Lee Marvin’s Brown Shawl Cardigan in The Professionals

Lee Marvin as Henry "Rico" Fardan in The Professionals (1966)

Lee Marvin as Henry “Rico” Fardan in The Professionals (1966)

Vitals

Lee Marvin as Henry “Rico” Fardan, tough mercenary

Texas, January 1917

Film: The Professionals
Release Date: November 2, 1966
Director: Richard Brooks
Wardrobe Credit: Jack Martell

Background

Written, produced, and directed by prolific auteur Richard Brooks, The Professionals depicts a band of mercenaries hired by rancher baron Joe Grant (Ralph Bellamy) to rescue his wife. Though it is often overlooked in the shadow of its “bigger” contemporaries like The Wild BunchButch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name” trilogy of spaghetti westerns, The Professionals was Columbia Pictures’ biggest hit of 1966.

Lee Marvin starred as Henry “Rico” Fardan, a cynical weapons specialist whose experience fighting under Pancho Villa’s command makes him invaluable to the team pursuing one of Villa’s former revolutionaries who supposedly kidnapped Grant’s wife Maria (Claudia Cardinale). The cast also includes Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Woody Strode as Marvin’s fellow “professionals” and Jack Palance as their target. The film received three Academy Award nominations; Brooks was nominated for his screenplay and direction with a third well-deserved nod going to Conrad Hall’s impressive cinematography, which captured the film’s beautiful locations across the desert valleys of the southwest United States.

Marvin’s rugged wardrobe in this film has been frequently requested by BAMF Style readers, and his timeless brown shawl-collar cardigan is just as stylish today as it was a hundred years ago when the film was set.

What’d He Wear?

Rico rides up in a red 1915 Ford Model T Runabout to meet some of his fellow “professionals” on Grant’s train. (“Yeah, me too, Lizzie,” he says to the sputtering car as he gets out to meet Mr. Grant.) He wears a brown heavy knit shawl-collar cardigan with a high-fastening front of five well-spaced brown plastic buttons.

The cardigan has set-in sleeves and no pockets. The cuffs and waist hem are set apart by triple rings perpendicular to the vertical ribbing present on the rest of the sweater.

Rico's heavy sweater isn't the first item you'd pack for a trip to the Texas desert, but Lee Marvin wears it well.

Rico’s heavy sweater isn’t the first item you’d pack for a trip to the Texas desert, but Lee Marvin wears it well.

Rico’s pale blue poplin shirt is a bit anachronistic as attached-collar dress shirts wouldn’t be standardized and popularized until about a decade later, but the more modern shirt does give the outfit a greater degree of contemporary relevance. The shirt has a semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and buttoned barrel cuffs that don’t bunch up under the sweater sleeves like double cuffs would.

Rico also wears a solid black cotton tie in a simple four-in-hand knot. The tie is worn so that the blade ends a few inches above the trouser waist line.

Strong mise en scène: The front page of the St. Louis Herald newspaper on the wall announces Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata entering Mexico City in December 1914.

Strong mise en scène: The front page of the St. Louis Herald newspaper on the wall announces Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata entering Mexico City in December 1914.

Rico’s gray twill flat front trousers have a low rise for the era, cut straight through the legs for a classic and correct military look that was also contemporary with 1960s fashions at the time the film was made. They have frogmouth front pockets and likely plain-hemmed bottoms with a high break.

"Yeah, me too, Lizzie."

“Yeah, me too, Lizzie.”

Unlike his light brown corded trousers that he would later wear for the band’s expedition into Mexico, these trousers do not appear to be worn with a belt. Instead, Rico only wears a brown leather edge-stitched gun belt with a woven holster to carry  his long-barreled Colt revolver.

Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) takes a drink as Rico's holstered revolver juts out from the back of his sweater.

Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) takes a drink as Rico’s holstered revolver juts out from the back of his sweater.

Rico’s headgear may be the only element of his wardrobe that wouldn’t fit in as well with a contemporary outfit, but his decision to wear a “campaign cover” informs his character’s military pedigree and establishes a leadership role. This type of headgear was common among U.S. Army infantrymen engaged in the 1916 expedition against Pancho Villa; given Rico’s history, this is no doubt where he acquired his hat.

Rico’s campaign hat, contemporary to U.S. military issue during the film’s World War I-era setting, is drab-colored soft wool felt with a flat brim and the tall “Montana Peak” four-pinched crown with a ventilating grommet on each of the four sides.

His campaign cover has a plain tan cord around the base of the crown against a brown grosgrain hat band. It does not appear to be the gold braided campaign cord reserved for U.S. Army general officers, nor does it resemble the golden-and-black cord of commissioned officers. A dark brown leather buckled strap fastens the hat around the back of his head.

Bill hears some wise words from Rico, his de facto "commanding officer" on this mercenary mission.

Bill hears some wise words from Rico, his de facto “commanding officer” on this mercenary mission.

Rico’s footwear is barely seen, but he is likely wearing the same tan leather cap-toe work boots that he sports throughout. These open-laced boots have twelve eyelets up the shafts, fastening to well above each ankle, as seen in this watermarked set image featuring Lee Marvin sitting with Woody Strode and a can of Coors.

How to Get the Look

Lee Marvin in a lobby card from The Professionals (1966)

Lee Marvin in a lobby card from The Professionals (1966)

Lee Marvin adds dashes of military ruggedness to a classic shawl-collar cardigan with his campaign hat, tie, and boots, creating an image of strong, serious, and stylish leadership.

  • Brown heavy ribbed knit shawl-collar cardigan with five-button front
  • Pale blue cotton poplin shirt with semi-spread point collar, front placket, breast pocket, button cuffs
  • Black cotton tie
  • Gray cavalry twill flat front trousers with frogmouth front pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Brown leather edge-stitched gun belt with tall steel single-prong buckle and holster
  • Tan leather 12-eyelet cap-toe work boots
  • Olive drab “campaign cover” with four-pinched “Montana peaked” crown, gold campaign cord, and dark brown leather buckled back strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

Bill Dolworth: Well, I’ll be damned.
Henry “Rico” Fardan: Most of us are.

One comment

  1. Sir Edward Percival Fox-Ingleby, Bt

    One of the great classics of all time. Great post, as usual. Next time, add guns (they are legion) and the gratuitous photo of Claudia Cardinale. Just a bone for us older gentleman. Thanks!

    Like

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