Gregory Peck as Captain Keith Mallory, experienced Allied spy and mountain climber
“An Allied airfield somewhere in the Middle East”, Fall 1943
Film: The Guns of Navarone
Release Date: April 27, 1961
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Wardrobe Credit: Monty M. Berman & Olga Lehmann
I’ve received a few requests to write about what George, a BAMF Style reader, charmingly described as the “aristocratically frayed off-white tropical suit” worn by Gregory Peck in the early scenes of the 1961 World War II adventure The Guns of Navarone. The film was adapted by producer Carl Foreman from Alistair MacLean’s novel of the same name and inspired by the real-life Battle of Leros in the fall of 1943.
Our mission begins as Captain Keith Mallory (Peck), duped into believing that he was receiving a much-deserved leave after 18 months of spy work, arrives late for a meeting with Commodore Jensen (James Robertson Justice) as his plane was attacked due to the Germans having raised the price on Mallory’s head to 10,000 pounds.
Mallory’s linguistic abilities and survival skills as well as his renown as a mountain climber make him the Allies’ first choice to lead a British Army commando expedition of “pirates and cutthroats” climbing an unclimbable cliff to infiltrate the fictional Navarone Island and disable the guns in an impregnable German fortress. For obvious reasons, Mallory isn’t convinced of the operation’s chances:
All due respect to Major Franklin, I think the operation is insane.
What’d He Wear?
Captain Keith Mallory arrives at an unspecified RAF airfield somewhere in the Middle East, sporting civilian attire apropos the region’s warm climate. The beige tropical suit has been rendered an even dustier hue by his travels, and the linen (or linen-cotton blend) suiting has wrinkled and rumpled—as linen is wont to do—after many cramped hours in planes taking enemy fire and a jeep ride through the desert.
Gregory Peck was a famously well-dressed actor, and production of The Guns of Navarone would have coincided with his tenure as a customer of the celebrated H. Huntsman & Sons on Savile Row, though it’s unlikely that this suit—more of a costume with its considerable “wear and tear”—is among that storied tailor shop’s wares.
Mallory’s two-button suit jacket is single-breasted with unique notch lapels with a wide collar and substantial notches. The drape cut is full through the chest while still pulled in at the waist for a flattering silhouette when the ventless jacket is buttoned. Sporty details include patch pockets on the left chest and both hips, all covered with non-buttoning flaps that have begun to curl up in the corners. The sleeves are finished with three buttons on the cuffs, and it’s on the cuffs where the well-traveled suit is visibly fraying as our friend George referred to in his request.
Mallory’s light taupe shirt with its two flapped chest pockets resembles an officer’s khaki poplin service uniform shirt. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket, and button cuffs and is detailed with edge stitching. His gray four-in-hand tie has a subtle shine.
The suit’s flat front trousers appear to be worn sans belt, likely fitted with side adjusters, and have side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms. His dusty white shoes appear to be two-eyelet derbies, worn with tan socks. As best seen in this behind-the-scenes shot with co-star David Niven, Mallory’s shoes look more casual than a typical leather derby, possibly made from white canvas with hard leather outsoles.
Once the mission is underway, Captain Mallory outfits himself accordingly, first taking to the sea in a nautical navy pea coat, frayed slate blue mock-neck jumper, and Greek fisherman’s cap, then disguises himself in a German Army officer’s uniform for the final phase of the mission.
Our best look at Mallory’s watch comes later in the film, as he’s disguised as a German officer and planning to sabotage the titular weaponry. The steel wristwatch is clearly a Gruen Precision with a plain silver dial marked with gold Arabic numbers at each hour and fixed to his left wrist on a brown leather strap.
How to Get the Look
When not seen navigating the Aegean on a fishing trawler or scaling a treacherous cliff, Keith Mallory follows his portrayer Gregory Peck’s example of dressing in a smart, contextually appropriate suit… though this otherwise sharp and sporty beige tropical suit takes plenty of abuse as the result of Captain Mallory’s dangerous vocation.
- Beige tropical linen suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, flapped patch breast pocket, flapped patch hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Flat front trousers with side adjusters, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Light taupe poplin shirt with spread collar, front placket, two flapped chest pockets, and button cuffs
- Gray tie
- White canvas 2-eyelet derby shoes
- Tan socks
- Gruen Precision steel wristwatch with round silver dial and brown leather strap
(Thanks for the request, George, John, and R.M. — this one’s for you!)
Do Yourself a Favor and…
If you like this summer-friendly style from The Guns of Navarone, stay tuned for early fall when I’ll be working with Iconic Alternatives on presenting the film’s sartorial approach to bundling up for colder weather.
Every one of us a genius, how can we fail?