Forget Harry Potter’s prescription lenses or Brick Tops thick-rimmed spectacles. This week we’re looking at the five most iconic sunglasses in the movies.
And just so we’re clear, any glasses used specifically to improve the character’s vision are not being counted, that’s a list for another time. Today we’re focussing on eyewear that is worn for style & fashion.
A great character in a movie is defined by more than just the actor’s performance. You could be the greatest actor in the world but, if you don’t look the part, you’re never going to convince the audience. Some of the mentions on this list do exactly that, while others add to the movie as a whole and are integral to the plot.
Without further ado let’s get straight into it.
1) The Blues Brothers’ Wayfarers
“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
Arguably some of the coolest sunglasses ever made. Wayfarers have been in production since the 1950’s and have been worn by some of the greatest Hollywood legends of all time at some point or another.
But, it was John Landis’ 1980 classic The Blues Brothers starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi that cemented their reputation as some of the coolest shades around.
2) Raoul Duke’s Aviators
“What? No. We can’t stop here. This is bat country.”
Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp, follows Thompson’s alter-ego Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr Gonzo on a drug-fuelled road trip to Las Vegas to cover a fictional motorbike race.
Raoul Duke spends almost the entire movie wearing his orange-tinted Aviators that were reportedly Thompson’s own pair that he loaned to Johnny Depp for the role.
3) Roddy Piper’s Drifters
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
These glasses are slightly different to most of the other entries on this list. While they look like regular Ray Ban Drifters, they’re actually used to expose an alien race that has been secretly manipulating humanity to consume, breed and accept the status quo.
At least in John Carpenter’s 1988 film, They Live, anyway. Roddy Piper is the drifter that dons the alien-exposing eyewear and it’s hard to remember a time when discovering the world’s ruling classes were actually extraterrestrials looked so good.
4) Leon’s See-through Junior Gaultiers
“Revenge is not good. Once you’re done. Believe me.”
Luc Besson’s cult thriller about a hitman and his 12-year-old protegee has both leads sporting some pretty stylish shades. However, it’s Jean Reno’s Leon that stands out with his clear, Lennon-Esque Junior Gaultiers. The shades donned by Jean Reno recently fetched $8,320 in an auction in a clear display of how they were more than just a prop in this cult classic.
5) Holly Golightly’s Oliver Goldsmith Manhattans
“It’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes and things disappear.”
Possibly the most iconic sunglasses to ever grace the big screen, Holly Golightly’s Manhattan sunglasses are a defining feature of Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Spawning countless design imitations and influencing countless more, these sunglasses are the epitome of 1960’s high-class cool. Not only were they worn by one of the biggest stars of all time, Oliver Goldsmith has recently recreated and reissued the design so everybody can now have a taste of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s look.
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