Once upon a time, there was a plaid overnight case …”
Barbra Streisand’s character Judy Maxwell famously carried this brown & plaid travel bag in “What’s Up Doc” (1972). Along with three other replicas, these bags make up the key plot point of the film. What’s Up Doc premiered at Radio City Music Hall, and in first two weekends it broke the house revenue record that had stood since 1933.
Regarding the storyline, Barbra said “It was a funny movie to make, except I never knew what was going on. I didn’t know who was stealing whos suitcase. I couldn’t follow the story myself but he (director Peter Bogdanovich) made it fun.”
These bags were originally intended to be filmed as purchased, in plain brown vinyl. Sal Sommatino, who was an assistant prop master on the production recalled that the night before filming, the director changed his mind and wanted to make them stand out more. The props crew stayed up almost the entire night using plaid fabric and 77 adhesive spray to create the four identical bags immortalized in the film. The type of fabric they used is called “royal stewart tartan”. This print started life as the official tartan of the royal House Of Stuart and is the personal tartan of Elizabeth II. Due to its popularity it became universally worn and was extremely popular in punk fashion of the 1970’s. These vinyl bags featured roomy lined interiors and two top handles, with a poptop opening and gold lock closure. They had gold detailing and zippers as well as six gold feet. A large zippered pocket accents the front of the bags and a vinyl slip tab flap closure at the back. This bag was featured on movie posters for the film and was the focal point of an Al Hirschfeld sketch which was published in The New York Times on March 5, 1972. The whereabouts of these now iconic props is unknown.