The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

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If you watch TCM regularly you’re probably aware that the classic movie channel is curating the upcoming event What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic at Auction being organized by Bonhams. This highly anticipated auction is taking place November 25th in New York where interested bidders as well as curious film fans can also see a preview of the items on display beginning November 20th and running through November 25th. According to the official press release the auction features “a stunning array of costumes, props, scripts, production designs, production memos, movie posters and other rare treasures from some of the greatest films of all time.” And the crown jewel of the lot is the original falcon statue used in THE MALTESE FALCON (1945), which may fetch a hefty seven figure sum. And best of all? A portion of the auction proceeds will be going to The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by director Martin Scorsese to preserve and protect motion picture history.

My brother-in-law happens to work for Bonhams (a mere coincidence I should add) and he was kind enough to gift me with a copy of the auction catalogue, which is actually a beautiful keepsake that should appeal to a lot of classic film fans. The 167 page catalogue features an introduction from TCM host Robert Osborne and is divided into various sections focusing on film genres such as comedies, epics, musicals, dramas, westerns, science fiction, horror and film noir. Besides featuring full-color photos of each item up for auction, the catalogue’s also accompanied by detailed descriptions and there are lengthier articles offering further insight into director Preston Sturges, the work of Hollywood production artists and the making of THE MALTESE FALCON.

I occasionally collect film memorabilia myself so I was fascinated by the catalogue. Today I thought I’d highlight some of the unique items going up for auction that particularly intrigued me and piqued my curiosity. I have no personal or financial interests invested in this auction but as a classic film fan I’m fascinated by Hollywood history and hope many of the items eventually end up in a museum where they can be enjoyed by everyone and studied by appreciative film scholars.

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Edith Head Studios costume sketch for Elvis Presley in FUN IN ACAPULCO (1963)

As a lifelong Elvis fan who’s fascinated with mid-century design and happens to love costume sketches this item hits a lot of my buttons. Designer Edith Head is probably best remembered today for creating stunning wardrobes for many of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses including Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Olivia de Havilland and Kim Novak but she was also responsible for dressing Elvis in some of best films such as KING CREOLE, BLUE HAWAII, ROUSTABOUT and FUN IN ACAPULCO. I love the minimal modern look of the sketch and it I”m sure it would look great framed and hanging on someone’s wall.

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Bette Davis gown from THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX (1939)

Orry-Kelly designed the impressive costumes for Bette Davis in THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX and he did an amazing job of capturing the look and feel of Elizabethan England. If you love Bette Davis and enjoy historical epics as much as I do, it’s hard not to get excited by this period perfect gown.

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1940 Buick Phaeton automobile from CASABLANCA (1942)

This beautifully designed automobile has the distinction of appearing in one of Hollywood’s most iconic films but CASABLANCA isn’t the only movie that featured this 1940 Buick Phaeton. The car was part of Warner’s fleet  and also appeared with Humphrey Bogart in HIGH SIERRA (1941). What Bogart fan wouldn’t like to have this beauty parked in their garage?

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Original U.S. one sheet poster for REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)

The first film poster I ever bought for myself was a reproduction of this iconic design for REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. I was just 12-years-old at the time but Nicolas Ray’s film made a profound impact on me when I first caught it playing on TV in the early ’80s and I developed a serious crush on James Dean. While other teenagers were busy covering their bedroom walls with the latest pop idols and new Hollywood stars, I was pining after ghosts. I’ve always wanted to get my hands on an original REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE poster so this item grabbed my attention.

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Geza Kende portrait of Clara Bow owned by Bela Lugosi

Bela Lugosi met Clara Bow while touring with the stage production of DRACULA in 1927 and he was smitten with her. The two actors were rumored to have had a very short-lived romance but Lugosi never forget her and had this painting commissioned in her likeness. It’s believed that Bow didn’t actually pose for it but I like to think that she did. It’s a stunning portrait that hung in Lugosi’s study for years and the mystery and romance surrounding it only add to its undeniable appeal.

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Errol Flynn pair of shorts from THE SEA HAWK (1940)

This ragged pair of shorts may not be the most glamorous item that Errol Flynn wore in THE SEA HAWK but that’s part of their appeal. According to the catalogue description, Flynn wears these shorts when he attacks his Spanish captors and takes over the galley. I appreciate the action associated with this simple costume but who needs another reason to love this item? These are shorts that were worn by Errol Flynn!

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Steve McQueen jacket from LE MANS (1971)

I love Steve McQueen and LE MANS is one of McQueen’s most important films. My own lengthy appreciation of LE MANS can be found on the TCM website, which details the fascinating behind-the-scenes drama that happened during the making of the movie and briefly chronicles McQueen’s personal investment in the production. LE MANS was truly a labor of love for the iconic actor so the jacket has sentimental appeal as well as effortlessly cool ’70s style.

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John Huston’s original typed & handwritten draft of THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE screenplay

John Huston’s one of my favorite directors and THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE is probably my favorite Huston film. As a would-be writer this truly unique and invaluable item is something I’d treasure if I ever got my paws on it. It also happens to be the only script that Huston won an Oscar for and it was the only film role that garnered his talented father (Walter Huston) an Oscar  as well so there’s lots of important Hollywood history tied to this screenplay.

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Joan Crawford apron from MILDRED PIERCE (1945)

The auction will feature some glamorous dresses that were worn by Joan Crawford but I like this humble apron best because it reminds me of Crawford’s own working-class background. If I owned this apron I’d frame it and hang it my kitchen and anytime I made waffles or chicken (or better yet, waffles AND chicken!) I’d think of Joan Crawford.

 

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Original U.S. one sheet poster for ANATOMY OF MURDER (1959)

The talented Saul Bass is one of Hollywood’s most renowned poster artists and this design for Otto Preminger’s ANATOMY OF MURDER is one of his best. Anyone who appreciates great mid-century design would probably love to have this framed and hanging in their home.

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Life cast of Boris Karloff

There’s very little information available about this life cast of Boris Karloff but I love Karloff and I love the eerie look of life masks so this one naturally caught my eye. It reminds me of all the old photos of Boris getting slathered with make-up for his roles in films such as FRANKENSTEIN and THE MUMMY. Could it be the same life mask pictured with Karloff in the above photo? I have no idea but they sure look similar!

evsjacketErich Von Stroheim tuxedo jacket from SUNSET BLVD. (1950)

Billy Wilder’s dark satire remains one of the best critiques of the old Hollywood studio system, which made and destroyed countless careers and Erich Von Stroheim probably understood that better than anyone. As a struggling actor who eventually became a world renowned director only to end his carer as a bit part player in a number of Hollywood films, Von Stroheim had experienced the blinding glamor as well as dark underbelly of the City of Angels. Rumor has it that he wasn’t particularly happy about being cast as the enigmatic butler in SUNSET BLVD. but he took the role because he needed the money. At the time he was living in Paris and frustrated by the direction his career had taken. Von Stroheim’s jacket from SUNSET BLVD. is a touching reminder that all that glitters in Hollywood isn’t gold.

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A Mia Farrow nightgown from ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968)

Out of all the costumes being auctioned off, I find this one particularly compelling. Probably because I love the movie but the simplicity of the delicate nightgown seems to scream out for attention amid the parade of lush period costumes featured in the auction catalogue. The item has a ghost-like quality that’s both spooky and beautiful, which manages to evoke the entire production design of Polanksi’s creepy classic thriller.

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Can and cracker from SOYLENT GREEN (1973)

This SOYLENT GREEN prop might just be my favorite item in the whole catalouge. I will say that it’s the one item that instantly caught my eye and made me laugh out loud when I spotted it. If you’ve seen Richard O. Fleischer’s science fiction thriller you’re probably laughing right along with me. The film stars Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson who expose a terrible truth about the nations shrinking food supply, in particular the rations produced by the Soylent Corporation that are made of much more than just “high-energy plankton gathered from the ocean’s of the world.”

This is just a very small sampling of the incredible items from the upcoming What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic Auction.If you’d like to learn more about the auction you can find a list of all the items being sold on Bonhams’ website. You can also download a PDF of the entire catalogue while you’re there or order a printed copy to display on your own coffee table. The auction catalogue is chock-full of fascinating items that should appeal to any classic film fan and even if you’re like me and can’t afford to bid on any of the items, you can still enjoy them from afar and appreciate their unique place in Hollywood history.

10 Responses The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
Posted By swac44 : November 7, 2013 9:46 pm

There’s some debate about that painting owned by Bela Lugosi, and whether or not there’s any connection to Clara Bow at all. One of Bow’s biographers has stated on a silent movie message board that the painting looks nothing like her (which I agree with) and that as far as he knows, she never posed for any such painting. But we do know it was owned by Lugosi, and that he did have an affair with Bow (in a recent biography by Arthur Lennig, he says Bow was cited as “the other woman” in his 1929 divorce). So maybe the painting was “inspired” by Bow, and at any rate, who wouldn’t want to own a piece of original art owned by Bela Lugosi, regardless of whether the model was famous or not?

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 7, 2013 11:15 pm

swac – Fascinating stuff so thanks for the input although one biographers claims should also be vetted. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the painting but according to the auction catalogue (and I have to assume the TCM staff members who are curating the auction) it’s been confirmed that it’s supposed to be a portrait of Clara Bow but as I mentioned above, Clara didn’t pose for it, which is probably why the likeness isn’t all that apparent to some (I happen to think it does look like her probably because of the red hair but the artist’s style isn’t particularly “realistic.”). Maybe it was confirmed with the artist’s family or confirmed with members of The Painters and Sculptors Club of Los Angeles that Geza Kende was part of? I have no reason to doubt that all avenues were explored but if I find out any more info I’ll let you know.

Posted By Doug : November 7, 2013 11:45 pm

Kimberly, this is a fascinating post, and the best part:
“A portion of the auction proceeds will be going to The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by director Martin Scorsese to preserve and protect motion picture history.”
There is a story behind the story behind the story of Fred Sexton, creator of the Maltese Falcon prop which is part of a much larger story which is rumored to be heading for the screen.
http://www.stevehodel.com/
I’ve noted this here before, but in simple, Steve Hodel’s mother had been married to John Huston before switching over to George Hodel, Steve’s father.
Fred Sexton was living in the Hodel house when he made the Falcon. There is a lot more, and if the films do come out, they may turn our ideas of Old Hollywood upside down.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 8, 2013 12:25 am

Doug – Glad you enjoyed it, Doug. I’m also glad you brought up Hodel because I went further down that rabbit hole last night while I was compiling this post. I actually read Steve Hodel’s first book and found his accusations about his father being the Black Dahlia murderer or part of a group of murderers (that included Fred Sexton) really interesting. I question some of his conclusions but it does make for some fascinating (and deeply disturbing) reading! I didn’t realize a film was in the works but I hope it comes to fruition.

Posted By doug : November 8, 2013 3:06 am

Hi Kimberly-I’ve read Hodel’s three books, and heard him interviewed again this week with an update concerning the Black Dahlia case. In the interview he mentioned a screenplay being written from the information he has discovered. His mother was a screenwriter, sometimes a script ‘doctor’ and in Hodel’s book “Most Evil” he details some of the times when John Huston would send his mother money to survive as George Hodel had cut her off and disappeared into the Orient.
But back to the topic-I hope that the auction is a great success. Sitting here thinking about what I would want from Old Hollywood, I would love to have one of Harpo’s bulb-horns. Or Stan or Ollie’s Fez from “Sons of the Desert.”

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : November 8, 2013 4:33 pm

Doug – I should dive into Hodel’s other books although I tend to read true crime in small does because it gives me nightmares or a bad case of the “heebee jeebees.” I love fezzes so I think the idea of owning one that was worn by Stan or Ollie would be really neat. It’s funny but last night I had a weird dream involving Erich Von Stroheim and woke up realizing I had meant to include his butler jacket from SUNSET BLVD. in my auction write-up but overlooked it. I felt like he was prompting me from beyond the grave so I updated my post this morning. Excuse the bad joke but this auction apparently really is the “stuff that dreams are made of.”

Posted By Susan Doll : November 8, 2013 8:13 pm

I have to say bidding on Errol Flynn’s ripped-up pants would be a bit too bizarre for me.

Posted By Emgee : November 8, 2013 9:29 pm

If it is the original falcon statue, shouldn’t it have scratch marks on it? I assume this is a backup copy?
Otherwise i,m not bidding!

Posted By robbushblog : November 11, 2013 8:17 pm

What size are those Errol Flynn pants, I wonder? Were I a richer man, the temptation of owning something worn by Elvis would be too great for me to resist. I would have to have the Fun in Acapulco outfit, but I’d also want that bird.

Posted By The View Beyond Parallax… more reads for week of November 15 | Parallax View : November 15, 2013 5:03 pm

[…] through the catalogue of “What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic,” Kimberly Lindbergs highlights some of her favorite items to be auctioned off by Bonhams in a few weeks, including ragged shorts worn by Errol Flynn in The […]

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