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Costume Designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Behind the Scenes: The Art and Craft of Cinema

April 5, 2012 - April 6, 2012


The brown fedora and weathered leather jacket that transformed Harrison Ford into Indiana Jones. The angular red outfit a ghoulish Jackson wore in Michael Jackson’s Thriller. These and other iconic costumes designed by Deborah Nadoolman Landis have had an undeniable impact on both screen and street style. Yet Landis insists that her work has little to do with fashion. Instead, she has written, “a costume designer’s job is to discover who the people are in the screenplay"—costume is a means to evoke period, place, and personality, tailored to the shape of a film’s narrative and to the ever-changing composition on the screen.

Landis has worked with filmmakers as diverse as Steven Spielberg, Louis Malle, and Costa-Gavras, but her most frequent collaborator has been her husband, director John Landis. Along with Jackson’s famous red jacket, their work together has given us John Belushi in a toga (Animal House, 1978); Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in black hats and Ray-Bans (The Blues Brothers, 1980); Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short in sequined sombreros (¡Three Amigos!, 1986); and Eddie Murphy in African princely regalia (Coming to America, 1988, for which she garnered an Oscar nomination). Their most recent film, Burke and Hare, opened in 2010.

A respected scholar and educator as well as an active designer, Professor Landis is the David C. Copley Chair and founding director of the David C. Copley Center for Costume Design at UCLA and the author of several books, including Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design, the upcoming Filmcraft/Costume Design, and Divine Design: A Century of Motion Picture Costume Illustration. She joins us—accompanied on Friday by her distinguished colleague, costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers—to talk about how, if clothes make the man, costume makes the character

Juliet Clark

Thursday, April 5, 2012
7:00 p.m. Deborah Nadoolman Landis on Hollywood Costume: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, followed by ¡Three Amigos!
Deborah Nadoolman Landis and John Landis in person. Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis discusses costume and storytelling in this illustrated talk, touching on her own work on such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Blues Brothers. Followed by a screening of ¡Three Amigos! (U.S., 1986) introduced by director John Landis. Mistaking a plea to rescue a Mexican village for an offer to star in a new show, three washed-up silent-screen cowboys (Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short) steal their costumes from the studio and head south in this extravagantly silly, casually surreal spoof. (104 mins plus lecture)

Thursday, April 5, 2012
7:00 p.m. Deborah Nadoolman Landis on Hollywood Costume: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, followed by ¡Three Amigos!

Friday, April 6, 2012
7:00 p.m. American Graffiti
George Lucas (U.S., 1973). Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Deborah Nadoolman Landis in Conversation. Rodgers, the costume designer behind this milestone film, joins fellow costume designer Landis in conversation following the screening. Richard Dreyfuss and Ron Howard star in this look at the last summer nights of a group of high school students in Modesto. One of the most influential teen films of all time. (112 mins)

Behind the Scenes is a collaboration between BAM/PFA and the San Francisco Film Society. Major support for Behind the Scenes is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the San Francisco Foundation and the BAM/PFA Trustees.