If I was playing a Roman soldier in a costume flick I wouldn’t want to walk around with sandals and bare calves, or more precisely sandals and leather calf straps like George Clooney is doing in Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Hail, Caesar!, which is now shooting. Exposed calves are fine on the beach or the couch or sitting around an outdoor cafe but in a Roman costume pic they convey vulnerability or weakness if you’re wearing military garb. Bare calves somehow work against that studly Roman general thing that we all want. I for one would demand to wear those leather calf-coverers that Rex Harrison wore in Cleopatra. [Go to jump page.] There’s nothing frail about Clooney’s calves, mind — he obviously doesn’t have Paul Newman legs — but the general look of sandals and leg straps looks too…unfortified? They seem vaguely Greek, which is to say somewhat frolicsome. If I’m not mistaken Sir Laurence Olivier wore leather calf-coverers when he played General Marcus Licinius Crassus in Spartacus (’60).
George Clooney as movie star Baird Whitlock in Hail, Caesar!.
Rex Harrison as Julius Caesar in Cleopatra with leather calf-covering battle sandals.
Harrison with gold calf-covers