Few military films have been as successful as 1986’s Top Gun. It stars Tom Cruise as Maverick, a US Navy pilot, and it features dazzling aerial footage that kept audiences coming back for more, eventually making it the highest-grossing film of the year. Just as he had done three years earlier in Risky Business, Cruise popularized another line of Ray-Ban sunglasses, the Aviator. The glasses were originally seen in newspaper photos of General Douglas MacArthur, who wore them when US forces landed in the Philippines during World War II.
Top Gun also helped boost recruitment in the US Navy, who had set up booths in movie theater lobbies to enlist enthusiastic audience members. All told, the film boosted sales of Aviator sunglasses by 40%, and according to the Navy, it caused a major increase in the number of keyed up young men charging into their recruiting offices to become pilots.