Tyrone Power as Jake Barnes, expatriate journalist and wounded World War I ambulance driver
Pamplona, Spain, July 1922
Film: The Sun Also Rises
Release Date: August 23, 1957
Director: Henry King
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup
Today is my shared birthday with Ernest Hemingway, so I’m celebrating with a look at a cinematic adaptation of my favorite of Papa’s novels, The Sun Also Rises, which he had started writing on his 26th birthday, July 21, 1925.
After movie rights to the novel passed through many sets of hands for three decades, 20th Century Fox finally produced the film in 1957 with Tyrone Power as Hemingway surrogate Jake Barnes. While visually appealing, Henry King’s The Sun Also Rises is an ultimately underwhelming effort that Hemingway himself had described as “pretty disappointing and that’s being gracious.”
Producer Darryl F. Zanuck, who had independently financed the film himself as something of a passion project, was frustrated with the author’s rather public criticism as he stated that Hemingway was kept in the loop at every stage of the production. However, it was Zanuck who went against not just Hemingway but also stars Tyrone Power and Ava Gardner by curiously casting future movie mogul Robert Evans in the role of dashing young bullfighter Pedro Romero. (Zanuck’s declaration “The kid stays in the picture” would lend itself to the title of Evans’ 1994 autobiography.)
A highlight is Ava Gardner, who can’t help but to be a highlight in everything that she was in. It’s fitting that Ava is a standout of the film as Hemingway had insisted on her casting, perhaps impressed by her au naturel dips into his personal swimming pool. However, Gardner’s casting meant delaying production from September 1956 to February 1957, thus moving it from the then-snowy Spain to sunny Mexico; ironically enough, the fact that the film had to be filmed in Mexico was yet another of Hemingway’s chief complaints with the finished product.
In fact, the only thing that Hemingway claimed to have really liked about the film was the performance of Errol Flynn… a curious “coincidence” as the hearty, macho, and indeed mustachioed Flynn is far closer to Hemingway in resemblance and temperament than the author’s on-screen surrogate played by Tyrone Power. I can’t say that I blame Papa, as I think I would have far preferred watching a film that was just Errol Flynn and Eddie Albert drunkenly palling around Spain.
And it is here, in Spain, that we catch up with the central characters of The Sun Also Rises after a day of taking in the bullfights during the San Fermín festival in Pamplona. Jake Barnes, Brett (Gardner), her Scottish fiancé Mike Campbell (Flynn), and Jake’s pals Bill Gorton (Albert) and Robert Cohn (Mel Ferrar) find themselves out to dinner at their Pamplona hotel… though jealous and Spanish brandy lead to a long night that results in fisticuffs!
What’d He Wear?
Jake Barnes wears a light gray semi-solid summer sport suit, the ideal outfit for bridging the gap between casual and classy as needed in early 1920s Pamplona. The single-breasted suit jacket has peak lapels with a buttonhole on the left side, rolling to a three-button front that he wears with only the center button fastened.
The two flapped set-in chest pockets that slant gently inward provide an element of sportiness to the suit, echoing the straight flapped pockets on the hips. The ventless jacket has padded shoulders with gently roped sleeveheads and two-button cuffs at the end of each sleeve.
The suit trousers have a medium-high rise with double forward pleats and slim belt loops, where he wears a dark brown leather belt with a small gold single-prong buckle. The trousers have straight pockets along the side seams, a jetted button-through pocket on the back right, and are finished with turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms.
Jake’s brown suede boots appear to be a standard pair of ankle-high chukka boots, a classic if somewhat anachronistic style as this type of footwear wasn’t popularized until the 1940s and was far more common at the time that the film was made than when it was set. He wears them with a pair of dark brown socks, a shade darker than the boots themselves.
In the eighth chapter of the novel The Sun Also Rises, Jake describes his arrival in Pamplona, recalling that “Brett was wearing a Basque beret. So was Mike.”
Up through the middle of the 19th century, the Basque beret—described by Alan Flusser as “a close-fitting, round-crowned cap with no visor or brim”—was traditionally the headgear of choice for French and Spanish peasants. Berets started to attain international attention after industrialization in France and Spain led to mass production and military adoption. By the roaring twenties, the beret became fashionable headgear among the expatriates staying in Europe.
Thus, Jake and his confederates in The Sun Also Rises often sport black wool berets, particularly when attending sporting events.
One of Jake’s first actions upon meeting his friends in Pamplona is to remove his own tie, making room for his new preferred neckwear to match everyone else in Pamplona for the bullfights: a bright red satin scarf.
“No one knows exactly when the red scarf, known in Spanish as the ‘Pañuelico,’ became a part of the unofficial costume for the running of the bulls and the festival, but now a red sash is worn by practically every participant and festival goer,” wrote Toby for Bucket List Events, who goes on to discount some of the more morbid theories about the origins of this practice. More can be learned at the official San Fermín site, which expands on the religious origins of the red scarf while also providing helpful tips for potential Pamplona visitors.
Jake knots his scarf under the collar of his white shirt, though he unbuttons the top button and wears the scarf outside both his shirt and suit jacket. The cotton shirt has a spread collar, a wide front placket, and no pocket. The double (French) cuffs are fastened with a set of small silver square links, each with a black onyx-filled square in the center.
The gray suit jacket is one of two sporty peak-lapel, flap-pocket jackets worn by Tyrone Power in The Sun Also Rises, as he also wears a similar jacket in beige gabardine for a brief earlier scene while talking with Robert Cohn at a Paris gymnasium.
What to Imbibe
When it starts raining during their post-prandial promenade, Jake and Brett duck into a local bar, where he orders several rounds of “dos Fundador, por favor!” for the two of them.
Fundador, a Spanish grape brandy, makes several appearances throughout Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, including twice in Chapter 16 when “Mike ordered a bottle of Fundador and glasses for everybody…” and later when they “all sat down at a table and ordered a bottle of Fundador.” Evidently, Fundador isn’t the sort of thing to drink without a bottle for the whole table!
Several varieties of Fundador (which literally means “Founder”) are currently marketed by Brandy de Jerez, located in the southwestern Spanish “Sherry Triangle” city of Jerez de la Frontera.
How to Get the Look
Tyrone Power channels Ernest Hemingway by blending the traditional “San Fermín costume” with a natty, contemporary sport suit for comfortable days… and calvados-soaked nights.
- Light gray summer sport suit
- Single-breasted 3-button jacket with peak lapels, two flapped set-in chest pockets, straight flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, jetted button-through back right pocket, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White cotton shirt with spread collar, wide front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Small silver square cuff links with black onyx-filled square center
- Bright red satin scarf
- Dark brown belt with square gold single-prong buckle
- Brown suede chukka boots
- Dark brown socks
- Black wool Basque-style beret
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Everyone behaves badly, given the proper chance.