Great Moments in Movies: Bruce Dern’s Costumes in Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood

There’s a lot of love for Bruce Dern at the moment. A starring role in the Alexander Payne-directed dramedy Nebraska won Dern the Best Actor award at Cannes earlier this year and the New York Times published a pretty big write-up about Dern this past weekend. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is also doing an amusingly titled “Hot Dern!” retrospective, featuring films like The King of Marvin Gardens, Smile and Coming Home, starting in a few days. All of this critical attention is wonderful, but I’d like to turn the focus to one of Dern’s finest films, the 1976 comedy Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood. Best known as the film which features cameos from dozens of old-timey movie stars (everyone from Dorothy Lamour to Victor Mature to Milton Berle), the real highlight is the elaborate wardrobe donned by Bruce Dern. (Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out who designed these terrific clothes or else I would credit him/her.) Let’s take a look at a dozen of Dern’s finest costume changes.

The same outfit featured in the first photo: an excellent argyle-vest-and-plaid-trouser ensemble with argyle socks and spats. It’s hard to see the details of the shirt (probably easiest in the photo at the top of the page), but the vertical line pattern there is just another interesting element.

Is that not a great paisley tie? The checkered shirt is a nice touch as well.

One of Dern’s many outfits while his character is busy directing and producing films.

Another fine directing outfit.

I love the attention to detail shown in these suits, shirts, ties and hats.

Another fine tie, paired with spats, a three-piece suit and a stylishly striped shirt.

One of the film’s best outfits, a safari-inspired look complete with hat and neckerchief.

The white shoes! I don’t know why, but those shoes really make the outfit.

This particularly suave attire blends the dark suit with the light-colored coat so well.

No look at 1920s decadence would be complete without a polo outfit.

If you’re going to get married to Madeline Kahn, you might as well have Billy Barty as your best man. Two great suits with equally great hats.

Dern’s last outfit: an excellent pajama set. The colors! All in all, such a fun film.


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