Where is… the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Car Now?

For my eighth birthday, I was given the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack. I loved the movie so much that my mom got it for me. The movie is a classic…and what’s not to like… a flying car…that is all it took to get my attention and the catchy theme song.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang found fame in the 1968 children’s movie of the same name starring Dick van Dyke. The magical car not only traveled on land but could fly and also float on water. The car was designed by the film’s production designer, Ken Adam.

The original driving car that was used in the film and the final product weighed approximately 2 tons, was 17 feet long, and built on a custom made ladder frame chassis.

The alloy dashboard plate was from a British World War I fighter plane. All of this was built around a modern Ford V6 engine with Automatic transmission. Chitty rolled out of the workshop in June 1967 and was registered with the number plate GEN 11 given to her by Ian Fleming in his novel.

For the 1968 film, six cars were created, this one was the fully functional road-going car.

From 1970 to 2011, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car was owned by a man named Pierre Picton, who toured in the car, taking it to various auto shows around the UK. In 2011, the car was auctioned for $805,000.

The acclaimed Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson purchased the car. Jackson has since used the vehicle to raise money for charities in various capacities. The car is kept in New Zealand where it is registered as GEN 1I, because the original Gen 11 Plate was already taken.

 

 

Where is…The original Death Star model from Star Wars now?

It’s unbelievable how close this famous movie prop came to being lost.

The model used in the film along with some other props were thought to be garbage after the movie finished filming.

Many of the props were kept in a facility called Dollar Moving and Storage. The storage unit was rented by the studio and upon completion of postproduction, the studio decided they no longer wanted to pay rent and ordered everything in storage to be discarded. An employee named Doug W. rescued many of the props from the garbage including the Death Star. In a world before ebay…who knows what was lost.

Doug displayed the Death Star in his home in California for about a decade. Around 1988, Doug moved to Missouri and stored the Death Star at his mother’s antique shop (Sutter’s Mill Antiques, later renamed The Mexican Hillbilly) in Missouri.

Todd Franklin, a Star Wars collector living in the area, drove by the antique shop and was immediately convinced it had to be the original Death Star model. Todd wondered how and why the original Death Star was in Missouri. He made some calls and was convinced it was the one. He was going to buy it but before he got back it was sold to another person named Mark who was the owner of a country and western music show called Star World. Mark displayed the Death Star in the lobby.

In 1994 Todd, his brother Pat, and friend Tim Williams traveled to Star World who was going out of business. The Death Star was being used as a trash can in the corner! Todd made an offer and bought it on the spot. All three owned it and contacted Lucasfilm but they did not want to buy it back.

In 1999 Gus Lopez contacted Todd, Pat, and Tim and negotiated a price. Now, Gus owns the famous Death Star.

Since then, Lopez has had the original Death Star on display in a custom-made case in his home, and he even loaned it to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle (though Lopez refers to it by its former name: the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum) for a five-year stint.

Gus Lopez: “The EMP gave it top billing in the museum with a prominent spot at the center of one of the main rooms. I got a kick out of reading about the Death Star in local tourist literature and walking by the Death Star on display at the museum to hear conversations from people telling their stories about what Star Wars meant to them. And now the Death Star is back home, where I see it every day. And when I look at it, I am still amazed it survived its long journey and is sitting right in front of me.”

Image result for original death star

 

Where is…Rosebud from Citizen Kane Now?

There were three Rosebuds made to burn at the end of the film. Orson Welles directed all the insert photography and Welles was happy with the second sled they burned, and so the third sled was not needed, and that was put in storage at RKO Pictures.

After that…The sled had been owned by John Hall, RKO’s chief archivist, who had bought it from a studio watchman. The watchman had found it in a trash heap outside the prop vault in the old RKO studios in Hollywood.

Steven Spielberg bought Rosebud during a Sotheby’s auction in 1982.  He paid $60,500 for the prop sled, beating out other bidders.

Spielberg has now donated the sled to the Academy Museum. The Museum is set to open on December 14, 2020, per their website.

Steven Spielberg: “It’s going to be at the Academy Museum eventually – the new Academy Museum. It’s in my office right now and it’s been there for years and years, ever since I purchased it. It was at home for a while and then it was in my office. But I think it really belongs in a museum so everybody can see it.”

spielberg sled

Steven talks about Rosebud starting around 7:12

Robinson Crusoe on Mars

I watched this movie in the early eighties with my dad, it was on the late, late, late-night show and I could not remember the title…with that title, it doesn’t seem possible. I remembered one scene of the movie and googled it for years and 5 years ago…I finally found it. It was better than I thought it would be after watching it as an adult.

The movie was released in 1964 and the special effects were great for being what it was…a 1960s science fiction movie. There are no fake-looking monsters in rubber masks running around and the scenery looks really good. The first half is slow but it picks up well in the second half. Paul Mantee plays the lead role and he does it well. Also, you will see a young Adam West in this one. He is in it a short while.

After a slow start where our stranded astronaut has to find his way around the alien planet, things pick up with the arrival of an odd Man Friday-type who leads him out of the grasp of the aliens who descend with destruction in mind. Mantee holds the lead role together well.

For a low-budget film, this is visually stunning at times. The pre-CGI special effects occasionally fail to convince but the inventiveness of the crew makes it special in its own way.

I would recommend watching this on a slow Sunday. It’s not Star Wars by any means but a fun 60’s movie.

Here is a short description in IMDB

During a flight to Mars in the spaceship Mars Gravity Probe 1, Commander Christopher ‘Kit’ Draper and Colonel Dan McReady are forced to deviate from an asteroid and they leave their spacecraft in pods. Draper lands on the surface of the Red Planet and survives. He learns how to produce oxygen and while exploring the planet, he finds McReady dead in his crashed pod. He finds also the monkey Mona and brings the animal to the cave where he is sheltered. He learns that he can breathe the Martian air for short periods but needs also oxygen. But Mona finds water and an edible plant in the underground. .After a long period alone, Draper feels the loneliness. One day, he sees a spacecraft landing on Mars and he believes it might be the rescue team to save him. But he finds aliens working on the planet and some of them are slaves. One of them flees and stumble with Draper and he names him Friday. Now he needs to find a way to be rescued and return to Earth

 

 

 

Let’s All Go To The Lobby!

“Let’s All Go To The Lobby” is an animated short from the 1950’s that was played before movies and during drive-in intermissions.

This advertisement is beyond catchy. It’s hard to get it out of your head. Plus, who doesn’t want to see singing popcorn, candy, and a drink? I KNOW I DO!

I see this occasionally at the theater when they are showing an older movie.

In 1957 Chicago-based Filmack Studios released the trailer animated by the producer of Popeye, Dave Fleischer, as part of a series of similar Technicolor shorts to promote the newly installed concession stands in theaters across the country.

Filmack has continued selling copies in the decades since its production. The company estimates that 80% of independent theaters have screened the film at various points.

In 2000, “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

So everyone… Let’s Go Out To The Lobby!!!!

Let’s All Go To The Lobby

Let’s all go to the lobby
Let’s all go to the lobby
Let’s all go to the lobby
And get ourselves a treat

Delicious things to eat
The popcorn can’t be beat
The sparkling drinks are just dandy
The chocolate bars and nut candy
So let’s all go to the lobby
And get ourselves a treat
Let’s all go to the lobby
And get ourselves a treat

New Beatles Let It Be Movie attempts to “bust the myth”

Peter Jackson combed through 55 hours of video footage to give a broader picture of the Let It Be sessions. A short preview was shown and it showed the Beatles in good spirits…against what we have read about. There was drama, but from what is being said…there was more good than not.

It will be interesting to get more of a broader picture of that time in the Beatles career…right before they made Abbey Road.

I will be there when it’s released. Here are a couple of articles.

https://variety.com/2020/music/news/beatles-peter-jackson-film-let-it-be-sessions-jolly-1203486729/

https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/music/1235056/The-Beatles-movie-Peter-Jackson-Let-It-Be-documentary-John-Lennon-Paul-McCartney

 

 

Charlie Chaplin – City Lights

Another masterpiece by Chaplin. This 1931 movie followed “The Circus” and is truly a classic. It is like watching poetry in action on the screen. The shooting of this movie was full of stops and troubles for Charlie but the finished product flows perfectly. Chaplin’s pantomime works so well in this silent movie that you never miss dialog.

While other movies at the time were going toward “talkies” Chaplin stuck stubbornly to silent and the film is all the better for it. Sound films at the time were in their infancy and they were more times than not very clumsy. The actors would talk too loud and be glued to a single spot because of bulky cameras and microphones they had to use.

The Gold Rush has been mentioned as Chaplin’s best movie but this one is just as good or better. The last scene is one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie…silent or otherwise.

Chaplin had trouble with Virginia Cherrill the leading lady. She wasn’t an actress, she was a Chicago Socialite. Chaplin liked working with someone with little or no acting experience. He spent weeks showing her how to hold a flower properly. Chaplin was a perfectionist and would think nothing of shooting a scene over 300 times.

He spent almost 3 years filming this movie and almost scrapped it all at the end and replace Virginia and refilm but decided against it when he looked at the cost. After all of the trouble he went through including a divorce at the beginning of filming…he turned out another masterpiece.

If you haven’t tried a silent movie…give this one a try. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton made some of the best comedies ever…not just in the silent period.

Below the trailer is an outtake from City Lights that he didn’t use…it’s brilliant how he used a simple piece of wood on a city grate to make a great comedy scene that he deemed unworthy. I used this clip in an earlier post on the Unknown Chaplin…if you get a chance… watch it…it’s only around 7 minutes long.

Short plot description of City Lights from IMDB

A simple story of The Little Tramp who meets a lovely blind girl selling flowers on the sidewalk who mistakes him for a wealthy duke. When he learns that an operation may restore her sight, he sets off to earn the money she needs to have the surgery. In a series of comedy adventures that only Chaplin could pull off, he eventually succeeds, even though his efforts land him in jail. While he is there, the girl has the operation and afterward yearns to meet her benefactor. The tear-inducing closing scene, in which she discovers that he is not a wealthy duke but only The Little Tramp, is one of the highest moments in movies.