In the Times today I saw a review of the new HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” which takes place during Prohibition. It stars Steve Buscemi and a number of stellar actors, and had some advisement I believe from Martin Scorsese.
The show seems to pay an unprecedented attention to accuracy of historical detail, and some of the sources were magazines. The caption to one picture in the slide show reads: “Whenever possible, John A. Dunn, the show’s costume designer, used authentic clothing from the period, either rented or bought on eBay or in vintage clothing shops; otherwise the costumes were handmade to designs of the period. He rummaged through the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum and studied old magazines catalogs and tailoring books.”
It also indicates that the soundtrack features music found in silent movie scores and old nickelodeons that hasn’t been heard for almost a century.
It would be interesting to know why the people on the production side were so interested in material culture sources for a show depicting such a symbolic period in American history (beyond the simple need for realism). I don’t have time at the moment, but I’m going to try and follow up with links to some interviews that might elucidate the creative processes behind this show. Makes me wish I had a subscription to HBO.