Daniel Craig as James Bond, British government secret agent
Miami, July 9, 2006
Film: Casino Royale
Release Date: November 14, 2006
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Lindy Hemming
This bitter winter weather has many level-headed folks here in the Northeast U.S. hopping a flight down to Florida where the weather is sunny and warm, the women are tan and beautiful, and the serial killers only kill other serial killers. Casino Royale gives James Bond his first return to Miami since Goldfinger, and luckily he leaves the blue terrycloth playsuit behind this time.
It’s been a few months since this blog has checked in with Mr. Bond, and I hope that his post will portend a much warmer 00-7th of March for those of us dealing with this frigid cold!
What’d He Wear?
Bond’s leather jacket, t-shirt, and trousers in Miami has become one of the most popular outfits from the recent era. Matt Spaiser nicely covered it with a well-researched post on The Suits of James Bond, which includes a snippet of an interview with costumer Lindy Hemming.
I’ll shatter any illusions right now – Bond wears a Giorgio Armani leather jacket that originally cost around $4,000… and that’s not including the customization that the production received so that the close fit flattered Daniel Craig’s physique. However, it’s still an excellent jacket and worth keeping in mind while shopping for your next leather. (Also, Armani lowered the price for the Casino Royale production to about 400 euros each, so maybe there’s hope… of course, they made a batch of 25 or so for the film so they probably didn’t mind making a bit of a price cut.)
Despite many mistaking it for black due to the dark lighting of the sequence, Bond’s leather jacket is undoubtedly dark brown. The wool standing drape collar is also dark brown.
There are four box-pleated pockets on the front that close with a snapped flap – two on the chest and two directly below it that end just above the waistline. Bond’s jacket closes with a double zipper down the front, allowing it to be partially unzipped at the bottom. The cuffs are plain with no buttons or snaps.
Due to the jacket’s popularity, inexpensive versions have also been produced and sold by FilmJackets.com for $199 and Magnoli Clothiers for $385. I have no firsthand experience with either jacket or retailer, but Magnoli’s lambskin version – yes, the more expensive of the two – appears to be the superior product due to the reviews and variety of colors versus FilmJackets.com’s only (incorrect) option of black. Still, this is not an endorsement as I have never seen, felt, or worn either jacket.
Underneath, Bond wears a much simpler item of clothing, a gray melange crew neck short-sleeve t-shirt in long staple Egyptian cotton. This t-shirt, custom-made by Sunspel for Casino Royale and now part of its “Riviera” line, was custom designed with a shorter fit “for increased movement- perfect for Bond’s ‘active’ lifestyle”, according to the site (where it is still available for $90).
Daniel Craig wears the same t-shirt later in Casino Royale when arriving in Venice with Vesper, both on its own and layered under a blue long-sleeve polo (also by Sunspel). Yins should also check out James Bond Lifestyle’s great breakdown of the Sunspel shirts from Casino Royale.
Since Bond’s impromptu Miami trip interrupts a bout of sexy time with Solange, he doesn’t change his pants. His shirt was already half off, so he may as well put on something better for a possible chase, but he wears the same mink brown linen Ted Baker trousers worn with the black button-down shirt during the Bahamas poker game. These flat front trousers have slanted side pockets and a single rear patch pocket on the right.
The trousers, marketed by Ted Baker as the “Larked” model, have since been discontinued but a similar straight-leg model with plain-hemmed bottoms is still available from Ted Baker’s site with the “Deerchi” model. Unfortunately for the most dedicated buyer, Ted Baker is not manufacturing linen pants as of March 2015, so the mixed cotton Deerchi will have to do.
Although he wasn’t wearing a belt at the poker game, Bond realizes some action may be afoot and wears a dark brown leather belt with a squared silver clasp when he heads to Miami.
Casino Royale is notorious (at least in the sartorially-focused community) for numerous violations of the matching belt and shoes rule, but this isn’t the place to invoke it as:
a) I’m not totally sure that the shoes are black.
2) I’m not totally sure that the belt isn’t black, for that matter.
c) It’s just a movie.
Bond’s shoes are a point of contention for some, as they are not seen frequently during this sequence. A brief shot of him slamming on the brakes in the gas truck shows what looks like a pair of black leather cap toe bluchers, not the most practical shoe for the “active lifestyle” referred to by Sunspel. Bond also wears a pair of light gray cotton socks.
While his shoes may not be very appropriate for an action scene, his sporty Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean “Big Size” 2900.50.91 perfectly fits the bill with its scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and large black rubber diver’s strap. This Omega has a stainless steel case and black dial.
Once he starts dressing up in his suits and tuxedo, he swaps out the Planet Ocean for the more formal Seamaster Professional Diver.
How to Get the Look
Bond’s attire for the Miami chase is very stylish yet utilitarian, but it’s a shame to see such a beautiful jacket get ruined. It’s a whole different kind of shame to know that the production team was able to afford 25 of them while I’d have to sell my car – and someone else’s – before I would be able to pick up an Armani leather jacket.
- Dark brown leather zip-front waist-length Giorgio Armani jacket with wool standing collar, four box-pleated front pockets with snap-closed flaps, and plain cuffs
- Gray melange cotton short-sleeve crew neck Sunspel “Riviera” t-shirt
- Mink brown linen flat front Ted Baker “Larked” trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, right rear patch pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with silver squared clasp
- Black leather cap-toe bluchers
- Light gray cotton socks
- Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean “Big Size” 2900.50.91 on a large black rubber strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the film.
Solange: You like married women… don’t you, James?
Bond: It keeps things simple.
And then, of course, things get a whole lot less simple for poor Bond.
This costume card (as seen on Amazon) from James Bond in Motion proves the color (and material) of each garment, showing the leather jacket, the long staple Egyptian cotton of the t-shirt, and the plain weave linen of the trousers.
Jeremy Renner as Kenneth J. Kitsom, aka Aaron Cross, U.S. Department of Defense agent-in-training
Alaska, January 2005
Film: The Bourne Legacy
Release Date: August 10, 2012
Director: Tony Gilroy
Costume Designer: Shay Cunliffe
The Bourne Legacy, a risky film in itself for continuing a near-perfect modern trilogy, cleverly chose to run a parallel story to that of its titular character. Overlapping the events of The Bourne Supremacy‘s final act and The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy begins with DOD agent Aaron Cross (formerly Kenneth J. Kitsom) on a training exercise in Alaska.
(“Alaska” is portrayed in the film by The Fortress, a mounted in the Canadian Rockies just west of Calgary in Canada that rises to an elevation of 9,800 feet.)
Cross’ assignment tests his endurance and skill as he is faced with the extremity of Alaska’s chilly climate and rugged terrain. Eventually finding his way to another agent in Cross’ Operation Outcome unit, Cross is told that he has broken the mission record by two days. Unlike Bourne, who was rigorously trained to the breaking point, Cross’ skill comes from the performance-enhancing “chems” he has been given to make him a super-agent.
Much like the earlier films in the series, the plot revolves around CIA trying to wipe out its most talented – and thus most internally dangerous – operatives. In this case, a drone is sent after Cross and his contact. Though the contact is killed, Cross cleverly manages to misdirect the drone’s fire by feeding his tracking device to a wolf. When the wolf is obliterated by a drone’s Hellfire missile, Cross knows he is in danger and heads back to the continental U.S. to solve the problem.
What’d He Wear?
Similarly to the first installment in the Bourne series, our protagonist’s first outer layer is a red winter jacket. Appropriately enough, red tends to signify danger in the Bourne films, and Aaron Cross is a simply a pawn in a bigger, drone-centric game while he shoots around Alaska in his red jacket.
The jacket in question here receives much more prominence and, as an actual item of Cross’ clothing rather than something borrowed, is a much more efficient outerwear garment than the down jacket sported by Jason Bourne in Switzerland.
Cross wears a red lightweight and waterproof outdoor jacket from Arc’teryx’s Alpha SV (Severe Weather) series. It is still available from Arc’teryx’s site for $675 and has actually won several awards, including the ISPO Outdoor Award, the Backpacker Magazine‘s Lifetime Award, Outdoor Gear Lab Editor’s Choice Award, and mention on Forbes.com’s Top 5 New Winter Gear Pieces in 2013. Arc’teryx has also developed a woman’s version of the Alpha SV, but Cross naturally wears the men’s jacket.
Constructed from durable and waterproof N80p-GORE-TEX® Pro 3L (three-layered) fabric, the Alpha SV jacket was designed specifically for climbers in “severe alpine environments”. According to Arc’teryx:
The Alpha SV first appeared in 1998 to address the needs of alpinists for a lightweight, streamlined, waterproof jacket that could work with a harness. Hard-wearing, stripped down and unlike anything else at the time, the Alpha SV quickly became an iconic Arc’teryx piece and revolutionized the outdoor apparel industry.
Arc’teryx designed their jacket to fit as comfortably as possible for the sort of outdoorsmen who would be traversing a freezing mountainside in the middle of winter. The zippers, hood, and jacket itself were all treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to keep the wearer dry and warm despite extreme snow, rain, or wind outside. Despite these measures, the jacket is still very breathable and wearable with its 1.6 mm micro-seam allowance to keep it lightweight.
The jacket has three external pockets and two internal pockets, all designed to be accessible and durable. There are two bellowed “crossover” chest pockets on the front as well as a sleeve pocket on the left bicep. Inside, there are two laminated pockets. Arc’teryx is sure to note that despite the heavy water resilience of the pockets, they themselves are not waterproof and wearers should not keep “items in your pockets that may be damaged by moisture”.
The external zippers on the front and pockets are Arcteryx’s trademarked WaterTight™ zippers designed to seal out the window and weather with “zipper garages” providing additional protection from wet weather. The corded zipper pulls were designed to be easily accessible with one hand and quietly opened, especially useful for a government assassin like Cross trying to evade detection. (Of course, the color isn’t ideal for evading detection.)
Arc’teryx also trademarked the jacket’s hood, its “helmet compatible Stormhood™” which was designed to keep the wearer warm and dry. It has a laminated brim and hood adjusters that cinch tightly and securely to offer “full coverage without restricting movement or visibility”, another plus for someone like Cross who finds himself the target of government drones. The tall collar of the jacket enhances the hood’s “full coverage” and has a laminated chin guard for additional protection.
While updating its milestone Alpha SV jacket, Arc’teryx focused on enhancing the fit for active men on the climb. One frequent complaint about winter jackets is that the heavy insulation restricts arm movement. The Alpha SV was redesigned to address that problem with a reduced chest circumference and closer fit, offering “more efficient arm movement” with articulated re-patterning through the jacket, particularly the elbows, for “unrestricted mobility”. The underarms are gusseted with zips to allow easier breathing through one of man’s sweatiest areas.
The sleeves have elasticized and laminated die-cut velcro cuffs. The waistline is also elasticized with an adjustable drawcord. The hem was designed with Arc’teryx’s lightweight and removable Harness HemLock™ inserts to keep the jacket in place while wearing a climbing harness, as jackets are prone to ride up otherwise.
Though the site makes no mention of it, Cross’ jacket appears to be reversible with the dark gray lining doubling as a jacket when he needs to be more discreet than a bright red jacket would allow.
At first, I wondered if this was a dark gray down jacket layered underneath the red Arc’teryx; however, scenes of Cross wearing the dark gray jacket after escaping the ill-fated cabin show the same features and pockets as the red jacket but with a red lining and red-trimmed hood.
Despite that, Cross does appear to layer a black down jacket under his red Arc’teryx, best seen when he first arrives at the cabin and talks to Outcome 3 with his outer jacket unzipped.
The sequence in Alaska features Cross’ outerwear – particularly his jacket – far more than the rest of his attire, but it appears he took a page out of the Bourne handbook and wore all black underneath.
He wears a black thermal long-sleeve quarter-zip shirt on his chest with elasticized sleeves that roll up easily onto his bicep to allow himself to inject a shot when necessary. Some long-sleeve shirts are too close-fitting throughout the sleeves to allow this sort of thing. This was also notably seen in Thunderball when Sean Connery’s Bond rolls up the sleeves of a black long-sleeve polo while stalking through Shrublands at night. In both instances, the sleeve rolled up easily onto the bicep without bunching too much or unrolling itself during the scene.
According to some speculation (and MC Toys’ action figure of Cross), Cross’ dark gray snow pants are Helly Hansen’s Verglas Randonee, a highly-rated model currently priced at $240 on Helly Hansen’s site described as: “A light and comfortable shell pant for backcountry adventurers. 3/4 side zips and bottom reinforcement per specification of our mountain guide friends.” While lined for comfort, the shell pants are not insulated to keep them lightweight and comfortable for an active climber. Like the Arc’teryx jacket, they’ve also been DWR treated to repel water in this extreme weather environment.
The two-ply fabric Verglas pants have an adjustable velcro waist with belt loops and double buttons. There are plenty of pockets through the articulated legs, including side “handwarmer” pockets with YKK® zippers and a slash pocket on the right thigh. A quarter-length YKK® Aquaguard® zipper extends down each side to the ballistic nylon reinforced bottoms, which close with a snap over the zipped legs.
Though he wears blackened Timberland Chocorua Trail Gore-Tex hiking boots through the rest of the film, I believe the pair worn in the Alaska sequence is The North Face’s Slot GTX winter boot – also in black – constructed from Nubeck leather and Gore-Tex.
According to BackCountry.com: “The Winter Grip outsole’s secret weapon is its temperature-sensitive lugs that sharpen the colder it gets. Hunker down or push on to base camp knowing that The North Face Men’s Slot GTX Winter Boot’s PrimaLoft insulation and EVA midsole will make your feet forget it’s even winter.”
Although he’s got the revolutionary protective hood on his jacket, Cross wisely protects his head further with a plain black winter trek knit cap.
Cross’ black gloves are a blend of fabric and synthetic material with removable finger tips.
He wears his watch, a black IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition TOP GUN #IW 379901, on top of the gloves so he doesn’t have to expose his skin to check the time. With its black ceramic 46 mm case and matte gray titanium crown, buttons, and rear cover, it’s a durable watch that ably withstands the extreme temperatures of Cross’ Alaskan plight.
Cross stays loyal to the Arc’teryx brand by sporting a black Arc’teryx 65 backpack. More information is available from the Arc’teryx site.
How to Get the Look
Cross dresses solely for function here, wearing some of the highest rated winter clothing available.
- Red lightweight waterproof Arc’teryx Alpha SV series Gore-Tex jacket with zip front, crossover zip chest pockets, sleeve zip pocket, and laminated-brim storm hood with chin protection
- Black hooded zip-front down jacket
- Dark gray Helle Hansen “Verglas Randonee” lightweight shell pants with adjustable velcro/snap waist, handwarmer zip pockets, thigh zip pocket, and quarter-length zipped & reinforced bottoms
- Black quarter-zip long-sleeve thermal shirt
- Black knit trek cap
- Black leather/Gore-Tex winter boots, likely The North Face’s Slot GTX
- Black winter gloves with removable finger tips
- IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition TOP GUN (#379901), with a black ceramic 46 mm case and matte gray titanium crown, buttons, and rear cover
Aaron Cross’ weapon in Alaska is a customized Nemesis Arms Vanquish takedown sniper rifle. According to IMFDb:
The Nemesis Arms Vanquish (also known as the Nemesis Arms Mini-Windrunner) is a lightweight, tactical, take down rifle built from a small action version of the .50 EDM Arms Windrunner M96, which was also the base rifle used in the manufacture of the Cheyenne Tactical M-200 Intervention. The Vanquish is a multi caliber rifle, and this can be changed by simply replacing the threaded barrel (all other parts including the magazine do not need to be changed). The Vanquish has been tested by Marine Scout Snipers at the High Altitude Shooting Course where they were able to hold 3 inch groups at 600 yards and 6.5 inch groups at 905 yards.
Thus, a very practical rifle for an assassin… at least from what I know by watching movies about assassins.
The rifle hasn’t received much exposure on screen yet, having only appeared on the weapons scene a few years before The Bourne Legacy was made. It is very lightweight, weighing twelve pounds when not fitted with optics or accessories, with a 20″ match grade and fluted barrel and optional muzzle brake. The Nemesis Arms site reports that the Vanquish can be fired with .338 Federal, .308 Winchester, .260 Remington, 6.5 Creedmoor, or .243 Winchester ammunition from a 10-round detachable box magazine.
Although the Nemesis Arms Vanquish is a bolt-action weapon, the film shows Cross using it in both bolt-action and semi-automatic modes. This is a common error seen in films (and nicely lampshaded by the Nation’s Pride film-within-a-film in Inglourious Basterds) when a bolt-action rifle is shown to fire semi-automatic rounds to speed up the action. Still, a “cool shot” is almost always included of the character rapidly racking the bolt to show just that the character is a determined badass and “gun expert”.
Cross also gets his hands on Outcome 3’s sidearm, a first generation Walther P99, when fighting off a group of wolves. The P99 was developed by Carl Walther GmbH Sportwaffen to replace its older P5 and P88 models. After three years of design, the P99 was introduced in 1997 just in time to replace the venerable but lower-caliber PPK carried by James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Well known to 007 fans as James Bond’s handgun of choice from Tomorrow Never Dies to Casino Royale, the P99 also makes its return to the Bourne series after being featured prominently as Kirill’s weapon of choice in The Bourne Supremacy. Like Kirill’s sidearm, the two-tone P99 wielded by Cross has a black polymer frame and silver polished steel slide.
Though the P99 was initially chambered only in 9×19 mm Parabellum (with a 16-round magazine), a .40 S&W offering was soon rolled out to appeal to the American LEOs who were slowly adopting the .40-caliber round. Although the P99’s short recoil, locked breech system dates back to John Browning’s Hi-Power pistol, the weapon more resembles modern pistols like the Glock with its internal striker rather than an external hammer.
Unlike other weapons where generational changes are mostly cosmetic, it is important to differentiate between the P99’s generations. The first generation was strictly a traditional double action (DA/SA) with a decocker. Due to its lack of an external hammer, a red-painted striker tip protruding from the rear of the slide (and a loaded chamber indicator on the right side) indicates to the user when the gun is cocked.
The second generation featured many more variants: the P99 Anti-Stress (AS), which was closest to the original DA/SA generation; the P99 DAO, with a resting internal striker to keep the pistol in double-action only mode; the P99 Quick Action (QA), with a pre-loaded Glock-style internal striker; and a compact version of each of the three variants. The magazine capacities were reduced by a single round for the newer generation, carrying 15 rounds of 9×19 mm or 11 rounds of .40 S&W. The P99 remains a popular field gun due to its reliability and ease of field stripping without tools.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
John Schneider as Bo Duke, race car driver & former moonshine runner
Hazzard County, Georgia, Fall 1978
Picture a cool fall day in 2005 on a suburban road just north of Pittsburgh. A young – and charming, if I may say – 16-year-old is out with his dad, taking his red 1992 Plymouth Acclaim for a spin with his learner’s permit freshly in his wallet. After about a half hour of learning how to obey basic traffic laws, the father turns to his son and says: “Okay, let’s turn it around and go home.”
The son nods obediently, yanks the emergency brake release, taps the column shifter into neutral, and – without reducing speed – jams his foot onto the emergency brake. The rear tires of the Acclaim lock up, the steering wheel is yanked to the left, and within seconds, the surprisingly powerful V6 engine roars as the Acclaim is shifted back into gear to head home.
The son smiles smugly with his perfectly-executed first attempt at a bootleggers’ turn while the father breaks his steadfast rule about cursing around the kids:
You’re not Bo fucking Duke!
Needless to say, the son – whom you’ve no doubt gathered was me – refrained from further bootleggers’ turns… at least while Dad was in the car.
While I’m grateful to both my father and mother, it truly was Bo Duke who taught me how to drive. I raised myself on spinning tires, bootleggers’ turns, and car chases being the norm. By the time I could slip behind the wheel of my own car, the first things I did were to install a Dixie horn under the hood and a Midland CB radio under the dash. (Before you ask… no, I never tried to jump it over anything. I didn’t have 300+ Acclaims at my disposal like Warner Brothers did.)
Thanks to The Dukes of Hazzard – and confirmed by Bullitt – it was always my dream to own a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T. The role of Bo Duke – speeding around skillfully in that great American muscle car – would’ve been a dream job for me, just as it was for 18-year-old John Schneider when the casting call went out in late 1978.
When Schneider heard about Bo, he knew that it was the role he had to have. Unfortunately for him, the role of a twenty-something Southerner might be hard for a New York-born teenager. Adopting a few tips from Civil War volunteers, Schneider presented his birth date as 1954 instead of 1960 and showed up to the auditions with a few days’ worth of stubble, a can of beer, and some chewing tobacco wadded into his mouth. His Southern accent and claim to have attended the “Georgia School of High Performance Driving” convinced the producers, and Schneider was cast as Bo Duke. (He eventually made good on at least one of his lies by attending the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.)
After Reb Brown’s failed Captain America series was cancelled after just eight episodes, The Dukes of Hazzard premiered as its mid-season replacement in January 1979. Only nine episodes were initially ordered, but CBS appreciated both the production and the reception and decided to give the show a shot.
35 years later, John Schneider – and his very masculine voice – is still proud of his connection to the show, refurbishing and selling old General Lees for fans. Like his co-star Tom Wopat, Schneider was able to leverage his Dukes stardom into a successful country music career and is still acting today, most notably playing Superman’s father on the popular, long-running Smallville.
What’d He Wear?
Like his cousin Luke, Bo Duke has a base look best described as a tan snap-down shirt, light wash jeans, tan cowhide riding boots, a flashy gold belt buckle, and – in early seasons – a light blue t-shirt underneath. While some may choose to simply say this sums up his attire throughout the show, this statement would be inaccurate – plus it would render most of this post useless and a man in my position can’t afford to be made to look ridiculous!
Throughout the first season, Bo’s base shirt is a flannel snap-down shirt with distinctive Western-style jokes across the back and front shoulder panels. The color is primarily tan, although it appears somewhere on the yellow spectrum between mustard and gold – complementing Schneider’s flaxen locks – in some lighting.
An indication of the times, as filming began in 1978, Bo’s primary shirt has very large point collars that are at least 3″ long. This shirt is seen both in the first five episodes filmed in Georgia and the following first season episodes filmed in California.
Occasionally throughout the first season, this shirt would be swapped for a yellow version with slimmer collars. This shirt is especially seen in “Repo Men” (Episode 1.04), although some car interior shots from “One-Armed Bandits” (Episode 1.01) and “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02) also feature the slimmer-collared shirt.
Both shirts have patch pockets on the chest that close with a single snap on each pointed flap. (Rhyme!) The cuffs also have three snaps each, although Bo often wore the sleeves rolled up his arms.
Bo almost always wore his shirt tucked in as the front and rear hem were very long. Not only does a long, untucked hem look sloppy, but it would make climbing in and out of the General Lee very difficult.
The pilot episode, “One-Armed Bandits” (Episode 1.01), marks the only time Bo wore a brown t-shirt underneath his shirt. This dark brown t-shirt had very short sleeves and a small patch pocket on the left chest.
Beginning in the next episode, “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02), Bo was seen wearing exclusively blue undershirts. “Daisy’s Song” featured a very vivid sky blue t-shirt that was styled similarly to the previous one with its short sleeves and chest pocket.
From “Mary Kaye’s Baby” (Episode 1.03) well into the third season, the t-shirt was a lighter tint of blue. Despite the different shirts, all featured the same short fit, short sleeves, and small chest pocket.
In the second season, the costumers evidently faced some confusion when finding shirts for Bo. Rather than his usual – and more Southern – snap shirts, Bo was often seen wearing a light tan shirt with white plastic buttons down the front placket, much more like a traditional dress shirt. Instead of snapped chest pockets, these shirts only had a single breast pocket.
It’s possible that these “un-Southern” shirts were an attempted solution to keep Schneider cooler in the now warmer climate of California; perhaps the costumers couldn’t find any lightweight snap shirts but wanted to retain Bo’s base look.
By the third season, Warner Brothers noticed the stars appearing frequently on Teen Beat covers and decided the show would be best served as The Beefcakes of Hazzard. Bo’s undershirt was never seen again once he matched Luke with his shirt open halfway down his torso. This was likely also done to keep Schneider more comfortable so he wouldn’t have to suffer through the show’s many action scenes wearing multiple layers during the warm days in Southern California.
Bo’s main shirt also changed a good bit during the third season in terms of color, material, and style. The Western-style snap shirt thankfully returned, although the color was a pale cream that often reflected white under the hot California sun. The warm flannel had also been abandoned in favor of a more lightweight cotton. The cream shirt was briefly paired with his pale blue t-shirt for a few early third season episodes, but the shirt was typically worn on its own.
For the sixth season, the show’s costumers reverted to a more first season-inspired look for Bo as he once again wore a tan flannel shirt. This shirt differs from the first shirt with its more moderate-length collars and richer light brown color.
The seventh and final season found Bo again wearing the cream shirt from the middle of the show’s run.
As one would expect for a country bumpkin, Bo was hardly ever seen wearing any pants other than his blue denim jeans. His jeans differed from his cousin’s by always being at least a shade lighter and certainly snugger. The high rise of his jeans emphasize Schneider’s already tall 6’3″ frame.
Especially for men, light wash jeans are difficult to wear fashionably. I’m not sure whether Bo’s lighter jeans were John Schneider’s preference or the production team’s choice, but they work better for Bo since he doesn’t wear a denim jacket with them.
In the first season, Bo’s jeans were more of a neutral light-medium wash, and they appeared to have the telling red Levi’s tag visible in several episodes. As the seasons went on, his jeans got both lighter and tighter. While tight jeans were also in fashion back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the fit was also probably helpful for Schneider so there would be no baggy parts snagging while constantly climbing in and out of the General Lee.
When Schneider and Wopat made their triumphant return after nearly a season-long separation from the show, both cousins were back in darker wash jeans that allowed slightly more breathing room.
Corresponding with his lighter jeans, Bo also consistently wore lighter-colored boots than his cousin. Bo’s boots were tan cowhide riding boots with taller cowboy heels that both boosted Schneider’s height and gave Bo more of a countrified strut.
In “The Big Heist” (Episode 1.08), a small plot point derives from Bo purchasing a stiff pair of boots to replace his old ones. While switching them out on the street, we get a rare glimpse of Bo’s choice of socks. He appears to wear plain white cotton socks with a very high rise.
Both Bo and Luke wore brown leather belts that, either by accident or design, matched each cousin’s personality. While Luke only wore plain brown belts, Bo was always wearing a flashier Western-styled dark brown belt with ornate white and brown tooling.
Bo wore two different belt buckles over the course of the show. The first buckle was only worn during the first five episodes – the ones filmed in Georgia. This buckle was a large dulled brass rectangle with five alternating horizontal stripes in dark enamel and brass. The center of the buckle was a brass star surrounded by a circle, filled in with the same dark enamel. Stars make for a very common belt buckle motif, especially in the South and areas surrounding the “Lone Star State” of Texas.
Beginning with “Swamp Molly” (Episode 1.06), the first California-filmed episode, Bo started wearing the gold oval buckle he would wear for the rest of the show’s run. This buckle had a blue turquoise center surrounded by six “teardrop” perforations.
Bo’s Other Shirts
Despite what it looks like, the Duke boys did wear different shirts… occasionally. Typically, Bo only changed his shirt when Luke did, and it was almost always in situations not involving the General Lee so that the editing team didn’t have to worry about continuity when recycling shots of the car in motion.
Bo’s wardrobe remained much more consistent throughout the show than Luke’s, thus it was more noticable when Bo actually appeared in a different shirt.
The bright red flannel shirt Bo wears to the Starr recording studio in Atlanta is very similarly-styled to his early yellow shirts with the snap front, large point collars, and chest pockets. Unusual for Bo during the first season, he wears no undershirt. It’s a very loud shirt, and that’s saying something for a guy who drives a bright orange Dodge Charger.
This red shirt only appears in “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02) and only for the scenes set in and around Atlanta. By the time he returns to Hazzard, Bo returns to the comfort of his yellow shirt and t-shirt. The reason for his red shirt hasn’t been explained – at least not to me – but it was likely a way for the show to re-dress their characters for the sake of variety. Continuity could be sacrificed since “Daisy’s Song” contains their sole trip to Atlanta and all shots of the General Lee driving through the city would be useless for other episodes.
Bo next switches up his attire when he and Luke take ATF agent Roxanne Huntley “jukin'” in “High Octane” (Episode 1.05). While Luke is set up at the bar to bait Enos, Bo is the one actually out on the floor to juke and romance Roxanne. For this outing, he wears a light blue chambray shirt that snaps down the front, although he practically wears it open all the way down to his waist line.
A small black logo patch is visible on the top of the right chest pocket flap. Although too light-colored to be the same shirt, it is likely that Bo’s jukin’ shirt is from the same manufacturer as his royal blue chambray shirt worn in the promotional photo shoots. In both the photo shoot and the Boar’s Nest scenes, he wears it with a slightly darker pair of jeans than usual to provide a reasonable contrast.
A few seasons passed before Bo again felt comfortable in new clothes. On Christmas Eve, in “The Great Santa Claus Chase” (Episode 3.09), Boss Hogg drops in on the Dukes as they trim their tree, exchange gifts, and sing “O Holy Night”. Sure, it’s a corny, bucolic country Christmas, but Dukes always put warmth before humor and Rosco’s surprised yelp at the realization of Santa’s existence is perfectly timed before a quick cut to the outside of the house.
For Christmas Eve, Bo wears a warm dark green shirt with white and black plaid. Unlike most of the Dukes’ shirts, it buttons down the front with large white plastic buttons down the front placket rather than snaps. The patch pockets on the chest are also unflapped with just a single button to close. He wears it with his usual light wash jeans and caramel-colored boots.
This shirt, with its subtle but seasonal color, is a fine option for a casual Christmas celebration.
Schneider also this shirt on the cover of his 1983 album If You Believe. As his belt, jeans, and haircut are also part of his Bo Duke persona, it’s safe to say that Schneider felt a strong association with the character. (Despite the title and context of the shirt, If You Believe was not a Christmas album. Schneider had previously recorded an album of holiday songs in 1981, titled White Christmas.)
Three more years would pass before Bo appeared again in plaid, this time wearing a gray plaid shirt when romancing his “boss”, Mary Beth Carver, in “Undercover Dukes, Part 2″ (Episode 6.17). This is his busiest shirt yet, with gray tones predominant and a blue and brown overcheck of various widths crossing throughout the shirt.
This shirt is lighter weight than his flannels – likely cotton, polyester, or a blend of the two – and has slimmer spread collars and pointed patch pockets on the chest. The Western-style yokes are present, and the two chest pocket flaps each have two snaps – each snap on its own point.
The “Undercover Dukes” two-partner, as well as “Welcome Back, Bo ‘n’ Luke” (Episode 5.19), also featured Bo in his racing suit.
He wears a white lightweight rollneck under the suit, best seen when switching off with Daisy for the conclusion of the climactic race in “Undercover Dukes”.
“Happy Birthday, General Lee” (Episode 7.01) also offers a much different look for Bo as we’re taken on a flashback to 1976 when the Dukes first obtained General Lee. Bo, implied to be freshly out of high school – whether he actually graduated or not is left unsaid – wears more traditional “redneck” attire, perhaps a nod to the immaturity of his younger age.
Instead of his usual tan or yellow, Bo wears a red short-sleeve shirt with a thin white and black overcheck. It has black-toned snaps down the front with matching snaps on each of the pointed chest pocket flaps.
The shirt’s spread collar is a bit too slim to truly be convincing as a shirt from 1976 (as the episode was filmed in 1984), but it’s a refreshing – if uninentional – callback to the younger Bo’s predilection for red as seen in “Daisy’s Song”. The shirt also has 1″ cuffed short sleeves that barely clear his shoulder and curved front yokes rather than the traditional Western points seen on most of his other shirts.
Bo also channels his inner Cooter by donning a dirty yellow trucker hat with “RADIALS” stitched in red across the structured foam crown below a dulled gold sphere. Like all trucker hats, the back half is composed of plastic mesh and has a plastic adjustor strap.
Despite the new shirt and hat, Bo still has the same jeans, belt buckle, and boots as he wore in later episodes.
In fact, other than Bo’s outfit, Rosco’s mustache, and Boss’ reduced weight, the episode doesn’t try very hard to remain consistent with the characters’ looks at the outset. Luke’s boots, ring, belt, and buckle are the same he wore in later seasons, Daisy is still ’80s-ed, Cooter is still the “clean living” mechanic, and the declaration that Boss was too cheap to hire even one deputy doesn’t jibe with the multiple deputies seen in the pilot episode.
Bo rarely wears a jacket, usually just preferring to layer a shirt over his t-shirt. Since “The Great Santa Clause Chase” (Episode 3.09) takes place – obviously – at Christmastime, the showrunners decided it should be a slightly colder day in Hazzard and brought out Bo’s brown corduroy “suit” jacket that made brief appearances the first two seasons of the show.
This jacket will be discussed in its own context in the next session, but keep in mind that this is what Bo considered part of a suit.
If sueded corduroy isn’t your idea of redneck outerwear, perhaps the olive drab army jacket that Bo borrows from amateur thief Neil Bishop in “The Big Heist” (Episode 1.08) would be more fitting. After Neil robs Boss at finger-pretending-to-be-gun-point then holds the Dukes hostage, somehow the Dukes decide it’s a good idea to team up with Neil and fake-rob him again to trick him into- you know what? Just know that Bo borrows the jacket.
Neil’s jacket is a variation of the U.S. Army’s classic M-1950 field jacket in olive drab (techncially OG 107) constructed of 9-oz. treated cotton designed to be both wind resistant and water repellent. It has a covered button fly with an exposed top button in brown plastic. The jacket has four outer pockets – two large patch pockets on the chest and two on the hips – and an elasticized waistband. The cuffs button on a pointed tab, and the epaulettes fasten to the neck with similar brown buttons.
Though Bo only wears the jacket once, it works well for both his character and a proud, active Southerner. Of course, the show’s location in sunny California prevented jackets from being a practical everyday costume consideration.
The previously-discussed sartorial anomaly “Happy Birthday, General Lee” (Episode 7.01) gives us a glimpse of the show’s attempt at a flashback episode where Hazzard in 1976 looks far more like it does in 1984 than it did in 1978. The episode briefly shows Bo exiting the family truck wearing a distinctive blue denim jacket with tan suede panels across the shoulders and back. A large “clean denim” patch on the back indicates that a large patch or logo has likely been removed from the jacket. Bo removes the jacket almost immediately when he gets out of the truck – as this episode was filmed in the middle of a hot California summer, we can’t blame him – and it is never seen again.
Many behind-the-scenes photos, especially taken while filming the first five episodes in the chilly Georgia fall, show John Schneider wearing a variety of jackets between takes.
As much of Schneider’s personality directed Bo’s personality, most of his personal attire would be very appropriate for Bo.
Bo Dresses Up
As there’s not much formality required for driving around in a muscle car all day, Bo and Luke are very rarely seen wearing anything fancier than jeans and a snap shirt. However, a visit to their probation officer and a wedding – in “High Octane” (Episode 1.05) and “The Runaway” (Episode 2.14), respectively – call for a suit and tie.
Although Uncle Jesse owns a traditional suit, Bo and Luke decide to go a different route. Luke wears an all-denim suit that redefines ’70s tack, and Bo presents himself in a brown sueded corduroy variation of a leisure suit. Of the two outfits, Bo’s is the least offensive, but it’s still not something that should belong in your closet.
On its own, there’s nothing wrong with Bo’s jacket, a warm sepia brown suede blouson with camp collars and five dark brown horn buttons down the front placket. The corded wales are very thin, giving the jacket a soft, suede-like texture. It has large patch pockets on each hip that close with a buttoned flap. The elasticized cuffs and waistband are both dark brown.
Bo’s trousers are a matching shade of brown, constructed of the same thin-wale corduroy. They are flat front with plain-hemmed bottoms that slightly flare out over his boots. Like all of Bo’s pants, they are very slim-fitting with a straight leg, although they rise lower than Bo’s jeans. He sometimes places his hands in the slanted front pockets. There are also jetted rear pockets that each close with a button. The trousers appear to have a plain waistband with no belt loops.
Bo’s dress shirt is much more traditional than the plaid shirt favored by his cousin. It is light tan with a thin tonal stripe and large spread collars. The shirt buttons down a front placket with white plastic buttons that match those on the rounded barrel cuffs. There is no breast pocket.
Bo completes the look with a light brown woolen tie. Some shots on the show itself and behind-the-scenes photos of Schneider goofing off at the Boar’s Nest set reveal the tie’s black rear tag, devoid of a manufacturer’s logo.
Of the two, Bo is clearly the more casual dresser as he loosens his tie as soon as it isn’t needed anymore, wearing it totally untied when getting gas at the Boar’s Nest. In the context of the series, there’s no need for him to keep himself duded up, but it provides a contrast to Luke, who keeps his tie fastened throughout the sequence.
The Deputy Dukes
Bo and Luke both enjoyed a brief foray into law enforcement when they were deputized into the Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department in the appropriately-named episode “Deputy Dukes” (Episode 1.10). The two cousins donned the uniforms (but not the sidearms) of a Hazzard County deputy sheriff in a near-suicidal mission from Boss and Rosco to deliver “Public Enemy #1″, the generically-named Rocky Marlowe, back to Hazzard County for a change of venue. The plan is further complicated by a lady policeman who may not be all she says she is (played by Dolly Parton’s less buxom sister Stella), two generic hoodlums, and a pair of devious women who steal clothing from men.
Each cousin is given a light blue cotton deputy’s shirt with seven white plastic buttons down the front placket, epaulettes, and box-pleated patch pockets on each chest with pointed button-down flaps. The spread collars are slim for 1979, and the long sleeves fasten with two buttons.
The deputy shirt worn by Tom Wopat is available for sale at The Golden Closet for $950. Though it’s mislabeled as the blue chambray shirt he wore throughout the second season, the style and badge holes make it obvious that this was his shirt in “Deputy Dukes” (Episode 1.10).
Each shirt had an American flag patch on the top of the right arm and a custom-made Hazzard County Sheriff’s Department badge on the left. The Dukes were also issued gold name badges worn above the right pocket and gold six-pointed sheriff’s stars worn above the left pocket.
The Dukes also were given the black trooper-style hat, black tie, black flannel trousers, and black leather belt issued by the sheriff’s department. The ties were held into place by gold tie bars.
Bo differentiates himself by being the only character to actually wear a cowboy hat on the show, despite the promotional material featuring he, Luke, and Daisy often sporting them. In the pilot episode, “One-Armed Bandits” (Episode 1.01), Bo takes Jilly Rae Dodson into the middle of a field to teach her how to shoot a bow and arrow. In addition to offering some exposition about the cousins’ probation terms forbidding them from owning guns, the scene also gives us the single instance of Bo wearing a hat that promotional photos would lead you to believe never left his head.
Supposedly, the hat on the show actually belonged to Guy Del Russo, the Georgia makeup artist who worked on the first five episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard as well as Smokey and the Bandit. Bo’s pinched-front hat is well-worn tan leather with a dirty brim. The dark brown leather band has silver diamond-shaped diamond head studs and a few multi-colored feathered tucked into the right side.
As the flashier Duke cousin, Bo wears his sunglasses slightly more than Luke does, although they’re still very sparsely seen. In “Daisy’s Song” (Episode 1.02), when each cousin wears a pair of sunglasses, Bo wears gold-framed aviators with solid dark green lenses. They briefly appear again in “Undercover Dukes, Pt. 2″ (Episode 6.17).
The “Undercover Dukes” two-parter also features Bo in a pair of very ’80s dark brown plastic wraparound racing sunglasses.
Neither Bo nor Luke wore wristwatches on the show, but each cousin carried a silver open-faed pocket watch that received occasional use. Bo kept his in his right shirt pocket, as seen when he is driving the 18-wheeler casino in “Route 7-11″ (Episode 1.12).
Like his cousin Luke, Bo keeps a flapped leather pouch on the right side of his belt for his knife. The pouch is either worn black or dark brown leather with a single silver snap.
The promotional photos for The Dukes of Hazzard show Schneider’s cheeky side that certainly worked its way into his portrayal of Bo. Many of the photos taken before the show was filmed focused primarily on the three leads – John Schneider, Tom Wopat, and Catherine Bach – in order to draw in a younger audience as CBS and Warner Brothers weren’t confident in the rural-based show’s market value.
Since the show hadn’t begun yet, the producers weren’t yet certain how the cousins would dress. All that was certain was that the boys would wear snap shirts and jeans… and Daisy would wear her famous extra-short shorts. Only the belt and boots would remain the same from Bo’s photo shoot onto the show itself.
One of the yellow wide-collared snap shirts Schneider wore during the photo shoots eventually found its way onto the show. The other shirt worn by Schneider was a royal blue chambray snap shirt that appears to be a darker version of the blue “jukin'” shirt from “High Octane” (Episode 1.05).
Schneider also wore plenty more accessories than Bo ever did for the promotional photos, including an ornate brown cowboy hat and plenty of silver and torquoise jewelry including a necklace pendant, a bracelet, and a pinky ring. The photos also feature a stainless watch on his wrist, very out of character for Bo as he was never seen wearing a wristwatch on the series. The photo shoot also utilized a very flashy and very large gold oval belt buckle that was replaced by the simpler star by the time production was underway.
Schneider was especially receptive to the country aspects of the show and worked much of Bo’s attire into his offscreen image.
Go Big or Go Home
Bo Duke was the impulsive cousin, the yin to Luke’s cooler-headed yang who often got the duo (or the whole family) into trouble with his quick thinking and heart on his sleeve. He both fell in love easily and would get angry easily, and often Luke, Daisy, or Uncle Jesse would need to talk him out of whatever emotion he was experiencing.
Bo’s impulsiveness certainly worked to his benefit also. The fast-acting Bo was often tasked with firing the arrows destined for their foe, although Luke was quite the bow marksman himself. His leadfoot also came in handy in the driver’s seat of the General Lee. For all of its faults, “Happy Birthday, General Lee” (Episode 7.01) wisely shows Bo unknowingly taking the General down a construction road to a closed bridge. Rather than trying to stop the car or turn around, Bo decided to just go with it and discovered instantly that the General Lee was more than capable of jumping over a ravine.
As the most common driver of the duo, Bo is likely based on Jerry Rushing himself. Jerry Elijah Rushing was the actual source for most of the Dukes‘ story, having regaled producer Gy Waldron with tales of moonshining in North Carolina. By the time he was 12 years old, Jerry had a reputation around the hills as a reckless but talented moonshine runner – or “moonrunner” – that could outrun any trap sent his way. He eventually got his hands on a modified 1958 Chrysler 300D, a powerful 2-door boasting Chrysler’s innovative 392 cubic inch “FirePower” Hemi V8 engine. With speeds topping 140 mph, Rushing’s 300D became a local legend. He named the car “Traveller” after General Lee’s horse, and fitted it with a rig that would dump oil on the road to further impair any lawman’s pursuing cars.
With the success of moonshine stories like Thunder Road (1958) and White Lightning (1973), Rushing decided he had a story worthy of being told. Rushing divulged tales to Gy Waldron of running whiskey made by his wise old Uncle Worley, often accompanied by his brother Johnny and female cousin Delane. Leaving the moonshine life behind him, Rushing became a capable bow hunter and entertainment advisor.
Waldron was captivated by Rushing’s stories and, in 1975, the film Moonrunners was modestly released. Filmed in Georgia on a shoestring budget, Rushing’s stories came to life against the raw and real-life setting of a small part of Appalachia that still hasn’t changed in the last forty years. Rushing, who had a small role in the film as a syndicate henchman, was portrayed as the impulsive Bobby Lee Hagg (played by Hill Street Blues‘ Kiel Martin). Bobby Lee’s cousin Grady was more of an easygoing womanizer, played by James Mitchum; James was Robert’s son with whom he had starred in Thunder Road. The proud family patriarch who compared his moonshine to a “Model T Ford” was now Uncle Jesse, played by veteran screen actor Arthur Hunnicutt. Though not a cousin, the film’s eye candy Beth was played by newcomer Chris Forbes.
While Rushing’s stories alone would have been enough to inspire an entertaining flick, Waldron and producer Bob Clark added a new element of corruption in the form of Jake Rainey, a syndicate gangster who wants to monopolize the county’s moonshine industry. Together with the weary and corruptable Sheriff Rosco Coltrane, Rainey’s men find resistance with the proud Hagg family.
The film was a moderate success, especially among drive-ins in the South, but additional movies like Gator and Smokey and the Bandit revived the public’s interest in good ol’ boys fighting the system with a fast car and illegal liquor. Waldron returned to Rushing, and The Dukes of Hazzard was developed.
The first five episodes, the ones filmed in Georgia, are most reflective of Waldron and Rushing’s vision. Most of the story lines – the pregnant woman by the side of the road running from gangsters, the friendly relationship with certain revenue agents – all derived from real life experiences. Waldron often explains that if production had remained in Georgia, more of these accurate and interesting stories would have come to life on the show rather than the formulaic “bad guys show up” plot, as Tom Wopat eloquently stated.
These early episodes are also the most aesthetically accurate from the old buildings in Covington Town Square and Newton County’s picturesque dirt roads surrounded by changing leaves to even the inimitable human scenery that rings true.
More discussion of the actual Georgia locations from the first five episodes can be found in the Luke Duke post from last Friday.
How to Get the Look
Though more prone to variation than his cousin Luke, Bo had a solid look that is most associated with him.
- Tan or yellow long-sleeve shirt with snap-front placket, Western-style yokes, snapped chest pockets with flaps, and triple-snap cuffs
- Light blue cotton short-sleeve shirt with breast pocket
- Light-medium wash blue denim jeans
- Brown ornately-tooled leather belt
- Gold or brass belt buckle with turquoise center or gold star
- Dark brown leather flapped knife pouch with single snap, worn on belt
- Light brown leather “cowboy” riding boots
- White cotton high rise socks
If it’s a sunny day, Bo might accessorize with a dirty light brown pinched-crown cowboy hat or a gold-framed pair of aviator sunglasses. A cold day may call for a brown corduroy blouson jacket. Or maybe just a t-shirt and a snap shirt are all you need!
Only on a show as good-natured as The Dukes of Hazzard could two lead characters get away with driving a car named General Lee… enhanced with a large Confederate battle flag painted on the roof.
If you go to Google Image Search and type “General Lee”, you won’t see a single photo of the bearded Confederate war leader. Instead, you’ll see dozens of images of a bright orange 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with a black “01” painted on each side and… that flag… painted on the roof. Although somewhere around 300 General Lees were made – and crashed – during the run of the show, at least twice that many replicas have been made by fans and collectors since Dukes went off the air in 1985.
When developing the show, Gy Waldron and his team knew the car was going to be a special part of it. Moonshiners like Jerry Rushing, Junior Johnson, and Willie Clay Call all fondly remember their big old Fords and Chryslers used to deliver whiskey. Not only would the Dukes be moonshiners, they also were racers. Thus, the search was on for a car that would be convincing as a powerful performer that could evade both the police and fellow racers. The Pontiac Trans Am, freshly popular from its use in Smokey and the Bandit, was a top contender before the Charger was famously chosen.
The name “General Lee” resulted from Jerry Rushing’s old Chrysler, which was named “Traveller” after the real Robert E. Lee’s horse. Deciding to cut out the middlehorse, Warner Brothers settled on naming the car after the man himself.
Once the show was written and cast, Warner Brothers purchased the first three Dodge Chargers to “play” the General Lee and shipped them to Georgia for the filming. Transportation coordinator John Marendi began labeling each Charger as LEE1, LEE2, or LEE3, distinguished with a small black tag besides the vin tag on each car.
Each of the first three LEE cars are prominently seen in the first five Georgia episodes in various states of repair…
LEE1, an original 1969 Dodge Charger, was a second unit car with a full rollcage and a 383 V8 engine. The original “light brown metallic” (T3 code) color was repainted orange to look like the General with the flag and the “01” vinyl decals placed before shipping. The interior was tan leather with a three-speaker dash and air conditioning. LEE1 is very distinguishable from the others as it was the only one to retain the chrome rocker panels.
LEE1 didn’t receive much original screen time, but it literally leapt to stardom in “One-Armed Bandits” (Episode 1.01) when stuntman Craig Baxley jumped it over Rosco’s patrol car in front of Seney Hall at Oxford College. This jump, on November 11, 1978 (35 years ago tomorrow!), became legendary as it closed out the opening credits of most episodes. Unfortunately, the 16′ high and 82′ long jump wrecked the car on impact despite the concrete weights in the trunk to keep the car from overturning due to the heavy 383 engine.
Lessons were learned, and the car was repurposed as Richard Petty’s crashed junker in “Repo Men” (Episode 1.04). By that time, it had its front seats and 1969-styled grille and taillight panel removed in order to modify a 1968 Charger to look like a ’69 for future episodes. LEE1 was retired to a Georgia junkyard after its appearances on the show, but it was later bought and restored by John Schneider to its original condition.
LEE2, likely another original 1996 Dodge Charger, was another second unit car with a full rollcage and tan interior. Like LEE1, the orange paint and “01” vinyl decal were added before shipping it to Georgia. LEE2 performed the first jump actually seen on the show when the General leaps over and down Covington’s Elm Street in pursuit of Rosco’s stolen patrol car.
LEE3, a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T SE (Special Edition), was the first unit close-up car for these episodes. It was the second General Lee built by Warner Brothers, but it was labeled last because it hadn’t yet made it to Marendi’s shop for repairs. The original color was green (F5 code) with a tan interior, woodgrain dash, power windows, and power brakes. It carried the powerful 440 Magnum V8 under the hood with a 4-barrel carburetor and rated horsepower of 375 hp… although this was rumored to be much higher. The green was repainted with a 1975 Corvette “Flame Red”, but a special base coat was needed when the red appeared too blotchy as it was applied directly over factory paint.
LEE3 stayed parked at the Holiday Inn near Conyers with the cast and crew for two months and was often used for publicity photos… often with the doors open and the number missing! This General Lee was the last to receive the trademark “01”, which was painted on the side by Larry West upon the car’s arrival in Norcross, GA. LEE3 was the only original of the three cars to survive all Georgia episodes and was returned to California for use in episodes well into the second season.
These three General Lees were the only ones in the series to sport the crossed Confederate and checkered race flags on the rear panel between the trunk and rear window. Four sets of the crossed flag decals were created, but only three were used. For the ease of continuity, these decals were discontinued when the show moved to California and the surviving General Lee had its crossed flags removed.
Three more General Lees were built during the Georgia production, including at least one 1968 Charger that used the grille and taillight panel from LEE1. Eventually, the show’s desperation for General Lees grew to the point where producers would stake out Charger drivers in parking lots to ask to buy their car on the spot. Several numbers have been given for the number of Chargers used on the show, ranging from 256 (according to Ben Jones) to 321 (according to the LEE1 website). Many give an estimate of 309, which sounds accurate enough. At least 23 are known to have survived the filming and still exist; some are restored, some are still showing their battle wounds from the show’s expert stunt team.
Although the B-body Charger was produced from 1968 through 1970, only 1968 and 1969 models were used on the show. All had fully functional doors for safety and practical reasons, although the show’s mythology always maintained that they were welded shut to be a proper stock car. The paint used was “Hemi Orange”, Chrysler’s color code EV2, and any interior that wasn’t originally tan leather was sprayed with SEM brand’s “Saddle tan” vinyl die. Some of the cars, particularly ones built by Andre and Renaud Veluzat for Warner Brothers from the second through the fourth seasons used the same “Flame Red” (GM code 70) used on LEE3. The Veluzat-built cars were more inconsistent than others with interiors dyed varying shades of brown. Sources state that WB was charged $250 each week for rental of a Veluzat car with between $2000-$3000 to be paid upon the car’s destruction, including the oft-crashed police cars. Maintenance fell to WB’s mechanics at their expense.
As the stunt team noticed cars reducing speed due to the front end scraping the ramp before taking off, later General Lees had the front end raised. Stunt cars were fitted with 500-1000 pounds of concrete ballast or sand bags in the trunk to prevent the car from nose-diving with its heavy front engine. Despite the measures taken, landings for the General Lee were often unpredictable and typically rendered the car unusable after a single jump. Pausing or watching jumps in slow motion often show the car’s frame crumpling as it hits the ground.
Engines on the Chargers varied with Chrysler’s 318 LA-series, 383 B-series, and 440 RB Magnum V8 engines all finding a home under the General Lee’s hood. The standard combination was a 440 Magnum V8 with the 3-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite A727 automatic transmission. Despite rumors and popular belief, no 426 Hemi engines and very few manual transmissions were fitted into any General Lee Chargers.
Often the engine was reflected by the task demanded of the car. Close-up, first unit General Lees typically had 383 V8 engines. When the General was required to “ski” on either its left or right set of wheels – with the opposite wheels in the air – used the lighter weight 318 V8. The stunt drivers obviously preferred the big-block 440 V8 for jumps, so any Charger with a 440 was typically reserved for heavy stunts and long, high jumps. The difference in weight between a 318 Charger and a 440 Charger was just shy of 300 pounds (3384 lb. curb weight vs. 3682 curb weight).
Looking at the engines, specs, and performance, it becomes obvious that not all Chargers were created equal. A Charger with a 440 V8 and the 3-speed TorqueFlite transmission had an estimated top speed of 136 mph, accelerating from 0-60 in 6.2 seconds and completing a 1/4 mile drag in 14.4 seconds at a speed of 95 mph. This impressive performance was balanced out by its dismal fuel economy of approximately 8.6 miles per gallon, going no further than 164 miles from its 19 gallon tank. The 440’s optional manual transmission offered a lower top speed at 131 mph but a better 0-60 time at 5.5 seconds.
On the low-end, the Charger was also produced in a six-cylinder model that never made its way onto the Dukes… at least not as a General Lee. This 225 cubic inch engine had a top speed just shy of 100 mph with very low 0-60 times of 13.3 seconds with the 3-speed manual, inflated a full second with TorqueFlite. The 225 offered far better mileage with an average of 15.3 miles per gallon, but the depressing trap speeds of 19.3 sec. at 71 mph (or 19.8 sec. at 70 mph with TorqueFlite) aren’t worth the sacrifice.
The powerful and legendary 426 Hemi, on the other hand, could attain a top speed of 143 mph with a stunning 0-60 acceleration of time of 5.4 seconds. Both transmissions were equally impressive performers, although the 4-speed manual offered a slightly better drag time of 13.9 seconds at 100 mph than the TorqueFlite’s 14.2 seconds at 98 mph. Shockingly, the Hemi’s gas mileage was also more economical than the 440 with 9.3 miles per gallon on a TorqueFlite transmission and a relatively impressive 10.2 miles per gallon when equipped with the 4-speed.
The General Lees’ exhaust systems were basic, typically with a standard exhaust pipe cut just before the rear end. Thrush glasspack mufflers were fitted to many of the close-up cars, and the exhaust sound from these cars was often dubbed in to most of the scenes of the car in action.
1969 Dodge Charger R/T
Body Style: 2-door fastback coupe
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 440 ci (7.2 L) Chrysler “RB”-series V8 with 4-barrel carburetor
Power: 375 hp (279.5 kW; 380 PS) @ 4600 rpm
Torque: 480 lb·ft (651 N·m) @ 3200 rpm
Transmission: 3-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic
Wheelbase: 117 inches (2972 mm)
Length: 208.0 inches (5283 mm)
Width: 76.7 inches (1948 mm)
Height: 53.0 inches (1346 mm)
The Dukes of Hazzard was on the air for six seasons before any real explanation was given for how the Dukes got ahold of their damn near magical car. Finally, the seventh season premiere (“Happy Birthday, General Lee”) offered a look back to eight years previous when Bo was just finishing high school and Luke was freshly home from the Marine Corps. Anxious to win one of Boss Hogg’s upcoming races, Bo and Luke purchased a dilapidated black ’69 Charger from a “Capitol City” junkyard and tuned it up with a fresh engine and a fresh coat of orange paint – the only amount Cooter had enough of in his shop.
Very few mentions are made throughout the show of the General Lee’s make and model, though it is plainly obvious as a 1969 Dodge Charger. The show took care to remove the emblems, first with the sail panel and tail light panel emblems for the first few seasons, and finally all emblems were removed from 1982 onward.
Many grown up Dukes fans have attained their life goal of owning their own General Lee. To begin, you need a 1969 Dodge Charger, preferably an R/T and preferably fitted with a 318, 383, or 440 V8 engine. Next…
The paint. Chrysler’s “Hemi Orange” (EV2) is often cited as the most correct color for the car’s exterior, although GM’s “Flame Red” (70) from the Corvette also works, providing a darker hue. Other colors used by fans for replicas are “Big and Bad Orange” and the light “Vitamin C Orange”. The entire body should be painted, but the tail light area should be left black.
The wheels and tires. General Lee used American Racing’s all-aluminum “Vector” rims with ten spokes, usually 14″ x 7″ although occasionally 15″ x 7″ were used on the rear wheels. These rims were mounted on B.F. Goodrich Radial T/A P235/70R14 tires, correct for the standard Charger tire size of F70 x 14.
The push bar. You know that badass black thing on the front of the General Lee that looks like it could belong on a police car? That’s called a push bar. For the first few seasons, the General was fitted with a narrow push bar that was welded to the bumper, but this damaged the grill with each bump. From 1982 onward, the General wore a wider push bar that attached to the actual frame.
The doors. Bo and Luke chose to weld theirs shut, but… this isn’t a very good idea. Instead, feel free to emblazon them with a proud “01”, indicating that you’ll be #1 as Bo desired when he chose the number. The first two Generals and many modern replicas use vinyl decal kits, but most of the show’s examples had them painted on. Gearhead Diva offers an excellent series of measurements to be used when making the perfect General Lee replica.
The flag. This might get you into some trouble. An American flag may be a nice, politically correct way to update the car for the 21st (or even the 20th) century, but a true General Lee will wear the Army of Northern Virginia’s battle flag on its roof. Though never officially adopted by the CSA, it’s now simply known as a “Confederate flag” or “Dixie flag”. Gearhead Diva again has the correct guide for painting or placing this flag on the roof.
Duke purists would also consider adding the crossed flags from the Georgia General Lees on the panel behind the rear window to keep their General distinctive.
The interior. Dodge’s “saddle tan” is the correct color for most General Lees, although the post-1982 Generals all typically were colored a lighter tan which was often just spray-painted. A non-functional roll bar, created from foam-padded exhaust tubing, adds the “stock car” look to the General’s interior.
Breaker, breaker. The constant use of CB radios on The Dukes of Hazzard is one of the things even a casual viewer remembers. The Dukes kept a Cobra 78x CB radio in their car through the sixth season, when it was replaced by a Sharp 40-channel radio. The trunk-mounted antenna was the Archer 21-908A from Radio Shack, which was also replaced in 1982 by the square-based Avanti Racer 27.
The horn. And, of course, the “Dixie” horn. Wolo currently makes a 5-trumpet electrical music horn, Model #430, that most replica owners purchase for their cars, typically from J.C. Whitney. You can even order one from Amazon now.
The story goes that two directors were eating breakfast in Covington’s town square when they heard a car drive by playing the opening twelve notes to “Dixie” as the horn. The directors chased down the owner and bought the horn from his car for $300, placing it in a General Lee for inclusion on the show. Unfortunately for them, they later learned that this type of novelty horn could be purchased much easier and much more cheaply from any auto parts store. After the first five episodes, the horn was dubbed during post-production as it would be very impractical to purchase and install 300 horns on cars that will just be crashed.
The license plates. The General Lee had Hazzard County license plates CNH-320, although Georgia plates would be the best match. Appropriately enough for a place where time seems to stand still, the General’s plates were always dated 1976.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
I live here. I choose this life. Not because I don’t know no better, but because I believe it is better, and I’m gonna fight anything or anybody that pollutes the well where I drink.
Footnotes and Sources
Helpful links about General:
- Gearhead Diva’s guide to creating your own General Lee was invaluable.
- Hazzard County Car Club provided some great stories about the original Georgia General Lees. for story about some of the original GA cars and a replica made
- The Automobile Catalog has a great page on the 1969 Dodge Charger R/T 440 Magnum TorqueFlite with in-depth specs and performance notes for it and many, many, many other cars! This is one of the few sites I visit on a daily basis.
Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, cheeky and streetwise Detroit detective
Beverly Hills, Spring 1984
Film: Beverly Hills Cop
Release Date: December 5, 1984
Director: Martin Brest
Costume Designer: Tom Bronson
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.