Trifecta #16: The Vest is Best



by: Jeremey Gingrich

You can’t go out and party every weekend, so on those nights you want to take it easy, has put together a bi-weekly column to help you with your movie selection. The Trifecta is a recommendation of three movies that set a mood, that showcase an actor or director, that acquaint the viewer with a geographic location, or maybe even have some obscure link like a Best Boy or Key Grip.

The vest is an underrated article of clothing. I, however, count myself as one of the few remaining vest proponents – an aficionado, actually. Every suit is a three-piece, fall and winters I sport the sweater vest, and in the privacy of my own home I sport a leather vest as I belt out the tunes of the Village People. And why not? The vest is a respected sleeveless accessory in many films, with protagonists sporting them to fight crime, ditch school, or to assist a rebellion in an intergalactic civil war. Below is the trifecta that pays due respect to this beloved fashion staple, by heroes who know how to sport it with pride.

Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller

Our first vested champion is the rebellious teen Ferris Bueller in John Hughes’ 1986 comedy FERRIS BUELLER’s DAY OFF. After Ferris leads us through the steps to fake an illness to get a day off from school, he grabs his best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), and his sweetheart (Mia Sara) to play hooky in downtown Chicago. Ferris travels in style in a 1961 Ferrari GT California and a leopard print vest over a plain white T. No wonder he gets the prettiest girl in school. With the intrepid Principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) on his heels, trying to beat his parents and sister Jeannie (pre-nose job Jennifer Grey)home, he flies through the air in slow-motion and we can truly appreciate the vest in that long shot. Despite its simple framing, this pic is about so much more than just a kid skipping school, as referenced in his famous phrase (once even paraphrased by Barbara Bush) “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while, you just might miss it.” And wear a vest while you do it.

Chuck Norris in Lone Wolf McQuade

The beginning and end of 1983’s LONE WOLF MCQUADE are awesome, vintage Chuck Norris action scenes, and in both he’s wearing a tactical vest with the namestrip “McQuade” displayed prominently over the badge of a Texas Ranger. In the opening action sequence he saves a patrol of state police from murderous horse thieves (yes, horse thieves), walking down to them with the Texas sun behind him as he takes down a crew of at least 13 villains all by himself (the head horse thief also wears a vest). The final fight scene is against evil drug/gun runner Rawley Wilkes, played as the snake rather than the snake charmer in KILL BILL by David Carradine and the only person who can pull off a fight scene in an argyle V-neck sweater. The only thing that accentuates the scene more than McQuade’s vest is the score by Francesco De Masi, played as music we could swear we’ve heard in the Sergio Leone Westerns. As a side note: I am lobbying to make this film required viewing for all Texas Rangers (not the baseball players, the law enforcement personnel). This film makes me want to be one…as opposed to every episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars

The third installment in the trifecta is an iconic vest enthusiast, a man you know as Han Solo, played by some carpenter named Harrison Ford in the original release STAR WARS, later fully titled STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). We first see this smug smuggler in that dive bar on Tatooine, seated comfortably in his black vest on white shirt combo – that horrible music playing in the background – as he coolly guns down the bounty hunter Greedo… and yes we all know Han shot first. Solo later takes his black on white fashion combo (perhaps a metaphor for his moral ambiguity, if you’re into that sort of thing) to the Death Star to rescue and exchange sexually tense banter with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, who started dating Paul Simon at the release of this film, then later broke his heart. Bad form, Carrie). Han, of course, delivers the pinnacle exchange with Leia in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, as she says she loves him to which he only says “I know.” But he wore the vest more in A NEW HOPE, so that’s how we round out our evening.

So next time you’re sporting a sweater vest or rocking the three piece suit at some formal function and you notice you are in the vested minority, you go ahead and wear your vest with pride, knowing that great fictional men have worn them before you.

Time of trifecta: 332 minutes

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