While working through several iconic items related to action/adventure films, I was a bit stunned when I heard someone reference ‘the Barbra Streisand hat’ a few weeks ago. My mind immediately jumped to one of my favorite all-time comedies, knowing very well that the specific image in my head would NOT be whatever we had in the warehouse. When I turned to view ‘the hat’, which was shelved rather innocuously behind me, I was again stunned to see it was exactly what I had pictured: the feathered “disguise” hat worn by Barbra Streisand in the classic Peter Bogdanovich comedy What’s Up, Doc? The 1972 film, an homage to 30s screwball comedies like Bringing Up Baby, was a big hit for the young director and cemented his reputation as a “nostalgic visionary.”
Fans of the film will remember the flamboyant hat, worn by Streisand (as quirky Judy Maxwell), during the spirited chase through San Francisco at the film’s climax. As Judy and her reluctant partner-in-crime Howard (Ryan O’Neal) attempt to sort out a collection of lookalike suitcases, they are chased through the winding streets of the city by an assortment of daffy eccentrics, each of whom has a stake in the bags. Both characters run into a costume shop – and quickly leave wearing questionable outfits that are anything but inconspicuous. Howard exits in a matador suit, while Judy dons Elizabethan attire (complete with the gaudy feathered hat). While not as iconic as the plaid newsboy cap she wears at the beginning of the film, the comedic feathered chapeaux is more than just a colorful sight gag. It’s an extension of her character’s clever, one-step-ahead veracity and a symbol of the kind of brave cinematic comedy that simply doesn’t exist today.
Tales from the Prop House – Every month, our Entertainment catalogers report some of the amazing things they’ve seen in our warehouse. This month, Paul Bisnette writes about a complete stormtrooper costume from The Mandalorian, Julio Leyva writes about Brad Pitt’s cowboy hat from Thelma and Louise, Bradley Harding talks about Barbara Streisand’s iconic hat from What’s Up Doc? Macy Shackleford writes about Julia Roberts’ Tinkerbell costume from Hook, and Colin Tait writes about Dennis Hopper’s bomb from Speed.