The Rubby Slipper Mystery: The Wizard of Oz Dorothy Missing shiny shoes
The ruby slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum (website) in Grand Rapids, Minn., (that’s Garland’s hometown) in August 2005. The thief is apparently either some Oz-Dorothy-Judy-ruby-slipper fanatic – and there are plenty of those out there – or a savvy (if unscrupulous) investor. The bejeweled footwear is officially valued at US$1 million. (The most recent sale price of another pair of Judy’s Oz slippers, however, were sold at auction at Christie’s for $666,000 in 2000).
The stolen slippers’ rightful owner was Hollywood acting coach Michael Shaw, who had loaned them to the museum. (Shaw had paid $2,500 for his pair in the early 1970s; he received $666,000 from the museum’s insurance company.) When the theft took place, the museum alarm system had been shut off. The wicked thief of the Upper Midwest broke a back window in order to swipe the precious objects. The thief then clicked his/her heels and disappeared.
Three other pairs are known to have been used in The Wizard of Oz: One such pair is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History (website) in Washington, D.C., another belongs to collector Philip Samuels of St. Louis, and the third pair is owned by a memorabilia collector who, according to Schecter, “plans to open his own museum in Hollywood.”
Debbie Reynolds owns “a test pair” that was made for the movie but that never felt Dorothy’s feet while the cameras were rolling.
Needless to say, fans of Dorothy have been in an uproar.
“Everybody’s accusing everybody of stealing them,” the lead investigator on the case said.
Directed by Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind), with some assistance from King Vidor, The Wizard of Oz featured Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, and Margaret Hamilton.
San Francisco International Film Festival: ‘Nuovomondo’
The 2007 50th San Francisco International Film Festival – according to its organizers, the first such event in the Americas to turn 50 – will take place between April 26–May 6.
Among the scheduled films are:
On opening night, Emanuele Crialese’s Nuovomondo / Golden Door, Italy’s submission for this year’s best foreign-language film Academy Award will be presented at the Castro Theatre. Nuovomondo follows an Italian family who leaves a remote Sicilian village for the United States in 1913. Charlotte Gainsbourg heads the cast.
Also: Pedro Costa’s Juventude em Marcha / Colossal Youth, the director’s third installment in his ongoing portrayal of the residents of the Fontainhas district of Lisbon, a slum populated mostly by immigrants from the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde; Philippe Falardeau’s quirky Congorama, winner of Quebec’s Jutra Award for best film; Daniel Wu’s The Heavenly Kings, about three Hong Kong friends who form a boy band; and Ricardo Elias’ Os 12 Trabalhos / The 12 Labors, which transposes the Hercules myth to the urban chaos of 21st-century São Paulo where a young working-class man tries to make a living as a delivery boy. Star Sidney Santiago shared the Best Actor award at last year’s Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival.
Plus: Patrick Tam’s Hong Kong Film Award best picture winner After This Our Exile / Fu zi, about the difficult relationship between a boy (Gouw Ian Iskandar) and his abusive father (Aaron Kwok); Verónica Chen’s Argentinean psychological drama about competitive swimmers, Agua / Aguas argentinas; and Italian superstar Kim Rossi Stuart’s directorial debut, Anche libero va bene / Along the Ridge (lower photo), a family drama that brought Rossi Stuart a best new director nomination for this year’s Nastri d’Argento.
And more: Ray Lawrence’s well-received Australian psychological crime drama Jindabyne (upper photo), starring Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney, who were both nominated for the Australian Film Institute Awards; Olivier Dahan’s box office hit La Môme / La Vie en Rose (middle photo), starring Marion Cotillard as French singing legend Edith Piaf; Rajnesh Domalpalli’s Vanaja, about a low-caste fisherman’s daughter who struggles to find her place on the dance stage; and Alain Resnais’ haunting Coeurs / Private Fears in Public Places, an intelligent, funny, touching, and beautifully acted, directed, and photographed fairy tale about the human inability to connect with others.
And even more: Mary Olive Smith’s documentary A Walk to Beautiful, about young Ethiopian women traveling to Addis Ababa in order to receive adequate health care; Pascale Ferran’s Lady Chatterley, winner of the French Academy’s César for best film; Marwan Hamed’s remarkably accomplished – and quite controversial – feature-film debut, Omaret Yacoubian / The Yacoubian Building, about intimate goings-on in one of Cairo’s landmark apartment buildings; and Nanni Moretti’s multiple Nastri d’Argento-nominee Il Caimano / The Caiman, a surrealistic attack on (at the time) Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
And finally: Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, the first installment of Ray’s revered Apu Trilogy of the mid-to-late 1950s. Pather Panchali isn’t the best one of the three – Aparajito is by far the most involving – but even though Ray spends way too much time showing mosquitoes walking on water, this introduction to Apu’s poor Indian family offers several touching moments.
‘Rize’ & ‘Favela Rising’ Academy Screenings
Two acclaimed documentary features, David LaChapelle’s Rize (above) and Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary’s Favela Rising, will be screened on Wednesday, May 9, as the next installment in the 2006–2007 Contemporary Documentaries series, presented by the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the UCLA Film & Television Archive (website). The screenings will begin at 7 p.m. at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. Admission is free.
Rize looks at a South Central Los Angeles dance style known as “krumping.” As per the Academy’s press release, “the film focuses on a sub-community of young performers who, despite being surrounded by drug addiction, gang activity and poverty, remain optimistic and upbeat. The spirit and creativity of these krumpers allow them to rise above their environment and foster a sense of family where none existed before.” Rize was produced by LaChapelle, Marc Hawker, Ellen Jacobson-Clarke, Richmond Talauega, and Tone Talauega. Following the screening, LaChapelle will discuss the making of the film and take questions from the audience.
Favela Rising (above) is mostly set in Vigário Geral, “one of Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious slums, or favelas – home to teenage drug armies, ferocious violence and countless murders. In the film, one man, Anderson Sá, rallies his community to deploy music and dance as weapons against drug lords, corrupt police and the oppression of their surroundings. But just as the AfroReggae movement is showing signs of success, a tragic accident threatens its future.”
All screenings in the series are free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m. The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 Vine Street, at the northwest corner of Fountain Avenue and Vine Street in Hollywood. Parking is available behind the building through the entrance on Homewood Avenue, one block north of Fountain. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or (310) 206-FILM.
Whale Watching in Toronto: ‘Luna: Spirit of the Whale’
The Toronto International Film Festival for Children will present Don McBrearty’s made-for-television Canadian drama Luna: Spirit of the Whale tomorrow, April 18. Written by Elizabeth Stewart – whose screenplay was “inspired by real events” – Luna: Spirit of the Whale shows “how the plight of an orphaned orca impacts the lives of a man and a boy who are each searching for their place in the world.”
The film stars Adam Beach – who received considerable praise for his performance in Clint Eastwood’s World War II drama Flags of Our Fathers – as a man who, following his father’s death, returns to the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nations reserve on Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound. Once there, he becomes a mentor to a troubled youth (Aaron Miko). The appearance of an orphaned orca (a.k.a. “killer whale”) connects both men to their cultural heritage, with happy results for all involved.
Vancouver-born Jason Priestley (of Beverly Hills 90210) fame plays the role of a cultural heritage-less government official from Ottawa who wants to take the whale Luna elsewhere.
If Luna: Spirit of the Whale sounds like a sort of Canadian Whale Rider-meets-Free Willy, that’s probably no coincidence. But no matter how predictable the storyline, any movie co-starring a whale is worth a look. And as a plus, Luna supposedly boasts excellent underwater cinematography.
Luna: Spirit of the Whale cast
Besides Adam Beach, Jason Priestley, and Aaron Miko, Luna: Spirit of the Whale features Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee Graham Greene (for Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves), Tantoo Cardinal, Erin Karpluk, Michelle Harrison, and David Lewis. Jason Priestley, I should add, continues to make sporadic big-screen appearances, usually in supporting roles in indie fare. Recent and/or upcoming efforts include Going the Distance (2004), Hot Tamale (2006), and Made in Brooklyn (2007).
Adam Beach, Aaron Miko Luna: Spirit of the Whale photo: Screen Siren Pictures.