Alain Delon as Jean Laurier, aka “Scorpio”, dangerous freelance assassin, former French paratrooper, and cat lover
Washington, D.C., and Vienna, Spring 1973
Release Date: April 19, 1973
Director: Michael Winner
Wardrobe Master: Philippe Pickford
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy 85th birthday to French cinema icon Alain Delon, whose November 8, 1935 birthday makes him a Scorpio and thus a fitting choice for the title role in Michael Winner’s 1973 espionage thriller Scorpio. (Interestingly, Delon was re-teamed with The Leopard co-star Burt Lancaster, whose November 2, 1913 birthday makes him a Scorpio as well!) The astrological overtones sneak into the script as well as a CIA officer suggests to Delon’s character Jean Laurier that his codename “Scorpio” suits him:
We named you well, you’re a perfect Scorpio! You have a penchant for intrigue, violence…
Winner dusted off the dynamic between the young assassin and his aging mentor from The Mechanic for this globe-trotting spy flick, and Delon and Lancaster deliver the goods in these respective roles despite rarely rising above average. I found myself particularly distracted by the questionable spywork by these supposed pros, such as when Lancaster indiscreetly outlines their covert work while strolling with Delon through the crowded Orly Airport, describing Scorpio’s role as a “contract button man” who kills for the CIA while handing their tickets to the Air France clerk and continuing to talk through the latest details behind the “why” of their latest hit as they take their seats on a crowded commercial plane.
Upon arriving in D.C., the weary Cross (Lancaster) returns into the arms of his wife while the swaggering “Scorpio” checks into the the Warren Harding Presidential Suite, where the hardened hitman is delighted to find a cat already in his room. One interesting aspect of Delon’s Scorpio is that he seems to have little interest in actually carrying out his assigned executions, instead using his first days back in Washington to drop in on his sister as well as his girlfriend, taking the latter for a sightseeing date to landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and brunch at the Watergate Hotel. (The Watergate grew to global infamy while the Scorpio production unit was still there on June 17, 1972, when the “White House Plumbers” were caught breaking into the DNC headquarters on the sixth floor of the complex.) Frustrated by the assassin’s inaction, the CIA plants heroin in Scorpio’s room and sends the local fuzz to arrest him.
Despite their chummy attitude on the ride from Paris, we learn that Scorpio had been commissioned to kill Cross back in France rather than allowing him to return stateside, as explained by CIA chief McLeod (John Colicos).
McLeod: You were supposed to kill Cross at the Paris job.
Scorpio: No contract.
McLeod: You took the money?
Scorpio: You left the money.
At first, we may suspect that Scorpio refused to carry out the job out of allegiance to Cross, but he shrewdly negotiates to complete the assignment in exchange for Cross’ old job, an official posting in Beirut. His future with the agency assured, Scorpio proves to have been an attentive pupil, using Cross’ teachings and advice to track him down for termination.
What’d He Wear?
Whether he’s in Washington or Vienna, Scorpio tends to wear his go-to outfit of a black blazer, black Charvet tie, and flared trousers. He’s occasionally seen in other clothing, such as a triangle-motif sweater worn for his introduction in Paris or a dark gray business suit he wears toward the end, but the blazer-anchored outfit is clearly Scorpio’s favorite.
From my observation, two different black blazers were used, differing only in the number of buttons on the front and the width of the swelled edges detailed along the lapels. The buttons on both jackets are silver-toned metal recessed shank buttons, with one blazer rigged with two on the front while the other has a full three-button front. At first, I thought perhaps the notch lapel was simply rolling over the top button on the right, but closer examination does reveal that the two blazers used were cut and styled for their respective number of buttons on the front. (For what it’s worth, the two-button blazer has a wider degree of edge swelling while the three-button blazer has narrower swelled edges.)
Regardless of how many are on the front, both blazers have two similar buttons on the cuffs as well as a single back vent and patch pockets on the left breast and hips. (There does appear to be a third black blazer, which has a two-button front with bluff-edged notch lapels and three-button cuffs, seen only briefly as Scorpio boards his TWA flight to Europe.)
While in Washington, Scorpio wears a pale yellow cotton shirt with a long point collar, front placket, and button cuffs, fitted with back darts that flatter Delon’s athletic physique. He completes the look with the same black Charvet tie that he favors with this blazer.
Scorpio wears shark gray flat front trousers with a long rise and a tight fit around the hips, slim through the legs down to the plain-hemmed bottoms where they flare out dramatically as was fashionable during the ’70s.
Appropriate for the amount of black present in the rest of his outfit, Scorpio’s shoes are also black, a shined leather pair of apron-toe slip-ons with a wide-slotted strap similar to an exaggerated penny loafer. He wears these with black socks.
For most of the other scenes, Scorpio wears white shirts with his black blazer, similarly styled with a point collar, front placket, button cuffs, and darted fit. Most of the time, these shirts are plain, solid white cotton, though Delon appears to wear a shirt for the Vienna chase scene that is subtly patterned with a double tonal stripe and a narrower front placket.
While Scorpio sometimes wears the white shirt and black tie with his gray trousers, he typically wears them with a pair of black flat front trousers to build the look of a non-matching suit with his black blazer. Typically, most would advise against combining an odd jacket and trousers of the same color and this outfit gives no indication of what I—perhaps misleadingly—shorthand as a “blazer suit”: a two-piece suit with a metal-buttoned jacket. If Delon manages to pull it off at all, it’s because he looks like Alain Delon.
Scorpio usually wears the same black loafers with these black trousers, though we do spy Delon wearing a pair of more stunt-friendly sneakers with dark navy or black uppers during the Vienna chase scene.
Unlike the pocketless gray trousers, these black trousers have “frogmouth”-style front pockets and a back right pocket where Scorpio occasionally slips his .45 when not wearing his holster. The bottoms, finished with turn-ups (cuffs), are less dramatically flared.
Scorpio wears a thick alligator-textured belt with a silver-toned rectangular single-prong buckle. The belt itself and the context of the rest of the outfit would imply black, though it does appear to shine a dark burgundy in some light.
The day he tracks down Cross in Austria, Scorpio layers on the de facto noir hero outerwear, a long belted trench coat. Made from a military shade of olive green gabardine (rather than the classic khaki trench Delon famously wore in Le Samouraï), this knee-length coat has a double-breasted front with three rows of two drab plastic four-hole buttons sewn to the coat, with the center row of buttons covered by the broad self-belt tightened through a sliding brass buckle. An additional row of buttons at the top would fasten the lapels over the chest as needed.
Scorpio’s trench coat also has the requisite shoulder straps (epaulettes) and tabs on each cuff that each fasten to one of two buttons to adjust the sleeves’ fit over the wrists. The sleeves are set-in rather than raglan.
A horological enthusiast in real life who even had a self-branded line of wristwatches, Delon likely wears one of his own watches in Scorpio. The hitman’s timepiece appears to be stainless steel with a round off-white dial, worn on a steel five-piece link bracelet.
Technically in the employ of the U.S. government, it makes sense that Scorpio would be armed with the venerable service pistol that had served the U.S. military for a half century up to this point, the classic .45-caliber Colt M1911A1 semi-automatic pistol
Scorpio stands out as an anomaly among movies of its era as Delon appears to carry a true .45-caliber 1911 rather than a 9mm copy like the Star Model B, which was often swapped in by contemporary productions like The Wild Bunch (1969), Dillinger (1973), and Three Days of the Condor (1975) as 9x19mm Parabellum blank ammunition cycled more consistently than .45 ACP blanks at the time.
Scorpio carries his 1911 in a black leather belt holster, worn on his right side for a strong-side draw. While perhaps more comfortable than an IWB holster would be for a large sidearm like a full-size 1911A1, this would likely be an impractical carry method for a covert assassin hoping to avoid detection as the grips would almost certainly print through his jacket, especially given the tailoring of Delon’s blazer.
How to Get the Look
I’d leave the tricky attempts to pull off a matching blazer and trousers to a true style icon like Alain Delon, instead opting to take some inspo from the safer (and more visually interesting) approach with the yellow shirt and gray trousers… but to each their own.
- Black 2- or 3-button blazer with swelled-edge notch lapels, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and single vent
- White or pale yellow cotton shirt with long point collar, front placket, and button cuffs
- Black or gray flat front high-rise trousers with belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black alligator-textured leather belt with large steel rectangular single-prong buckle
- Black leather strong-side belt holster, for M1911A1 pistol
- Black leather apron-toe penny loafers
- Black socks
- Stainless steel wristwatch with round off-white dial on steel five-piece link bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
I don’t play games when the rules are bent.