John Wayne as Lon “McQ” McHugh, taciturn Seattle PD lieutenant
Seattle, Fall 1973
Release Date: February 6, 1974
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Luster Bayless
Today marks the birthday of John Wayne, the American icon who reinvented his half-century image as a stalwart of Westerns and war movies by taking on a duo of contemporary cop roles, beginning with McQ in 1974 and followed up with Brannigan the following year.
Born May 26, 1907, Duke was over 60 as he watched younger stars like Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood steal the action movie thunder with urban-set police thrillers. While McQueen’s impressive wheelmanship would be incorporated into McQ, it was the “shoot first, ask later” style of Eastwood’s Dirty Harry that particularly resonated with the old-school star as the opening sequence of McQ finds Duke’s rugged Seattle detective foiling a dockside hitman with his own six-shooter.
What’d He Wear?
After being informed of his ex-partner’s murder, Lieutenant Lon McHugh dresses for work in a navy blue windbreaker layered over a bright blue polo and brown slacks.
The navy windbreaker, made from a lightweight water-resistant nylon, has a large point collar with an extended tab on the left side that connects to a button on the right to close at the neck, though Duke wears the jacket half-zipped and open over the chest.
The jacket’s long raglan sleeves close at the cuffs with a single button, though Wayne keeps the cuffs unbuttoned and rolled up as the sleeves would likely otherwise be slightly too long.
McHugh’s windbreaker has slanted hand pockets and a storm flap on the back. It extends below his waist with no blouson-style elasticized hem, harmonizing with Wayne’s expanding mid-section and also allowing him freer access to the revolver holstered on his belt.
McHugh wears a royal blue polo shirt made from a silky synthetic material—likely polyester—with a large collar, elbow-length short sleeves, and a long four-button placket with a large “X” stitched inside a rectangle on the bottom. The patch breast pocket has a slim, pointed flap that closes with a small white plastic button that matches the four on the placket.
McHugh wears dark brown wool flat front trousers that rise to his natural waist, where he wears a black leather belt with a black leather holster on the left side for a cross-handed revolver draw.
The trousers have frogmouth-style front pockets and are finished with plain-hemmed bottoms that break cleanly over his brown leather apron-toe penny loafers, worn with black socks.
John Wayne wears a simple brass Montagnard bracelet on his right wrist, 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.”
On his left wrist, McHugh wears a gold chronograph on an olive drab vinyl strap, worn in the same manner as many military or ex-military operators with the face on the inside of his wrist. The silver dial has three sub-dials.
After his exciting morning at the docks, he changes into a more office-friendly navy blazer for his duty work.
Lieutenant McHugh begins the film armed with his duty weapon, a blued steel Colt Python revolver with a 4-inch barrel and walnut grips, carried cross-draw style in a holster attached to the left side of the right-handed John Wayne’s belt. Introduced in 1955, the large-framed Python was Colt’s response to Smith & Wesson’s stronghold on the .357 Magnum revolver segment. The top-of-the-line revolver spent several decades as a law enforcement favorite until American police agencies began an en masse adoption of semi-automatic pistols in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
The six-inch barreled Python was a particular favorite among uniformed police while the four-inch barreled versions made inroads with plainclothes officers like the fictional Lon McHugh.
“I better have that for the inquest, Lieutenant,” McHugh is instructed after the shooting on the docks. While it’s surprising to see someone ask John Wayne to hand over his six-shooter, it’s even more surprising to see him surrender it!
That is, until we learn that he has a backup Colt Python, also in the “royal blue” steel finish but with a shorter 2.5″ barrel, stashed in the trunk of his Pontiac.
This Python too would eventually be given to his superiors, forcing McHugh to arm himself with his off-duty .38 Special, a similarly snub-nosed Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver.
How to Get the Look
McQ provided John Wayne the opportunity to take a more relatable approach to dressing for spring than a stockade jacket, Stetson, and spurs.
- Navy blue lightweight nylon zip-up windbreaker with large point collar, slanted hand pockets, raglan sleeves with 1-button cuffs, and rear storm flap
- Royal blue polyester short-sleeve polo shirt with 4-button placket and breast pocket (with button-down pointed flap)
- Dark brown wool flat front trousers with belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt with squared brass single-prong buckle
- Black leather cross-draw holster, for 2″-barreled revolver
- Brown leather apron-toe penny loafers
- Black socks
- Plain brass “Montagnard Bracelet”
- Yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with silver dial (with three sub-dials) and olive vinyl buckle-strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.