Robert Redford as Jack Weil, smooth, cynical gambler and U.S. Navy veteran
Havana, December 1958
Release Date: December 14, 1990
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack
Gambling is Jack Weil’s raison d’être. Having arrived in Havana on Christmas Day 1958 to make the most of the city’s poker scene, Weil never anticipated getting caught up in the throes of the Cuban Revolution… unless it would get him laid or make him an extra buck.
Of course, his chance meeting with Roberta Duran (Lena Olin) made both possibilities an enticing reason to help the cause.
Janet Maslin nicely describes Jack Weil’s ethical turning point in her otherwise lukewarm contemporary review for the New York Times:
After Bobby and her husband disappear during a military raid, Jack finds himself playing cards with their captors, perhaps even their killers… There is, in this authentically high stakes game, an irony and forboding that give the film a welcome toughness. “These people want to bring down everything you’re here for!” exclaims one of Jack’s new poker-playing acquaintances, speaking aptly of the imminent revolution.
What’d He Wear?
A sporty lightweight suit is a must for a slick gambler looking to make his mark in a Havana poker game, and Jack Weil is nattily dressed for just that occasion in this tan gabardine suit, styled and tailored similarly to the turquoise suit worn earlier for a night out on the town.
While the turquoise suit ensemble consisted of bold, colorful pastels, this outfit makes use of creamy and brown earth tones from head to toe.
Jack’s tan suit gets plenty of wear, primarily for a high stakes, high class poker game in Joe Volpi’s hotel suite. As described by The Golden Closet:
The two piece custom made tan suit has a notch lapel, three patch pockets, two button front closure, and pleated pant with cuff.
Internal Western Costume jacket label with ” 2208-1, Robert Redford, Chest 41, Sleeve 17 1/2, 2A, #1″.
Internal Western Costume pant label with “2208-1, Robert Redford, Waist 32, Inseam 32 1/2, 3A”. Costume tag attached with “1, R.R. Jack, Chg #2, Chg #6”
The sporty patch pockets on the left breast and hips drop the suit’s formality down a level. The back is ventless and there are three buttons at the cuff of each sleeve.
The single-breasted jacket’s low two-button stance is appropriate for the film’s 1950s setting and creates a flattering “V” effect that is accentuated by the wide, padded shoulders that appear on most of Redford’s tailored clothing in his movies.
The lapels have a narrow semi-notch rather than the traditional equilateral notch.
Per the era’s fashions, the trousers have double reverse pleats, cuffed bottoms, and a high enough rise to perfectly meet the jacket at the buttoning point on Redford’s natural waist. Straight pockets are cut along each side seam, and the back pockets are jetted (with a button through the back left pocket.) The bottoms are cuffed.
The trousers’ slim belt loops are positioned about a half-inch down from the top. Jack wears a 1″-wide dark brown leather belt with a gold rectangular box-out buckle.
Robert Redford, a regular customer of Anto Beverly Hills dating back to the start of his career, wore an array of custom shirts in Havana made by Anto (with a tag from “Nat Wise of London”.)
For his hotel suite poker game, Jack sports a dark chocolate brown cotton shirt with the shaped “Mr. B.” spread collar that Anto used on all of his Havana dress shirts. The fitted shirt has no darts or pleats in the back and closes up the front with large white buttons on a placket. The shirt has a single breast pocket and single-button cuffs, although Jack often unfastens them to roll up his sleeves when not wearing his jacket.
Printed ties were quite fashionable in the 1950s, and a flashy gambler like Jack would have quite a few in his collection, always perfectly coordinated to the colors of his outfits. (Think the blue and gray Deco-patterned tie in the opening sequence or the red floral motif tie with his turquoise suit…)
In this sequence, Jack wears a cream printed silk tie covered in abstract brown brush strokes, at times evocative of an animal print or tiger stripe. He wears the tie in a four-in-hand knot, often loosening up when a situation doesn’t call for total formality.
Jack would also wear this suit for a long night of revelry in a Havana casino, dressed down in a navy rayon short-sleeve sport shirt and the same black belt, black socks, and black-and-white spectator shoes from the opening scene. This combination of suit and shirt is currently available at The Golden Closet, where it is currently on sale for $1,950.
According to The Golden Closet, the shirt is tagged internally with “Venice Custom Shirts” and dated for November 1989. It has a flat camp collar, large breast pocket, and plain front with seven large blue plastic buttons. The fit is comfortably large with the short sleeves ending half-heartedly cuffed at his elbows.
NB: The other navy shirt featured with this suit on The Golden Closet is a long-sleeve cotton dress shirt made by Anto in the same style as the brown shirt. It was never worn with this suit on screen; instead, it was featured with a blue dupioni silk jacket and deco-printed tie during the opening scenes.
Jack Weil is the sort of guy who would have two-tone shoes for every occasion. In fact, it is a shot of his black and white spectator shoes that introduce us to the character during a shipboard poker game at the outset of the film. The hotel suite poker game marks the first appearance of his brown duotone spectator shoes from Bragano, a pair of oxford brogues in walnut brown leather and light brown nubuck with medallion punched wingtips and dark brown laces through five eyelets.
His socks are obviously dark, but the costumer tag available at The Golden Closet confirms that they too are brown, the next-best option if he wasn’t going to wear tan socks that would continue the trouser leg line.
He would later wear the same shoes with his cream linen jacket, light blue shirt, and brown trousers.
Jack’s jewelry is all gold, reflective of his gambler image and – in this case – well-coordinated with his earth toned outfit. He wears a gold signet ring on his right pinky and, also on his right wrist, he wears a yellow gold wristwatch with a round gold dial and flat gold bracelet.
Go Big or Go Home
Hosting a poker night soon? Class it up with a playlist reminiscent of Jack Weil’s Havana.
- Frank Sinatra – “Let’s Get Away From It All” (YouTube)
- Frank Sinatra – “London By Night” (YouTube)
- Fats Domino – “One Night” (YouTube)
- Dean Martin – “Memories are Made of This” (YouTube)
Frank Sinatra is Jack’s background music of choice for lonely nights in, first seen listening to “Let’s Get Away From It All”.
Sinatra originally recorded this tune when with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra but re-recorded the 1957 version heard in the film for Sinatra’s concept album Come Fly With Me!, the same album that yielded “London By Night,” which he listens to during a round of solitaire at the Duran residence.
The high stakes poker game in Joe Volpi’s hotel is scored by Dean Martin’s playful 1955 hit “Memories are Made of This”. Interestingly, the song was adapted into the “Honvágy-dal” (“The Song of Homesickness”) after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and Ida Boros’ recording became an unofficial anthem for refugees and protesters around the world, an interesting parallel to the political situation in Havana.
For a more boisterous late-night poker game in a burlesque bar, Jack is serenaded by the appropriately titled “One Night (of Sin)” by Fats Domino. Though “One Night” had found commercial success in the late ’50s, first by Smiley Lewis then by Elvis Presley, Fats’ version wasn’t recorded until 1961, making it a slight anachronism for this scene set in 1958.
Jack Weil looks cool and ready in his tan gabardine suit as he joins his high stakes pals for the big game that drew him to Cuba in the first place.
- Tan gabardine wool sport suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with narrow semi-notch lapels, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Dark chocolate brown cotton dress shirt with large shaped spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and 1-button cuffs
- Brown-on-cream abstract brush-printed silk tie
- Dark brown leather belt with gold rectangular closed buckle
- Brown two-tone leather five-eyelet wingtip spectator oxfords
- Dark brown dress socks
- Gold wristwatch with round gold dial on flat bracelet
- Gold signet pinky ring
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.