Last month Nike released a retro version of one of its most iconic sneakers, the Cortez. For die-hard fans of the Swoosh, the Cortez is significant for being Nike’s flagship running shoe, a 70s track staple that put the Beaverton, Oregon company on the map. But when news of the release hit the internet, anticipation for the Cortez’s return was mainly fueled by its association with an unlikely celebrity endorser – not an athlete or a pop star, but a shrimp tycoon from Alabama named Forrest Gump.
Tom Hanks probably didn’t expect to become the face of the Cortez when he donned a pair in the 1994 Academy Award Best Picture-winner, but his performance in the third act unfolds like a 10-minute commercial. Gump inspires the country as he crisscrosses America multiple times during a nonstop 3-year uber-marathon, all in the same pair of white, red, and blue Cortez. No amount of marketing money could mythologize a shoe so powerfully, so it’s no wonder that when people see the sneaker, they think of Gump, sitting on a park bench, telling a patient stranger how, “Momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes…”
The Cortez isn’t the only sneaker to achieve cinematic notoriety. Footwear plays an important supporting role in a surprising number of movies, from classic action films to iconic comedies. Fire up your Blu-ray player as we guide you through a list of the most memorable sneaker moments in film history.