News from The Northernstars Collection
by Ralph Lucas, Publisher
(March 9, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Long time fans of Northernstars.ca will know that we try very hard to have as much original and exclusive content as possible. Part of that is republishing articles, reviews and interviews from our Take One Magazine digital archives, which we purchased in 2007. And part of that is our ever-growing Northernstars Collection, where we acquire posters, stills, lobby cards, magazines and other ephemera dealing with Canadians in the movies from the silent era in Hollywood to more recent productions. Our oldest piece dates to 1885. Picking through some of our more recent acquisitions there`s a magazine from 1924 and a series of 4 stills showing James Cameron at work on Titanic.
The photo above was scanned from a series of lobby cards for Ghostbusters II. With the recent news that there will finally be a new instalment in the series and this time with an all female cast, we thought we should add these lobby cards to an earlier purchase of a set of lobby cards from the first Ghostbusters movie. Made in 1989 the sci-fi fantasy comedy was produced and directed by Ivan Reitman. The film grossed some $215 million and received mixed reviews. The main cast consists of Bill Murray as Peter Venkman, Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz, Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett, Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler, Rick Moranis as Louis Tully and Ernie Hudson as Winston Zeddemore.
This set of 8 lobby cards were in excellent condition and while not an expensive addition to the Collection, it was a chance to grow the collection and have images of Canadian costars Dan Aykroyd and Rick Moranis.
It’s hard to find photos of Ivan Reitman at work. We did, however, jump at the chance to get images of two other Canadian directors at work. In one, Canadian Film Centre founder Norman Jewison is pictured directing a scene from his hit movie, Moonstruck. Released in 1987, Roger Ebert gave it 4 out of 4 stars. It stars Cher, Nicolas Cage, Danny Aiello, Vincent Gardenia, and Olympia Dukakis.
Nominated for six Oscars® at the 60th Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, it won for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. Jewison did win the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for this film that went on to gross over 91-million dollars at the North American box office. Roger Ebert, writing about the movie, said, “Reviews of the movie tend to make it sound like a madcap ethnic comedy, and that it is. But there is something more here, a certain bittersweet yearning that comes across as ineffably romantic, and a certain magical quality.”
The other photo we’re showing here is one of four shots of Canadian-born James Cameron at work on Titanic. Due to his father’s career, the family moved to Orange County and Cameron went to California State University to study physics. Although he got good marks, he switched his major to English. He dreamed of being involved in filmmaking, a dream that had started as a young boy when he saw 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finally surrendering to his dreams, he dropped out of school and took a series of menial jobs including working in a machine shop, being a truck driver, a school bus driver, and painting pictures, which allowed him to write the stories he wanted to write. After toying with making his own short films, he landed a job as a miniature model maker for the Roger Corman Studios. Titanic was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won eleven, including the awards for Best Picture and Best Director, tying Ben Hur (1959) for the most Oscars won by a single film. Its initial worldwide gross was over $1.84 billion, the first film to reach the billion-dollar mark and remained the highest-grossing film of all time until Cameron`s 2009 film Avatar surpassed it in 2010. A 3D version of Titanic, released on April 4, 2012 to commemorate the centennial of the sinking, earned it an additional $343.6 million worldwide, pushing the film`s worldwide total to $2.18 billion. It became the second film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide after Avatar.
While not a picture of Atom Egoyan, one of the posters we added to the collection in the last few months is from one of his most successful films, The Sweet Hereafter. This particular poster is a bit of rarity in that it was issued shortly after winning special recognition at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival. This teaser poster from Alliance Films was meant to generate interest in the film before its official opening and official poster were released in Canada. This poster joins an earlier acquisition of a set of 8 stills from the making of The Sweet Hereafter.
One of the earliest Canadian posters we have acquired is from the 1950 Jan Rubes and Susan Douglas thriller, Forbidden Journey. It didn’t do well at the box office, but what Canadian film did in 1950? We haven’t used the poster in this article but if you click on the link to the movie you can see it there. Trivia fans may want to note that character actor John Colicos plays a bit part as a student in this film.
Another rarity and a great find for us was a photo of Gordon Pinsent during the making of his film John and the Missus.Released in 1986, John And The Missus is a romantic drama which unfolds during the early 1960s when the fate of an isolated mining community could be determined by the Government’s resettlement program. The Munn family, John, the Missus and their son, Matt, are legends in their town of Cup Cove. Not only are they the descendants of the town`s founders but they are among the most enthusiastic boosters Cup Cove’s traditional way of life. A cave-in at the mine gives the government`s representative the opportunity to close the mine permanently. The resulting crisis tests not only the deep love John and the Missus have for each other and their family, but also threatens the existence of the town itself. Costarring Gordon Pinsent and Jackie Burroughs, Pinsent also wrote and directed the movie based on his novel. What also made this particular image interesting for us is that it was taken by Gail Harvey.
Other images for actors Donald Sutherland, John Qualen, John Ireland, Christopher Plummer and others have also been added to the collection, as well as a set of 4 lobbycards for the British made House of Fright starring Paul Massie, a set of 8 lobbycards for the Donald Sutherland/Kate Nelligan film Eye of the Needle, 8 lobbycards for the film House by the Lake and 8 lobbycards for the John Candy comedy Who’s Harry Crumb?
We’ve also added many posters including one for the National Film Board production of the Tim Southam film, Drowning in Dreams, and a copy of the poster for the Michel Brault 1999 film, Quand je serai parti… vous vivrez encore, which is titled in English as Long Winter. Many of these acquisitions have yet to be scanned and added to Northernstars.ca but if you check back we’re always updating and cycling new content into our existing pages, as well as adding new pages on a daily basis.
Two of our favourites from earlier times include singer-actress Deanna Durbin and Toronto-born “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford. We have so many images of these two actresses that its’ impossible for us to use them all online. What attracted us to this particular image of Deanna Durbin was the caption on the back of the photo. Headlined “Deanna Durbin to be June Graduate,” we were instantly reminded of how young the Winnipeg-born star was when she was making movies for Universal. The caption goes on in part to say, “Deanna Durbin, singing star of the screen, will graduate for her high school studies at the end of June. Her graduation exercises will find her in the midst of her eight Universal picture, Spring Parade, on which camera work has just begun.” Things like this are hard for us to resist.
Also, just about anything with Mary Pickford’s name on it will get our attention. It’s been a year or so since we did a count but there are probably 125 items related to her in our collection, yet we can still be tempted if there is something compellingly different about what we’re offered.This image intrigued us immensely. Was Mary Pickford ever interested in the supernatural? “I didn’t know I had been accused by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of being a spiritualistic medium!” begins a 1924 article in Movie Weekly Magazine. How could we possibly turn down a chance to acquire a copy of the whole magazine, in fairly good condition given its age? In addition to the story, which we plan to republish in its entirety in early April on Pickford’s birthday, there’s a great photo of the star herself front and centre on the page.
The article, by Grace Kingsley, also contains some interesting details about the time of the interview that led to this piece. At one point Kingsley writes, “We were sitting on the edge of the Haddon Hall set — a gorgeously realistic reproduction of beautiful, old historic Haddon Hall with its quaint leaded glass panes in the bow windows, its stately steps and its charming lawn. Mary, as Dorothy Vernon, was clad in a ravishing green and silver costume of the period and looked lovelier than I had ever seen her.”
We don’t buy magazines that often but over the years the Northernstars Collection has added quite a few. In addition to the articles that are our primary reason for being interested, there are often secondary articles which might be about young and up and coming Canadian stars, or just shorter articles about established stars.
In addition to articles about and by Mary Pickford, we have also republished early articles about the world’s first movie star, Florence Lawrence, and an article written by Marie Prevost whose career and life had a particularly sad ending. If you click through the various pages we have on Pickford, Lawrence and Prevost, you will see that we have quite a solid collection of photos and other items about these early stars of the silent screen.
Now in our 15th year of publishing, the Northernstars Collection is just one of several initiatives we hope will help Canadians and the world learn more about today’s Canadians in the movies and the Canadian history of Hollywood.
Thanks for your support.
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.