Filmmakers nowadays try to astound and delight us with a combination of smart scripts, impressive costumes, eye-popping production design, and state-of-the-art special effects. In short, they’ll do anything to get us to part with our hard-earned cashola for a few hours of escapism at the local multiplex.
But every once in a while there’s a movie that impresses us more with its spectacles than its spectacle. Occasionally there are celluloid characters who can crank up a movie by a few cinematic notches simply by donning a pair of sunglasses and slipping effortlessly from plain old movie character and into the realm of cinematic legend.
Here then, are eight of the hippest, coolest, inimitable (although many have tried) spec-wearers in the history of the movies.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban 3025 Large Aviator
As Worn By: Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986)
An iconic movie, an iconic character, and an iconic use of shades, Tom Cruise’s Maverick may have been a top pilot and daring Navy flyer who learned probably a bit more than he should from his female instructor, but he had female audiences swooning in the aisles with his laid-back charm and sunglasses-wearing chic. According to Time magazine, Ray-Ban Aviator sales shot up 40% because of their appearance in the film.
Sunglasses: Oliver Goldsmith
As Worn By: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)
Few actresses have been able to carry off such sophistication, grace and unique coolness as Audrey Hepburn. The film’s a classic and the wistfully nostalgic tune of Moon River may have been a hit, but it’s Hepburn’s portrayal of kooky socialite Holly Golightly – in particular wearing a pair of black Wayfarer-style Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses – that remains an unforgettable image.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban 2027 & 2030 Predator
As Worn By: Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black (1997)
If you’re going to protect the Earth from the scum of the universe, chances are you’ll want to do it in style. The Ray-Ban wrap frames were given the uber-cool treatment when worn by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Barry Sonnenfeld’s classic intergalactic comedy adventure. They were on the posters and even got a mention in Will Smith’s Men In Black song (“..the black suits with the black Ray-Bans on”). Unsurprisingly, sales for these cool face adornments shot through the roof when the film was released.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban 4089 Balorama
As Worn By: Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry (1971)
Clint Eastwood has had a long and illustrious career in front of and behind the camera, but it’s as the tough, uncompromising San Francisco cop, Harry Callahan, that his hard-talking, no-nonsense approach ushered in a new breed of cop and fresh style of sunglasses-wearing cool. Over five movies he administered his unique brand of strictly not-by-the-book law enforcement, and his badass rep was aided no end by (at the time) the first wrap style Ray-Ban 4089 Balorama. Forty years on, he’s still cooler than a polar bear’s toenails.
As Worn By: Dan Aykroyd and James Belushi in The Blues Brothers (1980)
Whereas Jake and Elwood Blues were a revival of John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd’s R&B singing ex-cons, so the Ray-Ban Wayfarer – created in the early 50s but having fallen out of fashion – was given a new lease of life thanks to this movie. With sharp suits and accompanied by a plethora of top R&B singers, these Ray-Ban wearing rebels – on a ‘mission from God’ – were made infinitely cool and the stuff of cult legend.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Orange and Golds
As Worn By: Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
If you’re going to travel to Las Vegas in a 1971 red Chevrolet on a series of drunken, acid-fuelled, and crazily hallucinogenic adventures, then you may as well do it in style. And that style came in the form of a pair of Ray-Ban Orange and Gold sunglasses as worn by Raoul Duke (aka Hunter S Thompson, aka Johnny Depp) as he and his psychotic lawyer traversed the wide open spaces in search of the American Dream. Quirky and yet so suitably and inescapably Thompson-esque.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Wayfarers
As Worn by: Mr White in Reservoir Dogs (1992)
As crime caper and gangster flick have shown us in movie land time and time again, being a criminal or gangster isn’t only about ultra-violence, screaming the f-word, or slicing a hostage’s ear off with a switchblade. It’s also about looking cool. And that comes in the, literally, white-heat of coolness oozed with effortless ease by Harvey Keitel’s Mr White. In a shoot-out, he even uses two guns to fire at his attackers. Not THAT’S cool.
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Predator 2 Wrap Tortoise
As Worn By: Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 (1991)
It takes a certain kind of sunglasses to be able to weather the storms of cyborg time travel, multiple gunfights, police station shoots outs, and self-performed robo-arm surgery. But if any kind eye-protective acetate is up to the job, then it’s a pair of Ray-Ban Predator 2. He may be a good Terminator, he may have befriended a floppy-haired whippersnapper, and he may have uttered he now immortal aphorism, “I’ll be back.” But wearing these sunglasses, he’s still irrefutably cool and kick-ass (especially when wearing them riding his Harley).
So if you fancy replicating the hard-edged look of a tough urban cop or the dainty sophistication of a New York socialite, it doesn’t have to be expensive – even a pair of decent, cheap Ray-Ban sunglasses can nudge you a few steps closer to celluloid superstardom style.
Can you think of any other film stars or movie characters that look good in a pair of shades? Share in the comments.Image by Joanneteh_32