Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, cheeky and streetwise Detroit detective
Beverly Hills, Spring 1984
Like many of the action-comedy cop films of the ’80s (Lethal Weapon, Die 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
David Duchovny as Hank Moody, borderline alcoholic novelist and womanizing college professor
Venice Beach, Late Spring 2009
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.
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.
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.
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”.
- 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.
Shit, I can get this done in one day – Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Then home for some cybersex with the soul mate.
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.
David Duchovny as Hank Moody, alcoholic novelist and dad
Venice Beach, Summer 2008
The penultimate scene of “La Petite Mort”, Californication‘s second season finale, wrapped up the show’s last truly great season as Hank gave up the chance to accompany Karen back to New York, choosing instead to stay behind with their daughter Becca to avoid unfairly transplanting the poor girl yet again.
Becca had recently started dating Damien (played by Ezra Miller from The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Karen felt bad splitting them up. Hank chooses to stay to help Becca nurture her relationship and allow Karen to explore her career opportunities in New York. Yet, at the start of the third season, Becca is evidently single with no mention ever made again of Damien. It’s a shame because:
a) Ezra Miller was very good as Hank’s mini-foil.
b) It marked the beginning of the show’s decline by throwing continuity out the window in favor of just giving Hank opportunities to have more sex.
The show is coming to a conclusion next weekend with the end of its seventh season. Californication seems to be another victim of the Showtime curse that plagued other shows like Dexter and Weeds, starting off incredibly strong with an original premise. After a few great seasons, the writing stalled out and each show – once an innovative and creative experience for viewers – became a slow race to the finish, supported only by loyal viewers who pledge to watch their favorite shows to the end, hoping for one last flash of genius reminiscent of the show’s early years. Keep your fingers crossed for Californication‘s finale.
Whether a finale can ruin your mood or not, there’s no denying that we deserve a pleasant summer after the polar vortex that killed everyone’s morale this winter. Get a t-shirt like Hank’s and keep projecting positivity out into the universe, whether it’s genuine or not.
What’d He Wear?
Hank’s smiley face t-shirt makes its one and only appearance in this episode. Either he doesn’t put it into his rotation that often, or it was one of the shirts he inherited from Lew Ashby (although we never saw Ashby wearing it either.)
It is a cobalt blue short-sleeve t-shirt of soft cotton. The smiley face in question is the standard yellow circle with a black border, black eyes, and a black mouth. It’s either a vintage shirt or it has been printed to resemble one as the screen-printed smiley face is beginning to wear away toward the top.
Hank wears his usual dark wash denim jeans with bootcut legs. His shoes are a pair of indigo blue Puma Whirlwind sneakers with white side trim. White laces are standard for indigo Whirlwinds, so the bright orange laces on Hank’s pair must have been laced himself to give them a little more pop.
These are the same Pumas that showed up eight episodes earlier in “The Raw and the Cooked” as a continuity error, but they are clearly intended to be Hank’s shoes in this scene. Duchovny is a Puma fan in real life, so I’m sticking by my theory that these are his personal pair. (I personally own an indigo pair – with the original white laces – and they are some of my favorite shoes.)
You can still pick up a pair of new Whirlwinds from Puma, although it looks like the indigo and white combination has been discontinued.
The rest of Hank’s accessories are the same, including his silver index finger ring, the black leather studded bracelet, and its thinner braided leather accomplice. The two bracelets are available from Urban Wrist.
Hank and Becca watch Karen’s flight take off from LAX from the back of his Porsche, presumably parked near the Vista Del Mar Park. Hank wears his brown Izod 725 sunglasses and his dark brown corduroy smoking jacket.
How to Get the Look
Somehow Hank is able to pull off a smiley face t-shirt without looking tacky. See if you can do the same.
- Cobalt blue short-sleeve cotton t-shirt with a fading yellow “smiley face”
- Dark blue bootcut denim jeans with zip fly
- Dark brown single-breasted corded suede smoking jacket with a 2-button front, jetted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and single rear vent
- Puma Whirlwind sneakers with indigo uppers, white trim, and orange laces
- Silver ring with two ridged bands, worn on the right index finger
- Black leather bracelet with silver hexagonal and round studs, worn on the left wrist
- Thin black braided leather bracelet, also worn on the left wrist
- Izod 725 sunglasses with dark brown lenses
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the second season.
At the end of the day, it’s all about her. It’s always been about her. What happens between us, I can’t fucking control. Lord knows I’ve tried every which way. But what I can do is be the absolute best I can be for her. If I followed you to New York, I’d just be hoping against hope that we lived happily ever after. Maybe we do. Maybe we don’t. But you got some shit you got to do, lady. I think you should do it. I’ll hold down the fort… keep her off the pole.
George Clooney as Jack (aka “Edward”), weary hitman and gunsmith
Castel del Monte, Abruzzo, Italy, April 2010
A very informative article from the Focus Features archives features Suttirat Anne Larlarb, The American‘s costume designer, discussing the costumes worn by the main characters in the film. About Clooney’s character, she explains:
Jack needs to be anonymous, to blend in with his surroundings. He is trying to avoid his past and to be a normal person, so he picks a small Italian town, almost a village, to live in. To have someone like George Clooney playing such a character for me meant stripping away from him anything that was glamorous or fashion forward. It was very necessary to normalize him, especially because we were not in a fashion-forward city like Rome or Milan. He has picked a small town with 75-year-old men sitting on benches drinking their cappuccinos; he has to blend into that.
But, at the same time, Jack is played by one of the best-dressed men on the planet, and we didn’t want to strip him of his handsomeness and individuality. It was a balance.”
After arriving in the remote village of Castel del Monte from Rome, he sheds his more distinctive and traditionally hitman-worthy double coat and spends his days (and nights) sporting a casual field jacket from Ermenegildo Zegna, which provided much of the film’s attire.
Jack spends much of his time in Abruzzo focused on the job he was sent to do: perfecting a rifle for an assassination and meeting with the client to test it. However, the lonely and increasingly cynical assassin also begins taking solace with Clara, a beautiful and oft-naked Italian prostitute, whom he could be potentially happy with if only he had learned how to trust.
What’d He Wear?
The American does a fine job of keeping Jack’s wardrobe both realistically believable and useful. He looks sharp, but only because he happens to feel comfortably wearing sharp clothing. (It also helps that he is played by George Clooney.) We never get the impression that he is trying to show off; in fact, he is ably blending in with the “75-year-old men drinking cappuccinos” that Larlarb mentioned. He rotates his clothing effectively, pairing shirts, jackets, and trousers differently from day to day based on comfort and activity level.
The staple of his Abruzzo wardrobe is the gray field jacket mentioned above. It is a very utilitarian garment, but it has a very clean and correct military-inspired presentation, especially when he wears it fastened. The jacket is almost definitely an Ermenegildo Zegna garment, as they received notable publicity for supplying most of Clooney’s costumes in the film, including his charcoal suit in the finale.
The front features both a zipper and four buttons to close, both ending at waist level to allow the skirt of the jacket to flap openly even when the jacket is closed.
There are three outer pockets. The chest pocket on his left breast is flapped and closes with a button, which he typically keeps fastened. In addition, there is a welted pocket on each hip with a buttoning flap, although the flaps are almost always tucked into the pockets themselves, leaving the buttons exposed. This could be a personal choice of Jack’s to allow him quicker access to the pocket contents.
The jacket has reddish-brown exposed stitching that nicely complements most of the brown-toned clothing that Jack wears with it. The three-row top-stitching is present on the lapels and pocket flaps, but it is especially noticeable on the shoulders and upper back of the jacket. The cuffs of the jacket are also set apart by the stitching, but they are otherwise plain cuffs with no buttons or zips.
While the classic M-65 field jacket (think Taxi Driver) was traditionally a cotton and nylon blend, the more fashion-oriented Zegna variant probably leans closer to the cotton side of the spectrum.
Jack’s field jacket is a very reasonable and sensible choice for a professional. It is fitted around the waistband with no vents, flaps, or tabs present that could potentially snag when he needs to jump into action.
Jack often pairs the jacket with the same zip-front cardigan sweater that he wore at the train station in Rome. To refresh your memory – or save you the time of reading that post – the sweater is a dark brown herringbone wool that zips all the way down and has elasticized cuffs. It is a very versatile garment, serving the double purpose of keeping Jack warm in a fashionable manner as well as giving him an extra layer to conceal his PPK. Castel del Monte is located in the L’Aquila province of Abruzzo, where April temperatures typically fluctuate between 40°F and 60°F. Thus, Jack is wise to wear various and easily removable layers.
Jack also wears several pairs of trousers, all in various shades of brown. There is some danger is pairing brown trousers to a brown top (the sweater), but both the differing shades of brown and the contrasting shirts underneath keep Jack from looking like a UPS employee.
The trousers – which range in color from mink to dark chocolate brown – are all flat front with belt loops, open side pockets, jetted button-through rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms with a full break. Occasionally, Jack also wears a pair of more casual cargo pants in dark gray, typically when spending the day gunsmithing.
Although most of his clothing is made by Zegna, a label visible on his mink-colored trousers while doing his morning exercise routine appears to be something else. I’m tempted to say Dockers for some reason, but can anyone shed more light on the possible brand?
Keeping with what is evidently his favorite (and most tactically appropriate) color, Jack wears a dark brown leather belt with a silver buckle.
Jack wears many different shirts while in Abruzzo – some paired with the sweater and some worn alone.
The first shirt we see has a small white and gray check pattern. He almost always wears this with the sweater zipped up over it, so we have to infer the details. It is definitely long sleeve with buttoned cuffs, and it also appears to have button-down collars and almost definitely a front placket.
Very briefly, later in the film, Jack lays in bed while wearing this shirt underneath a soft black shirt-jacket. Not much is visible about this garment other than the black horn buttons down the front and the flapped chest pocket. It is definitely not the dark brown zip-up sweater, but it doesn’t match anything else worn by Jack in the film.
Next, Jack drives into town for a meeting at an outdoor café. For this encounter, he wears a gray soft cotton long-sleeve polo shirt with three plastic buttons. It should be noted that these buttons are not on a placket.
Zegna currently makes a long-sleeve polo constructed of a cotton and silk blend; given the luxurious look of this shirt, it’s very possible that there was also some silk in its construction.
The shirt worn by Clooney in the film also has elasticized cuffs, best seen when he is in bed, reading about butterflies.
For much of the construction of his Ruger Mini-14 rifle, Jack wears a blue button-down shirt, worn open over a heathered gray cotton t-shirt. The blue shirt is long-sleeved with seven white buttons down a front placket (plus two extra buttons on the bottom) and a contrasting inner collar with a blue and green tattersall pattern on a white ground.
The heathered gray cotton t-shirt is one of the most basic items of a man’s wardrobe, and I feel confident saying that most men in the civilized world own at least one. If you don’t think you know what heather means – in terms of clothing – you have definitely seen it. Heather is a series of interwoven yarns, often of mixed colors, producing streaks in the fabric to create an alternating appearance. It is very commonly used with multiple shades of gray, although many manufacturers also heather gray with other colors for a muted shade.
Jack finds very diverse uses for his gray cotton t-shirt, wearing it as an undershirt for a button-down or alone with the field jacket and brown sweater.
When dining with Father Benedetto, Jack again wears the brown sweater, this time zipped up over a white long-sleeve shirt with buttoned cuffs. This is likely the same shirt he wears for his date with Clara, which has no front placket and a spread collar with no buttons.
Jack wears a different white shirt the next day. This shirt is an off-white linen button-down with spread collars, a plain front, and long sleeves with buttoned cuffs, which he typically rolls up. He wears his light gray t-shirt underneath.
Jack and his client, Mathilde, take to the woods for a marksmanship session, where Mathilde tests his handiwork with the Ruger Mini-14. Underneath his field jacket and brown sweater, Jack wears a light blue long-sleeve shirt with button-down collars, buttoned cuffs, and a front placket.
Jack’s underclothing is also consistent throughout the film. He wears a black ribbed sleeveless A-shirt and a pair of dark gray boxer briefs. It’s possible that these sartorial choices were made to show that, despite what he may wear on the appearance, he is always dark underneath, but that might be taking metaphors a bit too far.
The brown motif again rears its head with Jack’s footwear as his typical footwear is a pair of well-traveled brown leather hiking boots. He also seems to wear a lighter pair of tan suede slip-on boots, but the hiking boots get much more screen time.
The piece of Jack’s wardrobe that gets the most focused screen time, however, is his stunning Omega Speedmaster Professional. The watch is stainless with a round 42mm case on a black calfskin strap. The black face has three sub-dials at 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.
If you really like Jack’s Omega, you can pick one up on Amazon for $3,900. Amazon kindly tosses in free shipping, because paying a few extra bucks for a $3,900 watch would really be the last straw.
Jack’s only other accessory is his pair of bronze-framed Ermenegildo Zegna SZ3174 aviator sunglasses with brown polarized lenses.
These are much more low-key than the tortoiseshell Persols he wore earlier in the film and much more in line with his character. Although they are no longer in production, you can still pick up a similar pair from SmartBuyGlasses.com for about $220.
Go Big or Go Home
Jack is a nice contrast from the typical movie assassin. Sure, he’s tough and talented, but he isn’t overly macho. He broods, growing increasingly cynical about his life choices. If you’re a real-life hitman, learn from Jack that you should change professions before it’s too late!
He wisely keeps in shape with a morning routine of rigorous exercises all within the confines of his rented room. If the cost of a gym membership is your only excuse for not working out, Jack just proved that you’re pretty foolish. Plus, it means he is more than ready when an armed Swedish assassin forces him into a high speed motorcycle chase.
Jack also follows the old “when in Rome…” adage, enjoying the region’s finest red and white grapes with glasses of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Asprinio wines, respectively.
In possibly the greatest interpretation of religious advice ever, Jack is told by the local Catholic priest, Father Benedetto, that he lives in “a place without love”. In response, Jack allows himself to fall in love with Clara, a lovely soiled dove who spends most of the film sans clothing.
But after all, can you blame him?
The film’s Italian setting is strongly present throughout, not least of all with its soundtrack, including such well-known Italian pop as Renato Carosone’s 1956 song “Tu Vuò Fà L’Americano” about an Italian living the American lifestyle, a reverse of the American assassin in the film who revels in the quieter Italian culture. The song was revived in 2010 for younger audiences when it was sampled (aka stolen) by Yolanda Be Cool for their song “We No Speak Americano”.
Patty Pravo’s early hit “La Bambola” also features in the film. Although Carosone’s song is more relatable to Jack’s situation, Pravo’s more mournful song about a bitterly abused woman better fits the overall tone of the film than Carosone’s lighthearted anthem.
How to Get the Look
Jack uses a timeless mixture of both grays and browns to fashionably blend in with his Italian surroundings. His neutral layers under a field jacket are a fine choice for a man who likes to maintain a look that blends simplicity, comfort, and utility, all while looking fashionably understated.
- Gray field jacket with a zip/4-button front, button-flapped chest pocket, button-flapped hip pockets, plain cuffs, plain waistband, and reddish-brown three-row top stitching
- Dark brown herringbone wool full-zip cardigan sweater with elasticized cuffs
- Light blue long-sleeve button-down shirt with front placket, button-down collars, and buttoned cuffs
- Heathered gray short-sleeve cotton t-shirt
- Brown casual flat front trousers with side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms with a full break
- Brown leather laced hiking boots
- Bronze-framed Ermenegildo Zegna SZ3174 aviator sunglasses with brown polarized lenses
- Omega Speedmaster Professional wristwatch on a black calfskin strap
Almost all of Jack’s clothing was made by Ermenegildo Zegna, but similar (and much more affordable) retailers like Gap, J. Crew, and Nordstrom offer items that would present the same look and feel without the resulting lightness in your wallet.
The primary job that Jack has been contracted for involves the customization of a Ruger Mini-14GBF semi-automatic rifle. He refers to the rifle as a “Ruger M14″, which is inaccurate but not too far off track as the Mini-14 was developed with the military M14 rifle as a model. The eventual name, Mini-14, is meant to imply that Ruger’s rifle is a smaller version of the M14.
Ruger introduced the Mini-14 in 1974, immediately finding popularity in both the police and private sectors. It was designed by L. James Sullivan and William B. Ruger, who implemented an investment cast, heat-treated receiver and a “simple, rugged Garand-style breechbolt locking system, with a fixed-piston gas system and self-cleaning, moving gas cylinder” according to Ruger’s website. This locking system is indeed a version of the rifle locking system found on both the M1 Garand and the M14.
The standard barrel is 18.5″, and the rifle is available in either a blued or stainless finish with hardwood, synthetic, or laminated stocks. Jack’s rifle is a very classic looking sporter rifle with a blued finish and hardwood stock, although he modifies it as an assassin’s weapon with a scope and homemade suppressor. It can fire 5.56×45 mm NATO or .223 Remington ammunition in box magazines of 5, 10, 20, or 30 rounds. Jack’s Ruger is loaded with 10-round magazines.
Another difference between Jack’s Ruger and the standard Mini-14 is the folding paratrooper stock. This indicates that Jack is modifying a Mini-14GB rather than just a Mini-14, and it was likely made prior to 2005. The folding stock allows for greater concealment and portability, which would make sense for an assassin like Jack or his client Mathilde.
Like most movie assassins, Jack also has his own cool carry piece. He opts for James Bond’s preference, a classic blued Walther PPK in 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) with black plastic grips. A fine closeup of Jack’s pistol when he is pulling it out of a picnic basket reveals that it is of Cold War-era manufacture, having been made in West Germany. Many PPKs used in American productions are typically contracted versions by INTERARMS or Smith & Wesson, but this is a genuine Walther, likely due to the genuine European locations and organizations involved in the making of The American.
As we see when he chases down the motorcycle assassin, Jack’s PPK can also fit a “Hollywood suppressor”, although we typically see it unsuppressed. When he is sleeping in his hotel room, he keeps the PPK within his reach, holstered by the bed.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
I don’t think God is very interested in me, Father.
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti, New Jersey Mafia associate and aspiring screenwriter
New York City, Fall 2000
“D-Girl” is a turning point episode for Christopher Moltisanti. We had seen previous mentions of his screenwriting aspirations, including a poorly-written script on his Mac in “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti”, but “D-Girl” provides his Bugsy moment.
Through a chance meeting with his “civilian” cousin Gregory, Christopher becomes acquainted with his Gregory’s girlfriend, Hollywood studio VP Amy Safir. Amy has been working on developing a mob film with Jon Favreau (who plays himself) and offers Christopher the opportunity to provide input on the film set. After being infuriated by outsiders misunderstanding and elevating the mob status of his friend Brendan, Christopher leaps at his own opportunity to be treated like a made man despite still only technically being an associate in the Soprano crew (rather than a “made” soldier).
What’d He Wear?
Christopher dresses for his meeting with Jon Favreau in a very mobster-evoking outfit with a black-on-black jacket and shirt combination. The jacket is a very distinctive black sport coat.
The casual sport coat is single-breasted with notch lapels. There are three plastic buttons on the front which fasten with a high stance, although Christopher wears his jacket open. The jacket also has a darted front and a single rear vent. The 3-button decorative cuffs match the plastic buttons on the front.
Although it has the standard welted breast pocket and flapped hip pockets, the most distinctive aspect of the jacket is a zip pocket on the right side. This pocket is higher than the hip pocket, opening just below the point where the elbow hits the side. The zipper has straight black tape with silver teeth and a silver round-ended pull tab that opens toward the rear of the coat.
At 5’8″, Michael Imperioli is considered to be average height. Likely aware of this, Christopher would want a more imposing presence, which a jacket with padded shoulders can offer.
Underneath, Christopher wears a black short-sleeve cotton t-shirt with a crew neck. This is an appropriate accompaniment for such a casual sport coat that is obviously not meant to be worn formally with a tie. Also, the black t-shirt under a black jacket creates the “Mafioso” appearance that Christopher has been hired to provide.
Paired with the all-black top is a pair of light gray slacks. They are lightweight with a flat front and plain-hemmed bottoms. The front pockets have a fishmouth opening, and the jetted rear pockets close through a button.
Christopher wears his trousers with a black leather belt that closes in the front through a silver rectangular rounded clasp with a single prong.
Christopher correctly matches the black belt to his usual shoes, a pair of black suede slip-on loafers with short elastic side gussets and black rubber soles. Due to the casual nature of the shoe, Christopher wears them with no socks. He also wears these shoes in the next episode, “Full Leather Jacket”, with a casual light gray suit that was previously covered on this blog.
On the inside of his right ankle, Christopher wears a simple black holster for his snubnose revolver. This ankle holster is designed for Christopher to reach down over the front of his leg with his right hand to draw the weapon, which is facing butt-forward.
Although many of the show’s gangsters opt for waistband carry, Christopher tends to keep his more compact weapons in an ankle holster.
Christopher continues his black motif even under his clothes, wearing a pair of black silk undershorts with an elastic waistband.
His accessories are relatively few for a mobster, consisting only of his usual gold necklace with the round saint medallion and his watch.
The watch has a two-tone (silver and gold) mixed metal link bracelet, a stainless case, and a rounded yellow gold face, worn on his left wrist.
Go Big or Go Home
Christopher spends much of the episode at what he believes to be a crossroad of his life. While the audience is made painfully aware the entire time that he is destined for a life of gangsterdom, he truly believes that this may be his chance to live his dream as a Hollywood screenwriter. Unfortunately, his simple-minded street mentality and his deep ties to Tony Soprano prevent him from ever truly having a chance of being anything but a Jersey hood.
He blames his frustration on food:
Enough! I am so sick and tired of hearing you people talk about food, food, food! Proscuitto, cheese, and damn fava beans. I’m drowning here!
…although the only honest part of his rant are the last three words.
Parts of the episode do show an interesting comparison between the mob and the film industry, though. Even small things, like Christopher refusing to quit smoking his Marlboros in the hotel lobby after repeated urging from the concierge, would be characteristic of both a stubborn mobster and an egotistic movie bigshot.
How to Get the Look
Christopher is proud to be a gangster, especially when he’s surrounded by Hollywood types in awe of him. He dresses the part when he goes to meet them, putting aside his usual track suits for a black-on-black ensemble instead.
- Black single-breasted sport coat with notch lapels, high 3-button stance, padded shoulders, welted breast pocket, right side zip pocket, flapped hip pockets, 4-button “surgeon’s cuffs”, single rear vent
- Black cotton short-sleeve cotton t-shirt
- Light gray casual flat front trousers with belt loops, fishmouth front side pockets, jetted button-through rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt with a silver rectangular clasp
- Black suede loafers with short elastic side gussets and black rubber soles
- Black RHD ankle holster worn on the right inside leg (for a 2″-barreled revolver)
- Black silk undershorts
- Thin gold necklace with a round gold religious medallion
- Stainless wristwatch with a gold face and mixed metal bracelet
According to IMFDB, Christopher uses a total of 13 handguns during the duration of the series; most of which are are only seen one or two times, with the exception of his Glock 19. This frequency is second only to Tony, who uses a total of 16. Many other shows and films give their characters a “weapon of choice”, but in the organized crime world where many of the convicted felons are not permitted to carry guns, a person’s armament is constantly changing based on availability of illegally acquired firearms.
In “D-Girl”, Christopher’s gun-of-the-day is a Smith & Wesson Model 38 “Bodyguard” revolver. The Model 38 is a .38 Special revolver designed as a concealed carry backup weapon that found early favor among bodyguards and plainclothes policemen or agents, hence receiving the “Bodyguard” moniker. It is similar to the Model 36 “Chief’s Special”, a .38 Special snubnose with a five round cylinder, except the Model 38 is fitted with a hammer shroud, concealing the hammer and preventing it from snagging on clothing while drawing it. The shrouded hammer, along with the compact and lightweight frame, make it easily concealed in either a holster or a pocket.
The classic Bodyguard revolver series is comprised of the Model 38, Model 49, Model 638, and Model 649. The Model 38, which Christopher carries, has an aluminum alloy frame and a carbon steel barrel and cylinder that carries five .38 Special rounds. It was originally developed in 1955 as the “Airweight Bodyguard”. When Smith & Wesson began numbering its models in 1957, the Airweight Bodyguard became the Model 38 but retained its “Bodyguard” nickname.
The next entry in the Bodyguard series is the Model 49, which is manufactured totally of carbon steel without the lighter weight alloy frame. Like its predecessor, it has a five-round cylinder for .38 Special ammunition. It was developed in 1959.
The two stainless Bodyguard revolvers are the Model 638 and the Model 649. The Model 638 is naturally aluminum-framed with a stainless cylinder and barrel, while the Model 649 is all stainless steel. Both have five-round .38 Special cylinders, but the Model 649 can also fire .357 Magnum rounds.
Smith & Wesson refreshed the Bodyguard series in 2010 with the introduction of the semi-automatic Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 with a lightweight polymer frame. It is double-action-only in the spirit of the classic revolvers, and it has a six-round magazine for .380 ACP ammunition. Smith & Wesson recently introduced the Bodyguard 38, a revolver with a shrouded hammer and five-round .38 Special cylinder, recalling the earlier Model 38. Both Bodyguard variants have an Insight red-dot laser sight integrated into the grip.
Christopher carries his classic alloy-framed Model 38 in a simple black ankle holster on the inside of his right calf. This is shown to be Christopher’s holster of choice on at least four occasions, including the following episode when he carries a Walther PPK in the same location. He irresponsibly taunts Jon Favreau with it when Jon asks him if he is “strapped”.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the second season.
That fucking cocksucking mezzofinook!
Californication returned to Showtime last week, beginning its seventh and final season. Around the same time, David Duchovny finally joined Twitter, immediately racking up thousands of followers.
David Duchovny as Hank Moody, womanizing and borderline alcoholic novelist
Venice Beach, Spring 2008
David Duchovny as Brian Kessler, aspiring crime writer and grad student
Pittsburgh to California, Summer 1993
Ask someone about what to watch if you want to see David Duchovny playing a carefree writer who journeys out to California in search of paradise and finds the result to be the total opposite. Chances are, you’ll be told to either:
a) watch Californication, or
b) check IMDB, you lazy bastard
Despite the role of Hank Moody on Californication cementing Duchovny’s post-X-Files stardom, many forget about a similar role he had played the same year that The X-Files debuted. In 1993’s Kalifornia, Duchovny played Brian Kessler, an ultra-liberal psychology grad student hell-bent on writing the ultimate serial killer book. Without the drinking and womanizing that would be Moody staples, Brian could be considered an early version of Hank with his devotion to an artistic girlfriend and the attire – mostly black shirts, jeans, and a leather jacket. Additional parallels are in the timing; Hank supposedly went out to California in the mid-1990s, just around the same time as Brian’s road trip.
Of course, the content of both are wildly different. Californication is a dramedy about Hank’s struggle with his addictions and his writing, while Kalifornia is a brilliantly warped thriller about Brian and his girlfriend unwittingly taking a cross-country road trip with a redneck serial killer Early Grayce (Brad Pitt, before he was someone) and his childlike girlfriend Adele (Juliette Lewis).
As a Californication fan, it was fun to revisit Kalifornia and see some of the subtle Hank-isms present. For this post, I’ll break down a standard Hank Moody look – black T-shirt and jeans – from season 2 of Californication and compare it to Brian Kessler in Kalifornia.
What’d He Wear?
Throughout season 2 of Californication, Hank adds a few new pieces to his wardrobe, but on the whole it stays the same. In episodes 1, 4, 5, 8, and 10, Hank wears his standard black cotton short-sleeve t-shirt and dark blue zip-fly jeans.
In season 1, he had often paired his brown smoking jacket with this look, but he keeps it pretty minimal in season 2, only whipping out the smoking jacket with button-down shirts.
His accessories remain the same with the silver ring on his right index finger and the black leather studded bracelet and accompanying thinner black braided leather bracelet on his left wrist. Both are available from Urban Wrist in both black and brown leather.
Hank also wears his same sunglasses as usual, a pair of brown-tinted Izod 725 shades that fold easily into a jacket or jeans pocket.
Hank’s shoes are the returning pair of brown sueded leather Timberland “Mt. Washington” Chelsea boots, but he also wears a pair of black Puma Whirlwinds with white piping while interviewing Janie Jones by her pool in “Going Down and Out in Beverly Hills” (Episode 2.08).
His socks and underwear are also black, just as they were when the show started.
We’ve already seen how Californication portrayed Hank in 1994, preferring a grungier look than we’re used to seeing on our hero.
In 1993’s Kalifornia, Duchovny’s Brian Kessler dresses more like the contemporary Hank, with the exception of baggier clothes and black jeans as the fashions of the mid-1990s would dictate.
The staple of Brian’s wardrobe is a well-worn black leather motorcycle jacket with epaulettes, a zip front, flapped hip pockets, and ribbed waistband and cuffs.
Brian’s jeans are traditional Levi’s denim jeans in a light blue wash, although he also concedes to the ’90s trends with a pair of black jeans. Unlike Hank, Brian prefers a belt, wearing a black leather belt with a square silver clasp in the front.
His shoes are a pair of plain gray sneakers with white laces and soles.
Brian has a rolling collection of plain crew neck t-shirts in various shades of gray, blue, and – of course – black. He wears all of his t-shirts tucked into his jeans.
Brian occasionally layers over his gray t-shirt with a solid black long-sleeve button-down shirt with two flapped chest pockets. In the pilot episode of Californication, Hank wore a similar shirt, except with a black t-shirt underneath it.
For the finale, Brian sports a proto-Moody look with a baggy black v-neck t-shirt with short sleeves down to his elbows, paired with the blue jeans.
The shirt’s fit and style are remarkably different than anything we ever see Hank Moody wearing on Californication, but it is interesting to compare the difference in what sounds like a simple look – a black T-shirt and jeans – over the course of just 15 years.
Brian has a pair of dark tinted sunglasses with metal rims. Much like Hank, he wears them both when it’s sunny out and when he is too hungover to deal with life.
Brian doesn’t have the standard Moody-issue brown smoking jacket, but he does wear a boxy black sport coat at a party when he is first seen, with padded shoulders, long notch lapels that roll down to the 2-button front, and 3-button cuffs. He looks more like Chandler Bing than Hank Moody.
Perhaps the most Moody-like of all – and definitely the accessory that urged me to make this comparison – is a black leather cuff bracelet with dulled metal snaps. Worn on his right wrist, the bracelet is very similar to the flashier studded bracelet that Duchovny would wear throughout Californication as Hank.
Brian wears the bracelet on his right wrist since a plain white-faced analog watch is on the left.
Go Big or Go Home
Comparing the similarities between Hank Moody and Brian Kessler reveals just how much of Duchovny is in each character. Both are charming, practical, and quick-witted with a tendency toward strong, passionate romances. As Brian is younger, he is more optimistic, but his plight in the Mojave Desert against a serial-killing redneck Brad Pitt reveals a potential for the cynicism that Moody is known for.
Both writers also drive classic black convertibles; Hank has his Porsche and Brian drives a beautiful 1963 Lincoln Continental four-door convertible with a big 430 cubic inch V8 engine and three-speed Turbo Drive automatic transmission.
Interestingly, although both men skew liberal on the political spectrum, they show a guilty interest in their reckless new acquaintances’ firearms. Rock producer Lew Ashby allows Hank to fire a round from his Ithaca 37 shotgun to end a catfight at his party, and Early lets Brian pop off a few .45 rounds from his Colt Mk IV Series 70 pistol.
Early even goes so far as to offer Brian his gun while Hank just helps himself to the soon-departed Lew’s t-shirts.
On the contrast side, Brian abstains from exhibiting Hank’s major vices. He displays little penchant for drug use, he actually tries to curb his girlfriend’s smoking habits, and the only time he really drinks to excess is when Early takes him out for Lucky Lagers. Hank, in his infinite wisdom and liver abuse, would probably drink Early under the table… although Early would probably kill him for it.
Technology-wise, Brian uses a Realistic brand tape recorder throughout his adventure with Carrie, Early, and Adele. Hank has updated since; this being 2008, Hank’s Motorola RAZR cell phone and Apple MacBook laptop with a 13″ screen follow the trends of the day. He isn’t as cutting-edge as possible, but he doesn’t want to be either. As Surfer Girl told him, he’s an analog guy in a digital world.
Naturally, though, Hank only uses technology if it comes in black.
But while the cutting-edge technology changes, both writers prefer to commit to their hobby using old-fashioned methods like a pen and pencil in the field and a typewriter in the home office.
How to Get the Look
The Hank Moody/Brian Kessler look sounds similar, but the details of each era and each character set them apart.
- Black short-sleeve cotton T-shirts
- Hank Moody wore slim-fitting crew neck t-shirts, but Brian Kessler preferred baggier v-neck shirts
- Blue denim jeans
- Hank preferred dark wash jeans, but Brian wore the standard light blue Levi’s jeans
- Dark sneakers
- Hank wore black Puma Whirlwind sneakers (when he wasn’t wearing his brown Timberland suede Chelsea boots), but Brian wore a lighter pair of gray sneakers
- Black socks
- Black boxer briefs
- Izod 725 sunglasses with brown lenses
- Silver ring with two ridged bands, worn on the right index finger
- Black leather bracelet with silver hexagonal and round studs, worn on the left wrist (or the right wrist, if you’re channeling Brian)
- Thin black braided leather bracelet, also worn on the left wrist
Do Yourself a Favor and…
For reference’s sake, Hank sports a black t-shirt and jeans in the following second season episodes: 2.01, 2.04, 2.08, 2.10, and 2.12. It’s his staple “uniform” throughout the show, but this particular post has a second season focus because why not.
Brian’s thoughts about California reflect what Hank was probably thinking before he and Karen made their move:
What the hell did I know about California? For some people it was still a place of hopes and dreams, a chance to start over. The idea was if you could get there everything would be okay, and if it wasn’t okay there, well, it probably wasn’t going to be okay anywhere.
Sorry this one took me long, fellas. I had planned to have it up by Tuesday (timed for the “polar vortex” ooooh…) but it’s a long-ass movie with a lot of clothes. However, this should still be pretty well-timed for anyone in North America dealing with record low temperatures this winter.
Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, disgraced Swedish investigative journalist
Hedestad, Sweden, Winter 2006
This isn’t one of those movies you pop in just for a laugh on a summer day or to fall asleep to. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a very dark (both thematically and literally) film that’ll stick with you for days after watching. It’s long – closer to 3 hours than 2 – but the fast-paced, heart-racing sequences and the stellar acting, particularly from leads Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, make the time fly.
Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist in some hot water after his investigation into a corrupt businessman resulted in a libel case. He is mysteriously called to the home of Henrik Vanger (the always excellent and debonair Christopher Plummer) and thrown into a dark investigation of a forty-year-old murder.
Craig does a nice job not reminding the audiences that he is James Bond. Although not a slob, his Mikael is much less appearance-driven than Bond and certainly much less of an action hero. He isn’t an anti-hero, as he is always driven by his desire to do the right thing although he often takes it too far and gets himself in trouble.
As I said, it was a very dark movie, thus most – if not all – of the images I captured had to be brightened to use here. Of course, this was David Fincher so I wouldn’t expect anything less.
What’d He Wear?
He wears a few dark suits in the beginning, which I’ll cover at some point, but Mikael spends most of the film in various layered sweaters and vests, almost always worn with an outer coat, a pair of jeans, and dark leather boots.
Since the film takes place over the course of a year (although I guess most of the action is relegated to the first few months of 2006), Mikael is seen often wearing the same clothing, but paired differently. Unlike most movies, this is a very realistic depiction of a person’s wardrobe. James Bond probably goes away for the week-long mission with six business suits, two dinner suits, and eighteen shirts, all meant to be worn once. With Mikael’s outfits, we see plenty of repetition, but it is always in different combinations depending on the weather, situation, and – likely – his laundry cycle.
A lot of help came from commenters like Brandon L., Craig Richards, Roman, and JM88. Brandon directed me to this Ask Ugeta link to answer a lot of questions about clothing brands in the film.
Thus, I think the most practical way to present the attire is to list it all out, presented in the order of its appearance, then to describe each combo by the situation.
Mikael wears two winter coats while in Hedestad, one for more formal occasions and the other a more casual winter coat:
- A dark charcoal single-breasted 3-button wool overcoat with notch lapels, a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and a large rear single vent.
- A gray wool down jacket with a zip front with a 5-snap placket, a 2-snap standing collar, a snap-flapped breast pocket, zip slash side pockets, tightly elasticized cuffs to keep out snow and weather, and a snap under the rear collar. This jacket is the Moncler “Cezanne” model, which is unfortunately out of production. Brandon sent me this photo of the jacket, which shows a brand logo on the breast pocket which was evidently removed for the film.
Underneath his winter coats, Mikael typically wears either a cardigan sweater or a sport coat. His sport coats consist of:
- A gray single-breasted sport coat with small-notched lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, and 4-button cuffs. The natural shoulders have roped sleeveheads.
- A black unstructured single-breasted blazer with cran necker-style lapels, a 2-button front, a breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, and unfastened surgeon’s cuffs.
- A chunky dark charcoal ribbed cardigan sweater with a low button stance and large shawl lapels. It just looks like a charcoal gray in the film, but some production photos (including the one at the top of this post) give the sweater a blue-ish tint. Not as blue as the scarf, but a shade darker than his jeans. It likely is a dark charcoal blue, but it appears grayer in the film, so you can be your own judge there. It was made by Maison Martin Margiela.
- A very dark gray cashmere v-neck long-sleeve pullover sweater with horizontally-pleated shoulders and pleats down each arm to elasticized cuffs.
- A gray cashmere cardigan sweater with shawl lapels and ribbed/elasticized cuffs. It has a knit pattern that slightly resembles that of a fisherman’s sweater.
- A charcoal merino wool cardigan sweater with shawl lapels and a high 5-button stance. This isn’t seen until later in the film, but it is noticably thinner than the chunky sweater and has a higher button stance. The Ask Ugeta article mentions a Tom Ford cardigan being worn; as this resembles the black Tom Ford cardigan in Quantum of Solace, it is likely this one.
Mikael also shows a fondness for vests. Since Daniel Craig is British, though, he would probably call them waistcoats. Whatever you call them, they are:
- A gray pick-and-pick (or “sharkskin”) vest with a 6-button front, two welted lower pockets, and a notched bottom. The buttons are black, and Mikael usually leaves the bottom button unfastened.
- A dark charcoal flannel vest with a 5-button front and a notched bottom. The buttons here are also black, and Mikael indeed leaves the bottom button unfastened.
- A light gray vest with 7 black buttons down the front to a notched bottom. There are four welted pockets – two chest and two lower – and Mikael continues to leave his bottom button undone.
Most of Mikael’s shirts are very Columbo-esque wrinkled button-down shirts, including:
- A light gray button-down casual shirt with a narrow double-buttoned collar, button-flapped breast pocket, thin front placket with white buttons, and buttoned barrel cuffs.
- A black soft button-down shirt with black buttons. This appears to be a different fabric and style than the wrinkled utility-style shirts.
- A black button-down shirt with white buttons on the front placket.
- A light blue button-down casual shirt with a narrow double-buttoned collar, button-flapped breast pocket, thin front placket with white buttons, and buttoned barrel cuffs.
- A dark blue (with a green plaid check) long-sleeve button-down shirt with white buttons. The cuffs and gauntlets both have buttons, but Mikael only fastens the gauntlet buttons.
A few commenters have pointed out that most of Craig’s shirts in the film are lightweight cotton poplin work shirts made by the American company Save Khaki United. Although the shirts offered during the filming are no longer available, the site still has very similar and very cool shirts that Mikael would wear. Thanks to Craig Richards and JM88 for pointing this out! The shirts are featured in a Youtube video by David Zarinsky of The Z Lifestyle.
The company also offers t-shirts and cardigan sweaters very similar to the one worn by Dan in the flick.
Mikael wears both t-shirts and henleys as undershirts:
- A blue henley with four shiny black buttons.
- A medium-gray short-sleeve t-shirt.
- A plain white short-sleeve t-shirt.
- A gray long-sleeve henley with four white buttons.
- A dark blue long-sleeve thermal henley with three dark blue buttons.
Mikael has a preference for jeans, although he sports a pair of casual trousers from time to time. The belt situation varies, but when he wears one it is a dark brown leather belt with a dulled silver rectangular clasp. His pants include:
- Dark blue wash straight-cut denim jeans, made by Scotch & Soda in their “Ralston” slim cut. (According to this link and a briefly-seen logo during the climax.) The bottoms are usually cuffed a little bit.
- Dark gray flat front casual trousers with plain-hemmed bottoms and jeans-style 5-pocket layout.
Mikael wears laced leather boots, a wise choice for stomping around in the snowy winters of Sweden. He has at least two pairs in black and brown. According to the Ask Ugeta link above:
[Mikael] also had a great pair of carmel color boots he wore a lot that I also loved; they were like an ankle oxford. These were by Crockett & Jones which you can get at Barneys, or if you’re in NYC or London they have their own stores. He also wore a black leather round toe lace up ankle boot by Fiorentini & Baker and a grey suede lace up boot by Costume National.
Things might look pretty repetitive here, so if you’re looking for a scene in particular, scroll ’til you find it. I wanted to be thorough here, but that can also mean boring. Hopefully the screenshots will liven things up a bit. Here we go!
When he first meets with Henrik in Hedestad, around Christmas 2005, he wears the charcoal overcoat over the gray sport coat, light gray button-down shirt, gray pick-and-pick vest, dark wash jeans with a belt, and black leather boots. He accessorizes (and keeps himself warm) with a thick charcoal blue and gray striped wool scarf, worn in most of his outdoor scenes in Hedestad. He wears his Omega watch and his Mykita acetate glasses, both of which I will discuss at the bottom of this section.
After meeting with Henrik, Mikael goes back to the Millennium magazine office and sees Erika. Not much is seen below the waist here, but he definitely wears the chunky charcoal cardigan and the first blue henley.
Mikael returns to Hedestad, this time to stay for the investigation. He alights from the train wearing his gray wool down jacket, the striped wool scarf, his dark jeans, black leather boots, and – naturally for Dan – his Omega watch. We don’t see anything under the coat since the next scene is him in his pajamas, but we do see an additional outerwear accessory: a dark gray tobbogan (“beanie”) hat. Interestingly, it is this cold with him wearing a hat, scarf, and insulated winter coat, but he wears no gloves? Is this just a Swedish thing or what?
The next day, Mikael meets with Henrik. It is just as cold as the previous day, but he wears his more formal charcoal overcoat with the charcoal blue and gray striped scarf.
Mikael returns to his computer to get some invetsigating done. He wears the chunky charcoal cardigan, a gray t-shirt, and the charcoal flannel vest. He is also sporting his Mykita acetate glasses.
When Mikael meets with retired detective Morrell, he wears the charcoal overcoat, his light gray button-down shirt, and his dark jeans. He again wears his Omega watch and the Mykita glasses. There is a newly seen item here, a dark gray cashmere v-neck sweater. He only wears it in this scene and towards the end when talking to Erika.
For dinner with Martin Vanger and his wife, Mikael wears his dark overcoat and scarf when outside. His dinner attire is a black unstructured blazer, the light gray button-down shirt, dark wash jeans, and dark brown laced boots.
Soon after, Mikael is talking to another Vanger when Cecilia stops by his shack. For this visit, he wears the dark charcoal cardigan, a black long-sleeve button-down shirt, a gray t-shirt, dark wash jeans, and his Mykita glasses.
Evidently in a mood to keep talking to the Vanger kids, Mikael heads off to see Anita via plane. For the plane ride, he wears a soft gray cashmere cardigan sweater, a light gray button-down, and a light gray t-shirt, all paired with the gray pick-and-pick vest, dark wash jeans, and black leather boots. His trusty Omega is on his left wrist, and he also whips out his Mykita glasses from time to time. When he steps off the plane and goes to see Anita, he is wearing his charcoal overcoat and the striped scarf.
When he gets back to Hedestad, Erika visits him. He is wearing his Moncler gray down jacket, the dark gray toboggan, the charcoal blue and gray striped scarf, and the same gray cashmere sweater and light gray t-shirt from his trip to see Anita. He is wearing a black button-down shirt, this one with white buttons, and a dark gray pair of flat front trousers, perhaps feeling more formal with his main squeeze in town.
Mikael the photographer treks into the city to document some of the locations where Harriet had spent her last known day. The photo at the top of this post is a production still from this scene. Mikael is wearing his chunky dark charcoal cardigan, the charcoal blue and gray striped scarf, the charcoal flannel vest, dark blue denim jeans, and black leather boots. His shirt is a light blue version of the light gray button-down casual shrit he’s worn so much of in the film. Naturally, he also wears his Mykita glasses.
Mikael’s daughter comes to visit him after his adventure in the city. After she leaves, Mikael knocks back some Cragganmore with Dirch Frode. During this whole sequence, he wears the chunky dark charcoal cardigan, a light gray t-shirt, dark wash jeans, and black leather boots. He wears a light gray vest under the cardigan, but it is lighter than his pick-and-pick vest and has 7 black buttons as opposed to 6. He also wears his Mykita glasses and Omega watch. When outside, his outerwear is the gray wool Moncler down jacket, his dark gray toboggan, and the charcoal blue and gray striped scarf.
After Mikael discovers that Lisbeth Salander has been investigating him, he goes into Dragan “Serbian Guy from ER” Armansky’s office wearing the dark charcoal cardigan, the charcoal flannel vest, dark jeans, and the light blue casual button-down shirt.
When he finally goes to meet Lisbeth Salander for a memorable scene in her apartment, he wears the black unstructured blazer from his dinner with Martin, paired with a gray scarf, the light gray 7-button vest, dark jeans worn with a dark brown leather belt, and a black long-sleeve button-down shirt with white buttons.
Mikael heads back alone to the Vangers’ island, wearing his dark charcoal overcoat, light blue wrinkled button-down shirt, a white t-shirt, the light gray 7-button vest, and dark jeans, again with the dark brown leather belt. Black leather boots appear to be his footwear of choice here.
In mid-April 2006, Henrik is hospitalized and Salander finally arrives to help Mikael with the investigation. He heads to the hospital to visit the family in his gray cashmere cardigan, a medium gray t-shirt, his dark charcoal overcoat, and the charcoal blue and gray striped scarf.
Mikael runs some mostly photo-related errands wearing his dark charcoal cardigan, gray pick-and-pick vest, and dark wash jeans. The new item here is a gray long-sleeve henley. The standard items here are the Mykita eyeglasses and his black and stainless Omega watch.
The action really starts picking up when Mikael is shot at! For this, he wears a newly-seen thin charcoal cardigan (not the chunky one!) with the light gray t-shirt, dark jeans, and black leather boots.
The next day, Mikael goes to meet Martin and Frode at the Vanger office. His outerwear is the charcoal overcoat, dark gray tobbogan, and the charcoal blue and gray scarf. Inside the office, he sheds his layers and wears the gray cashmere sweater, black casual button-down with white buttons, medium gray t-shirt, dark blue jeans, and black laced leather boots.
After this, we get to the climatic day as Mikael faces off against the film’s big villain! If you want a spoiler, highlight this: Martin Vanger. If you didn’t want a spoiler, I hope you didn’t highlight that…
In this sequence, Mikael wears his dark charcoal overcoat. Since it’s getting slightly warmer, probably around late April or early May around this time, he isn’t wearing a sweater or a vest. Instead, he layers a dark blue long-sleeve button-down shirt with a green plaid check over a dark blue thermal henley. He wears his dark blue Scotch & Soda jeans without a belt as well as his brown boots and Mykita acetate glasses.
Chances are, it’s gonna be tough for me to avoid spoilers here, so read with caution if you haven’t seen the film. Mikael (he lives, yay!) takes a return flight to Anita wearing a gray-ish unstructured overcoat with peak lapels and surgeon’s cuffs. I can’t tell much about this coat, as it’s only seen in one shot, so fuck that coat. He also wears a black long-sleeve casual button-down shirt with black buttons.
When he goes to confront Anita with the truth, he shows up on her doorstep at night wearing a newly-seen scarf. The scarf looks like it is gray cashmere with a dark gray and blue check. The jacket is his dark charcoal overcoat, paired with dark wash jeans and he is wearing a a pair of brown leather laced calfskin split-toe medallion bluchers. The confusion doesn’t end for me when he is seen talking to Anita in the park. Here, it looks like he wearing a black windbreaker with upturned collars.
However, some production photos exist of him wearing the brown shoes with a black peacoat and gray scarf. Can anyone shed light on this? By this point, I’d been screencapping the film for about four hours, so I may not have been thinking straight as I took notes.
For Henrik’s reuniting with Anita/Harriet, things finally get back to normal for me sartorially as Mikael wears his thin charcoal cardigan, light blue wrinkled shirt, long-sleeve gray henley, gray casual trousers, and Omega watch.
Later, possibly around June 2006, Mikael is talking to Erika. He wears the light blue wrinkled shirt under the dark pleated-shoulder sweater worn for the Morrell interview. He appears to also have a thin dark-colored cardigan over this whole affair. Mikael’s accessories here are his loyal Mykita glasses and Omega watch. A production photo shows that he is also wearing his dark jeans.
Finally, around Christmas 2006, Mikael is watching the news with the Millennium staff. He is wearing his gray cashmere cardigan, the light gray 7-button vest, the black button-down shirt with white buttons, dark gray casual trousers, black laced boots, and his Mykita glasses, which dangle from his face.
Well, that was an adventure.
Mikael has three accessories that he wears nearly all the time. One, which he is never seen without, is a silver pendant on a thin silver chain throughout the film. I don’t know the significance of this, and I have yet to actually read the books (I know, I know!) so I don’t know if it were mentioned there.’
Since Dan Craig is an Omega man, his watch in the film is an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Chronometer 18.104.22.168.06.001. It has a 38.5 mm round stainless steel case, a teak-gray dial with a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a black leather strap. If you’re interested, check out Omega’s site and see what you can get.
Mikael also wears a very cool set of eyeglasses, a pair of Mykita Collection No. 2 “Helmut” acetate eyeglasses with brown tortoiseshell (“Peridot”) frames.
Just for shits and giggles, and since he spends a good bit of time in them, let’s quickly talk about Mikael’s pajamas. He wears a set of dark red and blue flannel pajamas with a button-down top and elastic-waisted bottoms. Since it’s cold as heck, he wears light gray wool socks and almost always has an undershirt, whether it’s a dark blue henley or a gray t-shirt. He often wears his dark charcoal cardigan over the pajamas, even sleeping in it. For pajama investigations, he puts on the Mykita glasses, and when he has to step outside, he wears a pair of black leather boots with orange lining.
Go Big or Go Home
For a badass movie that takes no prisoners, Mikael is a pretty mild-tempered character. He is more like Daniel Craig’s pragmatic gun-hating drug dealer from Layer Cake than James Bond and is very dedicated to his work and doing a good job. While this may land him in hot water when he goes too far, it also endears him to women and friends.
Speaking of badass, the title sequence immediately sets the stage for the disturbing film, with a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and vocals from Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The Product Placement Gods have also made it very easy to replicate Mikael’s style. In addition to the clothes above, you can nab a 2nd generation Apple MacBook Pro and hook it up to a Lacie d2 Quadra external hard drive and an Epson Stylus Office BX320FW printer and – voila! – you’ll be able to solve forty-year-old murders!
He also smokes Marlboro Reds, but the Philip Morris folks frown on product placement and probably aren’t too crazy about his habit of buying a pack just to smoke one cigarette and toss the rest away.
Was anyone else surprised by all the Apple product placement in a Sony movie? Sure, they gave Mikael (and Lisbeth) a Sony Ericsson Cybershot phone and a black flat screen Sony TV, but using an Apple computer was a pretty big surprise. If you’re gonna fill your cabinet like Mikael, have some nutella and Felix Rårörda Lingon jam on hand. Now when it comes to booze…
What to Imbibe
Mikael himself keeps Cragganmore 12-Year-Old single malt Scotch whisky in his home on the Vanger grounds, drinking it neat when Dirch Frode visits.
When he heads to Martin’s household, first for a social visit, he drinks a glass of Château Clinet red wine from Pomerol with Martin and his wife.
When he returns a few months later, for a decidedly more sinister visit, he is offered a glass of Mackmyra Brukswhisky, a very appropriately-placed Swedish single malt whisky. Due to the bottle, many people mistake this for Bruichladdich (which is also awesome), but it is indeed Mackmyra.
Mikael also chugs vodka when he needs it, pouring two mini-bottles for a double vodka on the plane and drinking straight from the bottle after he is shot at.
Thanks to blog commenter Roman, who has identified the “bathtub” vodka as the Swedish brand Vanlig, which I was unfamiliar with before this post. The mini-bottles on the plane are likely Absolut, another Swedish brand to keep things regionally accurate.
How to Get the Look
This is pretty much what I did up there. Go up and read it again if you wanna look like Mikael so badly.
Do Yourself A Favor And…
Buy the film.
The last time I reported on something without being absolutely sure I lost my life savings.