Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Lights, Camera, Action

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1999-08 Field.jpg


THERE must be few among us who do not have a soft spot for the movies —at the very least a handful of all-time favourite films, or a hero (or goddess) of the silver screen. Even this enthusiasm, it transpires, is the stuff of an ever-expanding market of entertainment memorabilia. It may not be such a very large step, after all, from adoring a particular film to wanting to own some small part of it.

Phillips pioneered the sale of rock, pop and entertainment material in London in the early Eighties, and when impresario Ted Owen left to join Bonhams Chelsea, the market more or less followed him (Sotheby's and Christie's South Kensington also hold annual sales). His annual sales receive many international consignments and embrace everything from film costumes, scripts, artwork, stills, animation cels, posters and signed photographs, to material from the more commercially challenging area of music hall and theatre — opera and ballet groupies, it appears, don't go in for exchanging odds and ends, except when the subject is Callas or Nureyev.

Under the gavel we have seen the likes of Charlie Chaplin's ragamuffin suit and a pair of his prop shoes with holes drilled in the heel, worn to enable him to teeter dizzyingly high up on a skyscraper girder, to costumes worn by Madonna. Props have included the eponymous Maltese falcon and Schwarzenneger's Terminator machine-gun, Dr Who Daleks (over £2,000 if restored) and outfits straight off the Starship Enterprise (£500). A Dalek or Klingon or two apparently assures a queue down the street for the view.

Ted Owen's forthcoming extravaganza on 18 and 19 August promises the Persian hat made for Omar Sharif in Dr Zhivago (estimate £250 to £350), a Marilyn Monroe fur (estimate £400 to £600) and the suit Clark Gable wore when he uttered "Frankly, m'dear..." There is even the key to his dressing-room door (estimate £400 to £600). Here, too, is a collection of 1936 silver Gelatin prints taken on the set of The Charge Of The Light Brigade by Pinewood's official photographer (estimate £500 to £600).

As one might expect, Gone With The Wind is the most most collectible film of all time, but way up on the list is King Kong and various vintage Gothic horrors. A Brides Of Frankenstein poster has even sold for £150,000. Celebrity autographs are valued by their date and rarity — rare Garbo signatures fetched up to £3,000 until her death; then they flooded the market and are now down to around £600.

Hand-painted animation cels are also emerging as collectibles, even where they are modern limited-edition reproductions issued by the studios. Original production eels are most admired. Though these were made in the millions, most were burned rather than stored — they were made of highly inflammable celluloid. Something early, such as a now almost sepia dwarf from Snow White, the first Disney feature, fetches around £4,000 to £6,000, while others can fetch a few hundred.

Perhaps it is time to search granny's old trunk for signed programmes and photos?


Stage Door Prints, 9 Cecil Court, London WC2,

Tracks, PO Box 117, Chorley, Lancashire.

The Cinema Bookshop, 13-14 Great Russell

Street, London WC1

The Cinema Museum, The Master's House,

off Renfrew Road, London SEI I.

Caption: Above: This animation eel of Pinocchio sold for £1,100 in 1996. Left: A letter from Elvis Presley to his fans written during his military service is expected to fetch around £6,000

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  • APA 6th ed.: (August 1999). Lights, Camera, Action. The Field p. 27.
  • MLA 7th ed.: "Lights, Camera, Action." The Field [add city] August 1999, 27. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Lights, Camera, Action." The Field, edition, sec., August 1999
  • Turabian: "Lights, Camera, Action." The Field, August 1999, section, 27 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Lights, Camera, Action | url=,_Camera,_Action | work=The Field | pages=27 | date=August 1999 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 May 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Lights, Camera, Action | url=,_Camera,_Action | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=26 May 2024}}</ref>