From Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire to Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, we show you where to buy the coolest movie T-shirts of all time...
Some of the most iconic T-shirts in history have dazzled us first on the big screen. Think of a surly, pumped-up Brando – all testosterone and attitude – in A Streetcar Named Desire. Would the classic white T-shirt be the timeless classic it is today without its rocket-fuelled, 24 frames-per-second start?
Or Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club. Who else could make the kaleidoscopic mash-up of T-shirts of opposed eras and styles look so effortlessly cool?
So sit back, graze the tub of popcorn and enjoy the main feature: the coolest T-shirts ever from the movies…
Parental Advisory T-shirt
Ron Shelton’s iconic sports movie may be over 20 years old, and dimly remembered this side of the Atlantic, but the RIAA sticker warning of ‘explicit content’ (formerly lyrics) is still with us. Woody Harrelson wore his battered white T with a relaxed nonchalance entirely in keeping with his ‘stick it to the man’ image. He was, and is, cool as a frickin’ cucumber – as is this T-shirt.
The Classic White T-shirt
The classic white T-shirt symbolises the American working man: tough, rough and to the point. When that iconic shirt is filled by the brooding musclarity of Marlon Brando in his physical prime, the iconic meter goes up to 11. Hugely influential – not least on James Dean – it’s also timeless in its classic simplicity.
Krazy Kat T-shirt
Director Quentin Tarantino tried to find the ‘dorkiest’ T-shirts available for the assassins played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, who ended up wearing a neon blue Tee featuring the forgotten comic strip Krazy Kat. But such is the coolness of Jackson’s persona, that he has actually made this T-shirt into a style icon of its own.
The Punisher Skull T-shirt
The Punisher’s skull icon has the advantage of being a genius piece of graphic design, and this is used to great effect in Thomas Jane’s broody portrayal of the vengeful Frank Castle. True Punisher fans will point you to the 2013 short The Punisher: Dirty Laundry to see the full-fate, ultra-gory version of the character and his apparel. Of course, we now have a brand new take on the broody vigilante with Jon Bernthal in the 2nd series of Marvel’s Daredevil. We have to wait until the very end to see him spray paint the skull onto his black T-shirt, but boy was it worth it…
New York Herald Tribune T-shirt
Jean Seberg was probably the coolest woman in the world when she played the gamine, crop-topped girlfriend to Jean-Paul Belmodo’s ill-fated gangster in Truffaut’s A bout de Souffle (aka Breathless). The Herald Tribune T-shirt she wore helped define her modern, boundary-blurring (both gender and geographic) appeal. The newspaper brand may have disappeared, but the x-factor it created lives on.
Vote For Pedro T-shirt
Jon Heder’s Napoleon Dynamite is a masterly comic creation, and his electioneering T-shirt for best buddy Pedro will bring a smile to the lips of millennials across the planet. Why should we vote for Pedro, again? “Well, you have a sweet bike. And you’re really good at hooking up with chicks. Plus you’re like the only guy at school who has a moustache.”
Death Before Disco T-Shirt
Stripes was an early Bill Murray comedy about a couple of stoners who join the army, with a talented cast including Sean Young, Harold Ramis, John Candy and a young Judge Reinhold. Reinhold wears the top when he’s hauled up before his drill sergeant after an unfortunate mud wrestling episode. The message – a riff on the military ‘Death Before Dishonour’ slogan – is as appropriate today as it was 36 years ago.
Tyler Durden 'Sock it to Me' T-shirt
We could have picked any of Brad Pitt’s amazing T-shirts in Fight Club, but the Sock It To Me is the only one of these vintage designs to be readily available today. It combines his eclectic sense of style with a slogan that echoes the sado-machismo at the heart of the film. Get one, then get a sweet red leather jacket and yellow sunglasses to accessorise.
Peace Through Superior Firepower
“Peace through superior firepower”, the slogan on Private Frost’s T-shirt, has been the doctrine underpinning US foreign policy for a100 years. It’s an oxymoron that was unsubtly undermined in James Cameron’s Aliens movie. His satirical lodestone was the Vietnam war – although assymetrical warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan since as only enhanced its edge. Of course, it also helps that the M41A Pulse Rifle is a cool piece of kit, even if it’s next to useless when you’re inside a nuclear reactor – as Pte. Frost discovered to his cost.
We’re cheating a little, here, as Belushi’s iconic frat boy top was a sweatshirt rather than a T-shirt. Still, students who ape ‘Bluto’s’ neanderthalic antics such as chugging a full bottle of Jack Daniels or pretending to be a zit are unlikely to quibble about sartorial details like this. Altogether now: “Toga! Toga! Toga!”.