August 24, 2014

Weekend Of A Champion - Jackie Stewart and the 1971 Monaco Grand Prix

Hollywood has never really given auto racing it's proper due. A sport with as much drama, action and romance has never translated to the screen in such a way that attracts a mass audience. Unfortunately, Roman Polanski's 'Weekend of a Champion' is no exception. It quietly found its way on to Netflix without a lot of fanfare, even with mainstream mogul, Brett Ratner behind it.



That said, this film deserves more. Not only does it convey the unique landscape of classic racing, but it takes us behind the scenes with one of the greats, Jackie Stewart. Mr. Polanski and Mr. Stewart give us this unique perspective on the world's greatest race. First hand, we hear about Jackie's strategies on the 1971 streets of Monaco and how he attacks the circuit as a champion.



With Formula 1 in its most dangerous era we are given a total fly-on-the-wall perspective as Stewart prepares for the race. We walk with Helen Stewart as she bravely watches her husband suit up after a weekend of rain and approach a sport that had a 1 in 3 chance of surviving.



I won't lie and pretend that the 1971 European lifestyle wasn't an amazing character of the film as well - the elegance of the participants, the beautiful women, the luxurious hotels that lined the circuit. Some of the best scenes in the film are Stewart and Polanski strategizing from his hotel suite that overlooked the circuit. 



I've come to know Mr. Stewart over the years as a family friend, but my affection and admiration has tripled since watching this film. Not only did he battle for safety in the sport, but he did so with a severe learning disability. He reveals this at the end of the film in an unexpected and incredible epilogue that features himself and Mr. Polanski in present day, looking back on the history of the sport and the supreme losses of great men that fell to the lack of safety in the 60s - 70s era. He is a true inspiration.




This is a great film - a gripping story with a genuine hero in the lead. I greatly commend Mr. Ratner, who allowed this film a life, 40 years after its original production.  'Weekend of a Champion' is the quintessential race film and Mr. Stewart is, without question, a quintessential gentleman.

                  







#formula1     #jackiestewart   #weekendofachampion   #romanpolanksi

May 21, 2014

Shot by Gordon Willis

There are few greater documentarians of New York City in the 1970s than the late cinematographer, Gordon Willis.  In Woody Allen's opening monologue to 'Manhattan,' he uses sweeping romantic metaphors to describe the city which was his leading lady in his most memorable films. But, it was Willis that brought this opening sequence to life in vibrant black and white. It's one of the greatest love scenes of any film. Beyond 'Manhattan,' the crisp grittiness of 'The Godfather,' the mod sexiness of 'Klute,' and the underbelly of Washington's corrupt inner sanctum in 'All the President's Men' are conveyed on screen via this unique vision that Willis brought to his camera.

Gordon Willis captured time and place perfectly and, as I was a child in 1970s Manhattan, he has left me with a trunk of visual memories for which I am eternally grateful. You will be forever missed, sir.

All the President's Men


Annie Hall


Klute


The Godfather Part II


Broadway Danny Rose


Pennies From Heaven


The Godfather


Manhattan

March 22, 2014

Danny Zarem


There are few film characters as well-dressed as Thomas Crown, the dandy tycoon who crafts an intricate bank robbery, brought to life by Steve McQueen in the 1968 retro classic, The Thomas Crown Affair. McQueen, was dressed for the film by Manhattan fashion retailer, Danny Zarem.



Not the most prolific Hollywood costume designer, Zarem was credited with establishing the casual look for men in America in the1960s. As vice president of  Bonwit Teller, he introduced the men’s fashion department to the handmade suede clothing of Pierre Cardin.  All of a sudden Wall Street and other men about town began to wear casual jackets to work and the places to be seen around the city.

Pierre Cardin
When Cardin’s longtime partner, Andre Oliver opened up a boutique on East 57th street, Zarem left Bonwits to move in  and make Oliver’s “Le Sweater” a must-have for upper east siders such as Lauren Bacall, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The cable-knit, baby-wool sweater was originally crafted for men, but quickly became unisex and available in a multitude of bright colors.

Shortly after being voted to Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed Men’s List in 1978, Andy Warhol photographed Zarem and Cardin for a famous 1980 picture.



Danny Zarem died in New York in 2013 at the age of 86. His unique and strategic influence on men's fashion via Hollywood and Manhattan in the 1960s and 1970s makes him a quintessential gentleman.

Robert Capa in Color

Few artists have seen as much or captured as many incredible images as Robert Capa. Over the course of his career, he covered five different wars, including World War II, where he delivered images from London, Africa, Italy, Omaha Beach in Normandy and was in Paris for its liberation from the Germans. To collectors, like myself, he is renowned for creating the amazing photography collective known as Magnum, which he started with other notable artists, including Cartier-Bresson.

Until Amazon recently directed me to a book of his color work, I was only familiar with those iconic black and white images showing his time on the world's battlefields - an approach that ultimately took his life by stepping on a land mine while covering the First Indochina War.

But, these color images show a softer side of the artist. He obviously showed great appreciation for the beauty of life and nature. Oh to be at a Paris bistro with he and Papa, to hear about his many adventures and his talent for capturing the images that made history. Thank you, Mr. Capa.

Ernest Hemingway and his son, Gregory, Sun Valley, 1941



Skiier, Zermatt, 1950

Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre on the set of Beat the Devil, Ravello, 1953

Truman Capote and Jennifer Jones on the set of Beat The Devil, Ravello, 1953


Actress Geraldine Brooks trying on a dress at the fashion house of Emilio Schuberth, Rome, 1951







March 16, 2014

MASTERPIECE | Mr. Selfridge, Season 2: Master Showman Preview | PBS

This sleeper hit began as a filler for those of us with 'Downton' - envy, but quickly gained notoriety as a stand alone success. Jeremy Piven is excellent as the crass and brassy American who crosses The Pond in the early 1900s to open London's most impressive department store.

In the true tradition of imported British television, the authenticity of the time in settings and wardrobe is exceptional. And, unlike Downton, Mr. Selfridge takes us in to London as The Victorian era is coming to a close and the men and women who shop for the finest are really starting to let their hair down.

Season Two starts on March 30, 2014. Enjoy the trip.