Since we have a special custom order page,in which you can literally request to have any hat in the world re-created by us, we are asked all the time what makes us pick specific hats to put on our website. There’s three reasons, actually. First we like to put up hats that we had a “hand” in creating. Second, we put up hats that we just happen to love, and third, we put up hats for which we’ve had lots and lots of requests.
The “R.J.”, inspired by the “mutated Campaign hat” that Kurt Russell wears in the John Carpenter remake of “The Thing” falls into the third category. A week doesn’t go by when someone doesn’t either come into our shop, or e-mails us about making this one-of-a-kind!
It’s rather fascinating, since the hat actually has a short life span in the film. It is seen only in a few shots in the first act when Russell goes off to see the crashed saucer in the snow crater, and never appears again (see the film clips below).
Yet, it is so strange and unique, that it burns into the memory of those who have seen the film. Many times we will get calls or e-mails from people who haven’t seen the movie in years, yet still remember the hat! Stunningly bizarre, or just strikingly original hats seem to have that effect. There are many examples of such hats that we remember so well, yet, in fact, have actually had only “cameo’s” in their respective films. Audrey Hepburn’s pink scarfed black beauty from “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” comes to mind, as does Diane Keaton’s “smashed crown” homburg in “Annie Hall”, or Sean Connery’s dramatic Broad-brimed open crown Fedora in “League of Extraordinary Gentleman”.
Kurt Russell’s hat may symbolically be a foreshadowing of “things” to come. The story is about an alien that mutates into the form of the person (or animal) it enters, changing it into a grotesque version of the original. And the hat seems to have gone through the same transformation. Its’ origins comes from the classic US Army’s “Campaign Hat” that was popular in the early 1900’s, what with the “Montana Peek”, and wide brim. But something has happened to this hat on the way to Kurt Russell’s head! The crown has been elongated, and the brim has been boxed and “flutter-squared” on all four sides, making it into something almost “extraterrestrial”!
It is finished with a rough, double-layered leather hatband with a center hand-woven “arrow weave” braiding, and “cinch strap” stampede strings, that hang loosely at their ends, and tie like a chin-ribbon. These overlong “stings” allow Russell to keep the hat firmly on his head in the harrowing winds of the ice desert, or the blades of his helicopter, and also lets the hat also hang macho-like on his back.
In its day, “The Thing” was, like the hat itself, quite controversial. The movie was based in part on an original short story by John Campbell, Jr., called “Who Goes There?”, along with the original Howard Hawk’s (and co-director Chris Nyby) movie of 1951 entitled “The Thing From Another World”, written by Charles Lederer, with help from Hawks, and legendary writers Ben Hecht and William Faulkner.
Both the short story and the original moviehad political overtones of their times. McCarthyism was poisoning the country, and especially Hollywood, creating a cancer of paranoia, and mistrust with friend and foe alike, causing good men and women to become victims and casualties to this disease. So many a writer and director reacted by protesting this madness by subtly referencing it in their films, usually in the form of science fiction. In addition to “The Thing”, such classics as “Forbidden Planet”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Invaders From Mars”, and “The Day The Earth Stood Still” are other examples of movies that used their themes to bring out the insanity of the kind of reactionary political fear-mongering that was “invading” our very democracy.
“The Thing’s” Co-Producer, Stuart Cohen, who had gone to USC Film School with John Carpenter, had always loved the original story and movie, and convinced Carpenter to do a remake. In fact, Cohen wanted to go back to the original title, and call this remake “Who Goes There?”
What made the film so controversial in 1982 has less to do with its storyline, and more to do with the genius of special effects makeup artist Rob Bottin, who created the literally eye-popping “mechanical” effects. The father of slime and bubbling skin (he studied under the master Rick Baker), no one had seen the kind of “transformations” on the screen that he created in this film before. Audience members were either riveted to their seats, or went screaming from the theater. Critics mostly panned the film (originally anyway, many have since recanted and now praise it), and it did not create “box office heat” in its initial release. However, like so many films that dare to be innovative and stretch, if not rip apart the status qua, it began to find its audience in revival shows, and then on video and DVD. It is now considered a landmark film, and a downright classic.
And with that new found reputation, the hat has also taken on almost mythical proportions! Therefore we are proud to offer “The R.J.”, inspired by Kurt Russell’s original.
The “R.J.” can be ordered in either 100% Western Weight Fur Felt, or the original production exclusive 200XXX 100% Beaver. Both come with an engraved leather sweatband, silk-satin lining, our special Lifetime Guarantee, and a Signed and Numbered Certificate of Authenticity. It can also be ordered with our Four Payment FlexPay Plan. There is no interest or fee for this service, and the hat goes into production after the very first payment is received.
And because of the unique power this hat holds in “The Thing”, Baron is pleased to include, as a gift to you, a factory-sealed DVD of the movie!
You can also have your custom R.J. crafted “new”, or “aged” as was the production hat, to make it look like you too have been “through the wars” with it. The aging process is a special secret technique developed by Baron Hats ir motion picture and TV production hats, and gives the “impression” of being “aged” without actually effecting the integrity of the furs.
The R.J. isn’t for everyone. Like the characters in “The Thing”, this is a hat for rough individualists, who know what they like, and like what they know, and the hell with what the world thinks!
Because of the unique power this hat holds in “The Thing”, Baron is pleased to include, as a gift to you, a factory-sealed DVD of the movie!
Our Classic Reproductions hats are custom hand-made-to-order, so please allow approximately EIGHT WEEKS FOR DELIVERY. If you must have the hat sooner, e-mail us for special Rush Delivery prices and your delivery date needs to: email@example.com
PLEASE NOTE: HATS PURCHASED VIA FLEXPAY WILL NOT BE SHIPPED UNTIL ALL PAYMENTS HAVE BEEN RECEIVED
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By submitting this order you understand, agree and accept all conditions as set forth in our Service Agreement, including, but not limited to our custom hat refund policy. Unless otherwise noted, shipping dates as they appear on your invoice, are approximations. Conditions beyond our control including, but not limited to availability of special custom materials can effect completion dates.
Interested in having the hat in a different color than the original? E-Mail us with your color choice and we’ll let you know if we can custom craft it in that color for you.