Gregory Peck as David Pollock, American hieroglyphics professor
London, June 1965
Release Date: May 5, 1966
Director: Stanley Donen
Tailor: H. Huntsman & Sons, London
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today marks the 103rd birthday of Eldred G. Peck, better known to the world as Gregory Peck after dropping his first name in pursuit of his now legendary acting career. Peck received five Academy Award nominations over the course of his career, finally winning the Best Actor statue for his performance in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Later in the decade, Peck starred opposite his friend Sophia Loren in Arabesque, Stanley Donen’s follow-up to Charade that—like its predecessor—blended elements of comedy, espionage, and romance into one Hitchcockian package, though even Donen had to admit that the film was more style than substance.
Peck and Loren are at their most stylish when their characters team up to halt the assassination of Hassan Jena (Carl Duering), the prime minister of an unidentified country in the Middle East. After spending their first night together and deciphering the hieroglyphic MacGuffin, David Pollock (Peck) and Yasmin Azir (Loren) hop into her red Mercedes-Benz 230SL coupe and race off to stop disaster.
The car is a more effective tool than David’s Diner’s Club card in gaining entrance to the PM’s airport audience, and when David finally insists that the PM is about the be killed, the police officer guarding the event drolly replies: “I hardly think so, sir. This is England!”
What’d He Wear?
The famously well-tailored Gregory Peck was a client of H. Huntsman & Sons both on and off screen, and the English setting of Arabesque provides the perfect opportunity for the actor to sport the Savile Row tailor’s wares, including this brown flannel suit that Peck wears for this climactic sequence.
The single-breasted suit jacket has notch lapels that roll to a two-button front, a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, double vents, and three-button cuffs.
Though pleated trousers were increasingly less fashionable over the course of the 1960s, Peck’s suit honors English sartorial tradition with its double forward pleats. The trousers also have side pockets, jetted back pockets that each close through a single button, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms.
Peck wears his character’s usual burgundy belt made from an exotic scaled leather like alligator or crocodile skin. The belt closes with a small gold-toned squared single-prong buckle.
The suit may be cut and styled in accordance with English traditions, but David’s choice of shirt is an all-American classic. John E. Brooks was inspired by English polo players who kept their shirt collars in place with buttons, leading to the 1896 introduction of the Brooks Brothers button-down shirt.
Despite the shirt’s English origins, the practice of wearing a button-down collared shirt with a suit and tie was far more acceptable in the dressed-down American culture seventy years later when David Pollock donned his ecru cotton button-down collar shirt in a London hotel room. The shirt, made by Frank Foster of London (as confirmed by the shirtmaker’s Instagram page), has a spread button-down collar, breast pocket, and single-button rounded cuffs.
David’s tie is dark green with a mini red paisley pattern, tied in a small four-in-hand knot.
There is a brief moment when the label of David’s tie can briefly be seen as he and Yasmin frantically try to crash the prime minister’s reception at the airport.
David’s shoes are burgundy leather apron-toe derbies that coordinate with his belt, worn with charcoal socks.
David wears an elegant gold wristwatch with a silver dial and russet brown leather strap that coordinates with his earthy wardrobe and burgundy leather belt and shoes.
While concentrating on some early morning reading (and deciphering) in their room at the Kelly Hotel, David wears a pair of light brown plastic glasses that enhance his professorial reputation.
If Peck looks professorial in his eyeglasses, he looks very cool in his gold-framed aviator-style sunglasses that get tragically limited screen time. These amber-tinted shades are best seen when David sits in Yasmin’s Benz, though the inclement weather obviates their need in the first place.
How to Get the Look
Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren both brought their personal style to their roles in Arabesque. While her exquisite costumes were designed by Christian Dior, Peck retained the services of his usual tailor, Huntsman, for a tasteful, timeless, and decidedly English aesthetic that suits his dignified – if unadventurous – character.
- Brown flannel tailored suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and double vents
- Double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, button-through jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Pale eggshell cotton shirt with button-down collar, front placket, breast pocket, and 1-button rounded cuffs
- Dark green tie with red mini-paisley pattern
- Burgundy scaled leather belt with squared gold single-prong buckle
- Burgundy leather apron-toe derby shoes
- Charcoal ribbed dress socks
- Gold watch with silver dial on russet brown leather strap
- Gold-framed aviator sunglasses
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Our life expectancy may be nil, but I’d like you to know that this has been a real warm human experience.