Robert Forster as Max Cherry, reliable bail bondsman
Los Angeles, Summer 1995
Film: Jackie Brown
Release Date: December 25, 1997
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Mary Claire Hannan
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
One year ago today, the great Robert Forster died at the age of 78 after more than a half-century in movies and TV, perhaps best known for his roles in Medium Cool, Jackie Brown, Mulholland Drive, and most recently as taciturn “disappearer” Ed on Breaking Bad.
Though he’d been acting for three decades, it wasn’t until Jackie Brown that Forster gained widespread recognition with his Academy Award-nominated performance, establishing both Forster and Max Cherry as the latest beneficiaries of the “Tarantino effect” that had renewed the careers of actors like Harvey Keitel and John Travolta after their turns in QT-directed films.
Jackie Brown remains the rare Tarantino joint adapted from another writer’s source material, in this case the novel Rum Punch by prolific crime author Elmore Leonard, who was born 95 years ago today on October 11, 1925.
Honestly, Max Cherry is probably one of my favorite movie “heroes”, though the modest bail bondsman would probably take issue with such an effusive appellation. With his professional and slightly aloof approach to an arguably dangerous line of work, Max succeeds due to the nature of the character as penned by Leonard and due to the easygoing, “medium cool” charm that Forster brings to the role. In a “comeback” performance that set the stage for the latter decades of the talented actor’s career, Forster easily sells us on his essentially honest character whose attraction to Pam Grier after she blew his mind this time (didn’t she?) may encourage him to have a hand in a somewhat less-than-honest deception.
What’d He Wear?
Max Cherry’s typical wardrobe consists of neutral sport jackets and slacks with polo shirts, a traditional, safe, and generally foolproof approach for dressing down at any age. For this episode at the shopping mall, Max wears a single-breasted sports coat woven in a mixed gray and taupe wool.
The jacket’s structure is typical for the 1990s with broad notch lapels that roll to a low two-button stance, wide natural shoulders, a ventless back, and jetted hip pockets in addition to the welted breast pocket.
While it’s never expressly called out, I particularly like that costume designer Mary Claire Hannan dressed Max Cherry in a cherry red shirt for the climactic sequence featuring him acting as agent in Jackie’s double-cross. The short-sleeved shirt is made from a bright red jersey-knit cloth, likely either a smooth cotton or cotton/polyester blend, detailed with a long two-button “French placket” top and banded short sleeve ends.
Max wears slate-gray slacks with double reverse pleats as pleated trousers were still en vogue by the mid-’90s, having been reintroduced to mainstream men’s fashions a decade earlier. He wears a brown leather belt with a squared brass single-prong buckle, which doesn’t coordinate with his well-worn black leather shoes. These somewhat clunky and unstylish shoes somewhat resemble upscaled boat shoes with their swollen-seam moc-toe box and their short, derby-laced two-eyelet facings.
Not surprisingly, Max chooses a subdued but tasteful wristwatch. This dress watch has a slim and simple gold case with a round silver dial and gold hands, worn on a black leather strap that closes through a plain steel single-prong buckle.
How to Get the Look
Befitting his modest personality, Max Cherry typically values function over flash in his approach to everyday dressing, even balancing his bright cherry red shirt with the more neutral sports coat and slacks.
- Gray-and-taupe woven wool single-breasted 2-button sport jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Cherry red jersey-knit short-sleeved polo shirt with two-button top placket
- Slate-gray double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Brown leather belt with squared brass-finished single-prong buckle
- Black leather moc-toe two-eyelet derby shoes
- Gold dress watch with round silver dial on black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
And away we go…