Debbie Reynolds’ Final Auction

Kim Novak's green dress from "Picnic".  Source: Profiles in History

Kim Novak’s green dress from “Picnic”. Source: Profiles in History


Heads-up for all classic movie costume fans!

You might remember the two 2011 auctions of Debbie Reynolds’ massive movie costume and memorabilia collection.  Originally intended for exhibition, the collection has slowly been sold off piecemeal, to record-breaking sales numbers and the regret of many fans.

Profiles in History recently announced that their third and final auction of Debbie Reynolds’ collection will be held May 17 & 18, 2014, and the catalog is now available to view online (or to order, if you want a hard copy).  You can also download online catalogs for the first and second auctions from Profiles in History.

In-person auction previews will be held in North Hollywood, CA, with appointment-only previews April 29-May 8, and public previews May 9-16 – see the catalog for details.  For those in the area, past previews were a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of these historic costumes up close before being split up into different collections.

There’s lots of costume eye candy here (along with other items, such as photographs, lighting equipment, posters, and other memorabilia).  Once I finish going through the catalog, expect some posts highlighting some of my favorites.

Scarlett O'Hara's "Shanty Town" hat from "Gone With the Wind."  Source: Profiles in History

Scarlett O’Hara’s “Shanty Town” hat from “Gone With the Wind.” Source: Profiles in History


“I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand”: Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur, 1959 - with Charlton Heston

Source: Doctor Macro

Ben-Hur (the 1959 William Wyler/Charlton Heston version, not the 1925 silent) has long been a favorite of mine around Easter. Like The Ten Commandments, it’s such a long movie that I don’t watch it from beginning to end very often, but it’s been several years now since my last viewing. I’ll probably be popping it in the DVD player again this time around.

Quite frankly, I’ve always thought that the emotional saga of Ben-Hur, ably assisted with direction by William Wyler and a stirring score by Miklos Rozsa, drives home the core truths of the Easter story in a way that other, arguably more technically “accurate” versions, simply do not.

Judah: Almost at the moment He died, I heard Him say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Esther: Even then.
Judah: Even then. And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand.



I couldn’t find a video for the scene, but Ben-Hur also has one of my favorite movie quotes/dialogues ever:
“We keep you alive to serve this ship. Row well, and live.”

(Really, it’s worth sitting through all 212 minutes, if only for that.)


Pinterest and Links o’ the Week

Travel Clock - Gambit (1966)

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The Counterfeit Writer is now on Pinterest! If you’d like to follow me over there, click the link or the button in the sidebar.

Easter is just around the corner; expect some splashy springtime color posts coming soon to this blog. :) In the meantime, here’s a roundup of articles around the Intertubes which have interested me lately:

*  Gina Dalfonzo reviews Alec Guinness’ life and memoirs in “Blessed are the Introverts: Of Chameleons, Swans, and Sir Alec Guinness”. It was timely, as I’ve recently watched several Alec Guinness films. I’m rarely drawn to celebrity biography anything, being leery of poor writing, gossip, and a relentless cataloguing of messed-up lives. But Dalfonzo describes a skilled writer who could spin a story without dirt, and the introspective personality behind the great actor. I’ll be adding those memoirs to my reading list.

“Guinness writes honestly and yet guardedly, like a man who’s willing to share much and yet still keep something to himself. This reserve, which puzzles or repels some people, is one of the things I found myself liking most in him. Somehow, in the reticent pages of a memoir by an elderly British actor, I had discovered a kindred spirit.”

*  I LOVED Disney’s Frozen: both the story and the art. Brittney Lee recently concluded a series of posts about her contributions to the art of Frozen. The first entry: “FROZEN: Elsa and Her Ice Palace.”

*  On a more somber note: Paintings and sketches by Jewish children in Theresienstadt concentration camp during WWII.

*  The James Stewart Blogathon runs April 14-17. Having just seen Stewart in Bell, Book and Candle, I’m looking forward to reading all of these entries.


A Movie and a Book: “Gambit” (1966)

A Movie and a Book: “Gambit” (1966)
gambit (gám-bit) : a series of opening moves (esp. in chess); a strategy, planned before the actual game.

Gambit (1966) : crime caper starring Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, Herbert Lom, and John Abbott.

Gambit (1966) : book by Kendall Lane; literary form of the story above.

Tonight’s movie was discovered, of all places, via a stack of vintage paperbacks in a used bookstore.  One of my hobbies is book collecting – second only to book reading, but mostly because of space and monetary limitations.  (Luckily for those of us who read far more than we could ever buy or keep, there are libraries.)  For the most part, I prefer to buy only books from tried-and-true authors, but I’ll bend this rule for gorgeous covers, intriguing blurbs, or anything old that looks like it might be hard to find elsewhere.  Or, as in this case, movie tie-in covers.gambit-pbcoverThis was supposed to be the first in what may be a recurring series, in which I read a book, watch the movie it was based on (or the other way ’round), and review both.  As it turns out, Gambit the movie is practically identical to Gambit the book.  There are a few very minor changes, and they really are minor.  Luckily, this totally works for this book/movie combination, so I’ll be reviewing the movie and adding a new notes on the book at the end.  They’re both solidly entertaining, and you needn’t worry about loving one and hating the other.

Gambit shares the 1960s romantic comedy-slash-heist movie genre with How to Steal a Million, released the same year (1966).  Frankly, How to Steal a Million is the superior film.  With Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, how could it not be?  Still, Gambit shouldn’t be dinged simply for not being Million: it was nominated for three Academy Awards, and it’s got a premise and twist all its own.  It’s also a little heavier on the suspense than the romance.

Bottom line:  If watching How to Steal a Million left you yearning for more romantic comedy heist movies, Gambit should be on your must-watch list.

This may be a fun movie to go into without spoilers, so if you’d like to do so, skip this review and head straight for your preferred rental service or DVD seller.  (It’s nearly impossible to talk about this movie without revealing a few twists.)  Still, I was spoiled on a major plot point from the beginning, read the book, then watched the movie, and enjoyed both just the same – if not more.  Proceed at your own risk. :)

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