James Dean as Jim Stark, confused suburban high school student and loner
Los Angeles, Spring 1956
Film: Rebel Without a Cause
Release Date: October 27, 1955
Director: Nicholas Ray
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Today – September 30, 1955 – is the 60th anniversary of the famous fatal car crash that ended James Dean’s life at the age of 24. At the time of his death, he had only completed acting in three films (other than uncredited bit parts), but those performances made more of an impact than anyone could have guessed.
After his breakout role in East of Eden in 1955, Dean quickly followed it up with his performance as the troubled and tortured Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, a representation of teenage angst that gave a glimmer of hope to millions of teens throughout the country who were disgusted by the falsely naive and puritanical state of 1950s society. Teens could actually relate to the frustrated Jim Stark rather than the squeaky clean Andy Hardy or mischievous doe-eyed Beaver Cleaver. Dean’s electric performance captivated young audiences that began copying his style.
Unfortunately, James Dean didn’t live to see the release of the film that would give so many of his fans hope. Shortly after completing his role in Giant, Dean was scheduled to compete at a race in Salinas on September 30, 1955 in his “Little Bastard”, a brand new 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (VIN 550-0055) purchased only nine days earlier and painted with “130” on the hood, doors, and deck lid. Rolf Wütherich, the German Porsche factory mechanic that maintained the car, encouraged Dean to drive it from L.A. to Salinas to ensure it was in racing condition. Wütherich joined Dean in the car, with Dean’s friend and stunt driver Bill Hickman driving behind them in the station wagon that Dean had originally intended to use to carry the Porsche via trailer. Hickman would later become famous as the stunt driver and actor who handled the black ’68 Charger in Bullitt. It was Hickman who gave Dean the nickname, “Little Bastard” that Dean then applied to his car.
At 5:45 p.m., more than two hours after both cars had received a speeding ticket, a Cal Poly student named Donald Turnupseed was driving his black and white 1950 Ford Tudor coupe east on Route 46 toward Cholame Junction. Turnupseed hesitantly pulled his Ford left over the center line to take the left fork onto Route 41. Dean, approaching the junction from the other direction, was unable to stop his Porsche in time and attempted to power steer away from Turnupseed’s Ford. Unfortunately, the Porsche slammed into the driver’s quadrant of the Ford in a nearly head-on collision, catapulting Wütherich out of the Porsche but trapping Dean inside the mangled Porsche as it flipped intot he air and landed in a gully, northwest of the junction. The heavier Ford was pushed nearly forty feet down the westbound lane of the road. Turnupseed managed to step out of his damaged car with only minor injuries. Hickman and Collier’s photographer Sanford Roth pulled up in the station wagon and joined the many passersby who stopped to help.
After the badly mutilated Dean had been extricated from the Porsche where his left foot had been trapped between the clutch and brake pedal, Hickman recalled the actor taking his last breath in his arms, and Dean was pronounced dead on arrival shortly after arriving by ambulance at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital at 6:20 p.m. Wütherich would survive but with serious injuries and psychological trauma that would haunt him until his 1981 death.
Dean’s brief flash of stardom in 1955 shook the decade by storm before his death, shaking the long-standing tradition of the old dictating the young. Rebellion became cool, and Dean became a martyr for the movement that he unwittingly ignited but undoubtedly would have supported. Up to this point, fine clothing and dressing up was a symbol of social status. Now, fashion was redirected toward dressing down. Personal attitude became more important than fads or conformity.
What’d He Wear?
The red windbreaker, plain white t-shirt, and blue jeans sported by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause has skyrocketed to become one of the most iconic outfits in movie history, right up there with Bogart’s trench coat, Indiana Jones’ leather jacket, and 007 in a sharp tuxedo.
For his night out, Jim Stark dons a bright red cotton windbreaker, appropriately intense for Dean’s performance. It zips up the front with a brass YKK zipper, although Dean tends to keep his only partially zipped down at the waist. The jacket gathers at the waist like a blouson with an elastic hem that provides an athletic figure when closed. The windbreaker has two open slanted hand pockets – one on each side.
The cuffs close through a single buttonhole on one of two buttons; Dean wears his with the outer button fastened for a looser fit over the wrists.
Many stories circulate about the origins of this iconic jacket. Nicholas Ray claimed that he took it from a Red Cross worker, although most now believe that it is a McGregor Anti Freeze jacket with some customizations by costume designer Moss Mabry. The original McGregor Anti Freeze was designed in 1949, and the McGregor site even acknowledges that this was the windbreaker seen in the film, saying “a certain Mr. James Dean was wearing this coat in a ‘rebellious’ movie that would make history. We can’t be absolutely sure that this was due to the coat, but what is certain is that it has stood the test of time.”
McGregor updated its original Anti Freeze based on the film’s popularity and now offers the “Kirk Anti Freeze” for €199.95, constructed of “light water and wind resistant polyester with a soft wool lining” with the same adjustable cuffs and ribbed elastic hem as the film’s version. The only major cosmetic difference is that the Kirk has flaps on the slanted hand pockets, while Dean’s original Anti Freeze had open pockets.
Underneath, Dean wears a plain white cotton crew neck t-shirt with a short-sleeve “muscle cut” that shows off plenty of arm, as the sleeve ends closer to the shoulder than to the elbow.
Luckily for purists who require nothing less than the exact brand worn in the film, a blogger called The Undershirt Guy has taken the case of identifying the t-shirt worn by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Apparently, after three auctions in six years, Nate D. Sanders finally managed to sell the shirt in 2012 for $6,083. However, none of the auction descriptions say much more than that Gordon Bau, Dean’s makeup artist on his three major movies, was able to give the shirt to Claire Gaynor, who provided the letter of provenance.
(The other auctions were Heritage Auctions and Live Auctioneers.com, if you’re curious. Heritage Auctions remarked on the irony that Clark Gable’s lack of an undershirt dramatically decreased undershirt sales until Dean’s white t-shirt revived them 21 years later.)
The Undershirt Guy persisted and found a 2013 article by CNN contributor Bob Greene titled “Could James Dean save J. C. Penney?” In it, Greene comments that Dean was born in Marion, Indiana which was “smack dab in the middle of J. C. Penney country”, and thus copycats believed he favored the simple J.C. Penney “Towncraft” brand of t-shirts. While the answer is most likely lost to history, The Undershirt Guy provided a helpful alternative to all James Dean wannabes by recommending the RibbedTee Retro Fit shirt, a loose knit cotton/polyester blend going for $30 and marketed by RibbedTee as “reminiscent of the great, but no longer made Towncraft 50/50 undershirts.”
Dean’s jeans leave much less guesswork, as Dean himself advertised for his preferred Lee jeans while he was alive. The dark blue jeans sported in Rebel Without a Cause are Lee 101Z Rider denim jeans, notable being the first zip-fly jeans upon their introduction in 1926. While denim jeans had predominantly been the domain of the working man since Levi’s introduced them in the 1870s, they became the symbol for a rebellious teen counterculture in the ’50s, no doubt thanks to James Dean.
The Lee 101Z Riders worn in the film can be identified by the small black tab stitched onto the top of the right back pocket. They are of the standard five-pocket layout with two slanted front pockets, a coin pocket on the right, and two back patch pockets. The bottoms of Dean’s jeans are frayed.
Under the jeans, Dean wears a pair of black leather engineer boots, identified by the silver buckle on the adjustable leather throat strap. We never see the full length of the boots themselves since they tend to extend about 10-18″ up the leg. Engineer boots were developed during the 1930s for workers exposed to potential leg or foot injuries. They were quickly adopted by motorcycle riders for their resistance to leg burns or injuries while riding.
A blog called Vintage Engineer Boots (whose name leaves no doubt regarding their authority in this case!) visited a Madrid exhibit that showcased a pair of Chippewa engineer boots from the ’40s or early ’50s as the boots worn by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. With more expertise than I could ever hope to gather on my own, the blog sheds some doubt on this claim and opens it up to debate with good points on both sides. Since Chippewa Shoe Manufacturing Company was the original manufacturer of engineer boots, I think it’s conceivable that Dean wore at least one pair of Chippewa engineers in the movie.
Dean’s socks will remain a mystery, but he does wear a pair of plain white briefs that are glimpsed poking over the top of his jeans when he gets his hands on Plato’s pistol… if you’re curious about his underwear.
The simple steel tonneau-shaped wristwatch has also garnered some debate among Dean fans and watch aficionados. Although it looks like some Hamilton, Elgin, or Longines pieces of the era, I believe it is a Westclox Wrist Ben on a black leather strap. This watch, with its dark gray luminous dial, appears to be the best approximation of the one worn by Dean.
ClockHistory.com cites that this style would’ve been produced between 1956 and 1958, but it’s the only similar-looking watch from the era that I’ve been able to track down that has only even numerals presented on the face.
Dean himself wore a much fancier watch in real life. The watch on his wrist at the time of his fatal car crash was a Le Coultre Powermatic Nautilus with a 14-carat gold case, black dial, and black alligator strap.
Ironically, Dean became a style icon by ignoring fashion and dressing with an aim towards comfort and practicality. He wasn’t a rebel because of what he chose to wear; he was a rebel because he chose not to conform.
- Red cotton zip-front windbreaker with collar, brass zipper, open slanted hand pockets, button cuffs, and elastic ribbed waistband
- Dean likely wore a customized McGregor Anti-Freeze jacket
- White cotton crew neck short-sleeve t-shirt
- Dean likely wore a J.C. Penney “Towncraft” undershirt
- Dark blue denim straight leg jeans with zip fly, slanted front pockets, coin pocket, and patch back pockets
- Dean wore Lee 101Z Rider jeans
- Black engineer boots with silver buckles
- Dean possibly wore Chippewa engineer boots
- Stainless steel tonneau-cased wristwatch with dark gray luminous dial on black leather strap
- Dean possibly wore a Westclox Wrist Ben watch
- White underwear briefs
Jim’s even more troubled buddy Plato (Sal Mineo) gets his hands on a pistol for the third act, a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer with nickel plating and white pearl grips, found in his mother’s bedroom.
Jim and Judy (Natalie Wood) do everything they can to calm the excited Plato, with Jim eventually getting his hands on the gun in a quick gambit designed to reassure Plato and disarm him.
As Plato slips on the windbreaker, Jim takes out the pistol’s magazine and removes the remaining .38 ACP rounds before handing it back to Plato because “friends always keep their promises.”
The scene ends with tragic consequences as the police don’t know that Plato’s pistol is empty when he steps outside. And, technically, since Jim didn’t eject a round from the chamber – and we know that Plato has already fired it earlier in the evening so the chamber would indeed be loaded – Plato would still have one shot left.
The Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer enjoyed 24 years of production in the early decades of the 20th century, although it is mostly forgotten today. It was one of John Browning’s early efforts at the semi-automatic pistol, a natural evolution from the Colt M1900 and the Colt Model 1902 Sporting Model – both also designed by Browning.
Like its predecessors, the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer is a short-recoil, single-action, semi-automatic pistol chambered for the obsolete .38 ACP cartridge and lacking an external safety mechanism. Externally, it resembles a simplified and more compact version of the later M1911 .45-caliber pistol with its external hammer. Although only four letters separate it from the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, the two pistols are very different.
The Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer weighed just under two pounds with a 4.5″ long barrel and a seven-round box magazine. It was quite popular in its early years as a relatively light and compact pistol with a cartridge that could carry a punch. However, the more streamlined Pocket Hammerless in .32 and .380 would eclipse Pocket Hammer sales and continue to thrive well into the 1940s. Nearly 31,000 Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer pistols were produced until production ended in 1927 as more powerful rounds like the 9×19 mm Parabellum, .38 Special, and .45 ACP gained favor with handgunners.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
You can wake up now, the universe has ended.
David Duchovny as Hank Moody, womanizing novelist and screenwriter
New York City, Spring 2012
Episode: “JFK to LAX” (Ep. 5.01)
Air Date: January 8, 2012
Director: John Dahl
Costume Designer: Alison Cole
I don’t often find myself traveling for work; my first business trip for this job was in March 2012 to Phoenix, Arizona, and I just returned from my second, a weekend in D.C. hosting a client conference. With the news of new episodes of The X-Files coming, this was as good a time as any to check back in with BAMF Style hero Hank Moody. Since I’ve been hopping on and off of planes, I also figured we could take an updated look at Moody’s airborne style. (My first post about Hank Moody on a plane focused on his travel to and from New York in the first season episodes “California Son” and “Filthy Lucre”.)
For a third twist of relevance, the first time I actually saw Californication‘s fifth season premiere was in my Phoenix hotel room three years ago. I’d been too busy to catch it during the first two months, but I managed to snag some downtime while idling away the hours in my room at the Courtyard Phoenix Chandler.
The fifth season premiere first finds Hank on a date… or technically avoiding a date, as he nervously smokes in the bathroom of a hip-looking NYC bistro. Having settled on a solid break-up speech, he heads out to end things with the lovely Carrie (Natalie Zea) before she ends up calling him out in front of the whole restaurant:
This man’s a monster! He likes to fuck women in the ass and then tell them that he just wants to keep it casual.
Needless to say, she dumps her martini in his face and takes to heels while he takes one on the chin. On his way elsewhere – my best guess is a bar – he receives a call from Runkle “with the prospect of a significant payday”. He takes the job, sight unseen, to avoid “a bunny boiler situation” with Carrie. This leads him onto a plane where he has a chance encounter with a voluptuous R&B singer, not yet knowing that his new gig is writing a shitty action movie for the singer’s volatile rapper boyfriend… and certainly not knowing that he just made his prospects a little cloudier by making out with her in the plane’s bathroom. Only Hank.
Of course, Hank and Carrie’s “bunny boiler situation” literally heats up as she burns down his apartment, likely ruining an impressive collection of both books and black t-shirts and once again leaving Hank stranded on his least favorite coast.
What’d He Wear?
Getting to see Hank in his native environment – New York City – for the first time since the second season flashback shows us just how little his style changed from coast to coast. In this case, though, his preference for all black fits in much more with the city’s slick atmosphere.
The most notable change in his wardrobe, which sticks for the rest of the show, is a cool black leather jacket that seems to have taken the place of the familiar brown smoking jacket as his outerwear of choice. The jacket is constructed of soft leather with a shirt-style collar, silver zip front, and slanted slash hand pockets. Each cuff closes with a silver-toned snap, and the waistband is free of any adjusters, tabs, or additional snaps. Stitching is present on all seams and down each of the front panels and down the rear to create a tri-panel back.
A stunt version of the jacket was auctioned by ScreenBid in July 2014 with “2 SIZES TOO BIG FOR DAVE” written inside. Considering that the jacket was a size 44, we can reasonably deduce that the jacket sported by Duchovny on the show is a size 40. Also considering that the stunt jacket was made by Dolce & Gabbana, we can again reasonably deduce that Duchovny wore a D&G as there’s no viable reason why the show would spring for a similar-looking D&G jacket for stunts but not for its lead character!
Amazon is currently selling a replica of Hank’s leather jacket. Marketed by BlingSoul as simply the “Hank Moody Leather Jacket”, the $189 real leather jacket appears to be a pretty accurate replica of the one Duchovny wore from seasons five through seven on the show with all favorable reviews from buyers, at least as of April 2015. The only noticeable external difference is that the Amazon jacket features a “T”-style three-panel back; Moody’s jacket on the show has a three-panel back, but it is divided down each shoulder blade.
The rest of the outfit is all Hank’s signature look. He wears a black short-sleeve James Perse crew neck t-shirt the whole time.
You can get your own from the James Perse website for $50, which is – admittedly – a lot of money for a plain black cotton t-shirt. Based on auctioned versions, we know Duchovny wears a size 2, JP’s equivalent to a ‘medium’. The site describes the shirt, style #MLJ3311, as:
Short sleeve crew with binded neck. Lightweight Jersey is an extremely soft knit made by specially treating the cotton fibers before they are spun into a yarn. This fabric breathes well and has a nice drape.
In New York City, he adds a layer with a “slightly darker black” (thank you, Archer) long-sleeve crew neck t-shirt over the short-sleeve shirt. The layering is reasonable given NYC’s naturally chillier climate than L.A. Once he arrives in L.A., he drops the outer layer and wears only the short-sleeve t.
Always an advocate of denim (“the people’s fabric”, as he earlier told a snooty country club attendant), Hank wears a pair of jeans in a very dark blue wash. The stitching on the pockets and seams appears to be rust brown-colored thread. I can’t tell if this is one of his Earnest Sewn pairs or not, but the brand has certainly been positively identified with Californication.
Hank’s shoes are his usual Timberland “Torrance” sueded leather Chelsea boots, colored in medium brown. We don’t see his socks in this episode, but he wears black socks 99% of the time so we can assume the same here.
Hank also wears his usual accessories in the usual places, at least for the New York scenes. His silver spinner ring is present on his right index finger, and the left wrist sports both black leather bracelets that we’ve come to know and love – the larger one studded with silver hexagons and circles and the thinner one consisting of a tied black woven braid. (As you’ve also doubtlessly come to know, you can find Hank’s bracelets at Urban Wrist.)
However, something strange happens after Hank returns to L.A. The silver ring is now on his left index finger, the black studded bracelet is now on his right wrist, and the thin leather braided bracelet is nowhere to be seen.
At first, I assumed this was the result of an image reversal, but background evidence and Hank’s own finger tattoo prove that he’s simply wearing these objects on the wrong hands. Is it possible that both Duchovny and the wardrobe folks forgot how Hank wears his famous jewelry? The show had been on a year-long hiatus, after all? Or was the plan to eventually reverse the L.A. scenes to make up for something else? Either way, it’s mystifying to anyone who notices.
An additional mystery is the appearance of a pair of tortoise wayfarer-style sunglasses that Hank wears in – I believe – this episode only. He had worn his dark Izod 725 shades in the first four seasons, occasionally sporting a pair of thicker-framed Oliver Peoples in some episodes of seasons 3 and 4 (Duchovny’s own, I understand). After this episode, he wore black-framed Ray-Ban aviators for the rest of the show’s run.
Based on the temple logos and the distinctive 21mm folding bridge, I believe Hank’s sunglasses in this episode are a pair of classic Persol PO 0714 sunglasses in color code 24/57 with tortoise “Havana” plastic frames and large, 54mm wide crystal brown polarized lenses. Whether I’m right or not, you can pick up your own pair of these Persols here. It was a pair of these sunglasses, with smaller blue 52mm lenses, that Steve McQueen made popular in The Thomas Crown Affair.
If I’m wrong about Hank’s sunglasses, or if someone has more information about them, do us all a favor and let me know!
Go Big or Go Home
The first frame of the episode sets up both Hank and Californication as entities that don’t care about social norms. With a flick of his red Bic, Hank lights up a cigarette while nervously constructing the perfect break-up speech… of course, it turns out to be inside the bathroom of a New York City restaurant, and New York was one of the first states to implement a statewide smoking ban (in 2003, if you’re curious) that would certainly include restaurant bathrooms. (Although, of course, California’s 1995 act made it the first state to pass a statewide smoking ban.)
Hank stays true to his drink of choice – Scotch, neat – whether in the New York eatery or on his mile-high journey to L.A.
The most surprising change is Hank’s telecommunication technology. For the first three seasons, he’d stuck with his Motorola RAZR before upgrading to a BlackBerry Bold for the fourth season. Interestingly, season four premiered six months after I switched from a flip phone to a BlackBerry Bold…
Now, in season five, he’s got an iPhone 4S. Again, an eerie coincidence for me as I had just switched from the BlackBerry to an iPhone 4S the day before the business trip where I first saw this episode. Hank and I even use the same case, a hard plastic black SPECK with dark gray rubber edges and buttons. While I’d like to think it’s Hank mimicking me, I will shamelessly admit to borrowing his “Who callin’ my phone?!” greeting.
The show’s use of music has always been impressive, and one of my favorite tracks featured on the show was Paul Oakenfold’s remix of The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” in the second episode. Another Doors remix is used to kick off “JFK to LAX”; this time, it’s a remix of “Love Me Two Times” by Infected Mushroom.
While a badass song in its own right, it’s also a cheeky implication of the “two times” – or two ways – that Hank has been “loving” Carrie.
The episode also introduces two of the better recurring characters from the show’s later seasons: RZA as Samurai Apocalypse, an absurd but talented rapper who pushes Hank into writing Santa Monica Cop for him, and the stunning Meagan Good as Kali, Samurai’s girlfriend and – naturally – an eventual love interest for Hank.
How to Get the Look
Hank’s updated look for 2012 is admittedly more versatile – and accessible – than the smoking jacket that had defined his style for four seasons.
- Black soft leather Dolce & Gabbana jacket with shirt-style collar, silver zip-front, slanted side pockets, and snap cuffs
- Black cotton long-sleeve crew neck t-shirt
- Black cotton short-sleeve crew neck James Perse t-shirt
- Dark blue denim bootcut jeans
- Brown sueded leather Timberland “Torrance” Chelsea boots
- Black socks
- Black boxer briefs
- Persol PO 0714 folding-bridge sunglasses with “Havana” tortoise plastic frames and brown polarized lenses (color code 24/57)
- Silver spinner ring, worn on right index finger
- Black leather bracelet with silver hexagonal and round studs, worn on the left wrist
- Thin black braided woven leather bracelet, also worn on the left wrist
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Watch the series, and – if you want to see this episode – pick up the fifth season.
Usually, I get on the plane, and I’m seated next to John Candy or Ruth Gordon… if I’m lucky. But I end up next to the most beautiful woman in the tri-state area, and I go and spill a drink in her lap. Nice work, huh?
Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as
Connor MacManus and Murphy MacManus (respectively), Irish-American blue-collar vigilante brothers
Boston, MA, March 1999
Film: The Boondock Saints
Release Date: January 22, 1999
Director: Troy Duffy
Costume Designer: Mary E. McLeod
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
For most of us, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration full of green beer, corned beef, and bad decisions. For the MacManus brothers, two cheeky but religious meat packers in South Boston, it usually means the same thing. Even Murphy MacManus uses the holiday to welcome a trio Russian mobsters to the neighborhood bar:
Yeah, it’s St. Paddy’s Day, everyone’s Irish tonight. Why don’t you just pull up a stool and have a drink with us?
Unfortunately, the Russkies aren’t as willing to throw a few back and celebrate, so the holiday leads to an eruption of violence that evolves the MacManus brothers into “The Boondock Saints”.
Although it didn’t receive much attention at the time of its admittedly limited release, The Boondock Saints has become a cultural phenomenon thanks to word-of-mouth and posters in college dorms. Pretty good for a movie made on a budget of only $6 million (in movie budget terms, that’s like $1.98).
What’d He Wear?
The brothers dress very similarly throughout the film, with very very few deviations.
The Pea Coats
Throughout the film, the staples of the brothers’ wardrobe are their matching dark navy blue pea coats in the classic U.S. military style. Duffy purchased the coats for the second film from Sterling Wear, but – given the limited resources of the first – it’s likely that these coats are secondhand or military surplus.
The pea coats have six of the classic anchor design buttons in a 6×3-button double-breasted layout, although the MacManus brothers always wear the coats open. They’re constructed from heavy wool (or a wool/nylon blend), wisely keeping out the cold of Boston in March. Edge stitching is present about 1/2 inch from the edges of the coats’ large lapels.
The coats have two slash handwarmer side pockets and a single rear vent with a parallel tack.
The short-fitting pea coat is a variation of the familiar “badass long coat” trope in action movies, appropriate given Connor’s clear fandom of cinematic badasses like Charles Bronson and John Wayne. The snugger pea coat is a wise choice, providing a more comfortable fit in a city with an average high just shy of 46°F in March.
Both Connor and Murphy wear bootcut denim jeans in a medium blue wash. As extra blue-collar guys who don’t own much in the way of clothing (or anything), these jeans show a lot of natural distress, especially around the hems. Each brother wears a thick black leather belt with a square brass buckle.
When Connor and Murphy are on a “mission”, they wear identical black lightweight cotton turtleneck jumpers.
Other than their dark Archer-approved assault turtlenecks, the brothers’ shirts are the only pieces of clothing that differentiate one from the other. Both wear short-sleeve lightweight t-shirts when not in badass mode. Connor’s t-shirt is a black with gray stitching around the sleeves and the slight v-neck. Murphy’s t-shirt is a gray crew neck shirt which, like Connor’s, has a lighter-colored stitching around the neck and sleeves.
For their night out on St. Patty’s Day, the brothers sport loose-fitting long-sleeve sweaters. Connor’s is a brown v-neck lightweight jumper, and Murphy wears a noticeably oversized black wool v-neck jumper with a ribbed collar and cuffs.
The MacManus’ brothers choice in footwear is another call-back to their blue-collar roots. They wear matching work lace-up boots made of well-worn brown leather with seven brass eyelets up the throat to the top opening. The boots have lighter brown laces and thick dark brown rubber soles with slightly raised heels. There is a small finger loop on the back of each boot opening.
I’ve been unable to specify the maker of the boots; I’ve read both Timberland and Harley online but I’m unconvinced in both cases. Each brother also appears to wear black socks.
All of the brothers’ accessories serve some sort of purpose. On some of the unseasonably sunny days – and when an additional cool factor is needed – they wear matching pairs of black plastic wraparound sunglasses, similar to the Ray-Ban Balorama. The choice may not be a coincidence given Connor’s love of action movies and Baloramas being the preferred eyewear of “Dirty Harry” Callahan.
To fit each brother’s religious needs, they wear a set of iconic brown maple rosary beads around their neck, each with a large 3″ wooden cross through a silver-toned ring at the bottom. The Boondock Store, the official brand online store, is currently selling replicas of the beads for $89 a pop.
For their deadly outings, the brothers wear black ribbed wool ski masks with two holes for the eyes and one hole for the mouth.
They also wear a pair of black leather gloves that stop at the wrist.
The brothers keep their Berettas in a black nylon double shoulder holster rig that strap both around the back and shoulders and to the waist. Although a logo is visible on the rear support strap, I’m unable to determine the exact manufacturer. The holsters would have had to have been customized for the film, as I’m unaware of any companies that make holsters to fit suppressed pistols.
And, finally, each brother wears a pair of light cotton boxer shorts with elastic waistbands. This is the only other part of their wardrobes where they differ from the other; Connor wears blue boxers while Murphy sports a pair of light gray shorts.
Go Big or Go Home
The most admirable trait about the MacManus is their fierce loyalty and devotion to each other. While they may disagree at times, the friendship that developed between Reedus and Flanery shows through on screen as the brothers have a strong rapport that leads one to believe that they really would do anything for each other (including dropping a toilet from five stories up and then following it down… while in handcuffs).
Being the badasses that they are, the brothers choose tattoos rather than friendship bracelets to symbolize their devotion. On Connor’s left hand and index finger he has “VERITAS” (Latin for “Truth”) tattooed as Murphy has “AEQUITAS” (“Justice” in Latin) on his right index finger.
What to Imbibe
The MacManus have the same taste in seemingly everything: they both have the same clothes, same job, same sunglasses, and they even both smoke Marlboro Lights. When it comes to drinking, they’re both able to put away quite a few pints without seeming overly reckless… unless you count antagonizing a Russian mobster by lighting his ass on fire to be reckless.
Strangely, no Irish whiskey is prominently featured in the film. When the brothers and Rocco are drunkenly playing pass the bottle (and pass the Beretta), it is with a bottle of Wiser’s De Luxe, a tasty Canadian whisky.
I should also stress that the MacManus brothers both drink a lot of Pepsi, and the film is sure to make sure that we know they drink Pepsi because Pepsi is cool and refreshing. (This post paid for by Pepsi.) (Not really, but that would be nice for me.)
How to Get the Look
Don’t be the Rocco in your crew of vigilantes. Keep it clean, professional, and MacManus-style.
- Dark navy blue 6×3-button double-breasted heavy wool pea coat with slash handwarmer side pockets and single rear vent
- Black lightweight cotton turtleneck jumper
- Dark short-sleeve t-shirt with white-stitched collar and sleeves
- Connor wears a black v-neck t-shirt
- Murphy wears a gray crew neck t-shirt
- Medium blue wash denim bootcut jeans
- Black leather belt with brass squared buckle
- Dark brown leather lace-up work boots with brown laces (7-eyelet) and thick dark brown rubber soles
- Black socks
- Black plastic wraparound sunglasses
- Brown maple rosary beads with silver spaces and 3″ brown maple cross
- Black ribbed wool ski mask
- Black leather gloves
- Light cotton boxer shorts with elastic waistband
- Connor wears blue boxers
- Murphy wears light gray boxers
You don’t have to go all-out; most of these items can be purchased for just a few bucks. A good pea coat is worth dishing out a few hundred, though.
When the brothers are unleashed in the IRA armory (Come on, that guy was IRA, right? They never say it, but… come on), they pick up a staggering amount of firearms. Despite the quantity and variety they take, both Connor and Murphy stick to the Beretta 92FS as their firearm of choice.
Both brothers carry two Berettas, often suppressed, in their black nylon shoulder rigs. Once Rocco joins the team, even he gets his own pair of Berettas!
Continuity errors lead to some shots swapping in the nearly-identical Taurus PT92 for some scenes, especially during the gunfight at the “Sick Mob Man”‘s house. To tell the difference between a true Beretta 92FS and the Brazilian copy made by Taurus, note the difference between the external safety mechanisms; the Beretta has a slide-mounted decocking safety while the Taurus has a frame-mounted slide stop safety.
Otherwise, the Taurus PT92 is virtually identical to the Beretta pistol. Developed in 1983 just as the Beretta was gaining its market, the PT92 can carry up to 17 rounds of 9×19 mm Parabellum in a magazine. At least ten variants exist, differing based on size, caliber, and finish.
Astute BAMF followers will recall that the Beretta 92F/FS was prominently featured as the handgun of choice by both Martin Riggs (the Lethal Weapon series) and John McClane (the firs three Die Hard films). In other words, it was the pistol to own for a badass in the ’90s… bet Buzzfeed won’t tell you that!
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie. I’ve never seen the sequel so I can’t speak to its quality or its costumes, but it looks like the brothers are wearing generally the same outfits.
Most people would go with the prayer, but I prefer the film’s comedy to its religious overtones, so…
Murphy: That was way easier than I thought.
Murphy: You know, on TV you always got that guy that jumps over the sofa.
Connor: And then you gotta shoot at him for ten fucking minutes, too.
Murphy: We’re good.
Connor: Yes, we are!
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 both Amazon and 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.
Once it becomes necessary, Cross is able to wear his jacket inside out with the dark gray lining on the outside 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… and they’re available on Amazon.
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.
Update! Awesome commenter Lars Brenna has informed me that the hat was made by OR (Outdoor Research). OR’s Wind Blocker Alpine Knit Hat looks like a good deal to me!
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. If you’re in the mood, you can shell out $9,900 on Amazon for your own. It’s a steal at that price, as it’s been known to run up to $12,000.
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.