George Clooney as Seth Gecko, dangerous fugitive bank robber and “real mean motor scooter”
Texas to Mexico, Summer 1995
Film: From Dusk till Dawn
Release Date: January 17, 1996
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Costume Designer: Graciela Mazón
Happy Halloween, BAMF Style readers! Over the last few years, I’ve received a few requests to explore George Clooney’s garb in From Dusk till Dawn, directed by Robert Rodriguez and penned by Quentin Tarantino from a story by Robert Kurtzman.
The action horror thriller marked a significant departure for Clooney— then popular as the charismatic pediatrician Doug Ross on ER, playing against type as the ruthless, Caesar-cut baddie terrorizing the southern plains with his psychotic brother on the road to El Rey.
Tarantino had snatched his idea of the fictional criminal kingdom, El Rey—Spanish for “the King”—from Jim Thompson’s crime novel The Getaway. The concept would be abandoned for the more optimistic ending used in the famous McQueen/MacGraw 1972 film adaptation, but QT would re-enlist it as the Gecko brothers’ raison d’être.
At first, From Dusk till Dawn does indicate shades of The Getaway‘s familiar story: two bank robbers on the run, a desert motel, a hostage situation, a planned rendezvous to get across the border… but even Sam Peckinpah and Walter Hill couldn’t have imagined the chaos that would ensue following the abrupt genre shift after the Geckos and their hostage family, the Fullers, arrive at the debauched cantina called the Titty Twister to wait out the hours from dusk ’til dawn.
We got a bunch of fuckin’ vampires out there trying to get in here and suck our fuckin’ blood, and that’s it, plain and simple. And I don’t wanna hear anything about “I don’t believe in vampires,” because I don’t fucking believe in vampires, but I believe in my own two eyes, and what I saw is fucking vampires. Now, do we all agree that what we are dealing with is vampires?
What’d He Wear?
Seth Gecko is cut from the cloth of the traditional Tarantino protagonist. Undoubtedly a ruthless killer, Seth is surrounded by enough volatile psychopaths—most notably, his paranoid, trigger-happy brother Richie (Tarantino himself)—that he assumes the role of the more charismatic anti-hero: “I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fuckin’ bastard.”
As a criminal in QT’s world, both brothers Gecko dress in variations of the classic Tarantino criminal uniform of a black suit and white shirt, albeit bastardized to reflect the chaos of From Dusk till Dawn as both men ditch the ties of their Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction forebears. In fact, Seth foregoes a traditional shirt altogether, building the effect of a black three-piece suit over his white ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt like a ’90s-era Al Swearengen.
Looking closer at Seth’s outfit reveals that he actually wears a non-matching jacket, waistcoat, and trousers, all in slightly differing black fabrics.
The orphaned black single-breasted suit jacket, likely wool or a wool blend, has a then-fashionable low two-button stance positioned below the notch lapels. Consistent with ’90s detailing, the ventless and somewhat oversized jacket has straight jetted pockets on the hips (in addition to the typical welted breast pocket) and padded shoulders that extend beyond Clooney’s frame. Each sleeve is finished at the cuff with three black plastic sew-through buttons, smaller versions of the two buttons on the front.
The waistcoat (or vest, as an American like Seth would likely call it) is distinctively detailed with six black-finished metal buttons that Seth wears fully buttoned from the neckline down to the notched bottom. The vest appears to be constructed from a black nailhead-textured fabric—unlike the smoother, worsted-like cloth used to make the jacket—and has four slim-welted pockets, with Seth keeping some backup ammo in the lower left of the four pockets.
Like Steve Buscemi’s loquacious Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs, Seth Gecko “completes” his suit with black denim jeans rather than traditional trousers. Given that he keeps a heavy .44 Magnum in his waistband, Seth wisely holds up these jeans with a heavy belt, typically a black leather with a substantial gold-toned single-prong buckle.
Though most of his wardrobe stays consistent, there are some continuity errors regarding Seth’s belts as several were used during the production with different leathers and buckles. Given the rest of his outfit, his black belt is the most “correct” choice—though many would argue there’s nothing “correct” about Seth’s wardrobe at all.
The most inconsistent belt used appears when Seth draws “Mr. 44” on Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek), and the close-up of his waistband reveals a brown leather belt with a curved steel single-prong buckle.
Appropriate to his rebellious image and attitude, Seth Gecko wears black leather harness boots, a mid-century evolution of traditional engineer boots that were made popular by motorcyclists in the 1960s. Unlike classic engineer boots that are detailed with an adjustable strap across the ankle and instep, harness boots live up to their name by creating a harness of sorts around the bottom of each boot with a series of four non-adjustable straps: one strap extends from one side ring to the other over the instep, another strap connects both rings around the back of the ankle, and a shorter strap on each side extends down from the bottom of each ring to the outsoles.
Many bootmakers have specialized in harness boots of different colors and sizes since they were pioneered during the 1960s with makers including Ad Tec (via Amazon), Durango (via Amazon and Boot Barn), Frye (via Amazon and Boot Barn), and Harley Davidson (via Amazon and Boot Barn).
Seth doesn’t wear any watch, rings, or jewelry, choosing instead to accessorize permanently with a tribal-style flame tattoo that extends up his left arm onto the side of his neck. Tattoo Fixers star Jay Hutton blamed Clooney’s screen ink in From Dusk till Dawn for sparking what he called the “worst” tattoo trend during a 2017 interview with The Irish Independent.
“If you make a noise… Mr. 44 makes a noise,” Seth Gecko threatens a hostage. “If you ask a question, Mr. 44 answers it.”
Seth leaves no doubt regarding the caliber of his trusty six-shooter, but it takes a closer look to reveal that the weapon itself is an Astra Terminator, a large Spanish-made double-action revolver in the tradition of the Smith & Wesson Model 29 made famous by Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. The .44 Magnum Astra made one of its first prominent screen appearances in the hands of another tough cop, the eponymous detective played by Fred Dryer on the NBC series Hunter.
Inspired by the success of Smith & Wesson’s N-frame of revolvers, Spanish weapons manufacturer Astra-Unceta y Cia SA introduced its own line of large-caliber revolvers in 1980, chambered in .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Long Colt. These sizable weapons were typically offered with either 6-inch or 8.5-inch barrels until Astra introduced the Terminator, a .44-caliber six-shooter with a 2.75″ barrel.
Like the longer-barreled Astra revolvers, the Terminator was available in blued or nickel finish though the standard grips were black checkered rubber Pachmayr grips as opposed to the more polished walnut grips found on the Models 41, 44, and 45.
Seth’s Astra Terminator passes through the hands of every member of the Fuller family, including both Scott (Ernest Liu) and Kate (Juliette Lewis) as well as their father Jacob (Harvey Keitel), to whom Seth hands off the revolver to defend himself against their vampiric foe as well as to kill himself before he can become “a lap dog of Satan.”
The Astra Terminator would reappear in the Quentin Tarantino canon when stunt driver Kim (Tracie Thoms) uses a stainless .44 to defend herself against Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) in Death Proof.
What to Imbibe
“I think I’m gonna get tanked tonight,” utters the doomed Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) as he orders a pint of Jack Daniel’s from fellow doomed liquor store clerk Pete Bottoms (John Hawkes). This top-selling Tennessee whiskey with its widely familiar “Old No. 7” label often provides a visual shorthand for toughness and has been favored as the elixir of choice from every brand of badass from the refined Frank Sinatra to the rough-and-ready Keith Richards.
Once the Geckos are back on the road in their dusty Mercury Cougar, Seth spins the bottle cap off his own pint of Jack—perhaps the very one Earl intended to buy—and takes a swig before passing it over to Richie.
Also seen in the Gecko brothers’ XR7 is a packet of Red Apple cigarettes, another favorite item from the Tarantino-verse.
“Whiskey before beer, you’re in the clear,” or so they say. Having wet their whistle with some of Lynchburg’s finest on their way to the motel, Seth returns to the room with a six-pack of Lone Star, the “National Beer of Texas” as their marketing claims, which had first been brewed more than a century earlier in San Antonio by Adolphus Busch. After all, when in Texas…
A few hours later, the Geckos are down in Mexico with the Fuller family, enjoying the reluctant hospitality of the Titty Twister trucker bar. Initially, the bartender (Danny Trejo!) had refused to serve Seth his desired whiskey, but Jacob used his Class 2 driver’s license to convince Trejo they belonged… and thus, five relatively clean glasses and a bottle coming right up!
Seth doesn’t seem to mind that his request for whiskey was ignored as he’s instead given a bottle of Pisco Vargas to drink the night away. (It could be theorized that the Titty Twister would hardly be worried about losing any customer’s business and most are hardly in any condition to complain by the following morning.)
Claimed by both Peru and Chile as their respective national drinks, pisco was reportedly developed in South America by 16th-century Spanish settlers who distilled fermented grape juice into a high-proof brandy which may have received its appellation from the Peruvian port city of the same name. While both Peru and Chile continue to produce their own respective piscos, the Pisco Vargas variety featured in From Dusk till Dawn is a product of Peru.
How to Get the Look
A conventional Tarantino anti-hero in an anything-but-conventional movie, Seth Gecko “builds” the look of a black three-piece suit with a non-matching jacket, waistcoat, and jeans worn over his undershirt and motorcycle boots… though not a single piece of his wardrobe avoids the blood, guts, and dust of his chaotic night at the Titty Twister.
- Black wool single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Black nailhead-textured single-breasted waistcoat/vest with 6 black-finished metal shank buttons and 4 slim-welted pockets
- Black denim twill jeans
- Wide black leather belt with thick gold-toned single-prong buckle
- Black leather harness boots
It should go without saying, but this would be a look best reserved for cosplay or Halloween costumes rather than everyday life. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and Clooney himself was photographed by Ron Galella wearing a lighter approach to the suit, vest, and undershirt look for a Planet Hollywood opening in March of 1995, three months before production began on From Dusk till Dawn.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I don’t care about livin’ or dyin’ anymore, I just want to send as many of these devils back to hell as I can.