5 Type Classes We Can Be taught from Francis Ford Coppola’s Movies

As a recipient of five Academy Awards, six Golden Globes, two Palmes d’Or, and a BAFTA, it’s safe to say that Francis Ford Coppola knows a thing or two about cinema. Coppola’s five-decade career (and count), which saw his first success in 1968 with the release of his fantasy film Finian’s Rainbow, has branched him into just about every film genre: crime, drama, horror, romance, as you call it – and Such a set of fictional settings means that his films are a key point of contact for teaching men’s clothing from a stylistic point of view.

The most obvious point of reference, of course, is The Godfather: Coppola’s prestigious film series that has taken bespoke ensembles to a whole new level thanks to Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Robert De Niro (more on that in a moment). In fact, cropping is Coppola’s least on-screen skill, as a look at his archives confirms that his male protagonists wear everything from evening wear and outerwear to military equipment and double denim. In short, his films tick every essential part of a masculine wardrobe by the way, and most importantly, they show how to wear clothes with serious pizazz.

That’s why we looked at the aforementioned theme of style on his screen. Here are five of his best-dressed characters and the most important items they should steal from their closets …

Marlon Brando in the godfather

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Marlon Brando’s Spearpoint Shirt in The Godfather (1972)

The first is the first: the godfather. Arguably Coppola’s most famous film, the 1972 crime drama, was influenced by Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel of the same name, but Coppola brought with him a vision that revealed some of the greatest tailoring cinemas ever seen. Most obviously through the godfather himself: Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. Applause for every item of clothing he wears is deserved, but praise goes especially to his crisp white shirts with spearhead collars: sharp, structured and assertive. This is the quickest way to reinforce a well-made suit, and for a touch of Corleone pizazz, make sure a patterned tie sits in the middle.

Martin Sheen on the set of the film Apocalypse Now

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Martin Sheen’s military equipment in Apocalypse Now (1979)

Style may not have been a priority for Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now, but that doesn’t mean his clothes were bad. On the contrary. Getting thrown in the middle of a war zone meant camouflage was his primary focus, and Sheen’s nebulous way of wearing his gear resulted in an unintentionally stylish case for military clothing. The standout product has to be his forest shirt, which in a booming summer environment (hopefully this year with us) goes best with straight-lined white jeans and suede desert boots. Just make sure it’s a little loose and unbuttoned for maximum shine.

Gene Hackman on the set of The Conversation

Gene Hackman on the set of The Conversation

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Gene Hackman’s car coat in The Conversation (1974)

Coppola’s 1974 cinematic hit was The Conversation, a mystery thriller that follows surveillance agent Harry Caul (played by Gene Hackman) on the tail of a young couple through San Francisco. It’s worth a watch for Coppola’s masterful exploration of technology and paranoia, but also for Gene Hackman’s classic detective wardrobe. Leather oxfords, tailored twill pants, and button-down shirts are sealed in a beige, single-breasted car coat – the most effortless outerwear to turn to regardless of season or year. And given this timelessness, there is only one brand to buy it from (new or old): Burberry.

Robert De Niro in The Godfather

Robert De Niro in The Godfather

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Robert De Niro’s extravagant tailoring in The Godfather Part II (1974)

The 1972 release of The Godfather was so successful that Coppola immediately began a sequel, and just two years later his leading gangsters were back to serve some serious scandals in style. Al Pacino was at the center of the Corleone Empire, but our cloakroom call from this one has to go to Robert De Niro for his flawless, flamboyant suits. Just look at the curved lapels in the scene above for proof. Similar to Edward Sexton, adding a touch of panache to your tailoring will add some serious post-pandemic fun (as long as it’s legal; leave the crime to Coppola’s characters).

Rob Lowe, Thomas C. Howell, Patrick Swayze and Tom Cruise on the set of The Outsiders

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Anyone Americana in the Outsiders (1983)

And finally The Outsiders. Picking a single character from Coppola’s 1983 teen drama is difficult because the central group of boys (officially known as “greaser”) are united by a common approach to style – casual, trodden, and dominated by a certain texture : Denim. As a symbol of American fashion, each character hugs the fabric in the form of jeans and is combined with a variety of other classic items of clothing: from leather jackets to plaid shirts to t-shirts with a round neckline and denim vests. Brawls aside, this one is sure to change your mind about the double denim dilemma, and if you’re like us, you’ll be embracing it all summer.