“For Corvette enthusiasts, the real star of ‘Clambake’ is the 1959 Stingray Racer concept— the car that is said to be the opening design salvo in what became the 1963 Corvette Stingray. While Corvette innovation was experience an exciting acceleration, the days of big money movie deals for Elvis were downshifting. Riffing on the similarity of every Elvis movie to every other Elvis movie, a studio executive once quipped: ‘Why do we bother to give his movies titles – couldn’t they just be numbered?'”
“The ’59 Stingray Racer has its own unique history. Designed by Peter Brock and Larry Shinoda, the chassis was provided from one of Duntov’s 1956 Corvette SS tubular frame racers. GM’s styling chief Bill Mitchell purchased the chassis and then directed and funded the design of the car in Chevrolet’s secretive Studio X. Once completed, Mitchell took the car racing as a privateer. The Stingray Racer was raced in 1960 SCCA competition by The Flying Dentist, Dr. Dick Thompson, who would bring home the C-Modified class championship in the car.
It’s absolutely crazy to think that the same 1968 Mustang GT Fastback driven in Bullitt by Steve McQueen himself, would end up in the hand’s of an unassuming New Jersey housewife… But that’s exactly what happened.
“After Bullitt wrapped, the hero car was sold to a studio executive in Los Angeles, who kept it briefly before selling it, coincidentally, to a police detective. The officer shipped the car to New York and kept it for about three and a half years before placing a for-sale ad in the back of Road & Track magazine in 1974. His $6,000 asking price was somewhat steep, but Robert Kiernan, a New Jersey insurance executive and Mustang fan, went out to look at it. He bought it for his wife to use as a daily driver.” –Vanity Fair
The original 1968 Mustang GT Fastback from Bullitt in Sean Kiernan’s secret barn in Nashville. Inset, the letter from Steve McQueen to Robert Kiernan, dated 1977. (via Vanity Fair) Courtesy of Ford/Historic Vehicle Association.
“When Push Comes to Shove” black & gold custom chopper built for Brad Pitt by Indian Larry Legacy (Paul Cox & Keino Sasaki), paint by Vince Szarek, and amazingly intricate engraving work by Tarrera.
“I try to carve out time for a solo ride in every country I travel to, from the Highlands of Scotland to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco to the belly of India. I haven’t even come close to fulfilling my list—yet. . . . But in the traffic of L.A. with a helmet on, I’m just another asshole on the road.” –Brad Pitt (Photograph by Mark Seliger for DETAILS magazine at Humboldt Redwoods State Park to promote the film Fury, 2014.) VIA
Alice Denham — writer, Playboy centerfold, film actress who left a vivid chronicle of her literary and sexual adventures in her 2006 memoir, “Sleeping With Bad Boys: A Juicy Tell-All of Literary New York in the Fifties and Sixties.”
“Manhattan was a river of men flowing past my door, and when I was thirsty, I drank.”
Ms. Denham came to New York in the early 1950s, fresh from the University of Rochester, with two things on her mind: literary fame and romance. The city held forth the promise of both, in abundance. “New York in the fifties was like Paris in the twenties.”
A stunning beauty with a talent for repartee, she made her way easily into Manhattan’s literary salons, and her presence did not pass unnoticed by a long list of editors, publishers, film producers, actors and writers — most of whom made a play for her, quite a few successfully.
Her conquests, she said, included the actor James Dean, a close friend until he fell hard for the Italian actress Pier Angeli; the authors James Jones, William Gaddis, Evan S. Connell and Philip Roth; and Hugh Hefner, whom she had persuaded, in a clever gambit, to feature her as a centerfold and reprint, as part of the package, her first published short story.
“Of course he was no egalitarian,” Ms. Denham wrote. “But he possessed one of the finer male characteristics I was aware of: He liked my writing.”
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.
“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
“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.
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.
It’s a good goddamn sign when people take it upon themselves to create an event (that holy shit, doesn’t even exist?!) like the Motorcycle Film Festival. And it’s a helluva feeling when it’s Jack and Corinna tapping you to participate and even be a judge. Get ready for the 1st annual Motorcycle Film Festival coming your way! Hot Damn!
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…
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.”
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
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.