“The Apartment” (MGM/UA, $14.95)
Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” (1960) doesn’t only use the “executive bowler” as a status symbol and its condition as a sign of its hero’s emotional health. Shirley MacLaine’s elevator operator Fran also notes that Jack Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter is the only man who has the courtesy to take his hat off while riding. Wilder proves that he understands the im-portance of hats as much as he understands how to make a great film.
“Drugstore Cowboy” (Artisan Entertainment, $14.98)
“Hats. OK? Hats. If I ever see a hat on a bed in this house, man, like, you’ll never see me again. I’m gone.”
“The Adventures of Indiana Jones” (Paramount Home Video, four discs, $69.99)
Harrison Ford’s adventurous anthropologist Indiana Jones’s fedora is so iconic that a Google search returns many web-sites selling replicas. Watch recurring gags throughout the trilogy and decide whether crushing your arm is worth a hat that cool—and see some sinister characters who are identi-fied in the credits only by their hats.
“Miller’s Crossing” (Twentieth Century Fox, $14.98)
It’s been said that one of the key elements of Joel and Ethan Coen’s films is the interesting use of (equally interesting) hats. “Miller’s Crossing” (1991), the brothers’ homage to gangster noir starring Gabriel Byrne, is the pinnacle of this hat-loving. Does each character’s hat tell you something about their personality, or does the meaning just blow away, like a hat in the windy woods?
“Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (Kino, $24.95)
In the first act of “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” (1928), one of Buster Keaton’s five best films (an elite selection) featuring the masterful cyclone sequence, the actor/director pulled out some surprise head gear. Instead of the trademark flat porkpie hat, Keaton’s character arrives in his father’s river town donning a beret, much to his old man’s chagrin. In his father’s effort to put his son into an acceptable hat, Keaton delivers a fast-paced, virtuoso hat-sampling session that even includes the hats of the silent comedian’s (inferior) contemporary rivals, Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin. Also check out Keaton’s “Our Hospitality” for 1830s period-related tall-hat jokes.