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Tag Archive: Marilyn Monroe


1959.  A gallon of gas cost a quarter.  Movie tickets were a dollar and color was replacing black and white film.  You could buy a new car for $2,000.  In technology the Soviets beat the United States to the Moon, with a hitch, crashing their Luna 2 spacecraft into the lunar surface.  The U.S. selected seven astronauts for their Mercury space program.  Xerox began selling copiers to companies, IBM made headway with its mainframe computer, and Jack Kilby invented the microchip.  Kids first began playing with Play-doh, Etch-a-Sketch, and Barbie dolls.  On one end of the country The Sound of Music opened on Broadway and everywhere music fans faced the day the music died.  The world first witnessed The Twilight Zone.  The gray flannel suit defined the businessman.  And in 1959 the great filmmaker Billy Wilder produced and directed his own screenplay and the film would become the best reviewed comedy of all time, pegging the number one spot on the American Film Institute’s registry of best American comedies.  The film was Some Like It Hot.  And it’s back in theaters this weekend for a limited release.

Some Like It Hot has it all.  Marilyn Monroe in arguably her best performance.  Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon only at the beginning of their long and distinguished careers.  The movie doesn’t take place in 1959–it is set 30 years earlier in the heyday of speakeasies and Depression era mobs.  Tony Curtis is Joe, a ladies’ man and gambler–the sax player.  Jack Lemmon is Jerry, a straight arrow–the double-bass player.  They play in a band in a speakeasy (disguised as a funeral home) run by mob boss “Spats” Colombo (George Raft).  When Joe and Jerry accidentally witness a Valentine’s Day massacre-inspired mob hit, they must go on the run.  They find an all-female band heading to Miami via train and disguise themselves as the original bosom buddies, Josephine and Daphne, befriending the band’s gorgeous and upbeat lead singer and ukulele player, Sugar Kane, played by Marilyn Monroe.  That’s where the laughs begin, and a back-up cast of classic Hollywood staples, including Pat O’Brien and Joe E. Brown, fill in the gaps.

    

Despite the popularity of color film, Wilder shot Some Like It Hot in a steamy black and white.  Wilder had already directed Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, so the pairing was an obvious fit.  Wilder and Lemmon would start a partnership that lasted until 1981.  Wilder was the true King of Comedy.  He worked on nothing but hit movies over the course of his career–serious stuff like Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, The Spirit of St. Louis, and Witness for the Prosecution, in addition to comedies including Sabrina, The Seven Year Itch, The Apartment, Ocean’s 11, Irma la Douce, The Fortune Cookie, and Casino Royale.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Whether or not you’d call yourself a fan of Watchmen, the graphic novel or film adaptation, or whether you’re interested in the new DC Comics’ prequel series, if you’ve seen anything about Edward Blake, the Comedian, you can tell he is a pretty complex character.  World War II hero, vigilante-turned-paramilitary agent, and sociopath.  In the parallel universe of Watchmen, we’re led to believe Blake was the sole gunman on the grassy knoll.  His character made to look like Burt Reynolds and his name a play on Blake Edwards, director of the Pink Panther comedies, the Comedian wore the famous smiley face as a badge, a symbol that has become synonymous with the Watchmen.  It was also the Comedian whose death sets off the mystery plot behind Alan Moore’s graphic novel, the question:  Who is killing all these superheroes?  Blake never appears in real-time in Watchmen, only in flashbacks, and ultimately we never get to know much about his motivations or the causes of his apparent psychotic state.  He’s billed as a hero, yet as he saves victims from the villain, he traumatizes the victims.  He alone saves the hostages in Iran, yet the hostages do not appear as joyous with the result as in our timeline.  He sometimes seems to know what is right and search out and be a superhero, yet something always gets in the way, he alters his own course heading, and everyone ultimately would be better off without him.

So writer Brian Azzarello and artist J.G. Jones have their shot here at expanding on the Comedian via his backstory in Before Watchmen–Comedian #1.  In Issue #1 we don’t yet have a clear picture of this character–maybe it’s too soon–but at least there is something minimally sympathetic about the guy who one day goes completely off the edge of the rational.  It is not he who is the schemer.  The evil mastermind in this issue is actually quite brilliant–it’s none other than the one and only Jackie Kennedy, angry at a husband wasting time with the other woman.  I’m curious whether older readers have the same reactions to this storyline as younger readers.  At one time the Kennedys were the American royal family, and JFK’s death the single worst event in the history of the nation.  To make the First Lady the person who instigates the murder of Marilyn Monroe?  Definitely some shocking stuff fleshed out here.

Blake begins his story, then, as a rube, maybe like Joaquin Phoenix in To Die For.  He maintains his respect for the Kennedy brothers, yet who really is pulling the strings?  The story begins with a not so friendly game of pickup football.  Jones’s art is not photo-real but he does enough to let you know Blake is a key element in the ultimate 1960s inner sanctum.  He is a superhero CIA assassin of sorts.  His missions?  To take out those who would make those in power look bad.  In Watchmen, this meant killing Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein before they dug their heels in to report on the ramifications of the Watergate break-in.  With all the oddities that have been said over the years about Watergate bit player G. Gordon Liddy, Edward Blake appears to be cut from the same cloth.  As Blake is about to erase another target, he learns of the events in Dallas of November 1963.  Which poses the question–Does Azzarello plan to alter or explain Alan Moore’s background on the Comedian?  As the Comedian sits on the bed of Marilyn Monroe after apparently drugging her to look like an overdose, he takes note of his surroundings.  Can this character ever be redeemable?  Is he any worse or better than someone like Hannibal Lecter?  Can someone like Nite Owl step in and at least try to fix him?  Does anyone ever try, or is he just another typical, hopeless villain?  More than any other single issue DC Comics has published this past year, Comedian #1 certainly has intrigue, and will leave readers coming back for more.

Unfortunately the actual hero of the Watchmen story doesn’t get as exciting a debut in Before Watchmen–Nite Owl #1.  Legendary writer J. Michael Straczynski and popular artists Andy and Joe Kubert don’t do much to particularly evoke the early 1960s, where Nite Owl’s origin begins as a kid named Daniel Dreiberg.  Danny’s beginning is that of a slightly more bleak backgrounded Peter Parker.  He has an abusive father, and upon his death he is taken under the wing of the former Nite Owl, Hollis Mason, now ready to retire.  The training and mentoring is skipped over in this Issue #1, and Nite Owl becomes a member of the Crimebusters with the Comedian, Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, and Silk Spectre.  The single thing I think readers want to know about his past is just not there.  Hopefully the creators will come back to this in later issues of this mini-series.

How does a kid who would break into the original Nite Owl’s headquarters to learn his secrets become the conscientious superhero he later becomes–and remains–after the Keene Act’s ban on superheroes?  Character building and development is left aside here where readers could use an explanatory, novel, origin story.  Nite Owl doesn’t bring a lot of uniqueness as superheroes are concerned.  As influenced by Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle or Batman…  either he remains sort of bland as created by Moore, or Straczynski and team Kubert could really expand his story into new dimensions.  With a powerhouse creative team like these guys, I’m just left wishing for something more.

One place that could have been an opening for some creative freedom is the buddy relationship of Nite Owl and Rorschach.  We get to see a glimpse of that toward the end of this first issue, but perhaps an entire issue showing us why Nite Owl and Rorschach make the best team-up is worth pursuing.

The first four issues of Before Watchmen have certainly been interesting, with first issues of Azzarello’s Rorschach, Straczynski’s Dr. Manhattan, and Len Wein’s Ozymandias remaining to be published over the next few weeks.  With artists Adam Hughes, Lee Bermejo, and Jae Lee drawing those series, we’ve got a lot more to look forward to.

Most reality TV and competition shows aren’t worth watching when compared to all the great TV writing available these days.  Two weeks ago in our Spring TV Wrap-up, we discussed the best of this past season, and you’ll notice there are no reality shows listed there.  Why?  The reality TV formula got old fast as the past decade moved along, as did competition shows generally.  Sure, American Idol and Top Chef still get big viewership numbers, and we drift back for an episode of Iron Chef once in a while, but at some point even their fans will dwindle.  Let’s face it, there’s something for everyone and we won’t knock it (it’s why having several hundred channels to choose from seems to be a very “American” thing) and fans of reality shows probably aren’t also watching our sci-fi, fantasy, and other genre programming.

That said, one of the more fun reality-esque shows because if its unique subject matter is starting its second season this week: the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure, which airs on Tuesday nights.  I was impressed that they changed up the show a bit for the season two premiere, and offered a lot of content anyone can enjoy.  Three key things make the series work.  First, although Hollywood Treasure has the obligatory formula for reality shows, including the repeated scenes that straddle each commercial break and make you race for the fast forward on the remote, the plain coolness of the subject matter of the show outweighs any reality show annoyance factor.  Second, the show focuses on the guys who run Profiles in History, consistently the entertainment memorabilia auction house that pulls in the highest sales of any auction house in the world, and items they sold at auction in the past year.  These guys run into all sorts of neat props and costumes from Hollywood and occasionally an actor or show creator.  Third, the guys who run the auctions and are featured in the show, Joe Maddalena, Jon Mankuta, Brian Chanes, and Fong Sam, are actually fans of genre films and comic books as much as they are businessmen.  I’d dealt with these guys in the past and they are always great to work with.  Some of the scenes are formulaic and more than a bit contrived, but their passion and excitement for memorabilia always shines through.

The highlight of episode one of this new season, and what will certainly keep watchers coming back for more if they can keep bringing in similar guests, is a segment where actor Sean Astin discussed movie props he owns (and used to own) from Rudy, Goonies and The Lord of the Rings.  Astin always has such an aura of authenticity that you can ignore all the theatrics and just enjoy seeing this guy simply talk about making movies.  The personal items he retained from playing Samwise Gamgee are certainly treasures any LOTR fan would love to get his hands on.

Astin kept his screenused backpack and pans, his Elvin pin, his bread pouch, and leather wineskin from The Lord of the Rings films.

Other sequences in this episode were an attempt to auction one of the four original sets of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz for $2 million, which Profiles was only able to sell after the fact by direct sale, still attaining the $2 million the owner wanted as a minimum reserve price.  In this sequence Profiles also revealed that they actively solicit buyers after sales for items that don’t meet the minimum reserve price–buyers that kick themselves later for not bidding, thinking the sell price will be out of their range.  In reviewing the slippers they got to visit what seemed like a private collector’s own Fort Knox lockdown facility.  Another segment featured Joe Maddalena buying a Jim Carrey hat and cane from Batman Forever, then trying to flip them at auction for profit.  And Maddalena also visited the Dreier collection of costumes and props, which is being auctioned off over a few years.

Profiles in History is the same auction house we discussed here last year that made all sorts of records selling off the Debbie Reynolds movie costume and prop collection, including the famed Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch subway vent scene dress and an Audrey Hepburn My Fair Lady dress, among millions of dollars in other sales, and the Captain America auction last month.  And these are the guys we caught up with last year at Comic-Con showing the Back to the Future III DeLorean.  Their auction website is www.profilesinhistory.com.  We hope they can keep up the momentum started in their first episode of season two all season long.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

A familiar group in the original costume and prop collecting arena attended Comic-Con again this year.  We ran into Jon Mankuta and Brian Chanes from Profiles in History on the convention floor Friday.  They also create the SyFy network show Hollywood Treasure, a show I regularly watch to see both the discoveries they find, the collectors of Hollywood memorabilia (like a guy that looks like Santa Claus who has a house full of rare costumes from movies like Elf and A Christmas Story), and, of course, the costumes and props themselves. 

Jon Mankuta from the auction house and TV show eyed our Alien Nation latex heads from across the main walkway in the heart of the convention floor and had a guy in the crowd snap this shot. 

 

Jon is one of those guys that when you see him you have this feeling like you’ve known him for years.   He was having fun at the Con like every other fanboy in the crowd, checking out the booths and sporting a Lost T-shirt.  Jon actually played one of The Others in the Lost TV series and among other acting gigs he performed in sketches during the 2002-2006 years of Saturday Night Live.  It was great meeting someone working at an auction house who gets as excited seeing artifacts from movies just as much as the rest of us.  Coincidentally, later in the day Brian Chanes grabbed us in the crowd for a similar photo.  Later in the weekend we met up with Brian again (below right) and Profiles president Joe Maddalena (below left): 

Profiles is a great resource for screen-used props and costumes of every price range–Profiles is the auction house we featured in earlier posts that sold that record breaking Marilyn Monroe dress from Seven Year Itch, among other pieces in the Debbie Reynolds Collection.  I have also had the pleasure of working with Fong Sam at the auction house, a great guy who coordinates prop and costume auctions and takes phone bids on auction day. 

In past years at Comic-Con, Profiles in History had featured an advance look at props from various movies and TV series that were to be featured in upcoming auctions.  This year they linked up with Desi DosSantos from Screenused.com who has a nice collection of Back to the Future costumes and props.  His crown jewel is one of the DeLorean Time Machine cars from the series (from the third movie in the franchise).   Profiles in History and Desi worked with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (TEAMFOX.org) this year to take photos of convention-goers sitting in the car for a $20 donation, raising more than $11,000 for the charity.  Nice job!  And if you missed seeing the Time Machine car at Comic-Con, the San Diego Air and Space Museum will have it on display through August 13, 2011.

Strangely enough, the Profiles in History booth did not have the only Back to the Future car at Comic-Con.  On the other side of the convention center a replica Time Machine was on display (a DeLorean updated with replica movie parts under the direction of the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis), creating a sort of deja vu for the crowd.  (The replica is pictured at the top of this post).

And if you need your own Back to the Future Time Machine DeLorean, keep an eye out for the December Profiles in History auction where the real car from the Profiles booth will be auctioned, along with part 2 of the Debbie Reynolds auction.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

It should come as no surprise that screen legends including Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Julie Andrews, and Elizabeth Taylor are just as popular as ever with one iconic Marilyn Monroe dress selling at auction Saturday for more than $5 million and other unique costumes fetching six and seven figures each. 

Phenomenal hammer prices were all the buzz Saturday in Beverly Hills, CA, at the Debbie Reynolds auction of more than 500 one-of-a-kind classic Hollywood costumes and props.  You could tell just from the second lot this was going to be a memorable auction, with Rudolph Valentino’s matador outfit from Blood and Sand fetching $210,000 ($258,300 including buyer’s premium)

To follow up on our earlier post, here are the prices realized for the key items I listed, with the first number as the hammer price and for some of the big selling items I have included a second amount showing the actual price considering the buyer’s 23% premium (the mark-up above the hammer price billed by the auction house):

Judy Garland’s early production ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.  Estimated at $120-150,000.  Sold for $510,000 ($627,300 with premium).

Judy Garland’s early production dress from The Wizard of Oz.  Estimated at $60-80,000.  Sold for $910,000 ($1,119,300 with premium).

Edmund Gwenn’s Kris Kringle Santa suit from Miracle on 34th Street.  Estimated at $20-30,000.  Sold for $22,500 ($27,675 with premium).

Ape, gorilla and orangutan costumes from Planet of the Apes, as well as flight suit and Heston costume.  All combined POTA costumes sold for $68,500.

Sean Connery costume from the Highlander films.  Estimated at $12-15,000.   Sold for $18,000.

And the really big stuff:

Marilyn Monroe white subway-blowin’ dress (yep, that one) from Seven Year Itch.  Estimated at $1-2 million.  Sold for a whopping $4.6 million ($5,658,000 with premium).

Marilyn Monroe’s red sequined dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  Estimated at $200-300,000.  Sold for whopping $1.2 million ($1,476,000 with premium).

Audrey Hepburn’s classic white dress from My Fair Lady.  Estimated at $200-300,000.  Sold for a whopping $3.7 million ($4,551,000 with premium).

Julie Andrews’s key mountain singing dress from The Sound of Music.  Estimated at $40-60,000.  Sold for $550,000 ($676,500 with premium).

Charlton Heston’s costume from Ben Hur.  Estimated at $20-30,000.  Sold for $320,000 ($393,600 with premium).

Gary Cooper’s uniform from Sergeant York.  Estimated at $20-30,000.  Sold for $55,000.

Jimmy Stewart’s leather costume from How the West was Won.  Estimated at $8-12,000.  Sold for $17,000.

A huge collection of Elizabeth Taylor costumes, including National Velvet (Estimated at $10-15,000) (sold for $60,000), and her Cleopatra headpiece, estimated at $30-50,000 (sold for $100,000).

Charlie Chaplin’s hat from The Tramp.  Estimated at $20-30,000.  Sold for $110,000 ($135,300 with premium).

Laurel and Hardy’s signature costumes.  Estimated at $15-20,000.  Sold for $16,000.

Harpo Marx’s wig and hat.  Estimated at $20-30,000.  Sold for $45,000.

Gene Kelly’s outfit from Singin’ in the Rain.  Estimated at $12-15,000.  Sold for $14,000.

Rex Harrison’s outfit and doctor bag from Doctor Doolittle.  Estimated at $12-15,000.  Sold for $19,000.

Grace Kelly’s costume (seen below) from Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.  Estimated at $30-50,000.  Another surprise, selling for $450,000 ($553,500 with premium).

Claude Rains’s uniform as Capt. Renault from Casablanca.  $12-15,000.  Sold for $55,000.

Robert Redford and Katherine Ross costumes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidSold for $24,500 combined.

And some other noteworthy sales:

Marilyn Monroe saloon girl outfit from River of No ReturnSold for $510,000 ($627,300 with premium).

Marilyn Monroe costume from No Business Like Show Business.  Sold for $500,000 ($615,000 with premium).

1952 red MG TD car used in Monkey Business with Marilyn Monroe.  Sold for $210,000 ($258,300 with premium).

Grace Kelly outfit from The Swan Sold for $110,000 ($135,300 with premium).

Barbara Streisand gown from Hello Dolly.  Sold for $100,000 ($123,000 with premium).

Basil Rathbone jacket as Sherlock Holmes from Hound of the Baskervilles.  Sold for $50,000.

Richard Burton costume from Cleopatra Sold for $85,000.

Marlon Brando uniform from 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty.  Sold for $90,000.

Charles Laughton uniform as Captain Bligh from the original Mutiny on the BountySold for $42,500.

Claudette Colbert gown from the 1934 CleopatraSold for $40,000.

Great Garbo dress from Anna KareninaSold for $40,000.

Ingrid Bergman suit of armor from Joan of ArcSold for $50,000.

So the big question is whether the creditors in the bankruptcy that required the sale of these items were able to be paid off, or whether Reynolds must continue to sell off her estate.  With about $20 million from Saturday hopefully that will at least make a big dent in amounts owed.  It would be nice if Reynolds had a way to continue with her proposed museum.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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