I’ve always loved hats, ever since I was a kid, but if you asked me why, I couldn’t really tell ya. Something about the variety of hats, all the different shapes, sizes and styles, has always appealed to me. Someone once said “The clothes make the man,” and I have to agree, but no article of clothing can really “make” someone in my eyes the way a good hat can. Why, the Coen brothers even made a movie where the protagonist’s hat serves as a metaphor for everything that’s happening to him (Miller’s Crossing, seen above)! And sometimes, just sometimes, a character can make a hat so famous that they become forever associated with it.
What follows is a list of five characters from movies who are all known for their trademark headgear.
5. The Mad Hatter, Alice in Wonderland
What would this list be without the Mad Hatter? I mean, it’s right there in his name: he’s a hatter! While this fact didn’t really come into play in the original Alice in Wonderland animated movie, it’s actually featured pretty prominently in the live action Tim Burton movie. The Mad Hatter was no doubt inspired by the phrase “mad as a hatter”, which comes from the fact that hatters used to frequently get mercury poisoning as a result of using mercury to cure pelts used in hat making. The Mad Hatter’s chapeau of choice is a top hat with a card stuck in the band that reads “In this style 10/6”, meaning 10 shillings and six pence.
4. Robin Hood, various depictions
Robin Hood’s pointed cap with a feather in the brim is one of those hats that is so associated with the character that it’s sort of inextricably connected to the Sherwood Bandit. I’ve been unable to find any real information on the Robin Hood style of hat – it doesn’t even seem to have its own name – but I can tell you that typically this sort of hat has a rounded back and a pointed front, is often green or brown, and generally features a feather. The Robin Hood hat has been a part of the depiction of Robin Hood on film since forever. Even Douglas Fairbanks wore one! Other big screen Robin Hoods to wear the trademark hat include Errol Flynn, Cary Elwes, and even the animated Disney Robin Hood fox voiced by Brian Bedford!
3. Sherlock Holmes, various depictions
I’m not talking about the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock of last year’s Guy Ritchie movie, nor am I talking about Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock of the BBC mini-series of the same name. I’m talking about the classic, generic depiction of Holmes that became so popular so many years ago with the meerschaum pipe and the deerstalker cap. According to Wikipedia:
Holmes is never actually described as wearing a deerstalker by name in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but in The Adventure Of Silver Blaze, the narrator, Dr. John Watson, describes him as wearing “his ear-flapped travelling cap”, and in The Boscombe Valley Mystery, as wearing a “close-fitting cloth cap”. As the deerstalker is the only hat of the period matching both descriptions, it is not surprising that the original illustrations for the stories by Sidney Paget, Frederic Dorr Steele, and others depicted Holmes as a “deerstalker man”, which then became the popular perception of him.
Much like Robin Hood’s hat, the deerstalker became so associated with Holmes that many people today know it only as a “Sherlock Holmes hat”.
2. Oddjob, Goldfinger
Oddjob’s hat is so famous that it basically makes up the entirety of his character description. Sure, you could say that he’s Goldfinger‘s bodyguard, but what he’s best known for (other than being the shortest character in the Goldeneye video game) is his bladed bowler hat, which he can throw to decapitate his enemies! There’s really not much else to say about Oddjob, except that he was parodied in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery with the character Random Task who throws his shoe.
1. Indiana Jones, the Indiana Jones series
Indiana Jones is one of the greatest movie heroes of all time, and he wouldn’t be nearly as great without his whip and his hat. Indy’s brown fedora is such a part of what makes Indy awesome that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade features an entire opening sequence that leads up to revealing how he got his iconic chapeau! Not only that, but one of the many tropes of the Indiana Jones movies is how, no matter what situation he finds himself in, Indy always goes back for his hat.
BONUS: Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy’s entire outfit has become iconic within the horror genre, and his hat is an essential component. It’s really just a shabby, brown fedora, but it adds so much to his evil, wisecracking character. In fact, Freddy is the only horror movie slasher I can think of who even wears a hat! Because he’s more known for his bladed glove, there’s very little information as to why writer/director Wes Craven decided to give Freddy a hat, but for what it’s worth, in New Nightmare, Freddy’s hat is green instead of brown.
– Tom Reagan, Miller’s Crossing
– Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
– Bill the Butcher, Gangs of New York
– Popeye Doyle, The French Connection
– Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean
– Van Helsing, Van Helsing
– Colonel Kilgore, Apocalypse Now
– Dick Tracy, Dick Tracy
– Jake and Elwood Blues, The Blues Brothers
– V, V for Vendetta
– Zorro, various depictions
– Crocodile Dundee, Crocodile Dundee
– The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat
– Captain Hook, Hook
– Peter Pan, Peter Pan (animated)
– The Mask, The Mask
– Alex Delarge, A Clockwork Orange
– Gandalf, Lord of the Rings
– Magneto, X-Men