Dennis Hartley reviews movies at Hullabaloo on Saturday Nights. This time he's opined on The Adjustment Bureau--the latest adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (did that guy know how much movies would use him? Likely.)--starring Jason Bourne.
He opens by classifying this as "a post-film noir, contemporary film subgenre that I like to call Guys with Fedoras. A Guys with Fedoras film is usually sub-headed under (although not necessarily restricted to) the sci-fi genre. Think along the lines of Dark City , The Matrix , or A Beautiful Mind. When the Guys with Fedoras show up in those films, you just know that the protagonist’s world is about to be shaken up."
This struck me...fedoras are creepy to me. They are the symbol of the state. Rather, they are the symbol of the gangster state. Have you ever seen one of those movie-newsreels where a busy New York street is shown in something like 40s or 50s and all you see is hats? (Now, showing the same scene, all you'd see is yellow.)
Anonymity, secrecy, implicit danger and harm...the Cold War state; the nuclear bomb state; the surveillance state. I always assumed the authorities who picked up Joseph K wore fedoras.
I'm sure there are any number of books that parse the history and meaning of the HAT--from the practical uses to its role as religious ornament and on to fashion accessory (and how all these "mix" in some odd way to reveal some inherently "human" meaning).
Is there anything comparable for the female? The Fedora is engendered Authority and as such a symbol of a bullying patriarchy.
My favorite fedora movie is Miller's Crossing where the hat is a character in its own right...it just doesn't fit on some guys. It is seen as blessing and curse. It is indicator of salvation and damnation.