Wet Behind The Ears: White Squall, 1996

I recently discovered the movie “White Squall,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Jeff Bridges. Set in 1961, it’s a coming-of-age film crossed with maritime adventure. The story centers around a group of prep-school flunkies who get to redeem themselves in a kind of nautical reform school, doing their studies at sea while they learn sailing and self-reliance and overcome personal demons. But their life lessons get even tougher when the ship sinks in a “white squall” and their much-admired skipper, played by Bridges, is blamed.

The boys spend most of their time in khakis, white tees, canvas sneakers and Princeton haircuts. But in one extended scene they go ashore for a dance with a group of female Dutch students, and get decked out in blazers, madras jackets, button-downs and penny loafers.

“White Squall” is named for a kind of violent windstorm at sea. — CC

12 Comments on "Wet Behind The Ears: White Squall, 1996"

  1. Great preppy film.
    Highlights: Jeff Bridges on the deck of the ship in Ray-Bans and a white polo (collar popped), David Shelby’s character Francis Beaumont who sports and ascot to dinner with his son.

  2. Also familiar will be James Rebhorn, who’s completely typecast as a WASPy authority figure. He has a part in the trial at the end of this, and also plays Daddy Greenleaf in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and the headmaster in “Scent of a Woman.”


  3. Thanks for the recommendation. I just added this to my Netflix

  4. Sailing movies tend to be inherently trad…

    1988’s Masquerade with Rob Lowe, Meg Tilly and Kim Cattrall is good as is 1992’s Wind with Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey.

  5. There are movies that are preppy from start to finish and then there are movies with a preppy scene or two. One such movie is The Color of Money from 1986. Clothes wise I would – if asked – have said The Color of Money was all leather jackets and t-shirts but to my surprise – as I realized when I saw it again the other day – there are a few preppy moments. Towards the end of the movie when the action moves to the big 9 ball tournament in Atlantic City both Paul Newman and Tom Cruise sport preppy clothing. Just look at the selection of v-necked sweaters, the slacks, the shoes. The cranberry colored sweater that Cruise wears in one scene – the one with thin white stripes along the v-neck and around the wrists – is classic example.

  6. For those not familiar with the term “Princeton haircut”:


  7. Perfect financial sector | September 23, 2010 at 7:45 pm |

    There’s a fantastic little piece called Morning Light you might enjoy. It’s a Disney yachting documentary about the transpac race from Long Beach to Diamond Head. “Troll” the son of Olympic Sailors stands out as a memorable prep. The boat is nice and svelte as well.

  8. badblogcollection | January 9, 2017 at 2:30 pm |

    Great flick, I saw it first-run in the theater when I was in college and then bought the vhs as soon as it came out, totally reminded me of my sea scouts days. Quick point of contention, except for Dean, the kids aren’t “prep school flunkies looking to redeem themselves,” most of them are portrayed as perfectly good students.

  9. Is there an Ivy Style top 50 Ivy/prep/trad style movie list? If not….can this posting be the start of it? It’s wintertime and I could use some movies to get me through the cold evenings.

  10. Poison Ivy Leaguer | January 6, 2020 at 4:07 pm |

    @ Old School, My recollection of the Princeton haircut was the style worn by Dobie Gillis and Dave Guard.

  11. Makaga, there are probably multiple old threads at Andy’s Trad forum. There’s also the book “Hollywood And The Ivy Look,” though many of those shots are off set and not film stills.

    Why not start on it and report back in 90 days? : )

  12. Christian, if this interests you, I suggest diving into the history of The Geronimo semester at sea. Located in your new home, St. George’s has been sailing students around the world on a yacht named Geronimo with some fascinating lineage. I understand there are even limited opportunities for adults who missed out the opportunity to try their hand at sailing the Bahamas or Mediterranean while tagging turtles and learning to sail.

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