Marilyn Monroe

What’s on TCM: November 2011

If you’re a fan of blonde bombshells, this is the month for you!  Rather than having just one star of the month, TCM will be spotlighting two classic blondes every Monday and Wednesday this month.  All the classic blondes like Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Jean Harlow, and Jayne Mansfield (just to name a few) will be getting their time to shine.  And in preparation for the TCM Classic Film Cruise, they’ll be playing a night of movies set on ships every Thursday.  Lots of fun stuff to look forward to, so let’s get to my picks for the month:


What’s on TCM: September 2011

I hope everyone enjoyed Summer Under the Stars this year!  September is looking like it’s going to be a much quieter month, but there is still plenty to look forward to.  Most noteworthy, this month marks the TCM premiere of a couple long-awaited movies, The Constant Nymph and The Story of Temple Drake.  Kirk Douglas is September’s star of the month and there are some truly stellar nights of his movies to look forward to.  Laurel and Hardy fans will be happy to hear that the duo will be making a few appearances this month.  Thursday nights will be dedicated to celebrating fifty years of Merchant Ivory productions, and those nights tend to have too many modern movies for my liking.  But there are also TCM’s annual tributes to the Telluride Film Festival and the Library of Congress Film Archive, both of which have some pretty excellent stuff to look forward to.


Live Post: The Debbie Reynolds Auction

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!

MM – Personal: from the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is, without a doubt, one of the most extensively written-about movie stars of all time.  She died nearly fifty years ago and new books about her are still being published regularly.  By now, and I say this as a longtime fan of hers, it’s gotten to the point where I feel like saying, “How much more is there to possibly say about this woman?”  But luckily for Marilyn Monroe fans, Lois W. Banner has found a side of Marilyn that the public has never seen before.

In her new book “MM – Personal: from the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe,” Banner presents an intimate look at the life of Marilyn Monroe through thousands of letters, telegrams, receipts, photographs, press clippings, other documents and mementos that had all been in the possession of Marilyn’s former business manager Inez Melson for many years.  The book isn’t heavy on text, but all these documents and other objects have been very lovingly photographed.  The letters are photographed very clearly so you can easily read every word in them.  Even the most mundane items like receipts were thoughtfully arranged for lovely two-page spreads.

This book is interesting because it works on a few different levels.  It’s beautiful to flip through and look through all the pictures, so it works as a coffee table book.  Like I said, it’s not particularly heavy on the text, but that’s just the text written by Banner.  In this case, the pictures do most of the talking — or in this case, the writing.  There are so many documents photographed for the book that if you wanted to go through and actually read all the of them, you’d have some pretty serious reading material right there.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone just becoming acquainted with Marilyn’s life, but to longtime fans looking for a deeper understanding of her, this is a goldmine.  Usually, I don’t think of coffee table books as being particularly insightful, but this book pulls it off.  This is pretty much the most truly “behind the scenes” glimpse of Marilyn you could possibly want.  It’s very rare to find a book that truly does offer something new about Marilyn anymore, it’s a real gem.

Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)

Another case of a movie poster not truly reflecting the movie.

When airline pilot Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) gets a letter from his girlfriend Lyn Lesley (Anne Bancroft) to break up with him, he goes to the hotel nightclub she sings at to get some closure.  After Lyn says she’s breaking up with him because he isn’t understanding enough, Jed heads back to his room to spend some time with a bottle of Rye.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, Eddie the elevator operator has gotten his niece Nell (Marilyn Monroe) a job for the night babysitting for a couple of hotel guests.  After Nell gets the girl she’s watching, Bunny, to bed, she finds Bunny’s mother’s fancy robe and jewelery and because she was never allowed to have any of those things growing up, she can’t resist trying them on for just a few minutes.

Back in Jed’s room, he looks out his window and sees Nell in the negligee.  He figures out which room she’s in, calls her up, and asks to come over and Nell agrees.  Nell never tells him that she’s just babysitting for the night.  When he gets there, he can’t quite figure her out and her explanations as to why she’s staying at the hotel just aren’t adding up.  But since he wants to work on being more understanding, he gives her the benefit of the doubt.  However, when Jed mentions that he’s a pilot, things really start to unravel fast.  Nell had a boyfriend named Phillip who was killed in a plane crash and she starts to believe that Jed is actually Phillip.  But then, Bunny wakes up and comes out to see Nell still wearing her mother’s things and starts causing a ruckus.  Nell forces Bunny back to bed and orders her to be quiet.  But when Bunny starts crying, Jed goes to see if he can take care of her and Nell opens the window for her when she complains of being hot, but Nell warns her again that she better not make any more noise.  Nell believes that Bunny is trying to stop her from being with Jed, who she still believes is her dead boyfriend.

Jed has had just about enough for one night, but before he leaves, he notices some scars on Nell’s wrists and she confesses that she tried slashing her wrists after Phillip died.  Just as Jed is finally ready to leave, there’s a knock on the door from Eddie, who came to check on Nell.  Jed hides in the bathroom and Eddie is furious to see Nell wearing Bunny’s mother’s things.  When he orders her to take them off immediately, Nell becomes even more unstable and hits him with an ashtray.  Bunny screams again and Jed tends to Eddie while Nell quiets Bunny down by tying her up and gagging her.  Only this time, some nosy neighbors come to see what’s going on.  They’d seen men coming into the room and heard Bunny crying and came to make sure everything was OK.  While they’re talking to Nell, they get the idea that Jed was holding them captive.  Jed sneaks out while she’s talking to the neighbors, but he goes back when he realizes something wasn’t right with Bunny.  When he gets back to the room, he unties Bunny and frees Eddie from the closet he had been locked into.  When he gets out of the closet, Eddie finally admits that Nell had spent the last three years in a mental hospital.  After they realize that Nell is now missing, they find her in the lobby with a razor blade, threatening to commit suicide.  Jed manages to talk her down.  Lyn witnesses the whole thing and is willing to give Jed another chance while Nell is taken to get the help that she needs.

For being the massive pop culture icon that Marilyn Monroe is, I think she is severely underrated in some respects.  Specifically, in terms of how outstanding she could be in dramatic roles.  In my book, Don’t Bother to Knock and Bus Stop are Marilyn’s two most underrated performances.  Don’t Bother to Knock was Marilyn’s first attempt at serious acting and she did an excellent job with it.  When playing a person with a mental illness, it’s so easy to make it over the top, but she played Nell with a great deal of restraint and vulnerability, which make her character all the more dark and disturbing.  If you only know Marilyn Monroe for he comedic roles, then Don’t Bother to Knock is definitely worth seeing.  You’ll really get a look at a whole different side to her.  It’s also worth noting that this was Anne Bancroft’s film debut.  Anne had a fairly small part, she spent most of her on-screen time singing, but she was a very nice singer.

My Top 100, 90-81

Welcome to week two of counting down my top 100 favorite movies!  This week is a pretty eclectic bunch of movies.  There are a lot of lighthearted favorites, a couple of mysteries, some from the “I don’t usually like this kind of movie, but…” file, and even a few of my modern favorites.  So, let’s get to number 90…


What’s on TCM: June 2010

June is looking like a pretty stellar month on TCM.  Natalie Wood is the star of the month, which I’m happy to see since I’ve become pretty fond of her lately.  If you’re a Jeanette MacDonald fan, you’re really in luck because 10 of her movies are on this month.  It’s really a pretty diverse month.  You can see anything from tributes to Judy Garland and Jaques Cousteau to a day of movies about brides and a night of movies that involve mental institutions.  It’s going to be a busy month, so let’s get to the highlights.