Gorky Park: Lee Marvin’s Sheepskin Flight Jacket

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)


Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne, American fur importer

Stockholm, April 1983

Film: Gorky Park
Release Date: December 15, 1983
Director: Michael Apted
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!


As winter rages on, you’d think I would be looking for escape via light movies set in tropical locations… but instead, I recently rewatched Gorky Park, adapted from Martin Cruz Smith’s 1981 novel that begins with three disfigured corpses found in the snow outside a Moscow ice rink. (And I wonder why I get depressed!)

Our ostensible hero is Militsiya officer Arkady Renko (William Hurt), whose investigation of the grisly murders leads him to the sophisticated yet sinister sable importer Jack Osborne (Lee Marvin). As a successful American businessman, Osborne’s stylish suits and sable hats present a marked contrast to the drab clothing of those in his orbit… though Renko, it should be said, has commendable taste in clothing, particularly when he’s off the clock.

Marvin, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran born 97 years ago on February 19, 1924, specialized in playing “tough guys” through the ’60s and ’70s. He brings a particular menace to Osborne, who’s described in the book as “equine and handsome” but with “the quality of animal assurance.” Physically, it’s as though Cruz Smith had Marvin in mind when building the image of the tall, lean, leather-skinned Osborne with his “straight white hair… more silver than white.”

What’d He Wear?

He was wearing hunting clothes, laced boots, a green jaeger hat, and pigskin gloves. The rifle was a bolt-action sporting model with a sight and a handsome burled stock. A heavy knife was sheathed on his belt. Arkady noticed that no more snow was falling; not a flake drifted down, not even from the overheavy branches. There was a ceramic clarity to the scene.

— Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park

The movie creatively interprets Jack Osborne’s “hunting clothes” for the climax, set not in Russia but nearly 1,000 miles west of Moscow, across the Baltic Sea at a remote farm outside Stockholm. The ground and buildings are still covered with snow, but it’s beginning to thaw as the winter gives way to spring.

For this still-chilly weather, Osborne turns to sheepskin, the reliable leather that’s been warming humans since the Stone Age. “Wait, wait, you just talked about sheepskin,” you say, having read my Valentine’s Day post about Ryan O’Neal’s shearling coat in Love Story. Sheepskin outerwear can take many forms, though the most common can be split into two major categories: the large medium-hued car coats championed by Delon, Redford, and O’Neal (to name a few), and the darker, hip-length bomber jackets inspired by the Irvin and B-3 flight jackets that warmed high-flying Allied aviators during World War II.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

While I wouldn’t put it past Jack Osborne to develop a sable-lined bomber jacket, he instead dresses for action in a more traditional sheepskin coat.

Indeed, Marvin’s jacket as Jack Osborne follows the example of the B-3, which had been introduced in 1934 specifically for U.S. Army Air Force pilots in high-altitude bombers like the iconic B-17 Flying Fortress. Thus, the “bomber jacket” was born, typified by its sheepskin shell dyed to a military-spec dark brown and the thick piled sheep’s wool on the reverse side that lined the body of the coat up through the collar, which had two added straps to fasten the turned-up collar around the neck for warmth and protection. Osborne’s two collar straps are a slightly darker brown leather, matching the shade of the two sliding-buckle adjuster tabs toward the back of each side of the jacket, the horizontal back yoke, and the banded leather around the wrists and the hem.

On the original B-3 jackets, the piled fur lining spilled out of the cuffs and hem, though Osborne’s Finnish-made civilian’s coat has a slightly lengthened skirt that sacrifices the traditional furry hem. According to auction listings at Invaluable and Morphy Auctions, the screen-worn jacket has a label reading “S. Style Aitoa Nahkaa” and was likely purchased in Finland, where the film was produced. The coat is further detailed with a brief fly over the zip-up front and hand pockets with slanted welt openings.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

While that may be a relatively neutral way for Osborne to hold a bolt-action rifle that needs to be cycled before each repeating shot, I still wouldn’t want to be Joanna Pacuła at that moment.

Under his half-zipped coat, Osborne wears an ivory wool sweater, knitted with a seed-stitched body with a shaker-rib stitched crew-neck and cuffs. Beneath the neck of his sweater, we see a blue paisley silk neckerchief that likely provides some degree of warmth but also adds a gently affected touch for our affluent and undoubtedly arrogant antagonist.

Apropos his now-unveiled villainy, Osborne wears a pair of black leather gloves, the squared case of his yellow gold watch gleaming from his left wrist between the glove and the sleeve-ends of his sweater and jacket.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

That’s more like it!

Osborne wears brown wool flat front trousers that go hardly seen between the jacket skirt covering the waist line and the bottoms tucked into his well-worn russet leather bucket-top boots. This tall riding boot style dates back to the late 17th century, the uppers built with stiff leather shafts that swell out above the knees into cup-like buckets. These buckets can be worn unfolded up to the thighs or folded down over the shafts.

Marvin wears his boots in the latter fashion, showing the roughout reverse side of the leather and fastening them in the back with criss-crossed rawhide laces that culminate in tooled leather tassels that dangle around his heels. The moc-toes curl up toward the front, and there are buckled straps over each boot’s instep.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

“The sables are dead… I do not intend to join them.”

The Gun

Though he carried a gold-plated Walther PPK/S in a previous scene—and reportedly used an older Mannlicher pistol to commit the murders—Jack Osborne has upgraded his firepower to a bolt-action rifle when facing down Renko and the KGB agents during the conclusion.

The IMFDB experts have identified Osborne’s rosewood-stocked rifle as a Colt-Sako Model L-579, a firearm I admittedly knew next to nothing about until reading what the IMFDB folks had to say. For several years in the early 1960s, Colt produced a series of rifles with bolt-actions by the Finnish firearms manufacturer Sako. From 1963 to 1965, these were built on the L-461 short action, the L-61 long action, and the L-579 medium action as seen in Gorky Park. Calibers varied across these models, but the L-579 was only available in .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester thus it’s likely one of these two rounds that Osborne fires from his scoped Colt-Sako rifle.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

The obliquely angled fore-end was characteristic of the later run of Colt-Sako rifles.

How to Get the Look

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Gorky Park (1983)

Jack Osborne was the character that Lee Marvin was born to play: charming but dangerous, rugged yet refined… the same qualities that could describe the sheepskin flight jacket he wears with an off-white sweater, paisley neckerchief, and bucket boots.

  • Dark brown sheepskin hip-length bomber jacket with broad fur-lined collar (with two throat-latch straps), zip-up front fly, slanted welt hand pockets, and buckle-tab side adjusters
  • Ivory seed-stitched wool crew-neck sweater
  • Blue paisley silk neckerchief
  • Brown wool flat front trousers
  • Russet brown leather “bucket top” riding boots with curled moc-toes, buckled instep straps, and rawhide-backlaced shafts
  • Black leather gloves
  • Yellow gold watch with champagne dial on dark leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie and read Martin Cruz Smith’s novel.

The Quote

He killed my dogs. I gutted him… because he killed my dogs.


  1. teeritz

    “Gorky Park” remained my favourite book from when I first read it upon its paperback release up until sometime in the early ’90s when it was usurped by “The Sun Also Rises”.
    The movie has a great soundtrack too (I have it on vinyl!). I hadn’t seen much of Marvin’s later work, but it was good to see him in this film.
    Of course, casting him against ‘method actor in a leading man’s body’ (his own admission, I think), the great William Hurt was bound to lead to different points of view. I read a short interview with Marvin where he said that Hurt approached him on-set one day and asked; “Do you have a soul?”
    “Sure, I have a soul.”
    ‘And then I turned around, pulled my pants down, bent over, and showed him where it was.’

    Lee Marvin would have been a fun and dangerous guy to have a drink with.
    Bless him.

    • Lex

      Lee Marvin was actually a very dangerous man and would not have been fun to hang out with at all. He could turn on a dime, male or female, watch out. Completely brutalized by the War, he was slightly less unhinged than his contemporary Sam Peckinpah.

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