How to Wear a Hat – Rod Steiger Edition

"Al Capone"

We have explored how newsboy caps were worn by several men in “Monkey Business” and by Lee Marvin in “King of the North,” by Henry Fonda in “The Grapes of Wrath” and by Marc Chevalier in real life. Here’s Rod Steiger in the 1959 film “Al Capone,” with costumes by Russell Hanlin and Sabine Manela. Notice how the shadow of the brim covers his eyes.

"Al Capone"

TWO newsboy caps and we’re only in the credits!

image

Steiger wears the hat at an angle and the brim is curled. Notice that Steiger is lit so that the shadow of the brim comes just over his eyes as he looks down. He’s supposed to be menacing and the newsboy cap is part of that look.

"Al Capone"

Here, the cap is set at a angle, somewhat back on the head, with the brim curled. He’s jaunty and relaxed.

"Al Capone"

And once his character becomes successful, Steiger ditches the newsboy cap.

Lesson: The newsboy cap in this film is a badge of the working class. There’s none of that leisurely elegance that we saw in “Monkey Business.”

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1959, Chicago, Crime and Courts, Fashion, Fashions, Film, Hollywood, Nightclubs, Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How to Wear a Hat – Rod Steiger Edition

  1. The newsboy cap in Capone was also used to suggest youth in Steiger, who was already much older than the character at the time. It worked — somewhat.

  2. PS: Rod Steiger, another actor who was old when he was young.

  3. brain says:

    Sad that hats have disappeared from L.A. Both of my grandfathers wore hats. A preacher ariound Nadeau and Avalon used to collect his wage in his hat during WW2. Quite a difference between “real” hats and the baseball caps we wear now.

    • lmharnisch says:

      Every so often in downtown L.A., usually around 7th and Figueroa, I’ll see a man really dressed out with a hat — someone who really knows how to wear one instead of just plopping it on his head. They look sharp.

  4. Mary Mallory says:

    Go to Art Deco Society events if you want to see guys decked out in real hats, and they know how to wear them.

  5. sherry says:

    Just watched this movie the other night on TCM. Wish I had paid more attention to the hats.

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