Klaatu barada nikto! Or, the Shopping Adventures of a Morlock

The holidays are over and like many folks I did a lot of shopping in the last few months but I didn’t frequent many shopping malls or major retail outlets. I spent most of my time and hard earned dollars in secondhand stores and antique shops. This wasn’t just a budget conscious choice. It was also a personal choice. I love recycling forgotten treasures and giving cast off goods a new home. Visiting an old curiosity shop can be an eye-opening experience. They’re a lot like museums without any cumbersome entrance fees and everything is for sale. As a classic film lover I’m constantly on the look out for any unusual movie memorabilia that catches my eye and during the past year I’ve come across a lot of surprising discoveries at local antique shops. Most of the film-related items I stumbled on were too rich for my blood but that doesn’t lesson the pure enjoyment I get from seeing them firsthand and I thought it would be fun to share a few of the highlights from my window shopping adventures. Hopefully other classic movie enthusiasts will find some of these items as intriguing as I did.

One of the best things I came across recently is an enormous bust of Gort (pictured above), the humanoid robot from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. My jaw hit the floor when I spotted this 60-year-old piece so I had to find out more about it. According to the seller, this incredible item was displayed in theaters in 1951 and used to promote the movie. It’s a memorable advertisement for a great classic science fiction film and it must have captured the imagination of many moviegoers in the ‘50s. Hopefully Gort will find a good home where he’s truly appreciated and cared for. If I had my way I’d open up a repertory film theater and display Gort in the lobby where new patrons could continue to enjoy him.

Another fetching advertising item I spotted last year was an original movie poster for THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). I come across movie posters a lot (as well as “autographed” star portraits) but they’re rarely as pricey as this one. It’s hard to tell from my photo but the poster was in good shape and the colors were bright and vivid. THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE is one of my favorite westerns and this was the first original poster for a John Ford film that I’ve ever seen in person so I was particularly taken with it. I own quite a few movie posters myself including a Japanese one-sheet for Terence Young’s western RED SUN (1971), which is probably the rarest poster in my collection and I couldn’t help thinking how wonderful it would look hung next to this poster for THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. I couldn’t afford to purchase it but I sure enjoyed looking at it.

One of the more unusual things I came across and ended up purchasing was this large sofa size Brittini acrylic print from the early ‘60s that only cost me $20. It’s a modern interpretation of “The Emerald City’ from THE WIZARD OF OZ. I love the print and the subject matter but what makes it particularly fascinating to me is that ‘Brittini’ was a commercial art studio formed by the actor Britt Lomand who’s probably best remembered today for his portrayal of the devilish and dashing Captain Monastario in Disney’s ZORRO series from the 1950s. I loved watching ZORRO re-runs on television when I was a kid but I didn’t know anything about Britt Lomand’s art background when I bought this. Lomand formed the Brittini studio with his father-in-law and another artist by the name of Loraine Mill and in 1964 they created the impressive murals that graced Hollywood’s legendary Egyptian Theatre. Unfortunately the murals are no longer there due to extensive renovations and Britt Lomand’s artistic endeavors seem to have taken a backseat to his film credentials, which also include production manager and assistant director on films such as SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) and MIDNIGHT RUN (1988). Britt Lomand was evidently a man of many talents but I only became aware of this after researching the origins of this print.

Speaking of art, this portrait of one of Hollywood’s most iconic couples is particularly lovely. I don’t know who the artist was but according to the seller and by the look of the frame this painting of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn was probably done sometime between 1945-1965. It’s particularly eye-catching in person and rather large so it easily draws your attention. I adore Hepburn and Tracy so I was taken aback when I discovered this lingering in an antique shop. Did a fellow film fan paint it? A friend of the family? Or maybe just some hack eager to cash in on their celebrity clout? No one seems to know because it’s apparently not signed but there could be a signature and a date on the back of the painting. You’d have to damage the old frame it sits in to find out and the seller seems to be leaving that decision up to a future buyer. It’s a lovely portrait and although it’s obviously a reproduction of a photograph of the couple (which I’ve also shared here) there’s something particularly appealing about the bright colors and way the light is playing off both their faces in the painting. I hope it finds an appreciative home.

My interest in Sascha Brastoff’s work has continued and last year I found one of his sculptures at a local shop. This large blue owl was sculptured out of resin and signed by the artist. As I mentioned in a previous post, Brastoff worked in Hollywood as a costume and set designer in the ‘40s and ‘50s on films such as DIAMOND HORSESHOE (1945), IF I’M LUCKY (1946) and FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956). He also worked as a commercial artist and created decorative items for the home and some of his most vocal supporters were Hollywood stars like Edward G. Robinson, Donna Reed and Joan Crawford. His creations are still extremely affordable but there seems to be a growing interest in Sascha Brastoff and his work.

Last but not least I recently came across a large collection of old Screen Stories magazines selling for a dollar a piece at a local garage sale and I couldn’t resist them. A lot of the issues feature cover stories on one of Hollywood’s favorite couples, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, with sensational headlines like “Liz Taylor…Is She Being Destroyed by Love?” or “How Liz and Burton Shocked the Hippies!” But among all the tabloid fodder these old issues of Screen Stories are full of wonderful pictures and fascinating articles about classic films. Some of the content from these magazines will undoubtedly find its way here in the coming year as I continue to write about the movies I love and the people who make them.

If you’re a classic film fan I highly recommend visiting your local antique stores and secondhand shops. You’ll be supporting local businesses and you never know what you might find there. If you’re lucky you might come face to face with some interesting or unusual movie memorabilia.

0 Response Klaatu barada nikto! Or, the Shopping Adventures of a Morlock
Posted By swac : January 5, 2012 5:38 pm

I wouldn’t exactly call it “movie” memorabilia, but I was in an out-of-the-way antique store in Great Village, N.S. over the holidays and scored an autographed copy of a Xaviera Hollander album for four bucks. It’s simply to die for (die laughing, that is). I suppose she had three movies based on her, and she starred in the painful Canadian tax shelter production My Pleasure Is My Business, so there is a bit of a film connection there.

Posted By swac : January 5, 2012 5:38 pm

I wouldn’t exactly call it “movie” memorabilia, but I was in an out-of-the-way antique store in Great Village, N.S. over the holidays and scored an autographed copy of a Xaviera Hollander album for four bucks. It’s simply to die for (die laughing, that is). I suppose she had three movies based on her, and she starred in the painful Canadian tax shelter production My Pleasure Is My Business, so there is a bit of a film connection there.

Posted By suzidoll : January 5, 2012 10:45 pm

I often stop at what is billed as the largest antique mall in the country, located on I-70 between Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. I found a collection of postcards of actors’ Hollywood homes–most of them big stars from the 1930s (William Powell, Myrna Loy, Harlow, etc.). I framed them backed with colorful paper. I know the feeling about the movie magazines. A couple of years ago, I found three from the early 1930s in an antique store. I also have an etching by Lionel Barrymore. It’s not worth that much but it sounds cool to own an etching by Lionel Barrymore.

Posted By suzidoll : January 5, 2012 10:45 pm

I often stop at what is billed as the largest antique mall in the country, located on I-70 between Dayton and Columbus, Ohio. I found a collection of postcards of actors’ Hollywood homes–most of them big stars from the 1930s (William Powell, Myrna Loy, Harlow, etc.). I framed them backed with colorful paper. I know the feeling about the movie magazines. A couple of years ago, I found three from the early 1930s in an antique store. I also have an etching by Lionel Barrymore. It’s not worth that much but it sounds cool to own an etching by Lionel Barrymore.

Posted By dukeroberts : January 6, 2012 1:17 am

I would die for the Gort bust or the Liberty Valance poster. The colors on that poster look amazing.

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine brought over an old movie magazine from the 40′s that used to belong to her grandmother. She allowed me to remove the one page poster shots of Sinatra, Linda Darnell and Esther Williams. I wish I knew where those pages were now…

Posted By dukeroberts : January 6, 2012 1:17 am

I would die for the Gort bust or the Liberty Valance poster. The colors on that poster look amazing.

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine brought over an old movie magazine from the 40′s that used to belong to her grandmother. She allowed me to remove the one page poster shots of Sinatra, Linda Darnell and Esther Williams. I wish I knew where those pages were now…

Posted By Jim Vecchio : January 6, 2012 8:18 am

A few years back I was at the HOPALONG CASSIDY DAYS celebration in Ohio. One of the many guests was DICK JONES, who had been a star from when he was a youngster, and had appeared in many western-style TV Shows and movies. He seemed to be a favorite of Gene Autry. Anyhow, I wanted his autograph but the only thing I had was an artificial flower from my table. <r. Jones very graciously autographed it for me, and now I have possibly the only celebrity-signed fake flower in existence!

Posted By Jim Vecchio : January 6, 2012 8:18 am

A few years back I was at the HOPALONG CASSIDY DAYS celebration in Ohio. One of the many guests was DICK JONES, who had been a star from when he was a youngster, and had appeared in many western-style TV Shows and movies. He seemed to be a favorite of Gene Autry. Anyhow, I wanted his autograph but the only thing I had was an artificial flower from my table. <r. Jones very graciously autographed it for me, and now I have possibly the only celebrity-signed fake flower in existence!

Posted By John York : January 6, 2012 9:24 am

Gort looks Fantastic! I fall more deeply in love with the classic movies (especially black and white and even silent) as time moves on. This is a fun article!
I have a few artifacts I cherish: A “Witch Deflector” given away at some cool old movies from my childhood, somethging like “The Witchwes” or “Burn Witch Burn”; A movie poster from “Zaat! The Walking Catfish”; and a wallet that Cecil B. Demille gave my father, who was a Texas Highway Patrolman who escorted Mr. Demille around on some visit to Texas (probably looking for rich investors).
Thanks for your cool blog post, I’ll be reading more!

Posted By John York : January 6, 2012 9:24 am

Gort looks Fantastic! I fall more deeply in love with the classic movies (especially black and white and even silent) as time moves on. This is a fun article!
I have a few artifacts I cherish: A “Witch Deflector” given away at some cool old movies from my childhood, somethging like “The Witchwes” or “Burn Witch Burn”; A movie poster from “Zaat! The Walking Catfish”; and a wallet that Cecil B. Demille gave my father, who was a Texas Highway Patrolman who escorted Mr. Demille around on some visit to Texas (probably looking for rich investors).
Thanks for your cool blog post, I’ll be reading more!

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 6, 2012 10:11 am

“Movie magazines” like those led me to become a film fan.

My mother religiously had her hair “done” every week at Miss Virginia’s Beauty Parlor in Jacksonville, FL. My brother and I would accompany her, and once we had exhausted our efforts to cadge dimes out of everyone for Royal Palm grape sodas (in the bottle from the machine on the front porch), we settled down for an hour of boredom.

As we breathed in cigarette smoke and noxious fumes from hair dyes and perm solutions, the only thing to do was read the magazines on the coffee table. Since the available issue of “Highlights for Children” invariably had all the puzzles done and the Goofus and Gallant section torn out for some reason, that left the movie magazines.

Would Liz leave Richard for (insert names of now-forgotten late 60s-early 70s film actors here)? Would Andy Williams marry Ethel Kennedy? Ooh…lucky Kim Darby marrying that gorgeous James Stacey!

I don’t ever recall any actual literate reviews of films in these rags, but the exposure was enough to send me to the 790 section (that’s the Dewey Decimal System for you youngsters) of the local library as soon as I was old enough to obtain a library card.

Fun times!

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 6, 2012 10:11 am

“Movie magazines” like those led me to become a film fan.

My mother religiously had her hair “done” every week at Miss Virginia’s Beauty Parlor in Jacksonville, FL. My brother and I would accompany her, and once we had exhausted our efforts to cadge dimes out of everyone for Royal Palm grape sodas (in the bottle from the machine on the front porch), we settled down for an hour of boredom.

As we breathed in cigarette smoke and noxious fumes from hair dyes and perm solutions, the only thing to do was read the magazines on the coffee table. Since the available issue of “Highlights for Children” invariably had all the puzzles done and the Goofus and Gallant section torn out for some reason, that left the movie magazines.

Would Liz leave Richard for (insert names of now-forgotten late 60s-early 70s film actors here)? Would Andy Williams marry Ethel Kennedy? Ooh…lucky Kim Darby marrying that gorgeous James Stacey!

I don’t ever recall any actual literate reviews of films in these rags, but the exposure was enough to send me to the 790 section (that’s the Dewey Decimal System for you youngsters) of the local library as soon as I was old enough to obtain a library card.

Fun times!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : January 6, 2012 4:41 pm

Thanks for all the comments and for sharing your own shopping adventures! I get a kick out of finding out about what movie memorabilia people collect or randomly find, etc. I like dolls/figures related to film myself and I managed to amass a large collection of film posters when I worked at a video store in the late ’80s/early ’90s. The video store bought out a classic movie collector’s shop in San Francisco so they had a lot of classic film posters, still photos, etc. that I loved looking at and I occasionally ended up spending half my paycheck buying things from the store. I also started buying a lot of Alain Delon related stuff in the ’90s. But I probably should blame my mom for getting me hooked on buying film posters. She bought me a nice reproduction of a REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE poster when I was teenager that hung on my wall for years.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : January 6, 2012 4:41 pm

Thanks for all the comments and for sharing your own shopping adventures! I get a kick out of finding out about what movie memorabilia people collect or randomly find, etc. I like dolls/figures related to film myself and I managed to amass a large collection of film posters when I worked at a video store in the late ’80s/early ’90s. The video store bought out a classic movie collector’s shop in San Francisco so they had a lot of classic film posters, still photos, etc. that I loved looking at and I occasionally ended up spending half my paycheck buying things from the store. I also started buying a lot of Alain Delon related stuff in the ’90s. But I probably should blame my mom for getting me hooked on buying film posters. She bought me a nice reproduction of a REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE poster when I was teenager that hung on my wall for years.

Posted By Klaatu barada nikto! Or, Happy New Year! « : January 6, 2012 6:12 pm

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Posted By Jenni : January 6, 2012 6:49 pm

I wasn’t going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but now you’ve piqued my curiousity to seek out antique shops, flea markets, and garage sales!

Posted By Jenni : January 6, 2012 6:49 pm

I wasn’t going to make any New Year’s resolutions this year, but now you’ve piqued my curiousity to seek out antique shops, flea markets, and garage sales!

Posted By dukeroberts : January 7, 2012 4:58 pm

Pamela- Jacksonville native, huh? Where was Miss Virginia’s located?

Posted By dukeroberts : January 7, 2012 4:58 pm

Pamela- Jacksonville native, huh? Where was Miss Virginia’s located?

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 9, 2012 10:40 am

Duke:

I am not sure! Google shows a Virginia’s Beauty Shop on Kline Road, which is in Southside Estates. That is a distinct possibility; I grew up in Holiday Hill/Grove Park. I’ve shot off an email to my brother to see if he remembers.

I take it you’re a Jax resident?

Pamela

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 9, 2012 10:40 am

Duke:

I am not sure! Google shows a Virginia’s Beauty Shop on Kline Road, which is in Southside Estates. That is a distinct possibility; I grew up in Holiday Hill/Grove Park. I’ve shot off an email to my brother to see if he remembers.

I take it you’re a Jax resident?

Pamela

Posted By dukeroberts : January 9, 2012 10:58 am

Pamela- Yes, ma’am. I live in Arlington, which I’m sure you remember is not far from the Southside Estates/Grove Park area.

Posted By dukeroberts : January 9, 2012 10:58 am

Pamela- Yes, ma’am. I live in Arlington, which I’m sure you remember is not far from the Southside Estates/Grove Park area.

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 9, 2012 11:17 am

How funny. My brother isn’t sure where the place was located, so that will remain shrouded in mystery. And yes, I know Arlington – I attended Terry Parker Baptist Church (a futile effort at best – lol)

I was back in 2009 for my (mumble) class reunion (Sandalwood). If I hadn’t had a GPS on my rental car, I’d *still* be trying to find my way around.

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 9, 2012 11:17 am

How funny. My brother isn’t sure where the place was located, so that will remain shrouded in mystery. And yes, I know Arlington – I attended Terry Parker Baptist Church (a futile effort at best – lol)

I was back in 2009 for my (mumble) class reunion (Sandalwood). If I hadn’t had a GPS on my rental car, I’d *still* be trying to find my way around.

Posted By dukeroberts : January 9, 2012 11:44 am

Sandalwood was our much-hated rival. I went to Terry Parker.You must have graduated quite a bit of time before I moved here in 1983.

Posted By dukeroberts : January 9, 2012 11:44 am

Sandalwood was our much-hated rival. I went to Terry Parker.You must have graduated quite a bit of time before I moved here in 1983.

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 9, 2012 11:58 am

Never use the phrase “quite a bit of time before” when speaking to a woman, Duke ;)

I graduated in 1979, which makes me 50.

Posted By Pamela Porter : January 9, 2012 11:58 am

Never use the phrase “quite a bit of time before” when speaking to a woman, Duke ;)

I graduated in 1979, which makes me 50.

Posted By dukeroberts : January 9, 2012 1:12 pm

Ha ha! I figured it was probably ’79 due to the late 60′s-early 70′s time frame you mentioned earlier. I wasn’t even born yet. :)

Posted By dukeroberts : January 9, 2012 1:12 pm

Ha ha! I figured it was probably ’79 due to the late 60′s-early 70′s time frame you mentioned earlier. I wasn’t even born yet. :)

Posted By Heidi : January 9, 2012 1:24 pm

I Love the Gort statue. Would love to get something like that for my husband. It is one of, if not, his favorite movies. I can’t say that I have anything collected that is original, but I have a couple of great movie posters. One is of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHaviland. I have one of the original Star Wars movie too. I lived in Orange Park, FL for a few years, before moving to St. Augustine and then Tallahassee for school. I am going to pay more attention when I go shopping in the used stores/antique stores in the area-who knows what I have been missing!

Posted By Heidi : January 9, 2012 1:24 pm

I Love the Gort statue. Would love to get something like that for my husband. It is one of, if not, his favorite movies. I can’t say that I have anything collected that is original, but I have a couple of great movie posters. One is of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHaviland. I have one of the original Star Wars movie too. I lived in Orange Park, FL for a few years, before moving to St. Augustine and then Tallahassee for school. I am going to pay more attention when I go shopping in the used stores/antique stores in the area-who knows what I have been missing!

Posted By dukeroberts : January 10, 2012 12:44 am

Heidi- A trip to Waldo may be in order. Check out the big flea market down there. They might have something of interest.

Posted By dukeroberts : January 10, 2012 12:44 am

Heidi- A trip to Waldo may be in order. Check out the big flea market down there. They might have something of interest.

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