“You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby”. This breezy lyric, taken from Don Henley’s 1985 song “Boys of Summer” is not only part of a nostalgic tune about love, loss and sunny California, but an ode to Ray-Bans. From hit songs and Parisian runways to blockbuster movies, sunglasses might be our salvation against the UV rays of an August afternoon, but more often than not they are hip and cutting edge fashion statements.
In other words, we want our movie heroes and villains (yes, it’s also a Beach Boys reference) to be distinctly stylish and debonair. We want them standing under a palm tree wearing Tom Ford sunglasses, or a wild, rose-tinted pair of Oliver Peoples 523. If those heroes and villains aren’t stylish and debonair in a classic movie star way (think Tom Cruise), then chances are they’re wearing a pair of postmodern shades for a futuristic sci-fi or action film. Here are five movies, in no particular order or genre, that wouldn’t be the same without sunglasses.
1. Tom Cruise has been the good-looking poster boy and one-man ad campaign for Ray-Ban sunglasses for most of his career. It’s not just one Tom Cruise film that wouldn’t be the same without sunglasses, but three. Cruise debuted his boyish grin and laid-back charm in 1983s “Risky Business” and if there is one thing you can remember about that mediocre movie, other than Tom’s famous underwear dance to Bog Seeger, it’s the movie poster. Tom, with a pair of black Ray-Ban’s on the tip of nose, is seductively gazing out at the viewer. Cruise followed up “Risky Business” with “Top Gun” in 1986, and Maverick, the cocky, young jet fighter stud that Cruise portrays, is seldom seen without his stellar aviator shades. Completing the trifecta, Cruise once again put on the Ray-Bans in “Mission Impossible“.
2. From 1999 to 2003, the “Matrix” trilogy blew our collective minds. By seamlessly blending “Star Wars” style science fiction, Zen mythology and conspiracy theories, the original film was the ideal precursor to new millennium fears and anxieties. However, it was the weightless, Kung Fu action sequences and amped up style that made the film a hit. Sleek leather trench coats and cool sunglasses were the heart and soul of the film. If Morpheus, Trinity or Neo hadn’t put on sunglasses, the film wouldn’t have been the same.
3. Just like certain wine vintages, 1999 was a good year for sunglasses in movies. Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt in “Fight Club” was fond of rose-tinted Oliver Peoples sunglasses. Tyler Durden had such a unique fashion style that the movie would not be the same without his scuzzy, urban hipness. Part Sid Viscous Sex Pistol, part deranged surfer chic, Tyler Durden is an antihero who gained a cult following. Who says the clothes and sunglasses don’t make the man?
4. In “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” which came out in 1961, Audrey Hepburn wears one of the most iconic pair of sunglasses ever seen on the silver screen. In fact, the character Hepburn plays, Holly Golightly, is nothing if not a cutting edge fashionista. Her little black dress, elegant cigarette holder and oversized, Jackie O inspired sunglasses are timeless.
5. Apparently, cyborgs love sunglasses. At least Arnold Swarzenegger did in “The Terminator” his breakout sci-fi role. If you grew up in the 1980s, then you know that these aviator shades sparked a widespread cultural fad. Everyone had to have a pair. It didn’t matter if you were a Gordon Gekko style stockbroker on Wall Street, once you left the office you put on your Terminator shades.
“The future’s so bright, I gotta’ wear shades.” Whether you remember the song or not, this 1986 one hit wonder by Timbuk3 is a nice companion piece to Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” It seems the 1980s had some type of monopoly on sunglasses in films and songs. However, if the future is bright, who knows what sort of fashionable sunglasses will show up in the movies of tomorrow.
Andy Johnson creates movie based content on behalf of US Dish.