SPOILER ALERT! Do not continue reading if you haven’t yet watched The Sopranos. Although, granted, I’m pretty terrible about avoiding spoilers so… sorry in advance.
Michael Imperioli as Christopher Moltisanti, up-and-coming Mafia associate
Kearny, NJ, Fall 2000
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Full Leather Jacket” (Episode 2.08)
Air Date: March 5, 2000
Director: Allen Coulter
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
Some big spoilers here. Don’t read ahead if you haven’t seen the show. Although, honestly, it’ll be pretty tough to avoid since I titled this “Christopher’s bloody suit”. Maybe people just think I’m embracing British culture?
This short scene towards the end of “Full Leather Jacket” was a shocking plot development for Sopranos fans. Christopher’s two moronic underlings, Matt Bevilaqua and Sean Gismonte, took it upon themselves to get noticed in the Jersey mob by shooting him. Of course, the two bungle it badly with Sean getting clipped by Chris on the spot (“Gizz!” shouts Matt) and Matt being tracked down and shot to pieces by Tony and Pussy. After a harrowing hospital experience, during which Chris believes he has died, Tony’s faithful nephew recovers from his dual wounds and is back on the streets, in line to get made.
Part of the brilliance of this development was the timing. The Sopranos was supreme storytelling and is arguably the reason why TV is so damn good today. Chris is shot towards the end of the episode, not at the end. Furthermore, there were still five remaining episodes left in the season. Showrunner David Chase avoided the cliched cliffhanger which would have turned great storytelling into storyteasing. Interested in narrative rather than numbers, Chase ends the episode with Chrissy alive but unconscious in the hospital as Tony bemoans at his bedside, “How could dis happen?”
What’d He Wear?
Despite the episode’s title, Chris does not wear a leather jacket for this scene, although he certainly had a penchant for them on the show. Instead, the “leather jacket” in question refers to a very ’70s-style brown leather jacket straight out of Donnie Brasco that the Napoleonic old-timer Richie Aprile gives to Tony. It’s actually a pretty cool and very retro belted jacket that the costumers had fitted specifically for James Gandolfini, despite his only wearing for a few seconds before handing it off to the family’s maid to give to her husband.
I had some trouble determining what exact color Christopher’s suit is in this scene. I had always remembered it being tan but, upon revisiting the scene for this post, I found it to be more of a gray-green. After ruling out “light laurel green” as a color, I found the Benjamin Moore paint sample “revere pewter” that really seemed to describe the color, a “light gray with warm undertones”. Thus, let’s safely call Christopher’s suit a “warm light pewter gray”, close to what many call stone.
Edit: After doing some color testing, I’ve come up with various shades of gray for the suit, including “lemongrass” and “bandicoot”, with the former showing up the most times. Thus, let’s update “warm light pewter gray” to “lemongrass gray” and call it a day.
The suit is single-breasted with a roomy fit. This is likely for practical purposes, so the squibs wouldn’t be too obvious underneath, but it also helps the small (when compared to his castmates) Michael Imperioli look bulkier. The jacket has standard notch lapels and a tight 3-button front. The center button is worn fastened throughout the scene, both for a sleeker look and for the more functional need of hiding the blood squibs. We don’t see the rear of the jacket much, but it appears to be ventless.
There is a welted breast pocket and two straight flapped hip pockets. The 3-button cuffs match the buttons on the front.
The trousers are flat front with a sharp crease down each leg to the plain-hemmed bottoms. The jacket is closed, but the peeks we get inside reveal no belt, so the trousers are possibly fitted with side-adjusters.
Underneath, Christopher provides an example of dressing down a suit by wearing it with a T-shirt. While still dressier than the mobsters’ preferred track suits, a suit with a nice (key word: nice) T-shirt underneath can look cool and casual while still professional. The only drawback is that this might look silly without the jacket, but we don’t have that problem in the scene here. Christopher’s shirt is a dark gray thin-ribbed short-sleeve T-shirt with a clinging fit.
Edit: Since I was having fun with the color code stuff, I also input Chris’s T-shirt. Evidently, the closest color is “ironside gray”. Welp, sounds good to me.
Since he keeps his piece in an ankle holster – his life-saving concealment of choice throughout the show – we see plenty of Christopher’s footwear in the scene. He wears a pair of black suede loafers with black rubber soles and small black elastic side gussets. His ribbed socks are also black, rising up his calves to allow room for his holster.
Although not as accessory-happy as the other guys, Christopher wears gold when he does accessorize. Around his neck is his standard thin gold necklace with a large Catholic pendant, possibly of St. Christopher, but I don’t know for sure. He also wears an attractive two-tone gold Rolex DateJust wristwatch, the only season when he doesn’t wear a Cartier.
He carries his Walther PPK in a black kydex ankle holster that resembles a Fobus PPK1A. These holsters are lightweight with suede lined Cordura pads for comfort and increased stability and an adjustable velcro strap to secure it onto any sized ankle. While the utility of an ankle holster is debatable to some, it saves Chris’s life on this occasion and provides a carry option when others would be intrusive or impractical. Chris carries his on the outside of his right leg.
Ankle holsters offer much flexibility for gun carriers, who can choose to wear it on the inside or outside of the strong or opposing leg. I personally wear an ankle holster on the inside of my left leg (I am right handed). For me, this prevents the bulk visible when worn on the outside and still allows an easy and accessible draw.
Go Big or Go Home
How to Survive a Mob Hit: The Christopher Moltisanti Edition.
While Christopher’s method of survival isn’t ideal and lost him an organ (“Got no spleen, Gene!” he proudly announces), the scene is pretty badass and it’s great watching the semi-protagonist triumphing over two armed idiots despite being gravely wounded and unable to move off of the ground. I’m not sure if this is what the Boy Scouts meant when they say to always be prepared, but – as Chris proves – it’s definitely good advice.
How to Get the Look
Try not to get yours as dirty as Chris did. Blood is tough to wash out.
- Stone gray two-piece suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted ventless jacket with a 3-button front, breast pocket, jetted flapped hip pockets, and 3-button cuffs
- Flat front trousers with plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark gray thin-ribbed short-sleeve T-shirt
- Black suede loafers with short elastic side gussets and black rubber soles
- Black calf socks
- Black RHD ankle holster worn on the right outside leg, possibly a Fobus
- Thin gold necklace with a gold religious pendant
- Rolex DateJust wristwatch with a round gold dial and mixed metal “Jubilee” link bracelet
We’ve seen a variety of guns going through Chris’s hands and holsters. His stand-by handguns rotate between a Glock 19 and a Smith & Wesson 5946, but he’s carried everything from a Desert Eagle (in “46 Long”) to a Smith & Wesson .38 Bodyguard snubbie (in the previous episode, “D-Girl”). Here, Christopher finds himself sporting a Walther PPK, pistol of choice of both James Bond and Adolf Hitler. Unlike those two, Chris carries a stainless model chambered in .380 ACP.
The particular PPK carried by Chris is serial #A071001 and was manufactured, naturally, by Walther Arms in Germany. Smith & Wesson has been contracted by Walther to make PPKs for the American market, but Chris carries an honest-to-goodness Walther, imported by Interarms of Alexandria, VA, a company that went out of business prior to the series’ airing. Christopher’s blank-firing PPK is available on The Golden Closet to the tune of $6,500. A different PPK, used by Steven Van Zandt in the series’ penultimate episode, is also available for $5,000.
As I mentioned above, Christopher chooses to carry his in a black kydex RHD ankle holster, strapped to his right leg. This is his standard method with smaller handguns. When Chris carries a larger pistol, like the Glock, he usually just sticks it in the rear of his waistband.
Since the inception of the PP in 1929 and the subsequent PPK two years later, Walther primarily offered these compact pistols in .32 ACP (7.65 mm) or .380 ACP (9×17 mm), but also chambered some pieces for the smaller .22 LR or .25 ACP rounds. Eighty years later, the venerable PPK and PPK/S are still offered from Walther. Other lower-priced alternatives, such as the Bersa Thunder 380, exist and are fine quality, but the legendary PPK is tough to beat for a backup piece.
Do Yourself a Favor And…
Check out the second season and be careful when walking through the parking lot of the Skyways Diner in Kearny.
You definitely don’t see this coming, but the shooting should have been predictable to guys who grew up watching old WWII movies. It was always the guy who just got engaged to his “sweetheart back home” that gets shot first in the battle. Since Chrissy finally got engaged to long time girlfriend Adriana at the beginning of “Full Leather Jacket”, he was essentially marked for death by fiction. Of course, he gets through it, but…