Wet Muscle…

image-0224image-0225image-0228image-0229Costume month draws to a close on SUPERMANIA with a preview of not one, but two magnificent lots soon coming up for auction from Propstore – the quality, provenance and likes of which that may never be seen again.

With Warner Bros. recent announcement that no further items of wardrobe from the classic Superman movies will released into the collectors market, these two immaculate pieces may well represent the best and last of their archive made available.

And quite the fascinating tales they tell.  Studio labelled throughout and complete with COA from WB, these special-effects purpose tunics offer rare insight into the considerable effort made in 1978 to convince audiences a man could fly.

Custom-made for specific scenes, the differences between what, on screen, represent exactly the same outfit in reality are marked.  Note the colour differentiation between the blues for the tunic made to not darken when soaked through to a tunic (minus shorts) tailored for flying against a front-projection screen.

Commanding appropriate reserves and going under the gavel on Sept. 23rd, these choice examples of film/comic book history form part of the astonishing collection offered in the Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction being held at the BFI IMAX in London’s Waterloo. Besides the beautifully presented catalogue (pages reproduced above), live previews of 250 treasures will be available courtesy of ODEON (dates TBA) in a museum grade exhibition…

UPDATE: Video of the lot here.

“My Attachment…”

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimageCostume month on SUPERMANIA gains momentum with this fascinating and unique variation of the iconic outfit made especially for Margot Kidder in Richard Donner’s Superman II.

As originally scripted, the scenes between Lois Lane and Kal-El in the Fortress Of Solitude conclude with the very controversial (at the time) consummation of their relationship before the sacrifice his of powers for love.  Later, as Clark/Superman confides in his father that all he craves is the chance to live a ‘normal’ life, Lois appears wearing the Superman tunic as a nightshirt.

This particular tunic (one of three made) was specifically tailored to appear oversized for Margot from the same Bridal weight Spandex as the full costumes and was used to photograph wig tests prior to the filming (top pic).  Asked about the footage only days ago – Margot herself recalls –

“I don’t remember wearing that at all but there was a love scene and Lois wore that the next morning. I don’t think the scene made it into the movie but I’m not sure. my hair was never like that in the Donner version. I had my own hair, not those hideous wigs. Harry (Dick) would never have allowed me to wear such an ill fitting piece of crap on my head..”

This entire sequence would be ultimately be excised and rewritten after both Richard Donner’s departure and Marlon Brando’s salary demands forced the Producers (and replacement director Richard Lester) to reshoot all of Jor-El’s scenes with Susannah York.  In this theatrical version, Superman would first be de-structured before spending the night with Lois as a mortal man.

It would be almost thirty years before the sequence as originally shot would be discovered in UK vaults and restored for inclusion in Superman II; The Richard Donner Cut, where Margot does indeed appear wearing the tunic (without said hairpiece.)

Amazingly, one of the tunics would survive in pristine condition to this day and form part of the significant collection of the UK office of Propstore, where it was mounted in an acrylic case with its label still attached (second pic). The accompanying sign (third pic) eloquently highlights the differences between the structure of this shirt versus the bodysuits (where its appearance suggests Superman’s costume in the movie framework is a top and tights as opposed to leotard) and its provenance from Warner Bros (Read Jason DeBord’s assessment on The Original Prop Blog here).

Propstore would later offer the tunic on the market (read the listing here) and in the hands of a private collector in the UK it was recently photographed being signed by Margot Kidder at a con (bottom pic).

While an owner has the right to do what he pleases with his property, SUPERMANIA nonetheless urges fellow collectors never to interfere with any original costume in such a fashion as it dramatically affects the value of the piece…

Coming soon, the Super-auction to end all auctions…

Oh Boy…

Fullscreen capture 03082015 193741Fullscreen capture 03082015 194015Fullscreen capture 03082015 193922Fullscreen capture 03082015 200057Costume month continues here at SUPERMANIA with this most curious clash of silver and small screen, culminating in the final appearance of a Christopher Reeve worn Super-suit and its eventual fate as restaurant decoration.

After a five-year respite between their last critical and commercial failure of Supergirl in 1984 and having sold the rights to Superman in 1985, Producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind were back in the super-business with a typically ambitious venture to be shot at Disney MGM Studios in Florida – Superboy – The Series.

Importing both trusted resources and crew from the UK (among them effects guru Colin Chilvers), this left-over wardrobe from their groundbreaking Superman movies was one of a number of costume pieces to be adapted for their first foray into television.

Though not strictly canon with the Super-movies, the show would inevitably share many paralells with its big-screen incarnation, from production-values to a young lead with an uncanny resemblance to their original star.  In fact, newcomer John Haymes-Newton would screentest in a complete Christopher Reeve costume (as seen in the first season DVD set) and his own costumes would be made from the same bridal-weight spandex as its predecessor.  The Superboy costumes would also utilize the remaining stock of belts and capes worn in the films, the latter already having been cut shorter for Supergirl.

As the first season broadcast it became evident the one thing it didn’t share with its cinematic counterpart was the quality of its special effects and more importantly, scripts. To that end, having given a competent performance for the first 26 episodes, Newton would be replaced by less expensive/troublesome Gerard Christopher (screentesting in one of Newton’s suits) and the entire production moved to Universal Studios, Orlando.

For the remaining three seasons, Christopher would make the role his own supported by IIan Mitchell-Smith (Best remembered as Wyatt from Weird Science) as quirky comic-relief roomate Andy McCallister.  For the two-parter “Bizarro – The Thing of Steel” and   “The Battle with Bizzaro’ Smith as McCallister shows up for a costume party as Superboy ironically dressed in a screenused Superman suit (top pic)

Although the boots are a recycled pair of Newton’s (second pic) the costume is clearly the same Reeve suit as used in Newton’s screentest and, while faded (it was 11 years old at this point) holds up well to Christopher’s fresher incarnation (bottom pic).

In 1992 after 100 episodes, The Adventures of Superboy would end its run having left a modest mark in super-history.  Many of its props and costumes would find their way into private collections but the Superman costume shown here with its colourful history would go on to enjoy a retirement displayed proudly in the Downtown Disney branch of Planet Hollywood, where, reunited with its matching boots, it would be suspended from the ceiling for years until being relocated to the lobby in an acrylic case for thousands to enjoy…

NSCCShowOff…

IMG_5979IMG_5985IMG_5988IMG_5980August is Supersuit month here at SUPERMANIA with a series of posts dedicated to the iconic costume past, present and future in anticipation of the newly revised and updated feature coming soon to Capedwonder,com.

This first contribution from Superfan Jonathan Pierson is a superb example, appearing in the most unexpected of places but to longtime readers of the blog, this particular display may seem familiar.  Jon takes up the story here –

“I attended the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, IL (http://www.nsccshow.com/). It was held at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center from Thursday, July 30th to Sunday August 2nd. As you can see from the title it is a Sports Collectors Convention which was why I was pleasantly surprised to walk in and see the Christopher Reeve Superman suit on display. It was on display right at the entrance. I couldn’t tell if it was up for auction or not but thanks to your articles I was carefully looking at the fabric to see if it was authentic. I took the photos of the suit with an iPhone camera and was upset that I didn’t bring my better camera but then again, I wasn’t expecting to see the suit there. I was wondering if it really was a suit that Reeve wore. The mannequin that it was on made it look rather small but I am guessing that it would have stretched to fit him. I believe the display listed the suit as being from the first movie. They also had on display the green crystal used by Marlon Brando to put into the ship before it took off. It seems like you guys know some of the history of this particular suit and I would love to learn more about it…”

Made public from ‘The most significant Christopher Reeve Superman collection in private hands’ and offered in auction by Profiles in History in July 2012, the complete, genuine outfit above was formerly part of the Dreier Collection and sold for an impressive $65,000.

As these latest pictures show, little has changed from how the lot was presented a few years ago and seems to be in the same fine condition.  Still mounted on its uncomfortably thin mannequin in an awkward pose, the suit is hardly shown off to its maximum potential unstretched and almost calls its authenticity into question with its wonky chest shield and barely attached cape.

Boldly exhibited in open air there is thankfully enough detail here (tacky sign notwithstanding) to reassure that this is indeed a genuine and enduring piece, with the stitchlines in the boots and unique lycra weave present and correct.  Thanks to Jon for this great find…!