Brendan Fraser in The Mummy
Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell, American adventurer and former Legionnaire
Egypt, Summer 1926
Film: The Mummy
Release Date: May 7, 1999
Director: Stephen Sommers
Costume Designer: John Bloomfield
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
A quarter-century after its release, The Mummy is finding renewed love among audiences, no doubt due to star Brendan Fraser who has been enjoying a own career renaissance following his Oscar-nominated turn in The Whale that has already won the actor more than two dozen awards.
Directed and written by Stephen Sommers, The Mummy updated Karl Freund’s 1932 thriller of the same name, released among a wave of Universal’s now-iconic horror films including Dracula and Frankenstein. Sommers’ adaptation retained the supernatural elements while playing down the horror in favor of a more lighthearted adventure story inspired by Errol Flynn’s screen swashbucklers and the classic serials that influenced the character of Indiana Jones, to whom Fraser’s roguish Rick O’Connell has been likened.
The story begins in 1923, while Rick is serving as a captain in the French Foreign Legion. A battle against the Medjai led by Ardeth Bey (Oded Fehr) reveals to Rick the location of Hamunaptra, the city of the dead. Three years later, Rick is condemned to death in a Cairo prison when he receives a visit from the charming yet clumsy librarian Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) and her cheeky brother Jonathan (John Hannah), a thief who had once stolen from Rick a puzzling trinket that includes a 3,000-year-old map leading to Hamunaptra with its buried treasure… and juicy mummies.
Evelyn: You were actually at Hamunaptra?
Rick: Yeah, I was there.
Evelyn: You swear?
Rick: Every damn day.
After securing Rick’s release, the Carnahan siblings make a deal with the former Legionnaire to guide them to the cursed city, in the interest of Evie’s scholarly pursuits and Jonathan’s hunt for riches, though what they unearth could threaten the entire world.
What’d He Wear?
In contrast to his understandably unkempt appearance in prison, Rick meets Evelyn and Jonathan at the port of Giza wearing a clean jacket, styled with a contextually appropriate safari influence that hints at the adventure to follow. I’ve read auction descriptions that alternately refer to the lightweight tan cloth as linen or cotton; it may be a blend of each, but the appearance with its subtle slubs and proneness to wrinkling suggests linen as the predominant fabric.
The jacket has a crowded design, with four buttons on the single-breasted front and a total of five outer patch pockets, all with button-down flaps: each side has a large pocket over the hip, with a smaller rounded-bottom pocket just above it that’s positioned an inch or two closer to the center of the jacket. There is an additional patch pocket over the left breast.
Each shoulder is reinforced with a matching fabric squared patch, and a horizontal yoke extends across the upper back from shoulder to shoulder. Below the yoke, five evenly spaced pleats run down the length of the back, briefly collected under the half-belt around the back of the waist before flaring out again toward the bottom of the ventless back. Each sleeve has three vestigial buttons at the cuff.
At the time of the mid-1920s setting, sport jackets were still primarily reserved for specific activities, such as leather-patched shooting jackets for hunting or hacking jackets with long single vents for horseback riding. They were often made of heavy woolen tweed for sturdier construction during these outdoor pursuits, but Rick’s jacket—sourced from the venerated London costume house Angels & Bermans—illustrates a variation for warmer weather that would have served him comfortably while navigating the Sahara… if only he hadn’t had to abandon it to be presumably destroyed aboard the burning ship.
Rick’s off-white cotton twill shirt echoes the adventure-oriented detailing worn by his spiritual predecessor, Indiana Jones. Also from the Angels & Bermans costume house, the ivory shirt has military-style shoulder straps (epaulets) with a pointed end that buttons to the shoulders against the neck and two box-pleated chest pockets that each close through a single button on a pointed flap. The shirt has a point collar and long sleeves that close with button cuffs, though Rick almost always wears them undone and rolled up to his elbows.
An interesting period-accurate detail of the shirt is that the five-button front placket doesn’t extend all the way to the hem, though it does go down as far as Brendan Fraser’s abdomen, where it ends with a point. While it may look like a now-conventional button-up shirt and these had existed by the 1920s, “popover shirts” like this were also still en vogue before full button-up shirts became the menswear standard.
A menagerie of “British tan” brown leather crosses over and around Rick’s torso, adding to the utilitarian ruggedness of his kit. The simplest of these is a narrow Sam Browne belt, which he uniquely wears straight up the front on the left side of his chest, then crossed down and hooked to his belt in the center of his back. Rick’s Sam Browne belt has a brass-finished single-prong buckle (like a traditional waist belt) and is connected via D-rings on each end to the large leather loops that hook over his belt in the front and back, worn under his shirt’s left epaulet.
The Sam Browne belt was inspired by how a one-armed British Army general of the same name modified his uniform with an additional belt to more steadily hold his scabbard in place. As Rick doesn’t carry a sword, I’m not sure why this piece was added—and so curiously worn—to his wardrobe, especially as Sam Browne belts earned the disparaging (but perhaps deserved) nickname of “suicide belts” for their potentially fatal liability to their wearers.
Rick’s hefty brown leather double shoulder rig serves a much clearer purpose, with two open-top holsters for his Chamelot-Delvigne service revolvers that allow him to quickly perform his frequent double cross-draw that brings both into firing position. Each side of the holster consists of a wide leather harness that goes around the shoulder, with six double sets of unfinished eyelets that lace the top section over the bottom in a manner that can be adjusted for different fits. The holsters connect via two parallel straps running across his upper back, each with two brass rivets and a snap closure. He secures the rig in place by pulling his waist-belt through the large loop behind each holster, tying the rawhide laces that hang down on each side for additional support.
Rick wears khaki moleskin twill flat-front trousers with an era-correct rise to Brendan Fraser’s waist and a close but comfortable fit through the hips and thighs, similar to some contemporary riding breeches (though obviously not the jodphurs with dramatically flared thighs.) Photos of the auctioned screen-worn trousers illustrate that these are full ankle-length trousers with five grommets at the back of each plain-hemmed bottom, presumably to be laced tightly to keep the legs in place when he slips his boots over them.
The trousers have slanted front pockets where he keeps spare ammunition for his revolvers as well as a button-through back right pocket with a jetted entry just below the belt. Though nearly ubiquitous today, belt loops on trousers were still a relative rarity in the 1920s, still mostly relegated to non-formal work trousers like Rick’s breeches. He wears a wide belt made from the same shade of “British tan” brown leather as his holster, with a dulled brass single-prong buckle and matching brass keeper.
Consistent with some of his military-informed gear, Rick knee-high field boots echo a contemporary design that was popular among British Army officers during World War I through the early interwar period depicted in The Mummy. Appropriately, Rick’s boots are the shade of light brown leather often called “British tan”.
This boot pattern is characterized by a straight toe-cap and derby-style lacing that extends up to mid-calf, under the smooth shafts that rise to just below the knees. Most period examples I’ve seen of actual boots from the era have between six and nine pairs of lace eyelets, though Rick’s boots have a staggering 13 sets of eyelets. (See for yourself at Blighty Militaria, Blighty Militaria (yes same site, but different boots), IWM, and 1st Dibs.
Rick wears a British tan leather shooting cuff that secures around his right wrist with a strap through a gold-toned single-prong buckle on each end, with the straps and buckles worn on the inside of his forearm.
When Rick traverses farther into inland Egypt across the Sahara desert, he knots a large navy-blue muslin scarf that serves both as a sweat-catcher as well as a makeshift turban while on camelback. Muslin is a thin, plain-woven cotton named for Mosul, Iraq, where it had was first manufactured and was recorded by Marco Polo as early as the late 13th century.
Much like Indiana Jones with his established gear and garb that appeared across each of his movies, Rick would wear a version of the same costume in the 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns, though with subtle differences like heavier-duty suspenders with cartridge loops and a double-prong belt. John Bloomfield was the costume designer for both movies.
A complete outfit of Fraser’s screen-worn clothing from both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns has been auctioned several times since the latter film’s completion, including once in 2009 (per this LotSearch listing) and again in 2017 (per PropStore). Note that the 2009 auction description describes both the jacket and shirt as linen while the 2017 description describes both as cotton. The auctioned suspenders and belt are both also from The Mummy Returns.
Rick developed his skill with firearms while serving with the French Foreign Legion, as we watch him shouldering a Lebel 1886 bolt-action rifle in battle before abandoning it for the—not one, not two, but—four handguns in his belt, first a brace of the appropriately French MAS 1873 revolvers before tossing them aside for a pair of appropriately American M1911 semi-automatic pistols. Three years later, Rick would again choose both models as his sidearms, befitting his familiarity with them in combat.
Chamelot-Delvigne Modèle 1873
The start of The Mummy establishes Rick’s service with the French Foreign Legion, which has traditionally equipped its troops with the same weaponry as the French Army. Rick’s preferred sidearms—both during his service and after—are a pair of Chamelot-Delvigne Modèle 1873 revolvers. These would have been about three decades out of date for the French Army by the time of Rick’s 1923 battle at Hamunaptra as front-line troops had long adopted the Mle. 1892 as a standard service revolver, though it’s not unrealistic to see the Modèle 1873 in action as they were still in considerable use during World War I and even issued to reserve units as late as 1940, according to IMFDB.
The 1870s was a pioneering era for revolvers, as metallic cartridges and double-action operations were leaving the era of single-action percussion revolvers behind.
Designed by Belgian gunsmith
Timothée Chalamet J. Chamelot and French soldier-turned-inventor Henri-Gustave Delvigne to meet a need for updated weaponry during the early years of the French Third Republic, the Modèle 1873 became the first double-action revolver used by the French Army when it was issued to non-commissioned officers in 1873, followed by the generally similar Modèle 1874 introduced for commissioned officers that differed only with its blued finish and fluted cylinder as opposed to the Modèle 1873’s bare silver-toned finish and round cylinder. With 4½-inch barrels, the Modèle 1873 were around 9½ inches long overall and weighed just over two pounds unloaded.
“Although a robust and heavy gun, the Chamelot-Delvigne revolver fired a short, low-velocity cartridge of mediocre performance,” writes Martin J. Dougherty in Small Arms Visual Encyclopedia. Indeed, both models fired a proprietary 11x17mmR rimmed black powder cartridge that has been likened to .32 ACP as far as corresponding power. The six-round cylinder is loaded through a rear-pulling loading gate on the right side of the frame, though the 17.8mm-long case reportedly made the rounds difficult to load.
In reference to their production at the state-owned Manufacture d’armes de Saint-Étienne (MAS), this model has also been referred to as the MAS 1873 revolver. Nearly 340,000 were produced between 1873 and 1887, when production ended.
While Rick may have grown accustomed to the French-made Chamelot-Delvigne while serving in the French Foreign Legion, our all-American hero also packs a classic .45-caliber Colt M1911 pistol, carried in the front of his waistband rather than in a proper holster.
John Browning had designed several semi-automatic pistols for U.S. government testing to replace its aging stocks of revolvers before delivering the single-action Colt pistol that would be formally adopted for Army service as the “Model of 1911”, loaded with box magazines carrying up to seven rounds of powerful .45 ACP ammunition.
With their extended triggers and flat mainspring housing, the 1911-style pistols that Rick fires during the French Foreign Legion combat scenes are clearly the period-correct M1911 model rather than the M1911A1 that was introduced later in 1926 and would have been incorrect for a battle set three years earlier and arguably difficult for Rick to obtain in the year it was introduced.
In The Mummy Returns, set seven years later in 1933, Rick adopts his as his preferred sidearm, now carrying two M1911A1 pistols in his shoulder rig with nary a French revolver to be seen.
Winchester Model 1897
The screenplay describes Rick pulling an “elephant gun” out of his gunny sack and using it during sustained combat against Imhotep, despite Ardeth Bey’s warning that mortal weapons cannot kill him. This weapon is represented on screen in the form of the venerable Winchester Model 1897 pump-action shotgun, characterized by its external hammer that was maintained from the prior Model 1893 iteration.
Over its original 60-year production timeline, the Model 1897 was available in a variety of features, frames, and barrel lengths based on its intended usage, such as the 12-gauge Trench model with a heat shield, bayonet lug, and sling swivels that saw considerable military usage through the 20th century to the extent that the Germans actually protested their use during World War I.
Rick’s Model ’97 is the 12-gauge Riot model, configured with a 20-inch barrel like the Trench model but lacking its heat shield and bayonet lug.
While not part of his arsenal, Rick briefly wields an aircraft-mounted Lewis gun when he, Jonathan, and Ardeth Bey (Oded Fehr) hitch a high-flying ride with the bloviating Royal Air Corsp Captain Winston Havelock (Bernard Fox) and come face-to-well, face with Imhotep’s sandstorm.
Though this light machine gun was designed by U.S. Army Colonel Isaac Newton Lewis in 1911, conflicts within the Ordnance Department led to Colonel Lewis’ eventual retirement and relocation to Europe, where he finally had the opportunity to produce his gun in small numbers in Belgium before the English company Birmingham Small Arms (BSA) purchased a license to manufacture Lewis guns in England ahead of a hotly anticipated war.
After hostilities commenced in 1914, Lewis’ agreement with the British proved to be mutually beneficial as he quickly grew wealthy from the royalties while the Commonwealth was well-positioned to authorize an effective gas-operated machine gun that fired .303 British rifle rounds at a rate of 500-600 rounds per minute—increased to 800 per minute for the aircraft-mounted models that benefited from a recoil enhancer.
After the plane crashes into the quicksand, Ardeth dismounts the Lewis gun and carries it himself.
What to Imbibe
Jonathan finds a bottle of The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old single malt Scotch whisky in the late Gad Hassan’s shoulder bag. “Well, he may have been a stinky fella, but he had good taste,” Jonathan comments before taking a swig from the bottle’s broken neck. Jonathan keeps the bottle in hand and Rick’s M1911 in the other while battling the Medjai who swarm them at Hamunaptra, though the combat distracts a tipsy Jonathan from Rick’s nemesis Beni Gabor (Kevin J. O’Connor) sneaking over to take a pull for himself.
Jonathan passes out with the bottle cradled in his arms, though that doesn’t stop Rick and Evie from enjoying some Glenlivet for themselves… or at least Evie, who is inspired by the booze to pronounce her pride in her profession:
I… am a librarian!
Later, Rick joins Jonathan at a Cairo bar for shots of whiskey, though the bottle’s yellow label appears to be a fictional prop creation, with a red logo reading something like “BRODHILL”.
How to Get the Look
Rick O’Connell dresses for an adventure in the Sahara with his rugged but light-wearing layers. The guts of his wardrobe—specifically the khakis and two-pocket martial shirt—may recall Indiana Jones, but Rick takes the look in a different direction with his many additions of British tan leather from his hefty double shoulder holster rig to his knee-high officer’s boots.
- Tan linen safari-influenced single-breasted 4-button sport jacket with notch lapels, five patch pockets (with button-down flaps), 3-button cuffs, and half-belted ventless back
- Ivory cotton twill popover shirt with point collar, shoulder straps/epaulettes, long 5-button front placket, two box-pleated chest pockets (with button-down flaps), and button cuffs
- Khaki moleskin twill flat front trousers with tall belt loops, slanted front pockets, button-through back-right pocket, and 5-grommet plain-hemmed bottoms
- British tan leather Sam Browne belt with brass single-prong buckle
- British tan leather belt with brass single-prong buckle and keeper
- British tan leather knee-high British Army officer’s cap-toe field boots with 13-eyelet derby-style lacing
- Navy-blue muslin scarf
- British tan leather shooting cuff with two buckled straps, right wrist
- British tan leather open-top double shoulder holster rig, for two service revolvers
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie. Death is only the beginning… and by that I mean there’s two more sequels after the villain “dies” at the end of this one.
I only gamble with my life, never my money.
Great to see Fraser getting the recognition he deserves. While I did not foresee the Brensaissance, I’m happy to have recommended The Mummy and The Quiet American a while back, proving my sense for quality movies is not diminished.
Fraser is The Man