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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

The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

Yzma Cape

Oh, riiiight. The cape. The cape for Yzma. The cape chosen specially to be worn by Yzma. Yzma’s cape.

The Ten Commandments (1956)

Ten Commandments Cape

Nobody could rock a cape like Yul Brynner did in The Ten Commandments. Many tried. None succeeded. It’s easy for a cape to overtake its wearer — that certainly happened to Charlton Heston in this very film — but Brynner-as-Rameses whips his cape to his will like, well, he’s the goddamn Pharoah of Egypt. So let it be written. So let it be done.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)

Midsummer Night's Dream Cape

This particular version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by William Dieterle and Max Reinhardt, boasts positively sumptuous costumes designed by Max Rée, who retired shortly after this film. He worked steadily from the mid-’20 through the mid-’30 and after that has only one credit, on 1947’s Carnegie Hall. Once you’ve put Oberon, King of the Fairies in a cape so long it takes nearly a dozen seconds to pan down its length (as fairies cavort in the foreground, natch), it’s really best to quit while you’re ahead.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Another Dracula-adjacent cape that does not actually belong to Dracula. Sorry, Drac, but your cape game is boring. What can I say? You want to earn the respect of the cape-loving masses (there are dozens of us), I recommend picking up some orange gauze and a wind machine, used to such great effect by Lucy Westerna (Sadie Frost) in Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The costume designer on this film was the late, great Eiko Ishioka, whom you’ll see on this list again.

Salomé (1922), the decapitation cape

Salome Cape

I know I admitted up there in the intro that capes don’t have a practical purpose, and that that is what makes them great. However. Sometimes capes do have a practical purpose, as in the 1922 film Salomé, in which Alla Nazimova uses a cape to shield her from pesky voyeurs while she makes out with the decapitated head of John the Baptist. There’s an exception to every rule.

The Cell (2000)

Bow down to late costume designer Eiko Ishioka, who did all sorts of cool — and, in the case of The Cell, disturbing — stuff with capes. Tarsem Singh’s debut feature, about an FBI agent who enters the mind of a serial killer, is impeccably well-designed, up to and including a bondage-adjacent cape that tethers its wearer to the wall. It establishes the Demon King as some sort of horrific growth, emerging with malevolent purpose from the architecture of his host’s mind.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Lando Cape

Lando Calrissian may not have originated the space cape, but he perfected it, and no one’s been able to top the OG yet. Despite its striking colors, Lando’s space cape — one of two he wears in the original trilogy, though the one from Return of the Jedi isn’t that good — isn’t all that fancy, at least compared to some of the more elaborate movie capes to be found on this list. Then why it so awesome? Because, within the context of the movie it’s in, it mixes things up. Up to this point in the Star Wars trilogy, most of the outfits we’ve seen have been, if certainly not boring, at least lacking in a certain pizzazz. The outfits worn by the members of the Empire and the Rebellion are very military in nature. No one ever accused farmboy Luke Skywalker of knowing how to dress well. Chewbacca’s out there freeballing it. Even Han and Leia, the most fashionable of the OT characters, mostly dress in monochrome. And here strides Lando Calrissian into the galaxy far, far away, his cape making a singular announcement: I’m here to make things funky. And he does. And he did in Solo: A Star Wars Story, where Donald Glover continued the tradition of cape mastery.

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis Cape

Fritz Lang’s Metropolis hinges on the scene where an android copy of the sweet, virginal Maria seduces the men of the upper-class with a sinuous, sexy, vaguely intimidating dance number. And the dance number itself hinges on the cape she wears when she first arrives on-stage. Gossamer thin and backlit, the slobbering dancehall audience — and us, watching nearly a century later — can see right through the cape to Maria’s near-naked form, providing an instant contrast against her human counterpart’s more demure attire.

Dishonored (1931)

Marlene Dietrich Dishonored Cape

One of early film history’s most fruitful collaborations was that between Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg, who directed the actress in seven films throughout the 1930s. In Dishonored, Dietrich plays an Austrian spy who uses her wit and wiles to screw over some Russians. And what’s perfect spy attire if not a sequined cape, accessorized with sequined gloves, a black sequined minidress, and elbow spikes? James Bond could never.

Cleopatra (1934)


The earliest Cleopatra-related movie on this list (following the Elizabeth Taylor-starring Cleopatra and 1973’s Cleopatra Jones, related only in name) is also the best, at least when it comes to movie capes. In The Sign of the Cross, Cecil B. DeMille famously put Claudette Colbert in a milk bath. Two years later, he swaddled her in substantially more fabric as the famed Egyptian Queen. You know a cape is good when it takes no fewer than seven handmaidens to wrangle it. This, right here, is what a cape should be: dramatic, sumptuous, regal, and likely to kill you if you try to walk downstairs while wearing it. The cream of the cape crop.

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