Hats are the unsung heroes of cinematic costume design. They could be a toque on a chef, a newsboy cap on a newsboy, or even a towel wrapped around a woman fresh out of the shower. They shield our head from sunlight, keep hair out of our customer’s food, and keep our heads warm when it’s kind of cold outside.

Hats have a vivid and rich history in Hollywood. It’s no coincidence that the Golden Age of Hollywood coincided with the Golden Age of American Hats. It’s also no coincidence that Cowboys and Aliens, an incredibly bad film, was released during a period in America when the only people wearing hats were people in nightclubs and Ryan Murphy.

I have just proven the correlation between hat prevalence and the quality of films Hollywood produces. Let us now take a trip down hat-memory lane by looking at 9 iconic hats in film history and the heads that they covered.

Thomas Crown’s Bowler Hat

Ever the symbol of refinement, this particular bowler hat first surfaces in The Thomas Crown Affair as a reference to Magritte’s famed painting “The Great War.” In a sly nod to the intimation that Thomas Crown is nothing more than an anonymous businessman, he completes his final heist at the Met using dozens of similarly dressed men, all wearing bowler hats.

I don’t appreciate that this film implies a correlation between bowler hat-wearing and criminal activity; rather, I prefer to think of the correlation as between bowler hat-wearing and having sex with Rene Russo, which Thomas Crown also does.

Crocodile Dundee’s Alligator Skin Cowboy Hat

“G’day, friend-o! Let’s barbecue some shrimp on the grill!”

In Crocodile Dundee, a rugged outback hero collides with urban living as a reporter takes him back to the States in order to complete a story she is writing on him. His hat is black with a wide brim. It features an alligator band and has alligator teeth arrange around it in symmetrical fashion. This hat is both rugged and pleasing to the eye. So much so, actually, that I tried to recreate it using a baseball cap to which I scotch-taped all my saved baby teeth and wore for a year. The fact that I was 28 and gainfully employed when I did this led to several human resources complaints, and ultimately my own office.

Overall, a wonderful hat.

Oddjob’s Bowler Hat

Oddjob’s hat, like Thomas Crown’s is a black bowler hat. Also like Thomas Crown, Oddjob’s wearing of this hat conjures up images of criminal activity, as its razor sharp metal edges were used to kill people in the James Bond film Goldfinger. People should not be killed, nor bowler hats thrown. When they’re not resting on a man’s head, they should be placed in a hat box to maintain both their shape and cleanliness. Oddjob’s reckless hat behavior should not be celebrated, but it should be remembered so as not to be repeated by future generations.

Alex’s Bowler Hat

Yet again, the bowler hat is linked to criminal behavior, this time by the character Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s film adapation of A Clockwork Orange. Though Alex beats people to death and rapes women, at no point does he throw his hat at anyone, which is a marginal improvement on the behavior displayed by Oddjob. Also, I’m not sure Asians should wear hats.

Anyway, Alex wears the bowler as part of a bizarre ensemble that features a codpiece, one false eyelash, and suspenders. However, the bowler hat pulls the bizarre elements together for a smart ensemble that I dress my children in when we go to church.

Scott Farkas’ Coonskin Cap

During the heyday of Davey Crockett’s legacy (the late 40’s and 50’s), there was much to celebrate: Crockett’s legendary stand at the Alamo, his embodiment of the spirit of the frontier and exploration, and also his ability and willingness to gut a dead animal and place it on his head.

Scott Farkas sullies this lore in A Christmas Story by picking on Ralphie while wearing the coonskin cap. He is a horrible, mean boy, and if I was his parent, I would take away his coonskin cap until he proved himself capable of being a better person.

Cousin Itt’s Bowler Hat

Finally, an instance of a lauded film character wearing a hat (a bowler, no less!) with dignity and grace. The Addams Family's Cousin Itt wears this classic headwear as it was meant to be worn, forgoing rape and murder, instead opting for some pleasant, gentle squeaking.

I’ve said my whole life that Cousin Itt is a true class act, and nowhere is that more apparent than with the style and respect in which he dons this handsome, handsome bowler atop his crown.

King George VI’s Bowler Hat

Who can forget Colin Firth absolutely OWNING that bowler hat-look in The King’s Speech. He wore it in the fine style that only an Englishman could. I’m torn about all the contexts beyond Mr. Firth’s head, as his character, King George VI, was a respected man of state, no doubt, but was also suffering from a speech impediment. After thinking about the net effect here, I would say that a King with a speech impediment is pretty much equal to a regular American that has worked at an H&R Block for two years, but has never been promoted.

Not great, not horrible. I don’t feel as though this bolsters the bowler’s credibility as a hat of stature and dignity, but I don’t feel that it does much to sully the storied legacy of it, either.

Mr. Ernst’s Cowboy Hat

For those unaware, Mr. Ernst was the city slicker-cum-ranch owner in the Nickelodeon TV program Hey Dude. I didn’t want to expand this list to television as well, but I would be remiss if I was to hold a discussion about the most important hats in entertainment and didn’t cite the Hey Dude patriarch’s dutiful adornment of the most American of headwear, the cowboy hat. No actor personifies the cowboy persona onscreen more than David Brisbin did during the 63-episode run of the seminal western.

Many have tried to wear the cowboy hat with aplomb before and since, but none have captured the look the way that Benjamin Ernst did for three glorious years.

Short Round’s New York Yankees Baseball Cap

Forget what I said about Asians not being allowed to wear hats. I changed my mind. Perhaps no hat is more iconic in film than Short Round’s baseball cap. It’s hard to divorce the character from the hat, as both are ingrained in our minds, indicative of the spirit of adventure in a way that no other prop or article of clothing from The Temple of Doom (or any othe Indiana Jones film) could ever possibly do.

If I’m not mistaken, it’s on display at the Smithsonian, forever tied to American culture.

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