Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, U.S. Army OSS officer and redneck leader of the “Inglourious Basterds”
Paris, June 1944
Film: Inglourious Basterds
Release Date: August 21, 2009
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Anna B. Sheppard
Brad Pitt’s Evening Attire: Giorgio Armani
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Inglourious Basterds kicks off a two-film spree in Tarantino’s filmography focused on rewriting history with violent vengeance. In this revisionist take on World War II, a band of Jewish-American military guerillas – think The Dirty Dozen meets The A-Team – is assigned the sole task of secretly but brutally fighting their way through occupied German territory, murdering any Nazi encountered in their wake. The two-year spree of these “inglourious basterds” who give the film its title ends up in a Paris movie theater on the eve of the D-Day invasion with an opportunity to take down the German high command, including Hitler himself, to end the war.
It was at this point that I thought, “ah, here it is. The war didn’t end and Hitler didn’t die until a year later when he shot himself in his bunker, so the gang will definitely fail this mission.” Wrong! Leave it to QT to beautifully surprise me with a very welcome alternative history.
Inglourious Basterds plays with the common 007-esque spy film trope of putting its dashing hero in a tuxedo for an evening event, something which Brad Pitt himself would do with less irony in last year’s Allied (which, yes, will get a BAMF Style post soon!), but it’s terribly fun to watch Pitt out of place as the Tennessee roughneck sporting a white dinner jacket and struggling his way through his new Italian cover as stuntman Enzo Gorlomi. (Of course, this being QT, the name is an homage to the birth name of Enzo G. Castellari, director of 1978’s The Inglorious Bastards.)
Following a nomenclatural battle of wits with the sinister Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), Aldo Raine almost immediately finds himself in Landa’s custody and a new battle of wits ensues. Landa’s grandoise flamboyance (“That’s a bingo!”) meets Aldo’s no-nonsense directness (“You just say ‘bingo'”) as the two men sift through their personal agendas to find a mutually beneficial plan to end the war that evening.
Of course, being a high-ranking officer in the evil SS, Landa isn’t permitted to come out totally unscathed, as he discovers when Aldo begins preparing his knife. “You’ll be shot for this!” Landa exclaims. Unaffected by the desperate cries of a Nazi, Aldo considers this for a second, then replies:
Nah, I don’t think so. More like chewed out. I’ve been chewed out before.
What’d He Wear?
Worldly villain that he is, Hans Landa instantly sees through Aldo’s weak cover and identifies to his guards “the guy in the white smoking jacket.” Of course, Aldo is actually sporting an off-white dinner jacket but the semantics of sartorialism hardly matter when the fate of the world is at stake. Either way, the guards know precisely who he means and Aldo finds himself in German custody before he even gets a chance to sip his champagne.
June is a summer month in Paris and the movie premiere is a festive occasion, so Aldo’s decision to wear an ivory dinner jacket is appropriate. Costume designer Anna B. Sheppard told Clothes on Film, “As I was using a lot of black tuxedos, uniforms, and SS black dress uniforms in the final scene, I wanted to use a more flamboyant and visible design to highlight the fact that he plays an Italian filmmaker.” As WWD reported the week before the film was released:
Giorgio Armani collaborated with Inglourious Basterds costume designer Anna B. Sheppard to create a made-to-measure dinner jacket for Brad Pitt’s character to wear in a key scene. The two-button white dinner jacket with peak lapels would normally retail for $4,375. Meanwhile, this week, Pitt has worn Tom Ford suits to the Los Angeles premiere of Inglourious Basterds and to the New York premiere of The Time Traveler’s Wife.
The unsophisticated Aldo Raine is about as far from James Bond as a spy can get, but his off-white dinner jacket with its nontraditional satin-faced peak lapels and silk-covered two-button front is very similar to the ivory Tom Ford “Windsor” dinner jacket that Daniel Craig would wear six years later as 007 in Spectre… right down to the red carnation in his lapel.
The wide and full-bellied peak lapels with strongly built shoulders, ventless back, and waist suppression takes inspiration from contemporary suits of the late ’30s and 1940s. Aldo’s dinner jacket also has silk-covered four-button cuffs, straight jetted hip pockets, and a welted breast pocket where he wears a folded white silk display kerchief.
A double-breasted jacket with shawl lapels would have delivered the effect of Humphrey Bogart’s iconic dinner jacket in Casablanca, but it’s important to remember that this is hardly the outfit-of-choice for a rugged former bootlegger from the mountains of Tennessee who has unexplained rope burns around his neck. This guy is meant to look as uncomfortable as possible… and the discomfort pays off hilariously.
The jacket itself isn’t without sartorial flubs (which may also be on purpose!), but actor B.J. Novak’s recollection from the production proves that the overall impact is more important than nailing the details:
Maybe the coolest night for me filming we shot in this truck, a scene where Brad Pitt and I were kidnapped, in handcuffs with bags over our heads. It was just an establishing shot. I showed up and all I had to do was be handcuffed and have this bag over my head. Brad Pitt is there in his white tuxedo jacket, and Tarantino, my all time hero is there behind the camera, and I realized there’s no way I can mess this up. I have a bag over my head, I’m handcuffed, I have no lines, there’s nothing I can do to mess this scene up. I just kinda looked around between every take and just marveled at my good luck. It was the most glamorous thing. I mean not only Brad Pitt, but like in a white tuxedo, and a mustache, and an accent, hamming it up and absolutely convincing, and taking you back to the ’40s. It was the most transformative film experience that I couldn’t mess up. I kept thinking “I can’t believe I’m here.”
Aldo’s black formal trousers have forward pleats and a slouchy medium rise, unfashionable in that or any era but quite fitting for a character unused to the trappings of formalwear. The trousers appropriately have a single satin braid down each side and plain-hemmed bottoms.
The waistband of the trousers is concealed by a black grosgrain cummerbund.
Aldo’s white formal shirt has a marcella front bib, a British compromise dating back to the early 20th century to give wearers the appearance of a full-dress shirt combined with the comfort preferred by Americans in the areas typically covered by a dinner jacket. Aldo wears three round diamond-filled silver shirt studs down his front bib. The shirt’s single cuffs are fastened with mother-of-pearl links.
The shirt is worn with a detachable wing collar, fastened at the neck with a gold stud, calling back the early days of formal dress when it was easier for men to wash or replace a collar than an entire shirt. Inglourious Basterds makes the most of this period detail by featuring Aldo wearing his shirt collar unfastened after his arrest.
Aldo’s black silk bow tie is a butterfly-shaped self-tying model.
Despite other faux pas that may be present in his outfit, Aldo wears the most appropriate footwear, a pair of black patent leather oxford shoes with a straight cap toe. He also wears black dress socks.
Aldo’s trusty Bowie knife is holstered in what appears to be a custom sheath under his left arm, held into place by a series of black leather straps running over the back and shoulders and under the front of his shirt.
Premiere Props auctioned the complete formalwear worn by Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth) and Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom), the two other “basterds” who accompanied Aldo and Bridget to the Stolz der Nation premiere:
- With his formal tailcoat, Donny wears a white Angels and Bermans dress shirt.
- Omar’s double-breasted dinner jacket remains unidentified but his white wing collar shirt is La Valiere, his formal trousers are AAW-Berlin, and his black oxfords are from Siam Costumes.
- Siam Costumes also provided the formal trousers to another unidentified character’s black tie ensemble (link) with a Henk ter Horst dress shirt.
How to Get the Look
- Ivory wool single-breasted 2-button dinner jacket with wide satin-faced peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, silk-covered 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- White formal dress shirt with triple diamond-studded marcella bib and single cuffs
- Detachable wing collar
- Mother-of-pearl cuff links
- Black silk self-tied bow tie
- Black formal forward-pleated trousers with black satin side braiding and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black grosgrain cummerbund
- Black patent leather cap-toe balmorals/oxford shoes
- Black dress socks
- Black leather shoulder holster sheath, for Bowie knife, concealed under left armpit
Other than a single shot from Landa’s own Walther P38 used to dispatch the unfortunate driver Herman, Aldo Raine sticks to his trusted and true Bowie knife as his weapon of choice during the film’s final act. (To read more about the knife, likely a Smith & Wesson “Texas Hold ‘Em”, check out my post about Aldo’s pea coat and casual attire.)
His team, however, is assigned the innovative .38-caliber pistol glove, designed by the U.S. Naval Intelligence Office and developed by Sedgley in Philadelphia for short-range use by the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy. Known as the OSS Pistol Glove, the weapon consists of two cylinders fitted to the back of a leather glove; one cylinder contains a plunger that is pressed into the target and the other cylinder is the barrel that fires a single .38-caliber round into said target.
In Inglourious Basterds, OSS Pistol Gloves are used by Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth) and Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom) to effectively gain entrance to Hitler’s private viewing booth. In addition to their costumes from the scene, Premiere Props also offers the bullet props from their glove guns for sale: Donny’s bullet and Omar’s bullet.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
I’ve done my share of bootlegging. Up there, if you engage in what the federal government calls “illegal activity,” but what we call “just a man tryin’ to make a livin’ for his family sellin’ moonshine liquor,” it behooves oneself to keep his wits. Long story short, we hear a story too good to be true… it ain’t.
Right down to the carnation of the edge of the long peak lapel, both Aldo the Apache and James Bond in Spectre appear to have taken some inspiration from the same ’40s fashions when determining their warm weather formalwear ensembles. Where Aldo opts for the traditional wing collar and bib front, however, Bond wears a pleated-front shirt with a turndown collar and a diamond-pointed bow tie.