Video Essay: “The 75 Coolest Looking Prohibition-Era Movie Characters”

There are all sorts of reasons to enjoy the deep South bootlegging action drama Lawless, out today: the sturdy direction by John Hillcoat (The Proposition), the witty script by Nick Cave, an archetypal fancy-pants villain turn by Guy Pearce, yet another astonishingly chameleonic performance by Tom Hardy. But let’s pause for a moment of appreciation on a very basic, aesthetic level: as it takes place in the Prohibition era (1920-1933, if you were sick that day in school), once young hotshot Shia LaBeouf starts making a little green running moonshine, he starts throwing it around on pinstripe suits and awesome hats. Say what you will about the era, pro or con, but they knew how to dress back then — and there’s always a part of us that’s suspected the primary reason for making movies set in the Prohibition era is to give actors an excuse to play dress-up, since it’s next to impossible to not look cool in ’20s and early-’30s garb. Don’t believe us? After the jump, take a look at our latest video essay, a supercut of everyone from Faye Dunaway to Gene Wilder in their Prohibition-era movies, and try to tell us we’re wrong.

The 75 Coolest Looking Prohibition-Era Movie Characters from Flavorwire on Vimeo.

CREDITS
Edited by Jason Bailey
Music by Outkast

FILMS (in alphabetical order):
Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)
Bright Young Things (Stephen Fry, 2003)
The Cat’s Meow (Peter Bogdanovich, 2001)
Chaplin (Richard Attenborough, 1992)
Coco Before Chanel (Anne Fontaine, 2009)
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (Jan Kouren, 2009)
Cold Comfort Farm (John Schlesinger, 1995)
The Front Page (Billy Wilder, 1974)
The Great Waldo Pepper (George Roy Hill, 1975)
Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1955)
Harlem Nights (Eddie Murphy, 1989)
Heat and Dust (James Ivory, 1983)
Henry & June (Philip Kaufman, 1990)
Hoodlum (Bill Duke, 1997)
Idlewild (Bryan Barber, 2006)
J. Edgar (Clint Eastwood, 2011)
Lady Sings the Blues (Sidney J. Furie, 1972)
The Lover (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1992)
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)
Miller’s Crossing (Joel Coen, 1990)
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (Alan Rudolph, 1994)
The Natural (Barry Levinson, 1984)
Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
Out of Africa (Sidney Pollack, 1985)
Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly, 1952)
Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, 1961)
Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, 1999)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (George Roy Hill, 1967)
The Untouchables (Brian DePalma, 1987)
W.E. (Madonna, 2011)
The World’s Greatest Lover (Gene Wilder, 1977)

Check out a few of our other recent video essays below:
“The Trippiest Movies Ever Made”
“Faces: 105 of Cinema’s Most Beautiful Close-Ups”
“135 Shots That Will Restore Your Faith in Cinema”