Max Kalba’s White Dinner Jacket in The Spy Who Loved Me

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Max Kalba, the owner of the Mojaba Club played by Vernon Dobtcheff, is an interestingly dressed minor character and a memorable victim of Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me. The role on screen is brief, but the character is well dressed and well costumed in a white dinner jacket.

Like Casablanca‘s Rick Blaine, the owner of another fictional North African nightclub, Kalba wears a white shawl-collar dinner jacket. Blaine’s jacket is double-breasted while Kalba’s is single-breasted, but Blaine’s outfit was likely an inspiration for Kalba’s. The ivory dinner jacket also contrasts with Roger Moore’s dark dinner suit, depicting them as foes and foreshadowing that Kalba may be another roadblock for Bond.

Kalba’s dinner jacket looks like a typical example from the 1950s or 1960s, lacking any details that would bring it into the 1970s. Thus, it’s unlikely it was made for Kalba and might have been sourced from a costume stock room. Nevertheless, it captures the perfect look for a nightclub owner.

The almost-pure-white jacket is likely made of a lightweight rayon, and it has a lightweight construction. In brighter indoor light, it is possible to see the pocket bags and seam allowance through the jacket as well as the outline of the trousers at the back of the jacket. The latter suggests that the jacket may only be quarter lined, which was once common for ready-to-wear white dinner jackets, though it could have a very lightweight white lining. Nevertheless, this jacket sacrifices a perfect look for comfort in the heat.

The cut of the jacket is fairly ordinary and looks ready to wear, with extended padded shoulders, natural sleeve heads and a full cut in the body. It has a medium-width, self-faced shawl collar that ends slightly above the jacket’s low-placed single button. The shawl collar is the most traditionally associated collar style with the ivory dinner jacket, while Bond has always modernised his with peaked lapels and one notched lapel example. The jacket’s buttons are covered in a white fabric that matches the body. The cuffs have one button to match the front. There is no vent at the rear, following older tradition.

The dinner jacket has double-jetted pockets with flaps, and his right flap is tucked into the pocket. If a dinner jacket has pocket flaps, tucking them in gives the jacket a more formal and more traditional look. In Kalba’s case with having one flap tucked and one untucked, it gives the jacket a lived-in look whether this inconsistency was done on purpose or not.

Kalba’s trousers are black wool with a silk braid down the outseam, and he covers the waistband with a black silk cummerbund. He wears white socks—but not athletic socks—with his black trousers, which ordinarily would be a poor choice, but here they match rather pleasantly with the white jacket.

The shirt is an interesting and unique piece that portrays Kalba as a bit of a flashy peacock. Literally, the shirt has a design of fabric rings that resembles the eye-spotted tail feathers of a peacock as a front bib as well as down the front fly placket. Down the centre of the placket is a row of smaller white dots to visually anchor the centre of the shirt between two rows of peacock eyes in place of the usual visible buttons.

The shirt is ivory silk, reversing the usual ivory against white combination of the jacket and shirt, respectively. The shirt has a point collar with long points and square double cuffs.

The maker of the shirt is unknown. I asked Sam Frank of Frank Foster Shirts if it could be one of theirs, considering they not only made shirts for Roger Moore for his Bond films but for countless other actors in the films as well. Though they frequently make similarly creative evening shirts, Mary Frank, who was involved with the production of the shirts, does not recall making this one.

Kalba accessorises his look with a oversized black velvet bow tie, with its size typical of 1970s fashion. The bow tie is a clip-on, portraying Kalba as a less sophisticated man. When James Bond finds Kalba dead, Jaws had unbuttoned Kalba’s collar and unhooked his bow-tie so he could bite Kalba’s neck.

His final accessory is an ‘Out of Order’ sign that Bond places on his dead body.

9 COMMENTS

  1. As I said last week I enjoyed reading about another characters clothing on this blog! Perhaps a thing you we keep up? The reason I enjoy you covering other characters was something you did in this particular post which was the mention of the relationship to Bond. The clothing that they wear in this scene sets them apart which was an excellent point you made! As always keep up the great work!

  2. Does every villain have to wear the ivory dinner jacket with a shawl lapel?

    I guess I have no choice but to get the peak lapel ivory dinner jacket.

    • Wear what you want to wear! The shawl collar ivory dinner jacket is classic for a reason. You won’t look villainous just because Bond doesn’t wear one himself and some of his enemies do. He does, however, wear many shawl collar dinner suits and one could hardly be faulted for assuming his ivory dinner jackets were the same style.

  3. A great post. TSWLM is my favorite Bond movie with Roger and although I have seen it many times, I didn’t notice the see-through of Kalba’s jacket. I was probably preoccupied by figuring out Agent XXX!

  4. I concur with the suggestion that he was a less sophisticated dresser in that he wears a pre-tied bow tie of ludicrous proportions ‘a la 1970s’ , a mutt of a formal dinner shirt and flap pockets ! His shirt collar seems inordinately tall but was perhaps chosen because of a long neck(hard to tell) . It could very well be that his dinner suit was a ‘rental’ to accommodate movie production finances . I think it proves that attention to detail really makes the difference between as Vesper states in CR ,’ there are dinner suits and then there are dinner suits….’ .

    • I tend to think the bow tie, but yeah, in side profile shots, his shirt collar isn’t that well designed.

      Nothing wrong with higher collars, to be honest, but the way this one was cut, you’re right.

  5. I enjoyed the entry Matt. The outfit gives a flamboyant look. This follows the correct statement that he is the owner of the club.

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