Boys Clothing in Movies: Smocks

Figure 1.--This Turkish film shows schoolboys wearing smocks with Peter Pan collars. Also ntice the plain yoke of the smock and extensive smocking with a gathered waist and pocket.

Here are movies I have noted in which boys appears in smocks. Amost always they are school smocks. The number of films in which boys appear in regular smocks are much more limited. The list includes only a few films at this time, because HBC is primarily familiar with American and English films. We hope to expand this list as we collect more information on foreign films. Of course smocks would be most common in French or Italian movies. Any information you might have on these films would be appreciated.

A Varazslo - (Hungary, 1969)

HBC is unsure about the title of this film. It is either Az elso csoda or A varazslo. Hopefully a Hungarian reader will help us wuth the title. The film itself is a confusing tale dated 1969, involving an ecletic mixture of robots, horses in high rise appartments, and android doubles of the main character. In between all of this are scences at school. The boys wear blue smocks. I am unsure how common this was in Hungarian scgools. The many boys involved in the film provide glimpses of Hungarian boys clothes in 1969.

Après la guerre (France, 1988)

Jean-Loup Hubertd made Après la guerre made in 1988. It describes vision of war through kids eyes, narrating adventures of two brothers aged about 7 and 9 years. It is set in the midst of World War II. The boys are waiting in a small village south of France for the arrival of Allied forces. They are confused an mistakingly assuje that retreating German tanks are the Ameruicans arriving. It was summer 1944. The older boy was dressed in the uniform of a village fanfare (band) that was to welcome the U.S. soldiers. The younger boy was wearing his grey school smock. The two boys run back to village shouting "They arrive". The whole village gathers for a big welcome with French and U.S. flags. When the German soldiers enter the village, they are not amused about such a demonstration and proceed to shoot the mayor. Afraid of their foolish mistake, the two boys slip away to rejoin some family in Lyon. One boy wears a girl's sun smock to desguise himself as a girl.

(La) Communale (France, 19??)

Another well-known French film with boys wearing school smocks is La Communale. It is based on a book written by Jean L'Hôte.

(A) Dog of Flanders

This Ouida classic deals with a poor boy (David Ladd) and his grandfather who adopt a mistreated dog and share their meager rations with him. You may remember the dog, it was Old Yeller. David plays the part beautifully of Nello, an innocent boy with a big heart. The costuming in the film appears quite accurate. Mello wears a kind of military styled cap which was popular in the Netherlands and a short jacket like Dutch smock. He also wears long pants cut above the ankles. They may be meant to be kneepants. HBC is not sure as to just what length Dutch boys would have worn their pants. Both Nello and his grandfather wear wooden shoes--footwear especially associated with the Netherlands. Nello desires to be a painter. The two find their lives are changed by the dog. When the old man dies, the two have to fend for themselves. The film is a real tear jerker. The costuming is very boring and the boy wears longs. There are a few fleeting shots of more affluent boys in knicker suits.

Father Goose - (UK)

Two British children in the early part of World War II (1940) are taken through France to get back to England before the Germans occupy the country. Roddy McDowell plays the boy and wears shorts and knee socks throughout, except when he puts on a smock to help blend in with the French children. He is the epitome of a properly brought up little English boy. Not to be confused with the 1964 American film with same title where Carry Grant gets stuck with a group of English school girls in the middle of the Pacific uniform wearing full school uniforms.

(La) Guerre des Boutons (France, 1961)

The most famous movie with boys wearing school smocks is La Guerre des Boutons. A famous book also made into a movie is Louis Pergaud's La guerre des boutons ("The War of Buttons"). It describes war between the kids of two villages where our hero invented the war trophy of all buttons of trousers/smocks. I'm not sure to what extent the boys' clothing is described in the book, but the kids arre the main charcters in the movie and there are many scenes in the film. The boys look to be wearing 1950s style clothes. The movie was made by Louis Malle and is very descriptive of French kids and a result French boys' clothing is extensively illustrated, including the smocks that were still commonly worn in the years in which the book was set. A remake of the movie filmed in Ireland was released in 1995 amid some controversy.

Happy Road (US, 1957)

This film was relaeased in 1957, but it has a somewhat earlier look. Two children escape from a French boarding school so that they can reunite with their parents. The boy thinks thjt making it to Paris will demonstrate that they can look out for themselves. For film buffs, Happy Road is good fun and entertainment - a "Gee, they don't make 'em like they used to" film. Lots of clothing styles represented. The traditional uniform at the Swiss school, and the smock and beret at the picnic--makes one wonder if smocks were sometimes worn for such outings! Lots of boys wear short pants, but only at the boardiong school do boys wear kneesocks. The reaction of the American boy to his new French clothes is interesting; emerging from the tent at the festival, he first looks to be shrugging and thinking, perhaps, "Whatever!" Then on the boat, he says, he'll be "ruined", "if this gets out back home." And at the end of the film, he's positively accepted his new clothes! He says, "Kook at my pants, just like a French boy. Now I can stay with you and go to school here in Paris."

It Started in Naples - (U.S., 1960)

An American (Clark Cable) falls in love with an Italian (Sofia Loren) who is caring for Clark's surprise nephew, Nando. The boy is 10, but looks a bit younger. He has an adorable personality. He wears short shorts. He plays a street-wise kid with his non-discript shorts. There is one nice scene where he is sent off to school against his will. His aunt hasn't insisted that he go to school, but she pretends she has to show what a good job she is doing in raising him. She sends him for show all smartly decked out in an emaculate blue smock, wide white collar, and red floppy bow. The only other time he is smartly dressed is at the end of the movie when he appears in a long pants suit.

Jeux interdits - (France, 1953)

A French reader tells HBC that younger boys might wear their smocks after school. But this was less common on thursday and rarely on sunday wich were day to wear the "L'habit du dimanche". He indicated that A French movie of 1953 explains this fashion. It is a classic French film and know to most French people--"Jeux interdits" with Brigitte Fosset and Jean Claude Poujouli.

Life is Beautiful (Italy, 1998)

he Italian film "Life is Beautiful" (1998) has a long scene shot at an Italian film where the main character pretend to be a Fasvcist giving a lecture on racial supriority. All of the childen wear dark blue smocks with large white PeterPan collars. I think the boys nd irls wore the same blue smocks, but has been some time since I have seen the film..

O.S.S. - (US, 1946)

Rather hokey World War II story about the covert operations of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). (The OSS was the preecssor of the CIA.) I've only seen the end which had extraordinarily amateurish special effects, a circling plan that could have been done better by a Cub Scout. There was interesting scene, a little French boy--I'd say about 12ish--appears wearing a smock, short pants, and knee socks. I don't know, however, how big his role was earlier. Bobby Driscoll

(The) Ogre (British-French-German, 1996)

A French simpleton named "Abel" becomes manservant of Field Marshall Goering during World War I at Goering's hunting estate, and, later, at a Hitler Youth school. "The Ogre" stars John Malkovitch and was directed by Volker Schlondorff. The Ogre is a joint British-French-German production), about a Frenchman during World War II. The German title is "Der Unhold". I believe the French title is something like "The Monster". The film open in a Paris suburb of 1925, at St. Christopher's School for Boys. The boys are shown as wearing brown smocks (over shirts and short pants), fastentened in back with three buttons. "The Ogre", which stars John Malkovich is an intense film. The last half or so of this film is set at a German Napola in World War II. The Napola, were NAZI party training schools. They were boarding establishments which were run like military schools.

(A) Place for Lovers - (Italy/France, 1968)

Set in Italy, a rather boring romantic film. Not many children are involved in the film. In one scene while the main characters are romping in the hay, two children come by and peek at them. The interesting aspect is that they are both dressed in smocks. The girl wears a white smock with a big blue bow and the boys wears a light-blue smock with a big white bow. He is wearing shorts and white knee socks.

(The) Razor's Edge - (US, 1946)

Rather awful production of a Somerset Maughn novel. There is one interesting scene fairly early on. An American seeking truth travel's around France. He stops in a village to ask directions and is surrounded by a group of French school boys in smocks.

(Les) Ritals (France, 19??)

A made for TV movie which features French Italian boys wearing dark smocks and berets. "Rital" is a derogatory French term for Italian-French. HBC has no information on this film at this time except for the fact that the boys wear smocks and berets. Hpefully French or Italian readers will provide details.

(La) Tia Tula (Spain, 19??)

I don't know anything about the movie, but I did see a still with a family group including two kids. One boy who I would say is about 12 years old is wearing a dark (blue or black) short pants suit with knee socks. He is very smartly done up, one of the best done short pants outfit I have ever seen in the movies. I'm not sure about the other child, which could be either a boy or girl who looks to be dressed in a school smock with large bow.

(La) Vie Comme un Dimanche (France, 19??)

Some of the boys in La Vie Comme un Dimanche are pictured wearing French school smocks. They are grey front buttoning smocks. This style suggests the film was set after World War II when front buttoning smocks began to replace the back buttoning ones. Notice that some boys wear them with belts like an overcoat. Some boys unbutton their smocks after school, giving the impression that they are wearing long jackets. They all appear to wear very uniform smocks the same color and style. HBC had the impression that while some French schools required smocks, they often did not insist on a specific style or color.

Unknown Film (France, 1990s)

A HBC reader reports that there is a fairly recent English/German/French movie about a loner in World War II that opens with an extensive childhood sequence in boys' boarding school outside of Paris, in the 30's. It depicts school smocks, buttoning in the back. I can't recall now the exact name of the movie; I believe it translates (from French) into something like "The Monster".

Unknown Film (Hungary, 1970s)

Some images are available from a Saturday Hungarian childrens film, but virtually no information about the film. It looks to have been made about 1970. No title is available at this time. Boys in the film going to school appear to be wearing the same blue front buttoning smocks as shown in A Varazslo. This confirms that these blue smocks were widely worn by Hungarian boys in the 1960s and 70s.

Unknown Film (Turkey)

I know nothing about this black and white film except that it is a Turkish film, perhaps made about the 1970s or 80s. Turkish boys are pictured in school smocks.

Unknown Film (Turkey)

I know nothing about this color film except that it is a Turkish film, probably made in the 1970s or 80s. Turkish boys are pictured in school smocks. The smocks are quite similar, but closeups reveal some differences in the smocks.


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Created: January 26, 2001
Last updated: 9:45 PM 3/14/2006