The Parallax View: William Daniels’ Seagoing Striped T-Shirt
William Daniels as Austin Tucker, paranoid ex-political aide
Marina Del Rey, California, Spring 1974
Film: The Parallax View
Release Date: June 14, 1974
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Costume Designer: Frank L. Thompson
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Based on Loren Singer’s novel of the same name, The Parallax View became the second installment of director Alan J. Pakula’s political paranoia “trilogy” across the 1970s, reflecting the uncertainty and cynicism of an era increasingly marred by assassination, war, and government scandal.
The cast included William Daniels, one of the steadiest character actors of the era with credits like Two for the Road, The Graduate, and 1776 in his filmography before his memorable appearance in The Parallax View as Austin Tucker, the one-time aide to a presidential contender who had been assassinated three years earlier. (The now 95-year-old Daniels would later gain lasting recognition among more modern audiences as the principled principal Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World.) Now, Tucker remains the only remaining witness to the crime… and is justifiably paranoid regarding his prospects as he agrees to meet the crusading reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) on his boat.
Today, I’ll be joining friends for less lethal nautical adventures—specifically, sipping tequila on a pontoon boat up the Allegheny River—but it felt like the right opportunity to see how the once buttoned-up Tucker now embraces a more casual sense of dress while dodging the dangerous clutches of the shadowy Parallax Corporation.
What’d He Wear?
Unrestrained from the suits, ties, and shaving rituals that defined his life as a political aide, Austin Tucker would appear to be living his best life as a happy-go-lucky sailor… if not for the unhappy reality that he actually fears for his life instead.
Tucker leans into his new transient life at sea in classic maritime staples like a striped T-shirt and white trousers, though any similarities between his shirt and the classic French Navy white-and-blue “Breton stripe” marinière ends at the fact that Tucker’s stripes are also horizontal. Aside from the solid purple “ringer” around the crew-neck opening, the entirety of Tucker’s T-shirt is printed in the eye-catching arrangement of narrow magenta stripes against a rich purple ground. The shirt also has raglan sleeves and a breast pocket.
White clothing has long enjoyed maritime associations, for both its cool-wearing properties (as white reflects sunlight better than darker colors) and its improved visibility should a sailor fall overboard (though it wouldn’t lend a wearer much help if his craft was blown apart at sea…)
Tucker’s loose-fitting white trousers are made from a lightweight linen or cotton, just sheer enough that the side-pocket outlines are visible through the material. In addition to these side pockets with their on-seam entry, the trousers also have jetted back pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms. Tucker’s tan napped leather oxford-laced casual shoes may be ankle boots, similar to these Oficine Creative boots.
Sunglasses make sense for protecting a wearer’s eyes on a sunny day, but Tucker likely also appreciates the touch of Roger O. Thornhill-style anonymity afforded him by the green-tinted lenses of his glossy black plastic shades, which have a Vuarnet-style silhouette.
Tucker’s watch may be the only remaining piece of his wardrobe from his past life in politics, a subdued piece with a round brass-finished case, plain white dial, and smooth dark brown leather edge-stitched bracelet.
How to Get the Look
Despite The Parallax View being made during the age of hip-hugging polyester, leisure suits, and disco shirts, William Daniels’ seagoing casual style as the rightly paranoid Austin Tucker has transcended its era with a timeless simplicity that could be worn just as effectively a half-century later without changing a thing, from his mulberry striped T-shirt and white pants to his timeless shades.
- Purple magenta horizontal-striped cotton crew-neck “ringer” T-shirt with short raglan sleeves and breast pocket
- White lightweight cotton flat front trousers with on-seam side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Tan napped leather oxford-laced ankle boots
- Black plastic-framed sunglasses
- Brass-finished wristwatch with round white dial on dark brown smooth leather bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie. If you’re a Criterion Channel subscriber, today’s the last day to watch The Parallax View before it leaves the service!
Fella, you don’t know what this story means.