Lee Marvin as Walker, drunken sailor and future thief
San Francisco, early 1960s
Film: Point Blank
Release Date: August 30, 1967
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Margo Weintz
Lee Marvin, Academy Award-winning actor and U.S. Marine Corps veteran of World War II, was born 98 years ago today on February 19, 1924. Marvin would be established as one of the most charismatic tough guys of the screen, particularly due to movies like The Killers (1964), The Professionals (1966), The Dirty Dozen (1967), and Point Blank (1967).
Adapted from Donald E. Westlake’s pulp crime novel The Hunter (published under the pseudonym Richard Stark), Point Blank stars Marvin as the mononymous Walker, a thief left for dead by his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) and his double-crossing partner-in-crime Mal Reese (John Vernon) after a dangerous heist.
Marvin reportedly had an active role in developing the movie, having been given creative control… which he then handed off to director John Boorman, working closely with Boorman to bring his vision to the screen and inspiring dynamic choices from his fellow actors.
I was inspired by Iconic Alternatives‘ great rundown of the famous N-1 naval deck jacket (and where to get it!) to revisit Point Blank‘s early flashback scenes where Lynne recounts the rainy day that they met on the San Francisco docks, evidently before he followed a criminal path and was just a carefree drunken sailor. As has been pointed out on IMDB and elsewhere, this flashback is the only time we actually see Walker smiling on screen.
What’d He Wear?
Not yet clad in the stylish and oft-colorful suits and sport jackets that he wore through his revenge mission, Walker is dressed humbly yet ruggedly for the single-shot vignette depicting his introduction to Lynne.
N-1 deck jackets are rarely seen in movies, even in naval-themed war movies, as it wasn’t until later in World War II that they had been widely issued. The N-1’s fame could arguably be linked to its appearance in photographs of classic actors, specifically a young Paul Newman, who may have been introduced to the style during his own three years of U.S. Navy service overlapping the end of World War II.
We don’t know much of Walker’s backstory, but given the context of the location, his half-dozen equally briny colleagues, and their attire, we can assume he was working as a seaman of some capacity. He’s likely a Navy vet, suggested by his “USN”-stenciled deck jacket as well as the familiarity with firearms.
The N-1 uniform system was developed in 1943 for Navy deck crews to wear in rainy weather, complete with overalls, soft helmet, and the now-famous deck jacket. The Bedford cord-style cotton “jungle cloth” shell was initially navy blue until the familiar khaki option was authorized in 1945. As it was designed primarily to keep wearers warm and dry against the elements, the already densely woven cloth was insulated with a thickly piled alpaca wool fleece that showed on the collar, which could be turned up and secured with a throat latch for added protection.
One of the more simply structured pieces of contemporary military outerwear, the waist-length jacket closes with a zipper layered under a button fly. (Most mil-spec coats I’ve seen from the era have six buttons, though Walker’s deck jacket appears to only have five… suggesting that this may have varied based on the contractor who actually made each jacket.) Additionally, the waist can be cinched with an internal drawcord, which Walker clearly hasn’t fastened as the end of each string hangs down below the jacket hem. The only external pockets are slanted welt-entry hand pockets positioned at mid-torso on each side.
Mil-spec deck jackets were rigged with knitted cuffs that were concealed up the ends of each set-in sleeve to prevent snags, though this feature isn’t readily apparent on Walker’s jacket. Some of these variations might suggest that Walker is wearing a commercial variant, but it’s obvious that the jacket was meant to look like it had been authorized fro Navy service from the “USN” stencil over the left breast to the “432” stenciled inside the top of a semi-circle on the back.
Continuing the naval theme, Walker echoes one of his colleagues who also wears a blue chambray cotton shirt, an enduring workwear staple ever since it had been standardized as part of the Navy working uniform in the early 20th century. Though only faint glimpses of the top of the collar and the ends of the buttoned barrel cuffs are seen on screen, set photography confirms that the shirt has two open patch pockets over the chest and a front placket with white buttons.
Walker wears dark indigo pinwale-corduroy jeans with a straight fit that flatters Lee Marvin’s lean silhouette. As he flirtatiously circles Lynne upon their initial meeting, we catch sight of a small white tab sewn along the right back patch pocket. Given the era and its placement, this likely indicates that these are Levi’s jeans as the venerated denim brand had used white tabs through the ’60s and ’70s to designate their corduroy products or—as is obviously not the case here—their “Levi’s for Gals” line. (Read more about the significance of red and non-red tabs used by Levi’s throughout the decades at Beyond Retro.)
We never see below Walker’s thighs on screen, but set photography shows Marvin wearing a pair of simple slip-on loafers with weathered, light-colored uppers, possibly tan leather but something along the lines of canvas would be more fitting the nature of his suggested labor. While likely comfortable, I would have thought Walker would wear boondocker boots or even deck sneakers with this sort of outfit.
The flash of white on each side of the opening suggests that he’s wearing plain white crew socks.
As seen at the top of this post, select set photography from Point Blank shows Marvin wearing his N-1 deck jacket at Alcatraz during the scenes depicting the aftermath of his heist with Mal and Lynne, layered over a gray-collared charcoal windbreaker with a black sweater, gray jeans, and black lace-up boots. The finished film abandons the deck jacket for these scenes, and Walker wears just the windbreaker and jeans when Mal shoots him twice with his .38.
How to Get the Look
As the N-1 deck jacket seems to be undergoing a renaissance nearly 80 years after the U.S. Navy authorized it to keep deck crews warm and dry, take some queues from one of the classic cinematic tough guys to wear it with panache and swagger, appropriately paired with sturdy staples like a chambray work shirt and dark corduroy trousers.
- Khaki “jungle cloth” Bedford-cord cotton N-1 deck jacket with alpaca fleece-lined collar, button-fly/zip-up front, slanted hand pockets, and inset knit cuffs
- Blue chambray cotton long-sleeve work shirt with front placket, two chest pockets, and button cuffs
- Dark indigo corduroy jeans
- Tan leather Venetian loafers
- White crew socks
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.