MARILYN MONROE, THE TALK OF HOLLYWOOD | 1952 PHOTOGRAPHY OF PHILIPPE HALSMAN

In 1952, LIFE magazine assigned photographer Philippe Halsman to shoot Marilyn Monroe in her tiny Hollywood studio apartment. The resulting cover photo (at the end of this post) pushed her over the top, giving her immediate superstar status, and 20th Century Fox jumped to sweeten her existing multi-year contract to keep their starlet happy.

Marilyn Monroe LIFE Magazine Philippe Halsman photo shoot 1952 crop 900

“I drove to the outskirts of Los Angeles where Marilyn lived in a cheap two-room apartment. What impressed me in its shabby living room was the obvious striving for self-improvement. I saw a photograph of Eleanora Duse and a multitude of books that I did not expect to find there, like the works of Dostoyevsky, of Freud, the History of Fabian Socialism, etc. On the floor were two dumbbells.

I took hundreds of pictures. Finally I asked her to stand in the corner of the room. I was facing her with my camera, the LIFE reporter and my assistant at my sides. Marilyn was cornered and she flirted with all three of us. And such was her talent that each one of us felt that if only the other two would leave, something incredible would happen. Her sex-appeal was not a put-on– it was her weapon and her defense.” –Philippe Halsman

Marilyn Monroe LIFE Magazine Philippe Halsman Photo 1952 900

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CRY BABY | JOHNNY DEPP IN JOHN WATERS’ ’50S HIGH SCHOOL HELLCATS CULT CLASSIC

johnny depp cry baby harley-davidson motorcycle

“John Waters’ musical ode to the teen rebel genre is infectious and gleefully camp, providing star Johnny Depp with the perfect vehicle in which to lampoon his pin-up image.” –Roger Ebert. Well said. Depp has always deftly embraced ironic roles to deflect the trappings of his undeniable handsome-as-hell looks. 21 Jump Street definitely had the potential to pigeon-hole his career, had he been a lesser actor.

Cry Baby would go on to become a cult classic, due largely to the pouty lipped, chiseled face of a young Johnny Depp in his physical prime, and on a Harley to boot. (They used a Sportster and K model, both red, that they swapped a few times in the film apparently with the thought that it would go mostly unnoticed.) For me the enduring 1950s aesthetic is always a draw, and Waters’ witty one-liners are priceless. And let’s not forget the interest that was stirred up back then by the young and sultry Traci Lords. It was her first non-nude screen role following her controversial (not to mention highly illegal) underage porn career that was still hot on everyone’s tongues and minds.

still-johnny-depp,-traci-lords-ricki-lake-cry-baby-(1990)

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FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH | CROWE’S UNDERCOVER HIGH SCHOOL MASTERPIECE

sean penn fast times at ridgemont high spicoli sean penn cover

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) remains one of my favorite teen / high school films of all time. It brilliantly captures the cultural touchstones of a generation, and the glory days of youth long gone by– before we were slaves to technology and all this social media bullshit.

A young Cameron Crowe, then a freelance writer for Rolling Stone magazine, went undercover as a student at Clairemont High School in San Diego, CA to write a book (of the same name), which he also adapted for the film. In Fast Times we get to witness a bevy of young Hollywood stars already in the making– Sean Penn (who totally stole the film, and birthed an army of Spicoli wannabes in high schools across the country), Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There are also early appearances by relative unknowns at the time who would go on to major stardom– Nicolas Cage, (then Nicolas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony (Goose) Edwards. Fast Times’ soundtrack was also groundbreaking, featuring a quintessential blend ’70s & ’80s rock & roll artists, that to me, will forever be connected with the film. I mean, who can hear “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars without instantly thinking of that hot, hormone-raging pool scene? Epic.

Haters gonna hate, but eat this– In 2005, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. If you’re of this era it’s definitely a film that still resonates and makes you want to roll a fat one, throw on your Vans, hit the arcade, grab some tasty waves, and meet some babes.

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ROBERT REDFORD ON TWO WHEELS FINDS HIS PROMISED SUNDANCE LAND

A very cool little insight below about how Robert Redford first stumbled upon his higher calling in life while riding his bike. Further proof that Four wheels move the body– but two wheels move the soul! More on Sundance later…

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ca. 1972 — Robert Redford, looking very Jeremiah Johnson here, on his Yamaha dirt bike — Image by Orlando Globey

Robert Redford stumbled upon what would become Sundance while riding his motorcycle from his home in California to school at the University of Colorado in the 1950s and saw the totemic 12,000 foot Mount Timpanogos. “It reminded me of the Jungfrau in Switzerland,” he says. “It stuck in my head.”

He later met and married a Mormon girl from Provo, came back, and bought two acres of land for $500 in 1961 from the Stewarts, a sheep-herding family who ran the mom-and-pop Timphaven operation. Redford built a cabin and lived the mountain man life here with his young family when he wasn’t on set making his early films.

By the late 1960s, developers were beginning to change the face of Utah. Redford scrambled– using some movie earnings and rounding up investor friends to purchase another 3,000 acres, heading off a development of A-frames that would have been marched up the canyon on quarter-acre lots.

“I was determined to preserve this, but it was not bought with big money. That kind of development was the reason I left Los Angeles. So I bought the land and started the Sundance Institute before there was anything here. I was advised that I was out of my mind. But I wanted the perfect marriage of art and nature.”  

–By Everett Potter for SKI magazine, 2008

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ca. 1972 — Robert Redford, looking very Jeremiah Johnson here, on his Yamaha dirt bike — Image by Orlando Globey

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ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE MAKING OF PSYCHO | TSY REQUIRED READING

Hitchcock. Are you kidding me? Oh, hells yes. I will see this. Based on Stephen Rebello’s 1990 classic Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho — a literary deep-dive into Hitch’s low-budget (intentionally budgeted and shot for under $1M because he wanted to one-up the B-movie movement of that time…), black & white (because Hitch knew the film would simply be too damn gory for viewers and censors alike if shot in color…) menacing masterpiece. Scheduled for release on the big screen sometime in 2013 — and starring Sir Anthony Hopkins. You’ve got time, so I recommend that you bone-up now and check out the book beforehand. It’s a great read for Hitchcock (and classic cinema) fans.

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller “Psycho” was covertly referred to as “Production 9401” or “Wimpy” — the name Wimpy coming from cameraman, Rex Wimpy, who appeared on clapboards, production sheets, and studio stills. Cast and crew (Hitch borrowed his same crew from his TV series, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”) were forced to raise their right hand and sworn not to utter a word about the film. Hitchcock even guardedly withheld the climactic ending from the cast all the way up until it was actually shot. via

Alfred Hitchcock had a vacant cast chair marked “Mrs. Bates” placed eerily on the set of his 1960 “Psycho” throughout shooting, and even falsely reported to the press that he was auditioning for the role of Mrs. Bates to further add to the mystery around the film. — Image by © Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Actress Janet Leigh and Director Alfred Hitchcock on the set of his chilling 1960 masterpiece, “Psycho.” The much-talked-about Janet Leigh bra scenes had a definite method to their mammory madness. In the film, prior to swiping 40K for her lover, the bra is white– symbolizing innocence. After the dirty deed, the bra is black– symboling her crossing over to the dark side. Same with her purse…

A young Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, the role that dogged him for the rest of his acting career. When asked decades later if he would have turned down the role in retrospect, he noted that he’d absolutely do it all over again. “Pyscho” had many bird references– for example, Norman Bates was into stuffing birds (taxidermy, people…), Janet Leigh’s character was named Marion Crane, etc. “The Birds” would be Hitchcock’s next film.

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THE EPIC BIKE BUILD GOES TO GLORY | THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Honda CL350 motorcycle built by GLORY Motor Works for the film, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” –Image by © COOP, see more here

In case you missed it– Bike EXIF ran a great piece on the bike build by Justin Kell and crew at his GLORY Motor Works in LA for the highly anticipated David Fincher film, The Girl with the Dragon TattooAfter seeing the 2009 original, I’ve been going nuts waiting for Fincher’s release– as he’s bound to take Stieg Larsson’s riveting novel to cinematic greatness. He obviously picked the right guy to bring Lisbeth Slander’s bike alive– it will no doubt become a prime object of obsession in itself. Justin chose the humble Honda CL-350 (an unlikely hero, much like Lisbeth herself), whose classic, clean lines don’t need much finessing to quickly blossom into the ultimate bare-bones damaged bastard that packs more punch than meets the eye.

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THE PARTY THAT IS PETER SELLERS | 20TH CENTURY’S COMEDIC GENIUS

Peter Sellers was a complicated soul– reportedly a violently moody, self-loathing manic depressive with a voracious appetite for drugs and women. His wild lifestyle undoubtedly weakened his heart (in 1964 alone he suffered 13 heart attacks during his marriage to Britt Ekland), and led to his untimely death at the age of 54 in 1980. Admittedly Sellers was not always the funnest guy in real life, but he was undeniably a comic genius onscreen. I never was one for The Pink Panther films, maybe I didn’t give them a fair shake– but I love the madcap classics The Party (directed by Blake Edwards), What’s New Pussycat? (screenplay by Woody Allen), Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick’s dark classic), and the simply brilliant, Being There. He hung out with George and Ringo from The Beatles, and had a penchant for style that matched his rock star lifestyle. Peter Sellers will go down as one of the most unique comedic talents of the 20th century.

1968 — Peter Sellers in “The Party” directed by Blake Edwards

Peter Sellers in “The Party”

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REQUIRED VIEWING | STATE OF GRACE GARY OLDMAN AS JACKIE FLANNERY

“Looks like it’s time to kick some Guinea ass.”

–Gary Oldman as Jackie Flannery

Ask any hardcore Gary Oldman fan what their favorite on-screen performance is, and most won’t have to think twice– the loveable, loyal, lunatic Jackie Flannery in State of Grace. Directed by Phil Joanou (Rattle and Hum), released quietly in 1990, and largely overshadowed by another epic gangster flick that hit theaters that same week– Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Due largely to Oldman’s mesmerizing performance (one of the finest actors of our time), today State of Grace is considered by many mobster movie fans to rank up there with the best of the best.

Gary Oldman as badass Irish gangster Jackie Flannery in 1990’s “State of Grace”

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ALTMAN’S “McCABE & MRS. MILLER” | TSY REQUIRED VIEWING

1970 – ’71 was definitely a high-water mark for Film Director (not to mention a badass photographer to boot) Robert Altman.  Hot on the heels of M*A*S*H (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) was released and became, what many consider to be, one of Warren Beatty’s finest roles, and one of the best Westerns (or anti-Western, if you will) ever made according to many film aficionados.  It wasn’t your typical red-blooded Western by any stretch of the imagination. See it for yourself.

There was a definite charged energy on the set (shot completely in B.C.)— the reported tension between the egomaniac Beatty and the chill Altman– not to mention the sexual energy between Beatty and Christie, who were deep in the throes of a passionate love affair– is there any other kind of affair with Beatty? Then there’s the haunting film soundtrack including the legendary Leonard Cohen that accompanied Zsigmond’s “flashed” film negative. A truly ballsy move– Altman and Zsigmond shot the film “pre-fogged” through a number of filters to maintain the visual effect they wanted, rather than manipulate it in post-production. That ensured that studio wimps couldn’t later tune-down the film’s look to something more safe and conventional. Vilmos Zsigmond’s brilliant work would garner him a nomination by the British Academy Film Awards.

Enjoy these stunning images from the film and on set. Beatty, even being the huge ass that he was/is (seriously, bedded 13,000 ladies, WTF?), looks stunning (crushing it in a beard, bowler and fur coat)–and Julie Christie is definitely no slouch either. Hubba. Altman is throwing down some serious grizzly style as well– check that fringed suede jacket towards the end of the post.

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Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

Warren Beatty as John Q. McCabe, in a scene from Robert Altman’s 1971 anti-Western masterpiece, “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.”

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