Axel Foley

Eddie Murphy posing as Axel Foley for the Beverly Hills Cop (1984) poster. Like most movie posters, it replaces the gun he actually used in the film (Browning Hi-Power) with an incorrect airbrushed replacement (M1911A1).

Eddie Murphy posing as Axel Foley for the Beverly Hills Cop (1984) poster. Like most movie posters, it replaces the gun he actually used in the film (Browning Hi-Power) with an incorrect airbrushed replacement (M1911A1).

Vitals

Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, cheeky and streetwise Detroit detective

Beverly Hills, Spring 1984

Background

Like many of the action-comedy cop films of the ’80s (Lethal WeaponDie Hard, etc.), Beverly Hills Cop turned out much better than it should have. The original premise, developed seven years earlier by Paramount exec Don Simpson, was a cop from East Los Angeles transferring to Beverly Hills. By 1981, screenwriter Danilo Bach had fleshed this out into an action-oriented fish-out-of-water story titled Beverly Drive about Pittsburgh cop Elly Axel’s misadventures in 90210. Despite the excellent choice of Pittsburgh as Axel’s hometown (go Stillers!), the film flatlined.

It was resuscitated two years later after the success of Flashdance when Simpson revisited his idea and hired screenwriter Daniel Petrie, Jr. to add a more humorous flourish. Elly Axel of Pittsburgh became Axel Elly of Detroit. The lead role went through a few actors – Mickey Rourke, Al Pacino, James Caan – before Sylvester Stallone was finally brought in to “act” in the film.

Bringing his Rocky and Rambo approach to the film, Stallone went back to Bach’s original serious action concept. Axel Elly was renamed Axel Cobretti (a name which Stallone must have been dying to use in a film), Jenny became Axel’s love interest, and the finale became “a stolen Lamborghini playing chicken with an oncoming freight train”; Stallone himself later remarked during an impressive display of self-awareness that his removal from the project was well-deserved. (Although Steven Berkoff mentioned that the ultimate factor in Stallone’s removal was the type of orange juice placed in his trailer.)

Stallone left the project two weeks before filming began, and producers Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer needed their lead character. Two days later, Eddie Murphy was convinced to come on board. The serious tone was dropped mercifully in favor of lighter comedy that solidified the film as one of the funniest of the decade. Already famous due to his comic chops on Saturday Night Live and in films like 48 Hrs. and Trading Places, Eddie Murphy became an international star after Beverly Hills Cop was released in December 1984. It was the biggest hit of the year, earning more than $230 million in North America alone and racking up award nominations both at the Oscars and the Golden Globes, a heavy feat for a cop comedy.

TIME‘s Richard Schickel summed up best what made the film work: “Eddie Murphy exuded the kind of cheeky, cocky charm that has been missing from the screen since Cagney was a pup, snarling his way out of the ghetto.”

While Murphy is certainly a driving force of the film’s success, each of the supporting cast throws in their weight to keep the film tight across the board. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton knock it out of the park as the two Beverly Hills cops babysitting Foley, Jonathan Banks (Mike from Breaking Bad) is awesome as the stereotypically dickish ’80s henchman, and even Paul Reiser gets a few great moments as one of Axel’s fellow Detroit cops.

What’d He Wear?

For an example of just how popular Beverly Hills Cop was after its release, we can look to a t-shirt worn by Murphy in the film. The shirt is light heathered gray cotton with long sleeves and a crew neck with “MUMFORD PHYS. ED. DEPT” ink-printed and fading away on the chest.

Wearing a Mumford & Sons t-shirt doesn't have quite the same effect.

Wearing a Mumford & Sons t-shirt doesn’t have quite the same effect.

Though Murphy himself didn’t attend the school, Samuel C. Mumford High School – located in northwest Detroit – was the alma mater of producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who honored his school by featuring a Mumford shirt in the film. Almost immediately after the film’s release, the school began receiving orders for the shirts from all over the world. Though the school had its fair share of notable graduates (Gilda Radner and Ivan Boesky, to name a few), it had never achieved this sort of notoriety and fame until Eddie Murphy celebrated it across his chest in Beverly Hills Cop.

Axel wears the Mumford t-shirt during his first day in Beverly Hills underneath a charcoal blue zip-up hoodie. Axel’s hoodie is a very simple and comfortable garment, with half sleeves cut off at the elbow and slash front pockets on either side of the front.

Whether in a luxury hotel or a police station, Axel is a master of looking unimpressed.

Whether in a luxury hotel or a police station, Axel is a master of looking unimpressed.

Although its origins can be traced to cold weather laborers during the Depression, the hooded sweatshirt shot to popularity throughout the 1970s through both the development of hip hop culture and its iconic appearance in Rocky. Axel’s streetwise abilities and disregard for decorum make the hoodie – as it became known in the ’90s (aka the Buzzfeed Decade) – a very reasonable garment in his closet. (Stallone’s involvement with both this film and Rocky is merely coincidental when discussing Axel’s hoodie.)

The zipper and the drawstring grommets on Axel’s hoodie are silver metal.

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…or in a villain’s high rise office. Again – unimpressed.

Throughout the film, Axel wears a pair of blue straight leg denim jeans with the standard five pocket layout – two rear patch pockets, two front pockets, and right-side coin pocket. Although the high rise and straight fit were very popular in the ’80s, the jeans avoid many of the decade’s horrible sartorial decisions like acid-washing, ripped denim, additional pockets, or – Jesus Christ – elastic waistbands.

Axel goes sightseeing.

Axel goes sightseeing.

The ’80s fit may be disregarded as “dad jeans” now, but Axel’s choice of denim could have been far, far worse. In fact, they appear to be a pair of classic Levi’s 501s, evident by the small red tag on the right rear pocket. In addition to their high rise, the jeans also have a short inseam and break above the top of Axel’s shoes.

Axel wears a plain black canvas belt with his jeans. The belt fastens in the front with a black square metal buckle.

Stopping on this exact shot to take a screen capture really puts the scene in a different perspective, no?

Stopping on this exact shot to take a screen capture really puts the scene in a different perspective, no?

Axel’s dirty Adidas Samba sneakers had already taken on an iconic status before he stepped into them, but their appearance in the film helped solidify them in cultural history. The Samba is Adidas’ second-best selling shoe ever with 35 million sold across the world. The Samba was first developed in 1950 as a cold weather training shoe for association football players

Such an athletic stance would look goofy with a pair of opera pumps. Fine shoe choice, Eddie.

Such an athletic stance would look goofy with a pair of opera pumps. Fine shoe choice, Eddie.

The particular model of Adidas Sambas worn in the film are white “Classic 0″ sneakers with the famous dark green triple side stripes, flat white laces, and tan gumsole. Axel wears his with a pair of white tube socks.

Axel’s wardrobe has a very athletic theme throughout, from his sneakers to his shirts. Other than the Mumford shirt, he has a habit of wearing half-sleeved crew neck sweatshirts, similar to the blue shirt worn by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

In Detroit, Axel wears a red half-sleeved sweatshirt that appears to have been manufactured that way. Later, for the final scenes in Beverly Hills, he wears a light gray heathered version where the sleeves look like they have actually been cut off.

I've never worn one of these shirts, but by golly do they look comfortable.

I’ve never worn one of these shirts, but by golly do they look comfortable.

Both half-sleeved sweatshirts have elasticized waistbands that create a blouson effect, puffing out the center of the shirt and making them appear to be tucked into his jeans.

Axel’s watch is an all-black analog model with a square dial. It is worn on a black hard rubber strap with a squared silver clasp.

It's very much an '80s watch... but that's about all I can tell you about it.

It’s very much an ’80s watch… but that’s about all I can tell you about it.

I’ve heard suggestions that the watch is a Casio, but I have been unable to find a certain model.

Undercover in Detroit

The opening scenes of the film find Axel working undercover in Detroit, investigating a cigarette hijacking ring. He “thugs up” his outfit more than usual, now wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt and olive drab military-style pants. He wears the same Adidas sneakers, white tube socks, and black watch as he wears throughout the film, though.

Axel is clearly wearing the black sleeveless t-shirt inside out, with a round yellow logo faintly visible through the front and a tag seen on the middle of the back.

Axel goes undercover.

Axel goes undercover.

His pants are a pair of vintage olive drab parachute fatigues with cargo pockets, drawstring cuffs (which he ties), and adjustable waist tabs. Despite the tabs, he still wears his black belt with the fatigue pants. A similar pair can be found here or at any military surplus retailer.

Go Big or Go Home

Sure, Beverly Hills Cop is an entertaining film. Good premise, good actors, and solid action. Eddie Murphy, however, is what makes the film so memorable. Beverly Hills Cop marks a fine collaboration between director and actor where director Martin Brest (auteur of such films as Gigli… oh god) managed to keep the essence of the plot intact while a comedian influenced many scenes and ad-libbed much of his dialogue. Typically, one hears horror stories about a diva comedian – or any actor, really – taking over production for the worse. With Beverly Hills Cop, Brest and Murphy forged a terrific working relationship with Murphy’s smart comic instincts merging with Brest’s plot-driven direction to put together a much better film that it could have ever been on paper.

Reportedly, hundreds of takes were ruined by cast members unable to control their laughter as Murphy would improvise. Normally, this is when the director gets frustrated and heads start rolling, but Brest admitted that he was one of the worst culprits, laughing himself silly during many of Murphy’s takes. The most notable example is when Axel is defending his – and Rosewood and Taggart’s – actions during the foiled strip club holdup. Supposedly, the police station sequences made Murphy very tired, but he refused to drink coffee as part of his anti-drug regime. Eventually, Murphy decided he needed something so he took a few sips of coffee to stay awake. This blast of caffeine to Murphy’s system led to the energetic “super-cops” monologue… all of which as ad-libbed.

John Ashton, who plays Sgt. Taggart, eventually spends much of the scene rubbing his eyes. In fat, he was pinching his face to try and stop from laughing. Reinhold kept his face stoic only because he was pinching his own thigh through his pocket to contain his own laughter.

Axel: Before I go, I just want you two to know something, alright? The supercop story… was working. Okay? It was working, and you guys just messed it up. Okay? I’m trying to figure you guys out, but I haven’t yet. But it’s cool. You fuck up a perfectly good lie.

Murphy’s casting was the greatest thing that could have happened to the once troubled production. His improvisation even led to some ribbing of his own career; Axel’s harangue to the Beverly Palms Hotel clerk includes a fictional Rolling Stone article he is writing called “Michael Jackson: Sitting on Top of the World”. In real life, Playboy once featured an profile of Murphy himself called “Eddie Murphy: Sitting on Top of the World”.

And then, of course, there’s the song. Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” was a theme song that could’ve only worked in the ’80s. Created from four synthesizers (a Roland Jupiter 8, a Roland JX-3P, a Yamaha DX-7, and a Moog modular synthetizer 15 for the bass), the electronic song went straight to the top of the international charts and was a #1 hit in 1985.

Jenny: I remember you used to drive that crappy blue Chevy Nova. What are you driving now?
Axel: Same crappy blue Chevy Nova.

Like all great movie badasses (with the exception of James Bond), Axel Foley doesn’t need some flashy, brand new car. Instead he’s got a powder blue 1970 Chevy Nova 2-door with a white roof and enough Miller Lite in the trunk to keep any stakeout wet. (Axel doesn’t imbibe himself, though; we learn earlier that his drink of choice is a Scotch and soda.)

This can't be recommended police procedure... then again, he's not in uniform?

This can’t be recommended police procedure… then again, he’s not in uniform?

How to Get the Look

Axel Foley is his own man, dressing for total comfort without regard to what’s fashionable or accepted. Surrounded by suit-and-tie cops, he stands out for better or worse.

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  • Heathered light gray long-sleeve crew neck “MUMFORD PHYS. ED. DEPT” t-shirt
  • Charcoal blue zip-front hooded sweatshirt with slash pockets, silver zipper, and silver drawstring grommets
  • Medium blue denim Levi’s 501 straight leg jeans
  • Black canvas belt with black metal buckle
  • Adidas Samba “Country 0″ sneakers in white with dark green triple side stripes, white laces, and tan gumsole
  • White tube socks
  • Black analog watch with a square face, hard rubber strap, and silver clasp

The Gun

While some may dismiss Axel’s method of carrying his service pistol in the rear of his jeans without a holster as unprofessional and non-police-like, it was actually inspired by a real policeman. Gilbert Hill, the Detroit Police Department’s chief of homicide, met with Beverly Hills Cop‘s director Martin Brest for research and location scouting prior to production.

Brest noticed that Hill carried his service revolver tucked into his trouser waistband with no holster, and this trait was incorporated into the Axel Foley character. Brest was so impressed by Hill (“He almost seemed to me like he could be Eddie’s father,” Brest says in the film’s DVD commentary) that Hill was hired in the film as Foley’s austere boss, Inspector Todd.

Many may recognize Axel’s sidearm, a post-World War II Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistol. The Hi-Power was introduced in 1935 after thirteen years of development inspired by master firearms inventor John Browning’s design. It was first produced by the Belgian company Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal (FN) and was immediately adopted into Belgian military service as the P-35. France, who had commissioned the initial design, rejected the pistol and instead went with the similar, but ultimately lesser, Modèle (Mle.) 1935 A.

Axel gets a bit nervy walking home at night by himself.

Axel gets a bit nervy walking home at night by himself.

The Hi-Power was the first of the “Wonder Nines”, a group of semi-automatic pistols with high capacity magazines – typically for 9×19 mm Parabellum ammunition. At the time, service pistols typically held no more than seven or eight rounds in the magazine. The Hi-Power’s revolutionary double stack magazine held 13 rounds of 9×19 mm, adding up to a total of 14 available rounds when one is chambered.

Despite its high capacity, reputation for reliability, and constant refinement from FN, the Hi-Power didn’t gain widespread attention until it became known as the preferred sidearm of officer Frank Serpico when taking on the NYPD’s “crooked cops” in the 1960s and 1970s. The Hi-Power received even greater exposure when it appeared in Al Pacino’s hands for Serpico, the 1973 film chronicling the real life officer.

By the time Beverly Hills Cop was filmed and released in 1984, the Hi-Power would have been enjoying its last hurrah with a monopoly on the “Wonder Nine” segment. Glock had rolled out its first pistol, the Glock 17, which carried 17 rounds of 9 mm in a single magazine. The introduction of similarly high-capacity pistols like the Beretta 92FS, the SIG-Sauer P226, and the Para-Ordnance series was just around the corner. Despite all of these recent developments, the Hi-Power remains unique for its original design, smooth single action trigger, and enduring reputation as a reliable and accurate service pistol.

According to IMFDb, this is the exact Hi-Power used by Eddie Murphy in the film! Check out the rest of IMFDB's Beverly Hills Cop page.

According to IMFDb, this is the exact Hi-Power used by Eddie Murphy in the film! Check out the rest of IMFDB’s Beverly Hills Cop page.

I own a Browning Hi-Power manufactured in 1975, and it is one of my favorites to shoot. The trigger pull is light even for a 9 mm, and it carries comfortably and obtrusively for an all-metal full-size semi-auto.

Axel’s particular pistol in the film has an external extractor, which FN incorporated into the design in the early 1960s. The film depicts semi-automatic pistols as the sidearm of choice for the Detroit Police Department, even though standard issue at the time was a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver with both the Model 10-5 and the Model 64-5 issued up through 1992. The uniformed officers at the beginning carry Model 10s (and one stainless Model 67), but Axel and his fellow detectives all have semi-autos, including Jeffrey (Paul Reiser) with his Smith & Wesson 639 and Insp. Todd with his nickel Colt Mk IV Series 70.

Eddie Murphy displays an impressive grip and handling techniques when firing his Hi-Power in the film.

Eddie Murphy displays an impressive grip and handling techniques when firing his Hi-Power in the film.

Loyal and sharp-eyed blog readers may recall that the S&W 639 was also Mr. White‘s sidearm of choice in Reservoir Dogs.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie. I’ve never seen either of the sequels, so I can’t testify to their quality. I can say that I haven’t heard many good things about Beverly Hills Cop III, though.

The Quote

Disturbing the peace? I got thrown out of a window! What’s the fuckin’ charge for getting pushed out of a moving car, huh? Jaywalking?

Footnotes

We’re sneaking up on Halloween season, and Axel’s outfit would be a very easy, comfortable, and recognizable (as long as you use the Mumford High School t-shirt!) costume.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading!

“Pretty Boy” Floyd’s Death in Public Enemies

80 years ago today, Depression-era outlaw Charles Arthur Floyd was shot down by federal agents and local police in a farm outside East Liverpool, Ohio.

Channing Tatum as Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd in Public Enemies (2009).

Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd in Public Enemies (2009).

Vitals

Channing Tatum as Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, charismatic but violent Depression-era outlaw

Clarkson, Ohio, October 1934

Background

After dedicating the majority of my life to researching the Depression-era crime wave that saw guys like John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Alvin Karpis roaming the American countryside with the support of the public and the rage of the government, I was elated when I learned that Bryan Burrough’s masterful docu-novel Public Enemies was finally being turned into a film. I wondered how a two-hour movie could capture the intricacies of each colorful individual in each of the various gangs over a two-year period, and I assumed that – like Burrough – director Michael Mann would focus primarily on Karpis, the lone survivor of the original batch of Public Enemies.

Unfortunately, the film – which would’ve best served its source material as a mini-series, in my opinion – chose to focus only on the best-known of them all, John Dillinger, with some of the era’s major players like Floyd and Karpis reduced to cameo appearances. While Floyd’s death was one of the closing moments of the FBI’s 1934 War on Crime, it is used instead to kick off the drama of the film, totally ignoring the significance of the event both for the FBI and for its ace special agent Melvin Purvis.

Eighty years after his death, Floyd still hasn’t received a proper film portrayal. (Whether or not a man blamed with the death of ten men over a five year period deserves it isn’t the question.) Dillinger’s life has been portrayed countless times, with varying degrees of accuracy, beginning with Lawrence Tierney’s steel-lipped murderous performance in 1945. Warren Oates notably played a picture-perfect Dillinger in John Milius’ 1973 film, and Johnny Depp played a more romantic vision of the outlaw in Public Enemies.

"Pretty Boy" c. 1930, and his portrayer Channing Tatum eighty years later.

“Pretty Boy” c. 1930, and his portrayer Channing Tatum eighty years later.

The latter two films, Milius’s Dillinger and Mann’s Public Enemies, also portrayed Dillinger’s associates – again with varying degrees of accuracy. Milius’s film made each outlaw stand out; Geoffrey Lewis’ Harry Pierpont was the doting husband, Harry Dean Stanton’s Homer Van Meter was the cheeky jokester, John Ryan’s Charlie Makley was the weary veteran, and Richard Dreyfuss’ “Baby Face” Nelson was – true to life – the violent psychopath. In Public Enemies, each of these characters might have had a personality-establishing line or two, but they all blend into the background with Dillinger’s other associates to allow his romance with Billie to be at the forefront. (With the exception of Stephen Graham, turning in another excellent performance as Nelson that rivals Dreyfuss’ bratty interpretation.)

I was dismayed to learn that Floyd would be played by Channing Tatum. All I knew about him was that he was an ex-stripper who had done the Step Up movies and a few military meathead roles. Of course, two 21 Jump Street films later, I’m more convinced that he is a talented, self-aware actor who could have made a fine Choc Floyd if he had been allowed to expand the character beyond a single action scene.

It doesn’t help that the scene itself differs far from reality. For my breakdown of events from Floyd’s death on a lonely Ohio cornfield in October 1934, check out my post from when I wrote about Kanaly in 1973’s Dillinger.

In real life, Floyd had been traveling with his alcoholic partner-in-crime Adam Richetti and their girlfriends, the Baird sisters. Floyd had been dating Juanita “Beulah” Baird for a few years ever since his first arrival in Kansas City. Beulah traveled with him and was even rumored to have participated in a few bank robberies with him. An April 1931 gunfight in Bowling Green, Ohio left her wounded with a bullet to the head. Her sister Rose had been dating Floyd’s then-partner Bill Miller, who was killed in the battle. Later, Beulah and Rose rejoined Floyd and his new partner Richetti. After Floyd and Richetti were suspected of complicity in the Kansas City Massacre on June 17, 1933, the foursome split town and headed to Buffalo, living in relative peace for more than a year.

Floyd’s suspicious and restless mind began to worry, and the gang left Buffalo one cold night in mid-October 1934. Not long after they set out, Floyd grew tired at the wheel and smashed their Ford into a pole near Wellsville, Ohio. The women were dispatched to find a mechanic, and Floyd and Richetti stayed with the car and the guns. Suspicions grew around the well-dressed men keeping to themselves with their new car outside of town, so local police chief John Fultz headed to the scene armed only with his .32 revolver and two unarmed deputies. Immediately, Floyd and Richetti drew down on the lawmen. After a brief gunfight, Floyd abandoned his Thompson submachine gun and escaped, and Richetti was in police custody. Richetti’s identification was confirmed, and the FBI was called in. Most films that I’ve seen about Floyd skip this exciting sequence of events and cut straight to -

Monday, October 22, 1934. Floyd looks like a wild man, as he himself acknowledges, from living outdoors for two days trying to make his way to Youngstown, the nearest major city. His blue business suit is ragged, his white dress shirt is dirty, and his black oxfords weren’t meant for his sort of hiking. He’s been living on whatever food he can find in nature, and he’s covered in thistles by the time he emerges on the farm of widowed Ellen Conkle near Clarkson, a small town outside of East Liverpool. Mrs. Conkle, though suspicious, reverted to country hospitality and gave the dirty, well-dressed stranger some food. After declaring the ribs, potatoes, rice pudding, and pumpkin pie “fit for a king”, Floyd asked Mrs. Conkle if he could borrow the dilapidated Ford Model A he noticed in her backyard.

A few minutes later, Melvin Purvis and his team of FBI agents and local police were driving up the country road, checking for any possible sign of Floyd. Suddenly, he is spotted. The agents and policemen jump from their cars, simultaneously drawing guns and ordering Floyd to halt. Both sides of the law must have known how the day would end as Floyd kept running desperately for the trees. The order was given to fire, and the rifles, Thompsons, shotguns, and pistols blazed. A few .45-caliber shots knocked Floyd down from FBI agents McKee and Hopton’s Thompsons with an extra shot from East Liverpool cop Chester Smith’s Winchester .32-20 rifle for good measure.

Floyd was now down. After fifteen minutes of questioning, during which he confirmed his identity and denied involvement in the Kansas City Massacre, Floyd emitted his last gasp and died at 4:25 p.m.

... and just like that, dozens of angry girlfriends stormed out of theaters, fuming that their boyfriends dragged them to an action movie under the pretense of Channing Tatum's starring presence in it.

… and just like that, dozens of angry girlfriends stormed out of theaters, fuming that their boyfriends dragged them to an action movie under the pretense of Channing Tatum’s starring presence in it.

Public Enemies changes things up a bit, getting the basic fact down that Purvis and a team of local FBI agents and cops shot and killed Floyd – who was wearing a blue suit – somewhere in Ohio, asking him a couple questions before he died including the confirmation of his identity.

What’d He Wear?

Although Floyd was certainly wearing a similar outfit as Tatum when he was killed, the film takes a few liberties that wouldn’t be unlike something the real Floyd may have worn another time.

Tatum’s Floyd wears a blue wool serge suit. The blue is brighter and more vivid than the navy blue often used to described the real Floyd’s business suit, but it is ultimately too light to resemble the suit Floyd was wearing at the time of his capture.

Floyd makes a final play for freedom. In real life, he did actually reach for a second .45 in his waistband after agents took away the one in his hand.

Floyd makes a final play for freedom. In real life, he did actually reach for a second .45 in his waistband after agents took away the one in his hand.

Due to the camerawork and angles of the scene, Tatum’s suit jacket doesn’t get much detail exposure. The wide peak lapels have inward-slanting gorges. The single-breasted front likely has two buttons, and single-breasted jackets with peak lapels were very fashionable in the 1930s. It is ventless with 2-button cuffs.

Tatum wears a pair of matching flat front trousers with cuffed bottoms (also called “turn-ups”). When Floyd hits the ground, we see both on-seam side pockets and jetted rear pockets that close with a single button.

The varying stages of Floyd's death according to Public Enemies, portraying Purvis as more of a "supercop" than the bureaucrat he was in reality.

The varying stages of Floyd’s death according to Public Enemies, portraying Purvis as more of a “supercop” than the bureaucrat he was in reality.

The trousers have both belt loops and buttons inside the waistband for suspenders. Although it is typically considered a faux pas, Tatum’s Floyd wears both a belt and suspenders.

The suspenders are dark blue with two light gray vertical stripes. They have silver adjuster clips and connect with black leather fasteners that button to the inside of the trousers.

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Tatum’s belt is rugged black leather with a small silver square buckle that pulls off to the right side. The most likely reason for Floyd’s belt is to give his heavy shoulder holster something to fasten onto. The real Floyd supposedly wore a very similar belt, and the buckle on his was inscribed with a “C”.

PEpbf-CL-belt

Belts were also much more of a rural style choice around this time as suspenders were still the preference for suited gentlemen. Born in Georgia and raised in Oklahoma, Floyd maintained his agrarian tendencies even when living in big cities like Kansas City and St. Louis. It was this comfort with nature and the outdoors that gave him an edge over other outlaws and allowed him to enjoy five years of relative freedom while committing his crimes.

While we’re on the subject, Floyd wears a dark brown well-worn leather shoulder rig for his 1911 pistol in the film. It holds the pistol under his left armpit, low enough to nearly be worn on the hip. It connects around the back with a thinner dark leather strap worn down the right side of his torso and fastened to that side of the belt. In real life, Floyd merely carried his pistols in his waistband.

Tatum’s Floyd wears a light cream tonal-striped shirt. It has a large spread collar, unbuttoned, with large white buttons down the front placket.

PEpbf-CL-shrt

The double cuffs have squared edges and are fastened with round gold disc links.

Tatum’s knit tie has a black ground with a white print throughout. It is tied with a small four-in-hand knot.

As opposed to the black oxfords Floyd was reportedly wearing when he was killed, Tatum wears a pair of more utilitarian black leather combat boots that would have made a weekend of tromping through the woods much more bearable for the outlaw. They are very similar to the boots that Jimmy Darmody wore with his blue suit on Boardwalk Empire, and they send a much different message than wearing dress shoes. The boots rise high on Tatum’s calves with five eyelets and five upper lace hooks.

I'm sure any fans of Magic Mike will get a kick out of this.

I’m sure any fans of Magic Mike will get a kick out of this.

Floyd’s black socks rise even higher than his boots, allowing the ribbing and elasticized top to peek out.

Go Big or Go Home

Since Public Enemies doesn’t tell us much about Floyd other than the fact that he was killed, we can look to the real Floyd for information about the life of a ’30s Public Enemy.

In 1931, law enforcement officers in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Ohio were tearing the country apart looking for Floyd, unaware that he, his son, and his wife were living quietly in Tulsa.

In 1931, law enforcement officers in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Ohio were tearing the country apart looking for Floyd, unaware that he, his son, and his wife were living quietly in Tulsa.

The real Floyd was very much a product of his environment. The first twenty years of his life were very rural, moving with his large family from Georgia to the Cookson Hills of Oklahoma at a young age where he continued working on the family farm. Before Prohibition had even started, he was involved in making illegal liquor as moonshine remains one of the oldest traditions for folks in these regions. He married a young, lively neighbor named Ruby when he was twenty (and she was sixteen) and they soon bore a son named Charles Dempsey Floyd, whom they just called Dempsey.

Less than a year after Dempsey’s birth, the Floyds desperately needed money. Like many of his friends, he had dabbled in crime – most notably stealing 350 pennies from a local post office and having his father cover for him when the feds came looking – but most of his work had been legitimate manual labor. At this point, Floyd reached a crossroads. He was certainly smart enough to be successful, especially in the booming ’20s, but who would give a chance to a poor farm boy with two shirts and a starving family? Pair that with his cheeky impulsiveness and an outlaw was born.

Floyd’s first robbery, grabbing more than $11,000 from a Kruger payroll in St. Louis, was his most successful… until he was nabbed in the Cookson Hills two days later when he tried to show off his brand-new blue Studebaker. The local sheriff, naturally a family friend, begrudgingly arrested the young criminal and Floyd was sent to the Missouri state pen for a five year sentence.

Though he was released in 1929, he emerged as a divorced man in an unfamiliar city. Unable to return home without money or a welcoming wife, he followed some criminal contacts from the pen to Kansas City where the easygoing Choc Floyd evolved into the bank-robbing “Pretty Boy” Floyd. Having been denied any honest work due to his prison record and now needing money more than ever as the Depression hit, Floyd became one of the most prolific bank robbers of all time.

Supposedly, Oklahoma’s bank insurance rates doubled in 1931 due to Floyd’s constant harassment. His career dominated headlines for four years with a series of daring escapes, easy robberies, and deft killings. Floyd was hardly a brutal, calculating murderer, but shooting became an impulse for him when threatened. Between 1931 and 1934, he shot his way out of any trap the police set for him; often with deadly results.

Floyd’s inventory at the time of his death as reported on a receipt from Floyd’s mother to the FBI.

Friends and family, especially his young son, always regarded him as the same cheerful guy who loved every minute of life, but there is no denying that he changed. Always aspiring to be better than his origins, it was the unnecessary chances he took that led to all of his mistakes. His initial arrest in 1925 was the result of the attention from his newly-purchased car. A policeman cornered him in Bowling Green when he and his associate Bill Miller were getting expensive new haircuts at a local barbershop; both the cop and Miller were killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Finally, it was Floyd’s sharp appearance that made many suspicious as he lurked around the East Liverpool area the final two days of his life. Clad in a dark navy blue subtly-striped two-piece business suit and white shirt, his excuse that he was “just going to work” didn’t jibe with the rural Chief Fultz and Floyd found himself on the run for the last time in his life.

Two days after the fatal run-in with Fultz, Floyd’s effects were catalogued and hardly resemble those of a man born into poverty:

  • 14-carat white gold double-faced cameo ring, a gift from his wife Ruby three Christmases earlier
  • green gold octagonal Verithin Gruen pocket watch
  • silver watch chain attached to a U.S. silver half-dollar (minted either 1928 or 1929)

The watch is worth noting for the ten notches behind the crystal, each supposedly representing a life taken by Floyd.

How to Get the Look

While not strictly what the real Floyd was wearing when he died, Channing Tatum’s Floyd still wears a very fashionable suit for a ’30s tough guy.

Maybe you'll have better luck than he did with a suit like this.

Maybe you’ll have better luck than he did with a suit like this.

  • Blue wool serge suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with 2-button front, wide peak lapels, 2-button cuffs, and ventless rear
    • Flat front trousers with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and cuffed bottoms
  • Light cream tonal-striped shirt with large spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and double/French cuffs
  • Black & white printed knit tie
  • Gold round disc cuff links
  • Black leather laced combat boots
  • Black ribbed dress socks
  • Dark brown leather shoulder holster (RHD) for 1911-type pistol

The Gun(s)

As I discussed in my previous “Pretty Boy” Floyd post, there remains no doubt as to what guns were in Floyd’s hands when he was killed in Ohio. The well-witnessed circumstances of his death without any sort of Dillinger-esque controversies and the very thorough FBI paperwork (in the wake of the Dillinger controversies) chronicled both of Floyd’s pistols. Both were Colt-manufactured M1911 pistols just like you’ve seen in all World War II movies. They were both blued and chambered in .45 ACP with seven rounds per magazine.

One of the M1911 pistols, pictured below, was a U.S. Army model with the serial #18001. This one was in Floyd’s hand, cocked and chambered with a fully loaded magazine. The other – the one taken from his belt after he was shot down – was a civilian version, also known as the Colt Government model, with a removed serial number. Criminals have been filing off the serial numbers from pistols ever since the first serial numbers were introduced to keep their weapons untraceable. This second Colt had an interesting customization, though, with welding on both the firing pin and the safety guard indicating a conversion to fire fully-automatic. Had Floyd actually gotten his hands on this pistol, the arresting officers would have been in considerable danger as they moved in to closer proximity. All Floyd would’ve needed was to press his finger down on the trigger for eight powerful rounds of .45 ACP to spit out the muzzle in the direction of the officers.

An internal FBI memo regarding Floyd's twin Colt 1911s, and one of the 1911s themselves on display (upper right). A contemporary photo shows Deputy Irwin holding Floyd's discarded Thompson.

An internal FBI memo regarding Floyd’s twin Colt 1911s, and one of the 1911s themselves on display (upper right). A contemporary photo shows Deputy Irwin holding Floyd’s discarded Thompson. Note the Thompson’s broken foregrip and removed buttstock. The memo is from the excellent Dusty Roads of an FBI Era site.

The Public Enemies version of Floyd places a nickel-plated M1911 in his holster and gives him a Thompson M1928 submachine gun as his weapon of choice when fighting back against Purvis’s men. Surely the real Floyd wished he did have such a powerful weapon at the time, but instead he only had his two semi-automatics. The Thompson carried by Tatum reflects a common outlaw customization of the era; to ease concealability and portability, gangsters often removed the buttstock from their Thompsons. As the buttstock served mainly to give policemen and soldiers stability when firing, the gangsters didn’t need it for their “spray-and-pray” massacre sensibilities.

When Floyd and Richetti were first approached by Chief Fultz outside Wellsville, Floyd did indeed fire at the officers with a Thompson, and it did have a removed buttstock. However, he was forced to abandon the weapon when he went on the run after Richetti’s arrest. It was soon recovered by policemen during a general search and was found to have a broken vertical foregrip. This same Thompson is seen above in the hands of one of Fultz’s deputies.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

I believe you’ve killed me, so you can go rot in hell.

Footnotes

After repeating viewings of both Public Enemies and 21 Jump Street, I’ve come to terms with the decision to cast Tatum as Floyd and think he’s got the chops to play the outlaw who was known to be charismatic but mercurially impulsive.

I’ve mentioned in several posts on this blog that I was the writer, director, and star of a two-hour homemade film about the real “Pretty Boy” Floyd. Though some of the suits are pretty good – as my Get Carter-like pose for the DVD cover may convey – the lack of any actual budget, vintage cars, legitimate locations, or consistent cast somewhat hampered things. Still, it came together relatively nicely for a $50 budget and three years of production, so I’d like to try and post some trailers from it soon. (Thank you, blog commenter Mohammed, for your interest!)

One major source of my research on this fascinating era in American history has been Dusty Roads of an FBI Era, a well-researched site maintained by a former FBI agent that offers plenty of primary research documents from this time. The site also keeps things in perspective; while the colorful lives of the outlaws may be distracting, most were still murderous criminals who went up against brave agents that sacrificed their lives to protect others.

Skyfall – Bond’s Dark Blue Tuxedo in Macau

Excerpt from a promotional poster for Skyfall (2012), featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond against the familiar "gunbarrel" backdrop.

Excerpt from a promotional poster for Skyfall (2012), featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond against the familiar “gunbarrel” backdrop.

Vitals

Daniel Craig as James Bond, British government agent

Macau, Spring 2012

Background

Nearly forty years after his last visit, James Bond returns to Macau in The Man with the Golden Gun after discovering a casino chip on an assassin in Shanghai. Now officially back in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond packs up his dinner suit, cut-throat razor, and sunglasses and heads to the film’s version of Macau.

Skyfall‘s Macau is far different and more primitive than its real life counterpart, which is more like an Asian Las Vegas with a twist of Portugal rather than the simple but mysterious Ming Dynasty village seen in the film. A Special Administration Region like Hong Kong, Macau was a Portugese colony until 1999. During its 500 years of Portuguese rule, Macau developed a fascinating fusion of Portuguese and Southeast Asian culture that is still perceptible in all aspects from language to architecture.

When I first saw Skyfall, I was intrigued by this rustic place with the strongly masculine hotel and floating casino. While the floating casino exists, and is one of many casinos in the city, the film’s portrayal misses the city’s neon accents.

Still, the entire Macau sequence is filled with stunning visuals from the locations (fictional though they may be) to the film’s two Bond girls, played by Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe, and – of course – Bond’s dark blue tux. I’m not sure what your plans are this week, but I can guarantee they would be enhanced by rolling out your own sharp blue dinner suit.

What’d He Wear?

Bond’s Macau dinner suit, the only one he wears in Skyfall, was used very prominently during the film’s promotion, and rightly so as it is a very good-looking suit and was worn during some of the film’s key scenes.

Promotion for Skyfall utilized the dark blue dinner suit to emphasize both the series' return to a focus on style balanced with action after both the Casino Royale reboot and the Bourne-like ruggedness of Quantum of Solace.

Promotion for Skyfall utilized the dark blue dinner suit to emphasize both the series’ return to a focus on style balanced with action after both the Casino Royale reboot and the Bourne-like ruggedness of Quantum of Solace.

It also is notable for being one of the few times that a blue suit was worn to actually photograph blue. Often, Bond – and other characters – sport midnight blue tuxedoes that are meant to appear “darker than black”, hence the misconception that Bond wears strictly black tuxedoes. In fact, most of Bond’s dinner suits have been midnight blue. For a terrific infographic that broadly analyzes Bond’s clothing, check this out.

The more visible blue dinner suit has been catching on since Skyfall with stars like Ryan Gosling, Kevin Spacey, and Bradley Cooper famously wearing them to award shows. Cooper’s appears to be the same Tom Ford tux worn by Craig, or at least very similarly styled.

Bond stands around as Silva prepares some shots of Scotch.

Bond stands around as Silva prepares some shots of Scotch.

So let’s look at the actual tux that Bond wears in Skyfall. Certainly by Tom Ford and possibly part of his “O’Connor” collection, the cloth is a vivid dark blue that shines more navy than midnight when Bond steps out into the sunlight the next day wearing the same suit. As we rarely see Bond’s evening attire during the daytime (appropriately enough), it makes sense that this blue tux would stand out more than the others in the series. Matt Spaiser’s expert blog, The Suits of James Bond, also features a post about this suit.

On October 5, 2012, Christie’s of South Kensington auctioned one of the dinner suits worn in the film, describing it as:

A two-piece dinner suit in navy wool by Tom Ford, worn by Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall.

The suit, sold as Lot #42 for £46,850 ($75,756 if you’re nasty), was part of a collection consisting mostly of other memorabilia from Daniel Craig’s outings as Bond including a Skyfall Omega watch, the “charcoal serge with light blue rope-stripe” suit he would wear later in London, the famous La Perla swimming trunks from Casino Royale, and a genuine Aston Martin DBS from Quantum of Solace.

The auction also validates many people’s complaints about the dinner suit; the auctioned tux was sized 38R (the label read 48F but us Ameicans or Brits know that better as 38R). Though he may be the shortest Bond actor at 5’10”, Daniel Craig is not a small person. After gaining plenty of muscle for the Bond role, Craig would easily fit into a 40 or 42-sized suit, but 38? No wonder he looked like he was about to burst out of it. This was likely one of his stunt tuxes, as he certainly wore bespoke versions for close-ups and sequences not requiring running, jumping, or shooting.

The dinner jacket, though the tight fit and short cut may distract some, still has undeniably classic features. The jacket is the same dark navy as the rest of the suit with wide shawl lapels with black satin silk facings.

Daniel Craig impregnates the audience.

Daniel Craig impregnates the audience.

Bond’s jacket is single-breasted and closes in the front with a single black satin-faced button. This poor button becomes considerably strained when Craig closes it over his torso, likely breathing a sigh of relief when he sits down and unbuttons it again.

The 3-button cuffs are also covered in the same black satin silk. As usual for Craig’s Bond, he shows off the surgeon’s cuffs by keeping the bottom button unfastened.

It's okay to be rakish with your surgeon's cuffs if you're badass enough to back it up.

It’s okay to be rakish with your surgeon’s cuffs if you’re badass enough to back it up.

Bond’s dinner jacket has narrow shoulders with roped sleeveheads. There is a welted pocket and two jetted hip pockets, both also featuring black satin silk jetting. He wears a white handkerchief neatly folded into the breast pocket, likely made of either linen or silk.

Little did Bond know that the beautiful woman he was flirting with over drinks would soon be in his sights during a Scotch-fueled dueling match the next day - ah, you know what, he probably knew.

Little did Bond know that the beautiful woman he was flirting with over drinks would soon be in his sights during a Scotch-fueled dueling match the next day – ah, you know what, he probably knew.

The only exception to the jacket’s classic look is the single rear vent, which belongs only on business suits or sport coats; dinner jacket should either have double vents or none at all.

Poor Bond was followed around all night by sartorial critics pointing at his rear vent and sneering.

Poor Bond was followed around all night by sartorial critics pointing at his rear vent and sneering.

The likely reason for the single vent is that the tight fit of the jacket meant that:

  • a ventless jacket would be too tight, and Craig would be unable to move
  • double rear vents would create the effect of “ass-popping”, and Craig would look silly

There are two things that James Bond is not known for: immobility and looking silly. In her quest to place Bond in these very contemporary but very tight-fitting suits, costume designer Jany Temime is also mindful of these two tenets and sacrifices proper dinner jacket venting in order to meet them.

Bond’s formal flat front trousers are also midnight blue with black satin stripes down the leg. The trousers rise appropriately high on Bond’s waist, where they fasten with an extended front waist tab and buckle side adjusters.

Bond plays with his toys.

Bond plays with his toys.

The trousers fit neatly down the legs, tapering to the plain-hemmed bottoms. They also have on-seam side pockets where Craig often places his hands when idle.

Although the trousers have side adjusters, Bond wears a set of white moiré suspenders with white leather joints (constructed of vegtanned goatskin) and braid ends, made by Albert Thurston according to James Bond Lifestyle.

Traditionists eschew the wearing of evening attire both in the daytime and without the jacket and tie. However, these are extenuating circumstances if I've ever seen them.

Traditionists eschew the wearing of evening attire both in the daytime and without the jacket and tie. However, these are extenuating circumstances if I’ve ever seen them.

The suspenders (or braces) are fitted with clips to fasten to the top of the waistband, but since Bond’s trousers are fitted with inside buttons, the braces are able to fasten inside and out of sight for a cleaner look.

When in the casino, Bond covers up his waist with a black satin silk Tom Ford cummerbund, marking one of the few times in the series that he wears one.

sf6-CL-cummerbund

Bond looks like a very serious man on a mission. Because he actually is.

Now that he’s practically a Tom Ford brand ambassador, Bond also wears a white cotton voile Tom Ford shirt that kicks the outfit’s traditional look up a notch. The bib, spread collar, and double cuffs are all piqué, a standard weave for formalwear since the early days of white tie. The shirt has two side darts on the back.

Silva takes a few liberties with Bond.

Silva takes a few liberties with Bond.

Bond wears a set of white mother-of-pearl cuff links, also from Tom Ford, through his shirt cuffs. They are round with white gold trim and, as you might be able to guess, were made by Tom Ford. You might not be able to guess the price, though; according to James Bond Lifestyle, they can run you about $3,400. If you’re the sort of person that spends $3,400 on cuff links, I’m requesting that you stop reading this blog on principle alone.

The photo of Bond's Tom Ford cuff links have a James Bond Lifestyle watermark because you should visit that site for all of your James Bond lifestyle needs. They've got you covered.

The photo of Bond’s Tom Ford cuff links have a Bond Lifestyle watermark because you should visit that site for all of your James Bond lifestyle needs. They’ve got you covered.

Since Tom Ford’s hand is present throughout this outfit, the cuff links perfectly match the shirt studs, a smaller version of the white gold-trimmed mother-of-pearl links. The studs are worn through the shirt’s plain front, with four showing between the bow tie and cummerbund.

Bond’s bow tie is black grosgrain with a “batwing” shape, a narrower tie that works best with slimmer men wearing slimmer collars and lapels.

Bond sizes up his surroundings.

Bond sizes up his surroundings.

The English shoemaker Crockett & Jones is well-represented in Skyfall as Bond wears his third pair of C&Js in Macau. This is the “Alex” plain-toe wholecut shoe, constructed of black calf with five eyelets and a single leather sole. Again confirmed by James Bond Lifestyle in its infinite wisdom, the Crockett & Jones “Alex” can be had for £360… that’s just £180 per shoe!

The Crockett & Jones shoes were worth the investment for the poster art, but in the film they're only seen fleetingly after Bond's already been through a rough night.

The Crockett & Jones shoes were worth the investment for the poster art, but in the film they’re only seen fleetingly after Bond’s already been through a rough night. Not the best use of £360.

Naturally, Bond wears a pair of black socks. Would you really think Bond is the sort of guy who “wants a hint of color“?

Bond’s watch is his Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Mid Size Chronometer, worn in all scenes after his return from exile. The reference number is 231.10.39.21.03.001, and it is stainless with a stainless case and a brilliant blue dial with an indicator at 3:00 and a screw-in crown.

Bond, genuinely afraid that his watch will get scratched.

Bond, genuinely afraid that his watch will get scratched.

His holster remains unseen, but it looks like he is back to wearing an IWB as a shoulder holster would create a very unsightly bulge in the tight dinner jacket. Reportedly, his Skyfall IWB holster was a cognac-colored suede Vega IB333 to fit the Walther PPK/S he is issued by Q. He certainly wears it during the following scenes in London after Silva’s capture, but he is back to carrying a standard PPK by then.

Another tool of the job is worn in his ear. To communicate with Moneypenny in the Floating Dragon Casino, Bond fits a Phonak Invisity Flex Miniature Receiver into his ear. Before you start thinking I’m an earpiece expert (I’m not; I’m only an apprentice earpiece expert), this very acute detail also comes from James Bond Lifestyle, which reports that Bond dropping the earpiece into Eve’s champagne is “an expensive joke, since this earpiece costs £1100 – £1500 (with remote control) or $1290 – $1750.” No wonder he and Q were always at odds!

Interestingly, James Bond Lifestyle also reports that the earpiece was more than just a prop. When Silva (Javier Bardem) was locked inside the glass, he wore one of these earpieces to hear the lines of the actors outside the glass. The film concealed the earpiece nicely, as this is impossible to discern when watching.

The next day, Bond and Sévérine emerge from what was likely a few hours in the shower for a bright morning ride on her yacht. To combat the sunlight, Bond puts on a pair of Tom Ford Marko FT0144 “18V” aviator-style sunglasses with silver rhodium frames and blue lenses.

Bond was wisely prepared for a sunny morning on Silva's private island.

Bond was wisely prepared for a sunny morning on Silva’s private island.

I have no idea where he was keeping these, as they surely would’ve broken when he jumped into the Rancor pit komodo dragon pit the previous evening and certainly would’ve bulged through his clothing. Perhaps after leaving the casino he picked them up from his car, knowing that he and Sévérine wouldn’t be finished until morning.

Craig also wore the Tom Ford sunglasses while filming in Istanbul, but they weren’t part of that scene. More info is available at James Bond Lifestyle… but you knew that.

All in all, this is a great dinner suit that could’ve been just a little bit better with a correct fit. Had it fit better, it would’ve likely had the proper rear venting and still would have flattered Craig’s muscular physique. It’s interesting to see the transition between the evening and day, as Bond ditches the bow tie and adds sunglasses, making it almost a completely different look. This is very reminiscent of Moonraker (and the only real thing the two films have in common*) where Bond wore his black tux to the Rio carnival then showed up the next morning still in the same clothing.

* Other than the fact that both films feature black tie scenes in Portuguese-speaking countries that are not Portugal. Eerie coincidence.

* An additional coincidence – or maybe it isn’t? – is the fact that Macau is a Portuguese-speaking country and Raoul Silva is supposed to be Portuguese-born. I don’t believe this was mentioned in the film; something extra for viewers in the know?

Go Big or Go Home

James Bond’s badassery seemingly knows no bounds; he begins his night by shaving with a straight razor. Moneypenny – and many others – refer to these as “cut-throat” razors and for an excellent reason that needs no explanation. Straight razors were once the only way to shave until the development of the safety razor around the start of the 20th century. An additional blow was delivered to the straight razor as the popularity of electric razors blew up in the 1950s.

Very few men still shave with straight razors, and even Bond himself used a Gillette-style safety razor in the novels and the Goldfinger film. By the time of Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond had even adopted an electric razor, the Philips Philishave Sensotec HQ8894 (marketed in North America as the Norelco Spectra 8894XL). Of course, a straight razor wouldn’t have been as practical for Bond to shave off the heavy beard he had accrued in that film, and the Philips product placement gods were sated by Britain’s #1 hero using their razor.

The theme of old vs. new runs rampant in Skyfall, and Bond’s choice of razor is not insignificant. The skill required to safely and efficiently use a straight razor means that most men desirous of these close shaves go to a barber who is learned in the ways of the razor. For Bond to be able to use one himself, he must be steady-handed and steady-minded to not be intimidated by the shave. (Moneypenny seems to appreciate it too.)

Nor is he intimidated by exotic casino games. If a man came up to you in a casino and asked you to pay some chips on a game of 骰寶, would you do it?

骰寶, pronounced Sic bo in English, is also known as tai sai (大細), dai siu (大小), big and small, or hi-lo. Three dice are shaken in a mechanical shaker, and the player must predict the outcome. Like roulette, it is almost completely a game of chance. It is very popular in Macau, and Bond satisfies himself with a few games before heading to the bar for some dangerously sexually-charged drinks with Sévérine.

Bond shakes and stirs Sévérine. (Ugh, I hate puns.)

Bond shakes and stirs Sévérine. (Ugh, I hate puns.)

And who exactly was Sévérine, anyway? While I get that all Bond adventures need at least two Bond girls – including one sacrificial lamb – her role was slightly unclear to me. So she had been an ex-prostitute that was now somehow in service to Silva, and this service included getting men to look at art while being shot?

A scene was unfortunately deleted from the film at the Shanghai airport that would have shown Sévérine handing a briefcase to Patrice, Silva’s silent henchman that Bond kills through hand-to-hand combat and eventual defenestration. The briefcase, as we see in the finished film, contained the Floating Dragon Casino chip that led Bond to Macau and, thus, Sévérine. Perhaps the filmmakers thought a more stylish introduction to her character would be seeing her through Bond’s eyes for the first time during the assassination, but this cut took some clarity with it.

What to Imbibe

While Bond indulges in one of his extra chilled vodka martinis during his tête-à-tête with Sévérine, Skyfall gives a nice boost to Macallan single malt Scotch whisky throughout. Casual viewers who only associate Bond with martinis were probably stunned to see him drinking so much whisky, not to mention the controversial Heineken! Of course, casual viewers haven’t read the books or paid attention to the films, which often find Bond drinking far more whisky; alas, the simplicity of whisky doesn’t stick in audience’s minds as much as a complicated martini order that shows just how much of a connoisseur/snob one can be.

Despite tacky taste in clothing, Raoul Silva has excellent taste in libations. He keeps a bottle of Macallan 1962 Fine and Rare Vintage on his private island, pouring out shots for he and Bond as the two compare marksmanship with the lovely Sévérine as an unwilling target stand. Of course, Bond’s been a bit shaky lately and Silva is forced to take the shot – the gunshot, that is – and put poor Sévérine down.

sf6-LS-scotch

Bond is coldly laconic, as usual:

Waste of good Scotch.

How to Get the Look

As several gents in Hollywood have proved, a sharp blue dinner suit is a classy way to show up on the red carpet. If you’ve got any red carpet events this weekend, or just any red rugs in your house that you feel particularly like walking on, now you know what to wear.

Daniel Craig on the Floating Dragon Casino set.

Daniel Craig on the Floating Dragon Casino set.

  • Midnight navy blue wool dinner suit by Tom Ford, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with wide black satin silk-faced shawl lapels, single black satin silk-covered button, welted breast pocket, black satin silk-jetted hip pockets, 3 covered silk button “surgeon’s cuffs”, and single rear vent
    • Flat front high rise trousers with extended waistband, buckle side adjusters, side pockets, and plain-hemmed tapered bottoms
  • White cotton voile Tom Ford shirt with piqué plain-front bib, piqué spread collar, and piqué double/French cuffs
  • Black “batwing”-style grosgrain bow tie
  • White mother-of-pearl Tom Ford cuff links with white gold round trim
  • Black calf wholecut plain-toe 5-eyelet shoes
    • Bond wears the Crockett & Jones “Alex” model
  • Black dress socks
  • White moiré Albert Thurston suspenders with white goatskin leather joints and braid ends
  • Black satin silk Tom Ford cummerbund
  • Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra  Mid Size Chronometer, ref. 231.10.39.21.03.001 with a stainless steel bracelet and case and a blue dial
  • Vega IB333 cognac-colored suede IWB holster for Walther PPK/S
  • Tom Ford FT0144 Marko “18V” aviator-style sunglasses with silver rhodium frames and blue lenses
  • White silk (or linen) folded pocket square, worn in jacket breast pocket

The Gun

Chekhov’s Gadget in Skyfall was actually a gun this time. Q had issued Bond his new pistol, a “Walther PPK/S, nine-millimeter short”, with a special palm print coding meaning only Bond could fire it. He tests out the coding briefly in Shanghai, acknowledging it with a smirk. Surely this isn’t the sole narrative purpose of the gun’s new feature!

Bond next continues to Macau, and the pistol even becomes a topic of discussion with Sévérine…

Sévérine: Would you mind if I ask you a business question?
Bond: Depends on the question.
Sévérine: It has to do with death.
Bond: A subject in which you’re well-versed.
Sévérine: And how would you know that?
Bond: Only a certain kind of wears a backless dress with a Beretta 70 strapped to her thigh.
Sévérine: One can never be too careful when handsome men in tuxedos carry Walthers.

Chekhov’s Gadget survives another scene unused, however, and Chekhov’s Gun is averted. Not only is Sévérine’s referenced Beretta Model 70 never used, it’s never even seen. (For those who are curious, the Beretta Model 70 is a compact .32-caliber semi-automatic that popped its head up as a continuity error in The Spy Who Loved Me when Bond was in Egypt. It has been used in plenty of foreign films but is well-remembered as the pistol used by Andy Garcia to kill two home invaders in The Godfather, Part III.)

Alas, Chekhov’s Gadget finally rears its head in the komodo dragon pit in the following scene. Bond drops into the pit and loses his PPK/S, which is subsequently picked up by one of Silva’s more portly henchmen.

Again keeping utter cool, Bond deadpans: “Good luck with that,” and the henchman pulls the trigger. Click. Click. Enough time to allow Bond to kick some ass and escape, but – unfortunately – without retrieving his pistol.

Bond gets his hands on another weapon the next morning when his marksmanship (and hubris) are tested on Silva’s island. For Silva’s aforementioned marksmanship exercise, he reveals a stunning Ardesa 1871 percussion cap dueling pistol, as identified by IMFDb.

An Ardesa

An Ardesa available from Henry Krank.

The above photo, found at HenryKrank.com, has a .45 inch bore – making it 11.4 mm caliber. It weighs approximately one kilogram with an overall length of 16.9″ (430 mm) and a 9.4″ barrel (240 mm). Both the polished barrel and the walnut stock are fluted.

sf6-gun-ardesa1

At nearly a foot and a half long, the Ardesa is a world apart from Bond’s usual 6″-long Walther PPK.

Proving to be a wasteful dickhead, Silva places a shot glass of Macallan on Sévérine’s head as she remains tied up. Bond is given the challenge: shoot the glass of whisky on top of her head. We’ve already seen Bond try to regain his marksmanship skills during his re-training. It wasn’t pretty.

sf6-gun-ardesa2

That guy with the Glock is getting a little too anxious…

After a tense few seconds, Bond misses. Luckily, he avoids hitting Sévérine. Silva takes the dueling pistol next and – BANG! – wins the match on a technicality by shooting Sévérine dead. She slumps forward, and the shot glass slips off. While Bond reacts coolly, it becomes obvious he was just biding his time, looking for the perfect chance. The moment strikes and he takes over, wiping out all of Silva’s henchmen and simultaneously swiping a more tactical Glock 17 from one of them.

sf6-gun-glock

Bond takes control.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the film.

The Quote

Well, I like to do some things the old-fashioned way.

Footnotes

Today is my girlfriend’s birthday, and she was sweet enough to allow me to indulge in a very Bond-like date night two years ago when we went to see Skyfall. The evening was complete with Tagliatelli Verdi and Chianti (Bond’s favorite Italian dinner in the novels) and a fair amount of know-it-all moments for me as I rambled on about Bond trivia minutae. Naturally, I wore a dark blue worsted suit with a white shirt, black knit tie, black casual moccasins, and a holstered .32.

In an additional display of awesome, she was the one to buy me my own DVD copy of Skyfall after it came out!

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Michael Corleone’s Gray Striped Suit in The Godfather

Al Pacino on set as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972).

Al Pacino on set as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972).

Vitals

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, cold and calculating New York Mafia boss

Long Island, NY, August 1955

Background

Last weekend, I attended the baptism of my girlfriend’s nephew. While other family members were snapping photos through tearful eyes, I kept picturing fat Clemenza blowing a guy away with a shotgun and Moe Greene getting the Bugsy Siegel treatment.

Whether or not you’re the type of person moved to sentiment by a baptism, anyone who has seen The Godfather can hardly forget the brilliance of Coppola’s juxtaposition between Michael admitting his son into the church while simultaneously sending his enemies to hell.

After returning to the United States and taking his slain brother‘s former mantle as boss of the Corleone Crime Family, Michael Corleone leaves behind the earth tones he sported earlier in the film. Gray is now his color of choice, reflected throughout his wardrobe.

Wardrobe is an essential factor of The Godfather‘s characters, particularly Michael. We first meet him at his sister’s wedding during the opening scene. The wedding takes place in the summer of 1945, and Michael returns to his family as a war hero. He even looks the part, still sporting his brown USMC uniform.

His next outfit incorporates plenty of brown, a grounded color that both reflects nature and earth as well as evoking the brown of his uniform. Michael’s brown corduroy sport coat is far more college professor than gangster, and he even wears a brown overcoat with it.

When camping out at the Corleone household after the Don’s shooting, Michael again wears a brown overcoat, albeit with more layers of gray underneath. He knows he’s being pulled toward the dark side, but he tries to cover this up, smothering it with yet another brown coat. Still, the coldness of the gray is present.

Finally, when Michael sets out on his fateful mission to kill Sollozzo and McClusky, his look is as conflicted as his mindset. This sequence can be marked as the turning point for Michael both by its obvious context and his attire. His suit is a dark charcoal three-piece, making him look much more like a gangster than he did in his corduroy jacket. However, he still wears his brown overcoat from his early scenes with Kay. His fedora, the first non-uniform hat he wears in the film, is also brown. Many note the significance of the fact that Michael doesn’t wear non-military hats until he begins his involvement with the family, and it is not insignificant that this first hat is brown; the pureness of his character is now tarnished as even a brown garment is one associated with his criminal career. The brown overcoat, his last link to his prior life, is left behind as he abandons the murder scene wearing only the suit.

And finally, we’re back to the fall of 1950. Michael has been back for more than a year, and he is now de facto boss of the Corleone family. He visits Kay, presumably in New Hampshire, and tells her that he wants to take the family totally legitimate. It is also not insignificant that this is at the start of the 1950s, the decade of “the man in the gray flannel suit”. Michael may be more business-oriented than his father and brother, but he’s still a business-oriented criminal rather than a Wall Street executive.

With the exception of his trip to Las Vegas the following year and his father’s funeral, this dark gray tonal-striped three-piece suit becomes Michael’s primary outfit throughout the final act of the film. He wears it when visiting Kay, consulting with Vito immediately before his death, and during the climactic baptism and final scenes which mark his full transition from conflicted man to calculating mobster.

What’d He Wear?

Unlike many great films of the decade that still featured ’70s versions of period suits (The StingDillinger, and The Great Gatsby come to mind…), The Godfather‘s characters look just like they would have walking out of an Italian-owned bespoke tailor shop in the post-war years.

The Godfather is known for its color-driven symbolism; seeing an orange in any movie now makes me wonder if a character is not long for this world. Brown, the color of soil, is more down-to-earth and practical. Michael’s early wardrobe and much of Don Vito’s clothing incorporate brown tones, as Vito is more pragmatic than ruthless. Sonny, the hothead, always wore gray suits with loud patterns and stripes. Tom Hagen, more businesslike, favors subdued and professional gray suits. It isn’t until he too becomes a part of this criminal world that Michael adopts the cold, hard gray tones into his wardrobe.

As boss of the Corleone family, Michael’s primary outfit is a medium-dark gray three-piece suit with a gray tonal stripe, paired with gray and black clothing and accessories. The suit has a noticeable sheen, indicating either a silk or – more likely – mohair blend.

Michael Corleone in his preferred pose: arms relaxed, legs crossed, sitting in an office surrounded by men who will kill for him at the drop of a hat.

Michael Corleone in his preferred pose: arms relaxed, legs crossed, sitting in an office surrounded by men who will kill for him at the drop of a hat.

George and King offers a suit, perhaps inspired by this look, called “The Michael Corleone Suit”. The G&K suit is a two-piece gray herringbone wool with a single-breasted 2-button jacket. While not an exact match by any means, G&K did a fine job of modernizing and honoring Michael’s look. Any of my Australian friends also receive free shipping, an extra bonus for a $799 suit!

Michael’s suit is cut generously throughout, apropos to 1950s fashion. The early 1950s were the last hurrah for double-breasted suits for a few decades until they regained popularity during the “power suit” fad of the ’80s when the emphasized shoulders offered by a double-breasted jacket became desirable again. As the ’50s progressed and conformity became the norm, men preferred to clean, simple, and slim looks offered by a single-breasted two-piece suit. Michael himself would wear these slim single-breasted suits in The Godfather, Part II – set in 1958 and 1959 – although outfits like his dupioni silk suit were anything but simple.

The double-breasted suit jacket has wide peak lapels, each with a buttonhole, that help scream, “I’m powerful.” Though Michael was more understated in both dress and attitude than his older brother, it must have been hard for the freshman boss to avoid the temptation of flaunting his new position. The sharp lapels with their long gorges and silver sheen are certainly indicative of knives, like the kind that Michael metaphorically stabs into the back of friends and associates.

Zing!

Zing!

OK… getting ahead of myself here.

Michael’s double-breasted jacket has a traditional 6×2 button stance, and he wears it both open and closed. Like the rest of the suit, it is fully cut and the padded shoulders (with roped sleeveheads) enhance his chest to make the 5’7″ Al Pacino more menacing. The jacket also has a welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and a ventless rear.

Michael has noticeably contrasting attitudes toward his sister and his brother-in-law.

Michael has noticeably contrasting attitudes toward his sister and his brother-in-law.

The suit has a waistcoat – or vest, since I’m an American – with a high-fastening 6-button front. An interesting feature on the vest is a small notch just above the top button, creating a square effect that is covered up when the vest is fastened.

The vest’s rear lining is dark gray silk with an adjustable rear strap; a white inner lining is best seen during Michael’s final conversation with his father. There are four welted pockets – two on each side.

gf55m-CL2-vest

Michael’s single reverse-pleated trousers are appropriately high waisted for the era. They have on-seam side pockets, cuffed bottoms (aka turn-ups), and a comfortably large fit through the hips and legs.

Although the trousers also have visible belt loops, Michael ignores them in favor of a pair of stone gray suspenders (aka braces) that button to the inside of his trouser waistband. The suspenders have silver adjusters and black leather features.

These are the kind of braces that won't get you laughed at in sixth grade. Well, maybe they will, actually...

These are the kind of braces that won’t get you laughed at in sixth grade.
Well, maybe they will, actually…

Now evidently a huge fan of monochromatic palettes, Michael wears a very light gray shirt with point collars. It is very distinctive from the usual dress shirt with two patch pockets – one on each side of the chest. The white mother-of-pearl buttons fasten down the front placket and button over the wrists on rounded barrel cuffs.

The shirt has a blueish hue in certain light, but I will go to my grave insisting that it is gray.

The shirt has a blueish hue in certain light, but I will go to my grave insisting that it is gray.

Michael’s tie offers him a chance to vary his color… but again we have a monochromatic tie with thin light gray and black diagonal stripes alternating down in the right-shoulder-down-to-left-hip direction.

gf55m-CL3-tie1

The tie reminds me of one worn by Al Capone in his famous mugshot from May 1929; perhaps this similar tie was chosen to show that Michael had now reached the same position and reputation as Capone.

After a long day of ordering murders, Michael relaxes in his office by removing his jacket and vest and loosening his tie. Here, the tie looks especially long against his high-waisted trousers. Michael likely tucks the bottom of the tie into his trousers à la Fred Mertz to avoid the tie poking out under the vest. While tucking a tie can be considered a faux pas, it’s far preferable to having the bottom stick out in the genital region.

Fred Michael, after an argument with Ethel Kay.

Fred Michael, after an argument with Ethel Kay.

Further down the leg, Michael wears a pair of well-polished black leather plain-toe derbies with black dress socks. All of this black and gray must mean his closet looks like an episode of Leave It to Beaver.

Michael's shoes are only briefly seen when he picks up Anthony after the baptism, but the fact that they are black should surprise no one.

Michael’s shoes are only briefly seen when he picks up Anthony after the baptism, but the fact that they are black should surprise no one.

When he first visits Kay on his return from Italy, it is a cool day in fall. He wears a heavy wool knee-length overcoat that is – and I’m sure you’ll be shocked – black. The coat is double-breasted with a 6×3 button stance, although he wears it open. It has wide peak lapels – like the suit jacket – with swelled edges. The hip pockets are flapped, and the presence of a welted breast pocket – usually considered unnecessary on overcoats – nods to additional luxury.

Michael stands out against the fall foliage like the dreary season that follows it.

Michael stands out against the fall foliage like the dreary season that follows it.

Michael wisely ditches the overcoat for the scenes set in summer 1955, instead only wearing a dark gray felt homburg in terms of outerwear. The homburg has a wide black ribbon.

gf55m-CL4-hat

During the earlier Kay scenes, Michael wears a black homburg. The black is a better option for a cold weather hat and also for indicating a sinister nature. Kay must have been very shocked when her corduroy-wearing war hero showed up five years later in a chauffeured Cadillac limousine wearing a black coat and hat, the traditional attire of the mustache-twirling villain.

Michael is forced to break his monochromatic rule for his jewelry, although his two simple and utilitarian pieces hardly draw attention away from the outfit. He wears a gold watch on a slim expanding bracelet. The white face is square and appears to use Roman numerals.

gf55m-CX1-watch

Michael, now Kay’s loyal husband, wears a plain gold wedding band on his left ring finger. He foregoes the diamond-studded pinky rings preferred by those of his ilk.

Who said being a mob boss was hard?

Who said being a mob boss was hard?

The Huffington Post ran a brief feature last year analyzing The Godfather‘s timeless sartorial lessons, showing a few examples from this outfit in particular in support of suspenders and three-piece suits. One great photo from the feature shows Al Pacino and Marlon Brando together during Michael and Vito’s final scene together with Pacino drinking Budweiser.

Pacino and Brando: Titans.

Pacino and Brando: Titans.

I don’t recall seeing this in the film – and I pay attention to these things! – so either Coppola was fine with his actors imbibing between takes or we now know Michael Corleone’s beer of choice.

Go Big or Go Home

The “baptism of fire” is one of the most iconic sequences in cinema history. As Michael’s ruthless schemes fall into place, he is simultaneously baptized into evil as his godson is baptized into the church. Coppola makes this contrast clear as young Michael Francis Rizzi is clothed in white and crying out of confusion; older Michael resembles steel both in his nerve and his attire. The priest, young Michael’s vessel of baptism, prepares his holy items as the assassins, serving as older Michael’s vessels of his own baptism, prepare their weapons.

Any doubt that Michael Corleone is incapable of redemption is wiped away when he renounces Satan as Barzini, Cuneo, Stracci, Tattaglia, and Moe Greene are simultaneously shot to death by Michael’s personal avengers. At the end of the day, his godson is now clean in the eyes of the Catholic church, and Michael has given himself absolute control (“a clean slate”). Michael Rizzi is anointed into the church as Michael Corleone is anointed godfather not only his godson but the underworld at large.

The baptism scene, considered a capstone of American cinema and the inspiration for many similar sequences since, was filmed at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York. When the Corleone family emerges, however, you see the Mount Loretto Church in Pleasant Plains, Staten Island. Interestingly enough, Francis Ford Coppola himself didn’t think the sequence worked until the organ soundtrack was added by Peter Zinner.

How to Get the Look

Just inherited a powerful mob family and want to pretend to take the “business” in a new direction? We’ve got the suit for you!

Michael spends some quality time with his dad.

Michael spends some quality time with his dad.

  • Medium-dark gray mohair blend suit, consisting of:
    • Double-breasted jacket with wide peak lapels, 6×2 button stance, padded shoulders, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless rear
    • Single-breasted 6-button vest with four welted pockets, dark gray silk rear lining, notched top and bottom, and adjustable rear strap
    • Single reverse-pleated trousers with high rise, on-seam side pockets, cuffed bottoms
  • Light gray dress shirt with point collars, front placket, double chest patch pockets, and 1-button barrel cuffs
  • Light gray & black striped tie with thin R-down-to-L diagonal stripes
  • Black leather plain-toe derby shoes
  • Black dress socks
  • Stone gray suspenders with silver adjusters and black leather features
  • Dark gray felt homburg with black band
  • Gold wristwatch
  • Plain gold wedding ring
  • Black heavy wool double-breasted knee-length overcoat with wide peak lapels, 6×3 button stance, welted breast pocket, and flapped hip pockets

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the series and watch the first two and watch regularly to keep in cinematic shape. The third one; eh, you should watch it once to know it existed. Watching it once will also tell you why you wouldn’t really need to watch it again.

The Quote

Michael’s handling of the Carlo situation is a primer in duplicity.

Today I settled all family business so don’t tell me that you’re innocent. Admit what you did… Don’t be afraid, Carlo. Come on, you think I’d make my sister a widow? I’m godfather to your son.

You’re out of the family business, that’s your punishment. You’re finished. I’m putting you on a plane to Vegas… I want you to stay there, you understand?

Only don’t tell me that you’re innocent. Because it insults my intelligence and it makes me very angry.

Footnote

Chronology in The Godfather series is often disputed with the book, the film, and personal theories offering constantly clashing dates. I personally believe that the scenes featured in this post are set in the fall of 1950 when Michael reunites with Kay, late July 1955 when Michael consults with Vito, and August 1955 for the “baptism of fire”.

Clearly, the opening action of the film is late 1945. Much mention is made of the war being freshly over, and Tom Hagen tells the crew “it’s almost 1946″ when deciding how to handle Sollozzo. Connie’s wedding was the summer, and Vito’s shooting was directly before Christmas. Thus, it was likely around January 1946 when Michael shot both Sollozzo and McClusky and headed to Italy. It is intended that he’ll be away for a year, but the time gets longer as the war in New York continues.

Likely during the summer of 1948, Barzini approaches Carlo Rizzi and asks for his help in trapping and exterminating Sonny. Early that fall, Sonny is killed on the causeway (despite a baseball game from October 1951 playing on his radio). Michael receives this news in Sicily, Appollonia is killed, and he returns to New York.

Thus, Michael revisits Kay “more than a year” later. He probably returned early in 1949, spent some time rearranging the family’s empire, and then felt comfortable visiting Kay. It’s clearly fall when they reconnect due to the leaves on the trees and their warm attire; likely 1950.

Michael and Kay in 1950 (left); Michael and associates in 1955 (right).

Michael and Kay in 1950 (left); Michael and associates in 1955 (right).

When we next see Michael in Las Vegas, he is wearing a wedding ring. Presumably, his romance with Kay picked up right where it started from five years earlier. After the Moe Greene meeting, we jump ahead to Michael visiting Vito in July 1955; Kay also tells Michael that Connie wants him to be her son’s godfather in this scene. (Michael and Kay’s son is now three years old. For their son to be three, he would’ve had to have been born before July 1952 and conceived prior to October 1951. It’s unlikely that Michael and Kay would reunite, marry, and immediately conceive a kid over the course of a month (although crazier things have happened), so this context places their reunion in the fall of 1950.)

After talking with Vito, the scene cuts to July 29, 1955 when Vito dies. The date is clearly displayed on Vito’s tombstone at his funeral, which thus can’t be later than early August 1955. Soon after, Michael stands as godfather for Connie and Carlo’s son.

Does this timeline make sense? Let me know if I’ve figured it out. The Godfather, Part II further confuses things during the Senate hearings when the committee chairman places the Sollozzo/McClusky killing in 1947 and the Five Families murders in 1950. Neither of these dates are possible.

Hank Moody’s Workout Attire

David Duchovny as Hank Moody on Californication, out for a run in Venice Beach in "So Here's the Thing..." (Ep. 3.07).

David Duchovny as Hank Moody on Californication, out for a run in Venice Beach in “So Here’s the Thing…” (Ep. 3.07).

Vitals

David Duchovny as Hank Moody, borderline alcoholic novelist and womanizing college professor

Venice Beach, Late Spring 2009

Background

For all of the drinking, smoking, drug abuse, and generally self-destructive hedonism that makes up his self-loathing lifestyle, Hank Moody is still in pretty good shape. He manages to avoid the flab that any of the rest of us – including Charles Bukowski, the inspiration for his character – would have obtained. His only trip to the gym, in the first season, was spent lounging in jeans and puffing away on a cigarette until an old “girlfriend” called him into the ring. Perhaps all the bed-hopping counts as exercise?

By the middle of the third season, newly-ordained college professor Hank has naturally lined up the dean’s wife, his T.A., and a voluptuous student who – because this is Californication – is also a stripper. Of course, he still pines for his Karen and determines to clean up his act. In the well-titled “So Here’s the Thing…” (Ep. 3.07), Hank begins the episode by going out on a run with Charlie. Neither man looks right; Hank looks a bit too cool to be comfortable running, and Charlie just looks like Charlie. He’s decided to break up with each of his side dishes (hence “Here’s the thing”, which is how most of us men begin an attempt to weasel out of an undesired relationship) and stay healthy for his family.

What’d He Wear?

The episode presents a rare glimpse of Hank Moody wearing shorts rather than his trademark jeans (The only other occasion will be in season four when he goes golfing with this lawyers.) Of course, since this is Hank, he’s not just going to wear gym shorts, sneakers, and an old t-shirt he got for free a few years ago…. which is what I do.

Hank layers his shirts, wearing a stone gray short-sleeve cotton t-shirt over a lighter gray long-sleeve thermal shirt. The darker short-sleeve shirt is likely one of his James Perse “Standard” shirts, and it appears almost purple in some lighting. The thermal shirt has long, elasticized cuffs and the usual waffle pattern seen on shirts like this.

Hank’s shorts are a little more questionable. Though not the traditional and unfortunate jorts (or Never Nude-esque cutoffs), they do look like Hank took a pair of scissors to a pair of very old and very dark jeans. Although they are lightweight, I still can’t imagine that it would be comfortable running in any sort of denim. The wash is a dark charcoal blue.

Hanks and Runks, mid-workout.

Hanks and Runks, mid-workout.

The shorts extend to just above his knees, leaving the kneecaps exposed then covering up the calves with a pair of high socks. Hank’s socks are light gray with three white bands around the top of the calf.

Returning after going nearly an entire season unseen, Hank wears a pair of brown leather Puma sneakers with white soles, taupe “formstrip” stripes, and brown laces. The Pumas may be the most athletic-appropriate part of the whole outfit, although leather shoes like this are not typically worn for running.

Hank accessorizes with both of his usual bracelets on his left wrist; the black leather studded strap that closes with a silver snap (ew, that rhymes) and a thinner black leather braid, kept permanently tied. Hank’s silver ring remains on his right index finger as well.

In lieu of sunglasses, Hank also wears a dark blue short-brimmed straw summer trilby with a blue abstract-printed ribbon. It looks like the same hat he wore in “California Son” during the flashbacks.

hank307w-CX-hat

The resurgence of hats, especially among fellows who consider themselves “men’s rights activists” (vomit), is dangerous. While a well-worn fedora can add immeasurable class to an outfit and situation, it must be stressed that hats aren’t for everyone.

MRA Hats

I found this somewhere online a few months ago but didn’t think to get the source as I didn’t realize I would ever use it on the blog. If anyone knows who made it or where it came from, let me know.

The pinstripe hats with short brims and self-attached bands are not Bogie-style fedoras, they are cheap trilbies. What Hank wears is a slightly better version of one of these, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Hank has carved out his own style based on comfort and stylistic indifference. Trying to wear a hat because you want to look like someone else defeats the tenets that guys like Hank Moody and Humphrey Bogart stood for, and you just look like an asshole.

Go Big or Go Home

Hank’s workout is very simple. It consists of running, then stopping for a cigarette. Some may say neither is worth the effort.

How to Get the Look

This is a little more efficient for working out than Hank’s usual t-shirt and jeans, but it still would clash for someone looking for a heavy workout. This sort of attire would probably be better for the sort of person who wants to be seen running before hopping into an Arby’s “because I earned it”.

Hank and Charlie. Based on attire and general appearance, guess which one of these two dudes gets laid more.

Hank and Charlie. Based on attire and general appearance, guess which one of these two dudes gets laid more.

  • Stone gray short-sleeve cotton t-shirt
  • Light gray thermal long-sleeve t-shirt
  • Dark charcoal blue cut-off shorts with jeans-style seams and side pockets
  • Dark brown leather Puma sneakers with taupe side trim, brown laces, and white soles
  • Light gray calf socks with three white bands
  • Silver spinner ring, worn on the right index finger
  • Black leather bracelet with silver hexagonal and round studs, snapped on the left wrist
  • Thin black braided leather bracelet, tied on the left wrist
  • Dark blue short-brimmed straw trilby with blue printed ribbon

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the third season, but keep in mind that the first two seasons were the best (in my opinion, of course). The third season finale was also pretty spot-on, but quality declined by degrees each subsequent season. I still haven’t even seen the last one.

The Quote

Shit, I can get this done in one day – Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Then home for some cybersex with the soul mate.

Footnotes

Hank’s bracelets are available through Urban Wrist. Hank and Charlie’s dialogue can also be watched on YouTube.

If you’re curious about what sort of climate a running outfit like this would be comfortable in, this scene was filmed in Venice Beach on June 2, 2009. This is late spring/early summer throughout most of the U.S., and L.A.’s recorded temperature for that day was an average of 76 °F with a dew point of 56 °F and little wind. I think it suffices to say that Dave was probably sweating quite a bit after filming a few takes running in such dark and relatively heavy clothing.

The Man with the Red and Black Check Sportcoat

Roger Moore as James Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Roger Moore strikes a pose as James Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Vitals

Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent

Thailand, Spring 1974

Background

The Man with the Golden Gun was the first Bond movie I ever saw. Given that my first Connery Bond was Diamonds are Forever and my first theater-seen Bond was Die Another Day, it’s a miracle at all that I became the Bond enthusiast I am today after starting with these three. (Britt Ekland in a bikini in The Man with the Golden Gun may have helped keep me enthused, though.)

The film’s plot ditches the majority of Ian Fleming’s mostly-ghostwritten finale to the Bond canon, keeping only the primary villain – golden gun-wielding assassin Francisco Scaramanga – intact. The simple story of Bond infiltrating Scaramanga’s organization is replaced with a current events story that weaves in the then-contemporary energy crisis and finds Bond and Scaramanga to be instant enemies.

After some cheeky cat-and-mouse (made rendered by corny jokes, the return of Sheriff J.W. Pepper, and a slide whistle), Bond finally catches up to Scaramanga for the film’s climax on Khao Phing Kan, an island off the coast of Thailand now known as “James Bond Island” for this reason alone.

The Man with the Golden Gun isn’t a Bond film to take very seriously, but it’s especially fun to see Roger Moore and his real-life buddy Christopher Lee chew up each other’s scenery as they play hero vs. villain.

What’d He Wear?

When Bond touches down on Scaramanga’s island in his single-engine plane, he puts a plaid sport coat on over his shirt, tie, and holster. This sport coat is one of the wilder garments worn by England’s favorite spy throughout the series, and it is very polarizing for fans. Some find it too garish and too indicative of its decade while others – including yours truly – have come to appreciate the jacket.

Although too era-specific for me to consider it a true classic, it’s a stylish look that isn’t as bad as it could be; Moore makes it work better than most could. After all, Brosnan may have been the most dandy-ish Bond, but Moore was the flashiest.

The pattern of the jacket, described as “Texas check” in Dressed to Kill: James Bond: The Suited Hero and more specifically described as “a plaid made from worsted wool or a silk blend in black, white, and red” by Matt Spaiser on his definitive blog, resembles a typical black and white Glen Plaid with a red windowpane overcheck. At Clothes on Film, Chris Laverty describes it as:

Grey, black and red plaid single breasted jacket in worsted with high double vents; two button fastening with a single functional contrast button on the sleeve, claret silk lining, sloping side pockets and wide notched lapels.

No matter what words are used to describe it, the sport coat is clearly black, white, and red plaid, and it is likely constructed of worsted wool. Spaiser also created a graphic of the design that is worth seeing on his blog, so check it out!

The plaid.

The plaid.

The single-breasted sport coat closes in the front with two gray buttons. The single link-button on each flared cuff also matches the gray front buttons. The jacket has a welted breast pocket and hip pockets that slant backward and close with large flaps.

mwtggplaid-CL-jkt-dts

The jacket is certainly a relic of ’70s British styling with its narrow shoulders matched with the wide, full chest then tapering again through the darted front for a pulled waist. The burgundy silk lining calls out the red overcheck on the outside. As the trousers were part of a Cyril Castle suit and the link-button cuffs are also Castle, it’s a likely assumption that Cyril Castle constructed this somewhat flamboyant jacket for Moore in the film.

Moore’s shirt is warm ecru poplin with a front placket and squared 2-button turnback cuffs that nod to Frank Foster as the shirtmaker. This was the last appearance of turnback cuffs in Bond films after a long run that had begun in 1962 when Turnbull & Asser outfitted Sean Connery in turnback cuff shirts for Dr. No.

Bond’s shirt has a large ’70s-style collar with a moderate spread and a front placket. He keeps the shirt buttoned to his throat when he wears the tie, but all bets are off when the tie is removed and Moore goes all-out Hasselhoff once the duel begins.

Bond wears a black silk textured tie for the beginning part of the scene, tightening it up after wearing it loose for the plane ride in. It’s appropriately wide for 1974, and Bond seems to wear a black tie again after he finds the charcoal suit in Scaramanga’s funhouse. However, the second tie looks more like a knit; as it doesn’t last long, it’s not worth mentioning or exploring further.

mwtggplaid-CL-tie

Bond continues his prep for living out his retirement in Miami Beach with a pair of black horsebit Gucci loafers with a silver horsebit detail. The shoes are still available on Gucci’s site for $595.

mwtggplaid-CL-shoes

Bond has some understandable trouble with Scaramanga’s high-tech bidet.

His dress socks are dark; likely black.

The shoes are a perfect match for Bond’s black leather belt, also made by Gucci as shown with the prominent gold “G” buckle.

mwtggplaid-CX-belt

Bond tucks his Walther PPK into his waistband, uncharacteristically choosing to risk his valuable manhood to save the world.

The belt holds up Bond’s dark charcoal darted-front mohair trousers which rise high on his waist. Although they have no front pockets, as Moore evidently preferred a cleaner look with his ’70s suits, there are two rear jetted pockets that close with buttons. A production photo of Moore with a bikini-clad Britt Ekland shows him slinging his thumb through the left rear pocket.

Moore poses with co-stars of varying degrees of attractiveness.

Moore poses with co-stars of varying degrees of attractiveness.

The darts allow the trousers to wear fully around the waist, tapering slightly throughout the leg, then flaring out past the knee to the plain-hemmed bottoms.

The trousers are revealed to be part of a dark charcoal Cyril Castle-designed suit that Scaramanga keeps on his mannequin of Bond in the funhouse. (Good thing Scaramanga didn’t invest in a George Lazenby mannequin.) I originally assumed that the suit was wool, but the trousers’ sheen in certain light suggests mohair, an elegant fabric that is very fitting for Bond.

Bond Comes Alive!

Bond Comes Alive!

The suit jacket has the same details as the sport coat – single-breasted, 2-button front, natural shoulders, link-button cuffs, long double vents, welted breast pocket, slanted hip pockets, and even the dark red lining.

The full suit was auctioned for £7,500 at Christie’s in November 2009, although the photo accompanying the suit instead showed a charcoal herringbone suit that Bond wears on his date with Goodnight earlier in the film. The auction house describes:

A two piece suit in black, the single-breasted jacket lined in claret coloured art silk, labelled on the inside pocket Cyril A Castle, Roger Moore, March ’74, ESQ, the trousers with similar costume label to waist band — made for Roger Moore as James Bond in the 1974 United Artists/Eon production The Man With The Golden Gun, with corresponding still and letter regarding the provenance.

While it does look black ins some lighting, it is decidedly a very dark charcoal. Black trousers would be a reasonable choice for this outfit, but black suits are only appropriate for certain occasions; a sunny Southeast Asian gunfight isn’t one of them.

Far less controversy surrounds the identification of Bond’s watch, a stainless Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual with a black dial and stainless bracelet. Like the turnback cuff, this would be the last afternoon in the sun for Rolex, another Bond institution since Dr. No.

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Timothy Dalton’s Bond would wear a Rolex again in Licence to Kill in 1989 – a Submariner, no less – but the brand’s involvement with the series ended there… aside from a quick mention in Casino Royale when Vesper Lynd misidentifies his Omega. Roger Moore would wear Seiko watches through the remainder of his time as Bond.

Bond also wears his shoulder holster, receiving more prominent screentime than usual as Bond emerges from his plane jacket-less. The holster itself is black leather, secured by a wide blue cloth strap over his left shoulder.  A thinner off-white canvas strap secures the blue cloth to a black leather strap slung over his right shoulder. It’s a generally uncomplicated rig.

Bond was more receptive to the fly on his shoulder than Walter White.

Bond was more receptive to the fly on his shoulder than Walter White.

Go Big or Go Home

Even when in relative captivity on Scaramanga’s island, Bond enjoys the comforts of the luxurious “007 Lifestyle”. Nick Nack almost immediately presents him with a bottle of Dom Pérignon, although Bond sniffs his nose at it, preferring the ’62 to Scaramanga’s far inferior ’64 vintage.

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Goddamn snob. It probably took all of Nick Nack’s effort to carry out a bottle the same size as himself. Just drink the ’64, James.

And, of course, the most identifiable aspect of the “007 Lifestyle” is a scantily-clad woman desperate for his help and attention. While visually stunning, Britt Ekland’s Mary Goodnight was one of the worst Bond girls due to her total incompetence and endless sex drive, even for a man that twice kicks her out of bed to sleep with other women. The concept of feminism in the Bond series would be a long three years away.

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Scaramanga said it best: “I like a girl in a bikini. No concealed weapons.”

In a strange non-coincidence, there’s always a very worthwhile photo – like the one above – worth posting anytime Britt Ekland shows up in a BAMF Style-worthy movie (see Get Carter if you need further evidence).

How to Get the Look

An outfit like this would be hard to find and hard to make good when found off-the-rack. If you’re interested in emulating Moore, call up some talented guys like Cyril Castle and Frank Foster. You’ll be in good hands… although likely unable to afford lunch.

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  • Black, white, and red plaid woven single-breasted sport coat with large notch lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets, single link-button cuffs, and long double rear vents
  • Dark charcoal gray darted-front mohair suit trousers with belt loops, jetted button-through rear pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Ecru poplin dress shirt with large collars, front placket, and 2-button turnback cuffs
  • Black textured silk necktie
  • Black horsebit Gucci loafers with silver horsebit detail
  • Black dress socks
  • Black leather Gucci belt with gold “G” belt buckle
  • Black leather shoulder holster (RHD) on wide blue cloth strap, for Walther PPK pistol
  • Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual wristwatch with stainless case and bracelet and a black dial

Lucky enough for Bond, the trousers were an exact match for the very suit that Scaramanga keeps on his Bond mannequin! Why, the mannequin is even wearing an ecru shirt and a black tie! What a coincidence!*

* I’ve heard some theories that Nick Nack told Bond to wear this shirt, tie, and trousers so that he could match the look in the funhouse. A loud, contrasting sport coat would keep Scaramanga from suspecting anything… Unfortunately, Bond shows nothing but true animosity toward Nick Nack, even when the latter offers Bond his “assistance”. His surprise at seeing the mannequin also squashes this theory. Sorry, Bond/Nick Nack fanfic writers.

The Gun

Bond carries his faithful blued Walther PPK again, although he notably only fires it once in the whole film. He also lends some mystery to the PPK’s canon with his response to Scaramanga’s challenge.

Scaramanga: A duel between titans… my golden gun against your Walther PPK.
Bond: One bullet against my six?

As some attentive Bond fans are undoubtedly aware, Bond’s PPK was clearly stated to be chambered for 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) ammunition from Dr. No onward. A PPK chambered in 7.65 mm can carry seven rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. It is the 9 mm Kurz (.380 ACP) model that only carries six in the magazine.

It’s unsure if this was intended to be a 9 mm PPK, if Bond carried his magazine partially empty for some reason, or if this was a script error.

An American hero in the '70s would have sprouted a forest of chest hair under a shirt so open. Thank you for your English grooming habits, Roger Moore.

An American hero in the ’70s would have sprouted a forest of chest hair under a shirt so open. Thank you for your English grooming habits, Roger Moore.

My best guess is that the screenwriter assumed that most revolvers carry six rounds and simply input this number into the script. This wouldn’t be the first time a Bond screenwriter made an “all-handguns-carry-six-rounds” flub; Bond notably told Professor Dent in Dr. No that his he’d already “had [his] six” in his “Smith & Wesson”. That error was the more grievous as Dent clearly carried a full-size 1911, which:

a) Never was chambered for less than seven round magazines, and
b) Had not been manufactured by Smith & Wesson in 1962.

As The Man with the Golden Gun‘s “six bullets” lined can be excused with several different explanations, my self-proclaimed expert ruling is that the film’s “error” should be forgiven.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the film, or – if you’re trying to emulate my first ever Bond experience – rent the VHS from Blockbuster and watch it in your friend’s basement during his 10th birthday party. Good luck finding a Blockbuster, though. (And it would be somewhat creepy if you have 10-year-old friends.)

The Quote

Bond: Pistols at dawn? It’s a little old-fashioned, isn’t it?
Scaramanga: That it is. But it remains the only true test for gentlemen.
Bond: On that score, I doubt you qualify. However, I accept.

Footnotes

To read Matt Spaiser’s expert analyses on The Suits of James Bond, check out his posts about the sport coat here and the charcoal suit here. Chris Laverty’s excellent article at Clothes on Film can be found here.

Roger, you cheeky devil, you...

Roger, you cheeky devil, you…

J.J. Gittes’ Gray Pinstripe Double-Breasted Suit in Chinatown

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (1974).

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes in Chinatown (1974).

Vitals

Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes, private investigator and all-around “nosy fella”

Los Angeles, September 1937

Background

Many of the suits Jack Nicholson wears in Chinatown are intentionally loud and showy. As an easygoing yin to the cynical Philip Marlowe’s yang, Gittes happily shows off the fruits of his labors with extravagant and noticeable suits in various earth tones and shades of cream.

However, when it’s time to get down to business, Gittes knows the last thing he needs is to stand out during a stakeout. For this, he has an army of gray suits at his disposal. None of the suits are boring by any means, and they’re only conservative in relation to his other apparel. For client visits and “pubic relations”, Gittes is the flashy PI in brighty-colored suits and shirts.

When Gittes shows up as Evelyn Mulwray’s “knight in shining armor” after her husband’s corpse is found, he is appropriately suited in gray. We’d seen him in gray suits before during his initial investigations of Mulwray, and it’s our signifier that his day doesn’t end with a few quips in front of the hungry press (“Gittes – two t’s and an e!”) Indeed, after Mrs. Mulwray departs, Gittes immediately gets right back to work, investigating the dry river bed and the dams.

What’d He Wear?

During this sequence, which leads to Chinatown‘s iconic “nosy fella” scene, Gittes wears a medium gray wool pinstripe three-piece suit. It is one of five gray-toned suits he wears during the film. He even has another gray pinstripe three-piece suit, although it has a single-breasted jacket. When Gittes’ nose meets its bitter end, he is wearing the suit with the double-breasted jacket.

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Like his other suits, it is cut very appropriately for the ’30s and shows that costume designer Anthea Sylbert was more than deserving of her first Academy Award nomination for her work in the film. (She lost to Theoni V. Aldredge for The Great Gatsby, which is like going up against The Godfather for Best Picture.)

All of the garments of fully cut, especially the double-breasted jacket with its large peak lapels and 6-button front. The buttons are arranged in a 6×2 stance, but Gittes often buttons only one of them, either the top or the bottom depending on his mood.

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The jacket has jetted hip pockets and a welted breast pocket where Gittes keeps a white linen handkerchief poking out. The shoulders are padded with roped sleeveheads, presenting a very 1930s look with solidly-built shoulders and an imposing chest down to a gently suppressed waist. The rear is ventless and the cuffs each have four buttons.

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Gittes’ vest (or waistcoat) fastens high on his chest with six buttons. The notched bottom is pretty wide, allowing the bottom of the shirt and the top of the trouser waistband to poke out. This is a sartorial no-no but also a nod to Gittes’ casual persona.

The trousers, since the top is seen under the vest, do not rise as high as most trousers would have in 1937, but they still look appropriate with their double reverse pleats and cuffed bottoms with full breaks. Since they’re part of a three-piece suit, the trousers are correctly worn with suspenders rather than a belt.

Doggedly casual, Gittes almost always has one or both of his hands in his pockets.

Doggedly casual, Gittes almost always has one or both of his hands in his pockets.

Gittes’ pale blue suspenders are briefly seen just before he loses his nose. They appear to have some small dark gray repeating pattern.

Aw shit...

Aw shit…

The suit was one of many costumes auctioned in December 2008 during Profiles in History’s annual film memorabilia auction. The suit was described accurately but sparingly as “gray three-piece pin stripe suit” and was lot #2991.

The suit looks much sleeker when he's actually wearing it.

The suit looks much sleeker when he’s actually wearing it.

Gittes wears a plain white dress shirt with French cuffs. The collars are long and large with a moderate spread, a style from the 1930s that was – luckily enough for the era – fashionable again in the 1970s. The double cuffs are fastened together with large flat silver discs.

There's no such thing as a normal day in the life of a PI. One minute you're visiting the coroner, the next you're leaping over fences into a reservoir.

Gittes shows us that there’s no such thing as a normal day in the life of a PI. One minute you’re visiting the coroner, the next you’re leaping over fences into a reservoir.

His tie is burgundy silk with white polka dots.

Gittes wears a pair of brown patent leather plain-toe oxfords. Although we don’t see this for ourselves, Gittes bemoans “Son of a bitch! Goddamn Florsheim shoe!” after losing one in the reservoir. Florsheim, which was founded in 1892 in Wisconsin, is still thriving and would later gain some recognition as Michael Jackson’s shoe of choice.

I'd be pissed too.

I’d be pissed too.

Other than a quick glimpse of one after he loses his shoe, Gittes’ socks remains mostly unseen. His left sock appears very dark when wet, and it is likely either dark gray or black.

For a neo noir private eye, a fedora can be considered standard issue. However, not all Hollywood actors look right wearing one; some just look downright silly. Jack is the opposite; the way he sports his fedora, he looks exactly like a 1937 P.I. would. The fedora in question with this suit is a nicely-matched dark gray lightweight felt fedora with a wide black band.

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How to Get the Look

This is one of Gittes’ more conservative suits, but the bold pinstripes and styling are still attention-getting.

Gittes and client.

Gittes and client.

  • Gray pinstripe wool three-piece suit, consisting of:
    • Double-breasted jacket with 6×2 button front, peak lapels, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and ventless rear
    • Single-breasted vest with 6-button front and notched bottom
    • Double reverse-pleated trousers with slanted side pockets and cuffed bottoms
  • White dress shirt with large collars (moderate spread) and double/French cuffs
  • Burgundy red silk necktie with white polka dots
  • Silver disc-style cuff links
  • Brown patent leather plain-toe oxfords
  • Dark dress socks
  • Pale blue suspenders
  • Dark gray lightweight felt fedora with wide black band

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the film.

The Quote

Hello, Claude. Where’d you get the midget?