Lists · Movies

The 60 Greatest Capes in Movie History

From Cleopatra to Lando Calrissian, we showcase the greatest movie capes.
Best Movie Capes
Columbia Pictures
By  · Published on August 1st, 2018

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Krennic Cape

Darth Vader’s cape is not on this list because it’s a boring cape. I’m sorry, but that’s what it is. There are no real design details and not a single sequin. What are we doing? Orson Krennic’s cape from Rogue One is on this list because it tells us he is a nerd. To elaborate: He is the only Imperial officer to wear a cape. It’s not part of the standard uniform. He had to order that shit special. Probably had to pay for it out of pocket. Costs $10 extra if you want blind stitching on the hem instead of regular. Orson Krennic specifically requested that his outfit include a cape because he thinks it makes him look important, or he’s a Darth Vader fanboy, or both. Either way: nerrrrrrrrrd.

Funny Face (1957)

Funny Face Blue

Anybody else wearing this cape would look like an utter dingbat. It’s a giant, neon, taffeta condom. It is an objectively ridiculous item of clothing, yet somehow, some way, Audrey Hepburn is pulling it off.

Christopher Strong (1933)

Christopher Strong Moth Cape

The crisp, wide-legged pantsuit might be the outfit most commonly associated with Katharine Hepburn, but let us not forget the time she dressed up like a moth in Dorothy Arzner’s Christopher Strong. It was for a costume party, OK? And instead of wings, she wore a long, sheer cape. Look, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I am not one of those people who can say no to sequins.

The Velvet Vampire (1971)

Velvet Vampire Cape

Lesbian vampires — well, a bisexual female vampire, in this case — are better at wearing capes than their boring-ass straight male counterparts. Exhibit A: 1971’s The Velvet Vampire, starring Celeste Yarnall as Diane LeFanu, hot, rich bloodsucker who just wants to seduce married couples and… live in the desert, for some reason? Look, The Velvet Vampire wasn’t particularly clear on where it stood re: the intricacies of vampire mythology, but it did give us a kicky ‘70s cape that at least provides Diane with some sun protection.

Flash Gordon: Purple Death from Outer Space (1936)

Flash Gordon Batwing Cape

The 1930s serial Flash Gordon, about an Earthman (Buster Crabbe) who periodically ventures to outer space to fight an evil space monarch, was a major influence on Star Wars. The opening scroll and the wipes between scenes are straight Flash Gordon, for one thing. And both franchises are heavy — very heavy — on the capes. One cape that never made it to the galaxy far, far away was Flash Gordon’s “batwing cape.” A normal-looking garment, it enables a human-shaped doll its wearer to be dropped from a table or something, I dunno jump from high distances and still have a relatively soft landing. It’s the hang-glider cape from Nolan’s Batman trilogy, only much, much cheesier.

The Women (1939)

Joan Crawford The Women Cape

Joan Crawford is the LeBron James of wearing capes. This particular cape isn’t anything really special — we see a lot of similar fur capes in 1930s cinema. But my God, how Crawford could wear clothes. That turn. The way the cape sliiiiiides off her shoulder, perfect for the character she’s playing: a more modern “bad girl” foil to the rest of the women who make up this film’s cast. For another great Crawford cape, check out The Bride Wore Red Cape dresses still count.

Lili (1953)

Capewatch Lili

Many of the capes you’ll see in films are associated with professions: nurses, soldiers, postmen, police officers and the like. In Charles Walters’ Lili, in which an adult woman who doesn’t seem to realize that puppets aren’t real (??????) joins the circus, we get a ringmaster cape, wielded with astonishing pizzazz by Jean-Pierre Aumont. As a bonus, it has the power to make Zsa Zsa Gabor appear and disappear.

Once Upon a Time (2017)

Once Upon A Time Phoenix Fire Cape

Once Upon a Time is a Chinese fantasy epic with middling special effects, an overlong runtime, and a boatload of really colorful capes. This one, worn by a phoenix god, has feathers and a tulle overlay and a flame motif. It’s Lisa Frank on crack.

Now, Voyager (1943)

Now Voyager Cape

This Now, Voyager cape, designed by Orry-Kelly, isn’t so over-the-top as some of the other capes on this list, but it benefits from being extremely Plot-Relevant. To wit: Mousy Charlotte (Bette Davis) has always been kept under the thumb of her controlling mother. A doctor suggests she get to therapy, like, yesterday. The final step of her therapy is a cruise, where Charlotte unveils her brand new self, complete with a sense of confidence bolstered by the fact that her clothes no longer suck. The cape Orry-Kelly designed for Charlotte ties the two “halves” of her being together perfectly; its silhouette is slim, classic and unfunny, yet there are still some sparkly embellishments symbolizing its wearer’s newfound willingness to stand out amongst the crowd.

Madam Satan (1930)

Madam Satan

I regret to inform you that Cecil B DeMille’s Madam Satan is not 90 minutes of actresses posing with capes dramatically on stairs. Like Bette Davis’ Now, Voyager cape, this cape — worn by Kay Johnson — is a “look at me now, I’m a bad bitch” cape. Angela (Johnson) has been made aware that her husband is having an affair with a more “modern” woman, so of course she shows up to a costume ball (on a dirigible!), dressed as a Satan worshipper, with a cape for the dramatic reveal. Isn’t that what they teach you in couples’ counseling?

Next Page

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Related Topics: ,