Nicolas Cage as Rick Santoro, flashy homicide detective and compulsive gambler
Atlantic City, September 1998
Film: Snake Eyes
Release Date: August 7, 1998
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Odette Gadoury
Folks, today is Nicolas Cage’s birthday so we’re going to celebrate in style by taking a look at the film that won Cage the esteemed Blockbuster Entertainment Award in the category of Favorite Actor (Suspense).
Has anyone been asking to read about the threads Nic Cage wore in the 1998 box office bomb Snake Eyes? No. Is that going to stop me after the absolutely insane year that we’ve just had? Also no.
I truly went most of my life without thinking about the movie Snake Eyes until I went down a Letterboxd rabbit hole last summer and came across Aubrey Farnsworth’s entertainingly absurd reviews including many, many from The Cage Canon. Her review of Snake Eyes in September immediately brought back to mind being nine years old in the summer of 1998, seeing trailers for the latest Nicolas Cage joint, and thinking that his shiny brown suit and yellow aloha shirt was just about the coolest outfit anyone could wear. (It isn’t, but I was nine. Plus, digging through old family photo albums revealed that four-year-old me had actually sported a similar combination of a brown suit and wild-patterned shirt… to one of my sister’s dance recitals, no less!)
When 31-year-old me finally got around to watching the movie just a few days after Aubrey’s review, I was pleasantly surprised by a fun and entertaining—if occasionally uneven—thriller as our heroic Mr. Cage races against time and narrative inconsistencies to solve a high-profile murder, untangle a dangerous conspiracy involving a greedily corrupt Atlantic City casino mogul, and prove to us all that adulterous, crooked, and potentially coked-out cops can be people too.
What’d He Wear?
“Jesus, I get you a front row seat and you show up lookin’ like Don Ho,” comments Rick’s straitlaced pal, U.S. Navy Commander Kevin Dunne (Gary Sinise), who looks considerably sharper in his blue service dress uniform while serving in the official capacity of leading a security detail for U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles Kirkland (Joel Fabiani), whose assassination during the televised Tyler vs. Ruiz boxing match kicks the plot into gear. (CDR Kevin Dunne isn’t to be confused with actor Kevin Dunn, who appears in Snake Eyes as the fight’s media emcee, Lou Logan.)
Do we ever find out why Rick Santoro is such a loud dresser or such a loud person in general? Do we even need to know? “It’s fight night!” Rick excitedly dismisses any question he can’t answer, be it about his attire or attitude.
Information about Cage’s screen-worn kit comes from several prop and auction sites, specifically The Golden Closet, Heritage Auctions, and YourProps, all of which have confirmed that the rust brown-colored suit was constructed from a polyester/cotton blend woven with narrow horizontal ribs and slubbed for a silky sharkskin effect of gold fleck detailing.
Rick’s boxy suit jacket exaggerates the full fit that was fashionable throughout the ’90s, cut with wide, straight padded shoulders and short notch lapels that break high to allow for four rust-toned plastic sew-through buttons.
The ventless suit jacket also has a welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, and three-button cuffs. Even though it’s hardly glimpsed on screen, the lining provides yet another opportunity for Rick to exhibit his sartorial flamboyance, this time via the bronze gold satin-finished lining described by YourProps.
Aside from their more functional purpose to provide more coverage on a sport jacket, four-button jackets are hardly conventional and immediately date the jacket to the ’90s, evoking images of NBA drafts from that era. (In these basketball players’ defense, the average height in the NBA tends to be closer to 7′ than 6′, and the additional buttons provide visual balance for the players’ striking heights… though, on the other hand, the pastels and patterns often used for these infamous suits hardly have any business on a tie, let alone a suit!)
A four-button suit jacket may be more flattering on the six-foot Nicolas Cage than, say, Danny DeVito (with all due respect to Mr. DeVito), but it’s an element here that coordinates with the excessively full cut and flashy suiting to be more of a fashion statement… after all, he is wearing it with a yellow Hawaiian shirt.
It’s undeniably Rick’s aloha shirt that invites Commander Dunne’s “Don Ho” comparison, wearing a tropical-printed yellow cotton shirt with his suit. While most sartorial purists would advise against pairing a Hawaiian shirt with a suit, Rick wisely keeps the conservative worsted business suits in his closet and chooses a flashy “fashion suit” for this bold ensemble.
The short-sleeved shirt coordinates with the suit via a reversed colorway, making the golden yellow more prominent as the ground color while the dual shades of brown are incorporated into the detailing via the all-over tropical floral print. Rick buttons the brown wooden (or faux-wood) two-hole buttons up from the straight, untucked hem to the top of the chest, leaving only the top loop undone and flattening the camp collar over the lapels of the jacket. The collar comes to a point in the center of the back, extending just enough to cover the full width of the lapel.
Rick’s gold necklace neatly follows the neckline of his shirt, dropping a flat gold triangular pendant that hangs just behind the buttoning point of his shirt. Rick seems to manifest gold, from his clothes and jewelry to his bright yellow Corvette, the same color as the shirt he wore at the start of this tumultuous night.
“See if you can find me another shirt if I’m goin’ on TV, I don’t wanna look like this,” Rick requests of Lou after the fit hits the shan. “Gotta be, you know, classy like you, Lou.”
Whether it was Lou Logan or someone else, Rick does eventually receive a plain white cotton shirt and skinny black tie to swap out his now-bloodied Hawaiian shirt. The white shirt has a point collar, a plain “French placket” front, breast pocket, and button cuffs.
Wearing his dressier shirt tucked in shows off more of Rick’s suit trousers around the waist, from the exotic leather belt to the voluminous pleats that contribute to the full fit.
I can’t confirm if Rick’s trousers have two or three sets of pleats; double pleats would be the most conventional, but this was the ’90s when even James Bond was wearing triple-pleated slacks. Especially given Rick’s excessive number of jacket buttons, I think we can safely say all bets are off when using sartorial tradition to hypothesize. When Rick hits the deck and draws his Glock during the assassination, I believe we see three closely spaced pleats.
The trousers also have a zip fly with a hook-and-button closure, side pockets, two jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms with a full break.
Rick shows a unique sense of belt-and-shoe coordination, not by attempting to match the colors but instead selecting exotic leathers for each. True, when Rick got dressed at the start of the day (or night, most likely, given his personality), his untucked covered his shirt hem and thus nullified his choice of belt. Rick’s scaled russet-colored belt suggests alligator leather, detailed with a gold-toned single-prong buckle with two metal keepers and a pointed tip all in a matching gold finish.
Apropos the movie’s title, Rick appears to be wearing snakeskin loafers that shine an iridescent green. These slip-on shoes have a split apron toe, ornamented with a ridged gold-finished bar across each instep. Almost unrelenting in his quest to make every aspect of his outfit unique and memorable, Rick lets up with his choice of almost pleasantly uninteresting black socks, though these go generally unseen due to the trousers’ full break.
Given that he even carries a gold-finished cell phone, it’s no surprise that Detective
Goldfinger Santoro bedecks himself in more gold jewelry than most of the gangsters would on The Sopranos.
On the third finger of his right hand, Rick wears a large gold class ring, evidently a memento from his time at Neptune High School as his classmate Commander Dunne wears the same ring and Rick flashes it when introducing himself to Lincoln Tyler (Sam Shaw) as a “fellow Sea Devil, Class of ’80,” though the Jostens-made ring featured at The Golden Closet is inscribed with a date of 1979. The blue stone was likely chosen to reflect the nautical themes of the school’s name and mascot.
Rick wears a gold dive watch, shining yellow gold from the link bracelet to the champagne dial. Based on the watch’s profile and other examples I’ve seen from the era, I suspect Rick wears a TAG Heuer sports watch, though I can’t recall the exact model.
Rick balances both hands with a ring and wrist jewelry on each, also wearing a shiny gold wedding ring on the third finger of his left hand and a gold ID bracelet (engraved “Ricky” according to The Golden Closet) secured to his right wrist on a large Cuban-style curb-link chain.
It’s revealed that this certainly wasn’t the only tropical-themed printed shirt in Rick Santoro’s closet as the epilogue depicts him going fishing with his son while wearing an oversized white-and-blue shark-printed shirt over a tonally coordinated slate-blue T-shirt.
A note for fans of Vanishing Point: Gilda Texter is credited as Snake Eyes‘ key costumer in Atlantic City. Nearly a decade before Ms. Texter transitioned her career to Hollywood’s costume industry, she ironically starred as the nude motorcycle rider in Vanishing Point… a role that required a very simple costume.
Though he’s off duty for fight night, Rick still carries his Glock 19 duty sidearm, drawing it in the aftermath of Secretary Kirkland’s assassination.
Glock had revolutionized the firearm community when it introduced the innovative Glock 17 in 1982. It took some time for the world to catch on that these polymer-framed pistols weren’t “plastic guns” that could easily bypass airport security (and we can all thank Die Hard 2 for propagating that rumor), but the Austrian manufacturer endured and introduced its second generation in 1988 that included both the longer-barreled Glock 17L and the “compact” Glock 19, which would become one of the most popular Glocks in both the civilian and police markets.
The Glock philosophy centers around its interchangeable parts, particularly the concept that any Glock pistol chambered for one caliber can use many of the the same parts and magazines. Thus, when the Glock 19 was introduced as a same-caliber follow-up to the Glock 17 in 9x19mm Parabellum, this meant many components (not related to the scaled-down frame) could be seamlessly swapped between the two weapons. The concept went a step further in 1995 with the introduction of the subcompact Glock 26, establishing the general Glock template of firearm “families” in standard, compact, and subcompact sizes for each caliber.
Though considered a “compact” sidearm, the Glock 19 dimensionally resembles a full-sized service pistol more than a smaller handgun like the Walther PPK. The overall length is 6.85 inches with a barrel just over 4 inches long, compared to the full-size Glock 17’s 7.32-inch length and 4.5-inch barrel. The Glock 19 weighs in at only 21 ounces unloaded, an ounce lighter than the Glock 17 and just over an ounce heavier than the subcompact Glock 26.
How to Get the Look
Nothing’s too flashy for Rick Santoro, who dresses in a chaotic but coordinated fashion for fight night in his slubbed silky brown suit and plenty of gold jewelry to draw the eye… in case the tropical-printed shirt or snakeskin loafers wouldn’t be enough!
- Rust brown (and gold-slubbed) horizontal-ribbed polyester/cotton suit:
- Single-breasted four-button jacket with short notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Triple reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, hook-and-button closure, side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Golden yellow (with two-toned brown tropical floral print) cotton short-sleeved aloha shirt with camp collar (with loop), plain “French placket” front, and straight waist hem
- Russet brown scaled alligator leather belt with gold-finished single-prong buckle, keepers, and pointed tip
- Dark green snakeskin split-toe loafers
- Black socks
- Gold necklace with gold triangular pendant
- Gold ID bracelet on Cuban-style curb-link chain
- Gold class ring with blue stone
- Gold wedding ring
- Gold dive watch with champagne dial, gold bezel, and gold link bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie. It may not be among the best of De Palma’s or Cage’s respective filmographies, but it’s an interesting concept, excitingly executed, and the opening Steadicam sequence is truly fun to watch… as is an almost psychotically hopped-up Nic Cage at his bombastic best through it all.
It isn’t lying! You just tell them what you did right, and you leave out the rest!