Frank Sinatra as Tony Rome, private investigator and compulsive gambler
Miami Beach, Spring 1967
Film: Tony Rome
Release Date: November 10, 1967
Director: Gordon Douglas
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
BAMF Style’s biannual Car Week is back! For the first post of this summer’s installment of Car Week, let’s check in with Frank Sinatra in the sunny setting of late 1960s Miami Beach, where he plays the beer-swilling, boat-dwelling private eye Tony Rome.
The action begins on Rome’s said boat, the Straight Pass (ah, gambling, I get it), while Sinatra’s own daughter Nancy belts an overly specific title track about her father’s prowess romancing people’s daughters…but I don’t want to get into the psychology of that. Nancy Sinatra is a very talented singer who does a great job with the song she’s given, but Lee Hazelwood’s lyrics are almost totally incomprehensible to me (“Love is for those who have the time to, Rome is for those who are inclined to. Ladies’ hearts adore diamonds rings are not the very special things when Tony Rome is out and about.”) What?
Surprisingly, this was Sinatra’s first role as a detective, and it fits him like a carefully cocked fedora as he slips into the cynical, wise-cracking persona in the tradition of his late friend Humphrey Bogart. It’s a shame that Sinatra didn’t get a role like this ten years earlier as he would’ve been fine in the black-and-white noir days of Bogie, Ladd, and Mitchum instead of anachronistically hopping between go-go dancing clubs and other cultural trappings of the late ’60s that don’t quite jibe with the image of a hard-boiled detective.
What’d He Wear?
Turtlenecks and mock neck jumpers were popular for men in the mid-to-late 1960s, worn by some of the most stylish screen icons from Steve McQueen to Sean Connery’s James Bond, who sported a gray mock polo-neck jumper while scaling a Japanese volcano in You Only Live Twice, released only a few months earlier in 1967. (Coincidentally, Nancy Sinatra also sang the theme song to that 007 film. I far prefer that title track to this one.)
Although he was on the other side of 50 when Tony Rome was filmed, Sinatra adopts the youthful, fashion-oriented look of a yellow mock-neck jumper and khakis when aboard the Straight Pass at the film’s beginning and end, donning a peaked captain’s hat and dark navy hoodie when he is called out on a case. (Other than this, Sinatra’s Tony Rome dresses like the usual no-nonsense private eye: three gray flannel suits, always with a short-brimmed gray fedora.)
Rome’s yellow jumper is made from a lightweight interlock knit cotton which would breathe nicely in the warm weather while also keeping his skin protected from the glaring sun. The shirt has a looser fit, a wise choice given the expanding midsection of the famously skinny Sinatra’s ascent into middle age. The mock polo-neck collar is folded down and the ribbed cuffs are slid halfway up his forearms.
Tony Rome includes an early – and unexpected – appearance of a zip-up hoodie, nearly a decade before Sly Stallone would famously beat some meat in Rocky while wearing a gray hoodie.
After a beer-soaked morning on his boat, Rome steps to shore and dons a dark navy cotton hooded sweatshirt with a long silver metal zipper that he leaves open. The sweatshirt has hand pockets, an elasticized blouson-style waist hem, and a large hood with a navy drawstring.
Rome wears the sweatshirt with each sleeve rolled partially up his forearms, though rolled higher than the sleeves of his jumper underneath. At the end of each elasticized cuff is a single dark navy plastic sew-through button on a short tab.
Khaki trousers made from cotton twill chino cloth are a menswear staple with a long maritime pedigree, appropriate as Tony Rome’s casual seafaring trouser of choice. Rome’s flat front chinos are classically styled with straight pockets along the side seams, two jetted back pockets that each close through a button, and a straight fit with plain-hemmed bottoms.
As we more clearly see with his tucked-in white shirts, Rome wears a black leather belt with the squared steel single-prong buckle off to the left rather than centered, a fad that pops up time to time in the ’60s and ’70s as discussed in this forum. The fad likely began with musicians seeking to avoid scratching their instruments on their belt buckles, popularized among the mainstream by Elvis Presley.
Boat shoes are an obvious choice for the context, but Rome opts for sneakers in navy canvas, coordinating with both the color and youthfulness of his hoodie. Rome’s canvas sneakers have white rubber outsoles, white contrast stitching, and wide white laces through five eyelets. Rome wears his with white tube socks.
As I explored in last week’s post about John Wayne in Donovan’s Reef, canvas sneakers are a classic staple of seaside workwear and plenty of affordable options are still available today such as these five-eyelet shoes from Keds, Sperry, and Airwalk.
Rome wears all of his jewelry on his left hand. His yellow gold wristwatch has a gold dial and is strapped to his left wrist on a black leather strap with a gold single-prong buckle. He also wears a gold diamond ring on his left pinky.
As captain of the Straight Pass, Rome appropriately wears a traditional peaked cap with a tall white cotton crown, a black band with black double-braided piping, and a short black shiny leather visor. The black crest in the center is embroidered with a gold naval motif.
Tony Rome was made smack dab in the middle of Sinatra’s short-lived marriage to Mia Farrow, a contemporary fashion icon 30 years his junior, so it makes sense that Sinatra would embrace a more youthful look even if his ability to pull it off is debatable. I personally prefer his more traditional ensemble of the same cap, chinos, and canvas sneakers seen here but with one of his white dress shirts. (However, since he doesn’t wear that while driving his Ford Galaxie, further exploration of that outfit will have to wait for a non-Car Week post.)
What to Imbibe
This being Frank Sinatra, you’ll see plenty of imbibing. Right from the get-go, the title sequence is basically a Budweiser ad.
Once he’s gotten his morning beer out of the way and has accepted his first case, Rome meets Ann Archer (Jill St. John) at the Klosterman home and asks her to pour him a gin “and make it light.”
The following scene finds Rome escorting Ann home in his well-loved Ford Galaxie convertible when Ann asks if they can stop for a drink. Without missing a beat, Rome reaches over and pulls a flask-bottle of brandy out of his glove compartment.
A series of boozy adventures continue until the film’s final scene on the Straight Pass as Rome serves the martinis that he had lovingly prepared in advance for his date with Ann: “Vodka for you, and gin for me.”
Tony Rome adds youthful touches to a traditional seafaring outfit with a bright mock turtleneck, hoodie, and canvas sneakers.
- Yellow lightweight knit cotton mock-turtleneck jumper with ribbed cuffs
- Dark navy cotton zip-up hooded sweatshirt with silver-toned zipper, hand pockets, elasticized waist hem, and single-button elasticized cuffs
- Khaki cotton twill chino trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt with brass single-prong buckle, worn to the left
- Navy canvas sneakers with white rubber outsoles and five-eyelets for white laces
- White tube socks
- White peaked captain’s hat with gold embroidery, black piping, and black visor
- Yellow gold wristwatch with round gold dial on black leather strap (with gold buckle)
- Gold diamond ring
When not at the helm of the Straight Pass, Tony Rome cruises through Miami in his blue 1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner convertible, a streamlined and slightly rusted relic of Ford’s marketing attempts to cash in on the Space Race craze of the late ’50s and early ’60s.
The Galaxie badge was first used by Ford in 1959 as a designation for the top models in its full-size range. Beginning with the 1962 model year, the Ford Galaxie became the official model name for all full-size Fords through the end of the 1974 model year.
Much like the Space Race that inspired the Galaxie’s name, the competition among American automakers in the early 1960s led to rapid innovations each year in both luxury and performance. Ford refreshed its model lines in 1960 and the wide fins that had so captured car buyers through the 1950s was replaced with a streamlined look as the Space Age eclipsed the Jet Age.
1961 saw further developments to the Ford Galaxie with revised sheet-metal bodywork and the tailfins all but replaced by two large circular “afterburner” taillights on each side blade. The new 390 cubic-inch V8 engine claimed a gross output of 401 horsepower with triple-two-barrel carburetors to be Ford’s top performing production engine in ’61, surpassing the downgraded 352 V8 with its two-barrel carburetor and single exhaust.
The aerodynamic Galaxie Special Series line in 1960 and 1961 consisted of the top-of-the-line Starliner hardtop and Sunliner convertible. Both were offered in 1961 with the full range of six available engines from the “Mileage Maker Six” up to the powerful 390 cubic-inch “Super V8”.
Body Style: 2-door convertible
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
Engine: 351.9 ci (5.8 L) Ford 352 V8 with 2-barrel Holley carburetor
Power: 220 hp (164 kW; 223 PS) @ 4400 rpm
Torque: 336 lb·ft (456 N·m) @ 2400 rpm
Transmission: 3-speed Cruise-O-Matic automatic
Wheelbase: 119 inches (3023 mm)
Length: 209.9 inches (5331 mm)
Width: 79.9 inches (2029 mm)
Height: 55.5 inches (1410 mm)
The years following the iconic 1961 Galaxie model year would see a steady incline in Ford’s performance, production, and popularity until the high water mark year of 1964 when the iconic Mustang was introduced.
In fact, Ann Archer’s bright red 1965 Ford Mustang hardtop is briefly seen, parked next to Rome’s Sunliner, at the film’s finale.
For yet another Tony Rome/James Bond connection, Jill St. John would go on to play “Bond girl” Tiffany Case five years later in Diamonds are Forever… where she drives yet another red Mustang.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie… but prepare for some, uh, dated humor.