John Wayne as Jim Brannigan, tough Chicago PD lieutenant
London, Fall 1974
Release Date: March 26, 1975
Director: Douglas Hickox
Wardrobe Credit: Emma Porteous
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
If McQ was John Wayne’s Dirty Harry, then its spiritual successor Brannigan was his Coogan’s Bluff, a “fish out of water” cop film that finds the Duke’s taciturn American lawman in London to secure the extradition of arch-criminal Ben Larkin (John Vernon) under the watchful – and often judgmental – eye of the quintessentially English Scotland Yard Commissioner Swann (Richard Attenborough).
Beer mugs and bullets fly as Brannigan pursues the supposedly kidnapped Larkin, all the while evading deadly traps from double-barreled shotguns to combustible commodes à la Lethal Weapon 2.
Thank you to Craig, a great BAMF Style reader and Patreon supporter, who has also lent support by sending his personal DVD copy of Brannigan (in addition to several other films) to allow me the opportunity to take screenshots and write about this much-requested film.
What’d He Wear?
For most of his adventures in London, Brannigan wears a plaid jacket, grenadine tie, and brown trousers that he occasionally punches up with a sweater vest. As John Wayne was influenced to star in McQ and Brannigan after the success of the Dirty Harry franchise that he had initially turned down, the outfit may be a nod to Clint Eastwood’s similar ensemble of a brown plaid jacket, sweater vest, and tie in the first Dirty Harry film.
Brannigan’s flannel wool sport jacket consists of a brown, beige, and rust plaid on a muted tan ground. The jacket has notch lapels with a light brown felt undercollar revealed when Brannigan wears the collar flipped up.
The single-breasted sportcoat has a low two-button front with brown horn buttons that match the two spaced non-functional buttons on each cuff. The ventless jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a welted breast pocket, and straight welted – rather than jetted, flapped, or patch – hip pockets.
Brannigan wears a pair of brown wool plain front trousers that appear to be shaped with darts over the front, adhering to flat front-friendly ’70s fashions while providing a roomier fit over John Wayne’s hips. Speaking of ’70s fashions, these slacks also have “frogmouth” front pockets and slightly (but only slightly) flared plain-hem bottoms, both of which were popular during the decade. Brannigan wears a wide brown leather belt with a squared brass single-prong buckle.
Brannigan antagonizes the staid Commissioner Swann by insisting on continuing to wear his sidearm in London, carrying his 4″-barreled Colt Diamondback revolver in a brown mahogany leather holster with a snap-fastened retention strap on his right hip, similar to this saddle leather Galco “DAO” holster.
By the 1970s, the slip-on loafer had risen through the hierarchy of the sartorial world to such a level of acceptance that Roger Moore even wore them with James Bond’s signature dinner jackets in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), and Moonraker (1979).
Brannigan wears a pair of brown leather loafers with a split moc-toe and a half-strap across the vamp with a small brass buckle on the outside of each shoe. The purely decorative buckle is rectangular with a single bar across the opening, similar to these shoes I found on Pinterest.
Brannigan breaks up the earth tones of his outfit the first day with a pair of burgundy cotton lisle socks. Following that, he reverts to a less interesting but perhaps more sartorially acceptable pair of brown socks that carry the line of his trousers into his loafers.
Brannigan’s sense of style at home in Chicago is established to be more of an open-collar approach. When he calls upon Commissioner Swann at London’s exclusive Garrick Club, he is given a necktie to wear and is never seen without a tie for the duration of the film.
Brannigan most frequently wears a cream cotton shirt with a button-down collar that he sometimes wears unbuttoned to lay flat like a spread collar. The shirt has a front placket and single-button rounded cuffs. When he wears the cream shirt, Brannigan also wears a brown grenadine woven silk tie of moderate width to coordinate with the lapels of his jacket.
Brannigan also wears the jacket with a light blue oxford cloth button-down shirt and a scarlet red grenadine tie. Like his other OCBD, this shirt has a front placket and single-button rounded cuffs.
Though it’s difficult to tell when worn buttoned and with a sweater vest, the button-down collar is quite wide as best seen when he wears the shirt casually sans tie and with the unbuttoned collar flat over his sweater vest.
The black sweater vest is a fine wool, likely merino, with a long-ribbed waist hem and a high v-neck that covers most of the tie below the knot.
Outerwear and Accessories
Brannigan wears a black balmacaan-style waterproof raincoat with set-in-sleeves, a tall collar, covered fly front, and single back vent.
Brannigan is seen donning a gray felt short-brimmed fedora with a wide black grosgrain ribbon when preparing to run out to his car during some nighttime research. He isn’t typically a hat wearer, so the fedora is merely an excuse for a waiting assassin to mistake the hat-wearing Sergeant Jennifer Thatcher (Judy Geeson) for Brannigan, thus giving our protagonist an even more dramatic reason for wanting revenge against London’s criminal element.
On his right wrist, John Wayne wears a simple brass Montagnard bracelet that gifted to him by the indiginous Montagnard people of Vietnam during the filming of The Green Berets in 1968. Modern Forces Living History Group reports that many American servicemen returned from Vietnam with these bracelets from the tribe, signifying friendship or respect. Manready Mercantile offers a striking replica of the “Montagnard Bracelet” in brass, copper, or steel (link), where they explain that “not only did Duke don the bracelet on his wrist until the day he passed, it’s said he lays with it to this day.”
Brannigan wears a wristwatch with the face on the inside of his wrist, a John Wayne-ism consistent with his watch-wearing habits both in real life and on screen. The brief glimpse we get reveals a steel octagonal case, plain white round dial, and drab strap.
What to Imbibe
Last time I was here, people were gettin’ bombed a different way.
Brannigan orders himself a Guinness while drinking at the pub with Drexel.
Later, at the home of Mel Fields (Mel Ferrar), he downs a dram of Cutty Sark.
How to Get the Look
- Brown, rust, and beige-on-tan plaid flannel single-breasted 2-button sportcoat with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight welted hip pockets, spaced 2-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Cream cotton shirt with button-down collar, front placket, and single-button rounded cuffs
- Brown grenadine woven silk tie
- Brown wool darted front trousers with belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Brown leather belt with squared brass single-prong buckle
- Brown leather slip-on loafers with half-strap and decorative brass side buckles
- Brown cotton lisle socks
- Brass “Montagnard” bracelet
- Stainless steel octagonal-cased wristwatch with round white dial and drab strap
Lieutenant Jim Brannigan’s sidearm – and the cause of much consternation for Scotland Yard’s Commander Swann – is a blued Colt Diamondback with a 4″ barrel, chambered for .38 Special.
Colt introduced the Diamondback in 1966 as a scaled-down version of the popular Colt Python, particularly aimed at law enforcement agencies that forbade its officers the use of .357 Magnum ammunition as found in the Python. The Diamondback was offered in .38 Special for police use and .22 LR and .22 WMR for target shooters.
Two years after its introduction, a snub-nosed Colt Diamondback .38 with a 2.5″ barrel was carried by Steve McQueen in Bullitt, an iconic film considered an influence for John Wayne’s later police roles in McQ and Brannigan.
I’m surprised that Brannigan was armed with the Colt Diamondback rather than the full-sized Python as the latter weapon’s larger size seems more consistent with John Wayne’s image. Not only that, but the Diamondback was never authorized for Chicago Police Department officers (to my knowledge) while the Colt Python actually was authorized by the CPD during the period that Brannigan was set and filmed.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Too damn simple.
Brannigan‘s costume designer, Emma Porteous, would later serve in the same capacity for three consecutive James Bond films: Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), and The Living Daylights (1987).