing Company, this authentic diner was originally purchased by John Hart in 1957 and delivered to the corner of Ventura and Topanga Canyon Blvd in Los Angeles. The diner was transported by flatbed truck to the Shady Dell in November, 1996.

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COOL HAND LUKE | SOMETIMES A CHORE COAT CAN BE A REAL COOL HAND

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Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman is a classic film, and without a doubt one of my favorites.  It’s Newman’s greatest performance, in a film loaded with powerhouse acting.  You’ve got George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Jo Van Fleet, Strother Martin (What we’ve got here is “failure to communicate”) and Dick Davalos, to name a few.  Don’t know who Dick Davalos is?  He played Blind Dick, and is best remembered as Aaron Trask, opposite James Dean’s Cal Trask in East of Eden.

Speaking of James Dean– the role of Lucas Jackson would more than likely been his– not Newman’s, had he not been killed in a fatal car crash.  Dean would have starred in The Left Handed GunSomebody Up There Likes Me and probably Hud as well.  Not to take anything away from Paul Newman, but Dean was definitely the bigger star back then, and his passing gave Newman a clear path to instant stardom.

26469_2Cool Hand Luke is visually rich with incredibly authentic sets, cultural cues, wardrobe and styling. I wanted to live in that prison bunkhouse.  What was so bad?  They got to hang-out, enjoy cold drinks, eat eggs and such.

I became obsessed with the old chain-gang garb, and own several beat-up, RRL denim chore coats because of it.  Chore coats are an iconically American piece– worn by laborers, convicts, artists and plain everyday folk.  And another American icon– the classic chambray workshirt is in there too.

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There was nothing not to like in this film– even the hair.  Carr the floor walker, and Blind Dick had very cool D.A.’s.  And what about the incredible score, Harry Dean Stanton’s crooning, and Paul Newman singing and playing banjo on Plastic Jesus?  The film is pregnant with comparisons of Luke to Jesus. Luke is their leader– his crucifixion pose after eating the eggs– “stop feeding off of me!” alluding to communion– Dragline as ‘Judas’ bringing the cops to Luke in the final scene– on and on.  There are some many famous lines in Cool Hand Luke that I could be here all day– “shaking it up here boss!”

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