It’s that time of year again! Let Summer Under the Stars commence! I love this year’s line-up. Even though there are plenty of the usual SUTS suspects like Bette Davis, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, more than half of this year’s stars have never been part of SUTS before. And many of those who have been featured before, haven’t been featured in quite a few years. Let’s take a look at the full list of stars:
Even though I’m broke and can’t afford to actually bid on anything in today’s auction, there’s so much amazing stuff up for sale today that I can’t resist trying to follow the auction as best I can. So I figured I’d try my hand at live blogging and cover the auction the best I can as it happens. I’m not going to cover every single item up for sale, but I’ll try to keep you updated about some of the more noteworthy items. So stay tuned, sit back, relax, and live vicariously through other people who can afford to spend insane amounts of money on movie memorabilia. And I’m just putting it out there right now: I would not be even remotely surprised if Hugh Hefner buys Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch. A million dollar absentee bid has already been placed on it, so it will definitely be sold for at least that much today.
If you want to follow along with the auction live, just go here, click on “Live Bidding”, then click the option to just watch the auction. There is a live video stream, but no audio.
Note – The selling prices I list here don’t include the buyer’s premium. If you see articles about Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz test costume selling for more than a million, that source factored in the buyer’s premium.
3:12 PM – The first lot, a 1915 35mm Bell and Howell camera just sold for $32,500!
3:16 PM – Rudolph Valentino’s matador suit from Blood and Sand just went for $210,000.
3:19 PM – Mary Pickford’s headpiece from Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall went for $3,250.
3: 21 PM- Francis X. Bushman’s charioteer helmet from 1925’s Ben Hur sold for $30,000!
3:26 PM – Harold Lloyd’s suit and hat went for $4,000!
3:34 PM – Mary Pickford’s gown from The Taming of the Shrew sold for $17,000.
3:36 PM – Lots 17 and 18, both Douglas Fairbanks costumes from The Taming of the Shrew sold for $20,000 and lot 18 didn’t sell.
3:38 PM – One of Charlie Chaplin’s infamous hats went for $110,000!
3:40 PM – A Model T used by Laurel and Hardy sold for $32,500 and a pair of their suits went for $16,000.
3:42 PM – Carole Lombard’s gown from No Man of Her Own sold for $11,000.
3:47 PM – Claudette Colbert’s Cleopatra gown went for $40,000.
3:52 PM – Greta Garbo’s gown from Anna Karenina also sold for $40,000!
3:53 PM – Harpo Marx’s hat and wig went for $45,000!
4:10 PM – Lots 42, 43, and 44 are the paintings commissioned by Marion Davies and respectively went for $10,000, $11,000, and $17,000. These really got the bidders going.
4:17 PM – W.C. Fields’ joke box sold for $35,000.
4:39 PM – Norma Shearer’s purple gown from Romeo and Juliet went for $20,000.
5:04 PM – Now we’re into stuff from The Good Earth and people went nuts for some of the furniture! The pair of chairs went for $20,000, the opium bed for $20,000, two Paul Muni robes for $4,000 each, Luise Rainer’s shirt for $2,000, the lot of stands and other furniture for $3,500, and Luise Rainer’s jacket for $3,000.
5:13 PM – A gown worn by Norma Shearer in Marie Antoinette and Lucille Ball in Du Barry was a Lady sold for $11,000.
5:44 PM – Oh, now we’re into a busy bunch of lots! First up was Marlene Dietrich’s outfit from “The Boys in the Backroom” number in Destry Rides Again, which went for $8,000, one of Judy Garland’s test costumes from The Wizard of Oz went for $910,000, a test pair of the ruby slippers sold for $510,000, an extra’s jacket from the Emerald City scenes of the Wizard of Oz sold for $22,500, Clark Gable’s dressing robe from the production of Gone With the Wind went for $10,000, and Basil Rathbone’s famous Sherlock Holmes caped overcoat sold for $50,000!
5:54 PM – Vivien Leigh’s suit from Waterloo Bridge sold for $16,000.
6:09 PM – Gary Cooper’s military uniform from Sergeant York went for $55,000.
6:16 PM – A couple of costumes worn by James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the satin jockey shirt went for $27,500 and the clown outfit sold for $15,000.
6:19 PM – Not so fast, Louis! A suit worn by Claude Rains in Casablanca sold for $55,000!
6:53 PM – Took a dinner break and missed another busy bunch of lots! Elizabeth Taylor’s riding outfit from National Velvet went for $60,000, Judy Garland’s “Under the Bamboo Tree” dress from Meet Me in St. Louis sold for $16,000, Judy’s dress from the snowman building scene in Meet Me in St. Louis went for $10,000, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra’s sailor suits from Anchors Aweigh went for $27,500 and $15,000 respectively.
7:00 PM – $22,500 for Joan Crawford’s waitress uniform from Mildred Pierce and $5,000 for Ann Blyth’s Mildred Pierce suit.
7:05 PM – Edmund Gwenn’s Santa suit from Miracle on 34th Street just sold for $22,500.
8:12 PM – The gold lame dress worn by Ginger Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway went for $8,000.
8:51 PM – The chiffon robe worn by Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire sold for $18,000. Then it went into a bunch of items from An American in Paris with Leslie Caron’s peacock dress from the fantasy ballet number for $15,000, Nina Foch’s white halter gown from a party scene for $3,000, and a showgirl costume from the Stairway to Paradise number for $1,100.
9:05 PM – We have reached the Singin’ in the Rain part of the auction. First were the green and white checked suits worn by Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, $8,000 and $14,000 respectively. Jean Hagen’s Marie Antoinette-esque dress sold for $5,500 and Gene Kelly’s period costume went for $9,000. Debbie’s green and white leaf print dress went for $15,000, Gene Kelly’s jacket from the Broadway Melody Ballet number went for $6,500, Jean Hagen’s black and white fur coat went for $6,000, Donald O’Connor’s “Good Morning” suit didn’t sell, Cyd Charisse’s white Broadway Melody Ballet outfit for $7,000, and Debbie’s “Good Morning” dress went for $27,500. A pink dress worn by Gwen Carter sold for $3,750, and a bunch of costumes from the “Beautiful Girl” montage brought $5,500.
9:22 PM – Now we’re getting into some of the Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn-related items. First up is Marilyn’s red “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which brought $1.2 million! Then came the feathered hat worn by Jane Russell when she impersonates Loreli Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, that sold for $4,250. Lauren Bacall’s wedding dress from How to Marry a Millionaire went for $8,000 and the car used by Marilyn and Cary Grant in Monkey Business sold for $210,000.
9:48 PM – A lot of two safari outfits worn by Grace Kelly in Mogambo sold for $47,500. A Winchester rifle used by Clark Gable in Mogambo brought in $15,000.
10:00 PM – A couple more from Marilyn Monroe. The gold dress from River of No Return went for $510,000 and her costume from the “Heat Wave” number in There’s No Business Like Show Business brought in $500,000!
10:52 PM – After a little break, we’re back with the dress everyone’s been waiting for — the infamous Marilyn Monroe white subway dress from The Seven Year Itch. I fully expected bidding to be out of control for this one and I wasn’t disappointed. It brought in an astonishing $4.6 million!
11:03 PM – Now we’ve got a couple from To Catch a Thief. A coat worn by Cary Grant brought in $15,000 and an outfit worn by Grace Kelly earned a jaw dropping $450,000!
11:41 PM – A couple of dresses worn by Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember brought in $6,000 and $11,000.
12:17 AM – One of Lana Turner’s dresses from Peyton Place sold for $4,250.
12:22 AM – Lot number 407 is rather unique because it includes things worn by both Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey. It went for $6,500.
12:29 AM – Leslie Caron’s iconic plaid schoolgirl outfit from Gigi went for $65,000.
12:40 AM – Charlton Heston’s tunic and cape from Ben Hur could have been yours for the low, low price of $320,000!
1:32 AM – Marlon Brando’s naval outfit from Mutiny on the Bounty just brought in $90,000!
2:12 AM – Elizabeth Taylor’s famous headdress from Cleopatra went for $100,000 and Richard Burton’s tunic, cape, and sword brought in $85,000.
Oh, who cares what time it is anymore? Yes, I’m still going! Aren’t these people tired and broke yet?! Janet Leigh’s yellow fringed dress from Bye Bye Birdie fetched $3,750 and Bette Davis’ blood stained dress from Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte sold for $11,000.
Another big item to watch tonight was Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot dress from My Fair Lady. I fully expected it to exceed the $200,000-$300,000 and it sure did. It went up to $3.7 million!
I would say that the hills are alive with the sound of music, but at this time of night, I’m pretty sure that’s a noise ordinance violation. Julie Andrews’ guitar went for $140,000, her jumper from the “Do Re Mi” number for $550,000, her turquoise and green dress for $45,000, the peasant dress went for $42,500, and a pair of the Trapp children’s outfits sold for $35,000.
And at long last we have reached the Barbara Streisand part of the auction. First from Funny Girl is her costume from “I’d Rather Be Blue” for $65,000, a lot of the other roller skating costumes for $2,500, the black velvet dress from “My Man” for $16,000, a bunch of stuff worn by the Ziegfeld girls in the “His Love Makes Me Beautiful” number for $7,500, Anne Francis’ silk dress for $1,800, and Kay Medford’s beaded shawl for $1,400.
A jacket worn by Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid brought $8,500 and a dress worn by Katharine Ross went for $16,000.
And back to Streisand. The purple Hello, Dolly dress went for $55,000 and the gold dress for $100,000. Surprised the gold dress went for that little, that’s how much it cost to make that dress back in the day.
You’ll be fascinated to know that a shirt worn in the cinematic masterpiece known as Grease 2 sold for $475.
We have finally made it to the final segment of posters/portraits! The title cards for Blind Husbands fetched $2,000, the lot of three Gloria Swanson title/lobby cards sold for $1,200, the portrait of Gloria Swanson went for $8,500, the lot of two Mabel Normand lobby cards for $800, the pair of silent title/lobby cards for $1,600, the lobby card for Lon Chaney’s The Penalty for $1,700, and the lobby card for Chaplin’s The Idle Class for $1,600. The portrait of Jean Harlow went for $11,000!
Now it’s high time I called it a night! Good night everybody!
Like so many other women, Regi Allen (Carole Lombard) longs for a way out of her mundane life. She’s tired of having to count her pennies, fighting the crowds on the subway, and she’s tired of having to do nails for a living. Of course, the easiest way out of that life would be to marry a rich man and she’s determined to do just that. One day, she’s called up to give Allen Macklwyn (Ralph Bellamy) a manicure and he instantly adores her. Allen is quite wealthy, he had formerly been a pilot but was left disabled after a flying accident. He falls in love with her, makes appointments with her constantly, and they become very good friends, but he never lets her know that he loves her.
As Regi is leaving her first appointment with Allen, she bumps into Theodore Drew, III (Fred MacMurray) as he’s playing hopscotch in the hallway. She doesn’t know who he is, but she thinks he’s a bit screwy and goes on about her day. Later, Ted makes an appointment to get a manicure from Regi. The salon receptionist tells Regi that Ted is from a wealthy family, so when Ted comes to her table and she sees the odd guy from earlier, she tries to turn him away. But when she realizes her mistake, she’s so flustered that she can barely do his nails. Despite the lousy manicure, Ted asks Regi out to dinner and of course, she accepts. The two of them have a swell time on their date, especially Ted who has a little too much to drink. But after a few drinks, he admits that he’s engaged to be married soon.
When Ted passes out in the cab after dinner, Regi lets him sleep on her couch. She only expects him to stay for the night, but he ends up staying longer when he misses his ship to Bermuda and is stuck in New York with no money and no place to stay. His family lost all their money in the big stock market crash and his trip to Bermuda was paid for by his future father-in-law. Of course, the two of them fall in love in spite of one thing: the fact that they both want to marry for money. Regi tries to not get too involved because she’s convinced that Ted could never be happy with her. But when Ted’s fiancée Vivian begins to suspect that Ted isn’t really in Bermuda, she does some detective work and finds out that he’s in New York and that he’s been seen with a manicurist. Vivian books a manicure with Regi and confronts her about what’s been going on. Vivian doesn’t want to give Ted up, but Ted is willing to let Vivian go and he begs her to end their engagement. He wants to marry Regi and he’ll do anything to make it happen, including the one thing he never thought he would do: get a job.
Hands Across the Table is one of my favorite under-appreciated gems and my personal favorite Carole Lombard movie. It may be just a lighthearted romantic comedy, it’s not great cinema, but it is immensely charming. I loved Carole and Fred together. When I saw this movie for the first time, I thought Regi and Ted seemed like a couple I’d want to hang out with and now I know why. Carole and Fred were good friends off-screen and that really came through on-screen, they must have been a blast to be around. Of course, Carole Lombard was a natural with comedy, but the same couldn’t be said for Fred MacMurray. Hands Across the Table is one of Fred’s earliest movies and he wasn’t exactly well versed in comedy yet. Carole and director Mitchell Leisen had to work hard to get his silly performance just right. But all their hard work paid off because he was great as that kind of hapless but lovable character. Why Hands Across the Table doesn’t get more love is a mystery to me.
Happy Halloween! Before we get to the TCM schedule for October, it’s time for a little site news. To celebrate Halloween, I’ll be reviewing a different horror film every Wednesday this month. I promise it will be a mix between some typical Halloween favorites and some more unusual choices, so be sure to check that out.
Now, back to the TCM schedule. Since it’s October, I’m sure it’s not at all surprising that there will be tons of horror movies this month. Every Friday night is a night of horror classics from Hammer Film Productions. Fredric March is the star of the month, which I’m pretty geeked up for. Every Monday and Wednesday night is Critic’s Choice night, where two notable film critics pick two of their favorite movies to play. Some of the critics include Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert and Mick LaSalle and they’ve made some pretty great choices.
In 1939 Poland, a theater troupe is spending its days rehearsing a new play called Gestapo and performing Hamlet by night. Part of the troupe is husband and wife Joseph and Maria Tura (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard). Maria has quite an admirer in Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski (Robert Stack), who repeatedly sends her flowers before asking to meet her. Maria agrees to meet him and tells him to come see her when Joseph begins the “To be or not to be” speech. The two are attracted to each other and continue to meet up. However, just as Maria was trying to convince him that she can’t run off and live on a farm with him, they get word that Germany has invaded Poland. Sobinski has to go fight with the Air Force while the actors run for cover. While Sobinski is in England, he and some fellow pilots are cavorting with Professor Siletsky, whom they believe is on their side. When Siletsky mentions he will be going back to Poland soon, the pilots gladly hand over addresses of their loved ones so he can deliver messages for them. Sobinski asks Siletsky to give a message to Maria, but Sobinski quickly realized Siletsky wasn’t who he says he is when he says he doesn’t know who Maria Tura is. Maria was so famous in Poland that there was no way someone from Poland could possibly not know who she is.
Realizing they had just given the Nazis the names and addresses of important people in the Polish resistance, Sobinski is sent to Warsaw to warn people about Siletsky. He gives Maria a message to pass on to the Polish resistance, and just as she returns from delivering the message, she is stopped by some Nazis. They bring her to Siletsky, who tries to convince her to become a Nazi spy. When she finally does get home, she finds her husband very confused about what is going on and why Sobinski is in their apartment. But ultimately, the three of them decide the best thing to do is to kill Siletsky. So Maria goes back to see Siletsky and pretends to be on their side, while Joseph gets the other actors to put on their costumes from Gestapo. One of the actors in costume goes to see Siletsky and tells him that he is wanted at Gestapo headquarters. Little does he know that Gestapo headquarters are really the theater that has been decorated with props from the play.
Eventually, Siletsky realizes Joseph is an actor and pulls a gun on him. Joseph tries to escape, Siletsky chases after him, and Siletsky is shot and killed on the stage of the theater. Joseph then disguises himself as Siletsky so he can get into his hotel room and destroy the incriminating information. But at the hotel, his disguise really does fool a Nazi officer, who brings him to meet some real Nazi officials. The next day, Siletsky’s body is found and, not knowing that the Nazis know that Siletsky is dead, he poses as Siletsky again to arrange another meeting. The Nazis now know something is going on, and although Joseph manages to get out of the situation, they know it’s only a matter of time before the Nazis figure them out. So they decide to make one last bold attempt to get out of the country — on Hitler’s own plane.