Gift Ideas for the Classic Film Fan

9:28 AM 12/18/2018

by Laurie Brookins

From Humphrey Bogart’s fedora to Grace Kelly’s Mark Cross bag, here is a roundup of presents sure to please anyone who can quote every line in 'Casablanca' or 'Rear Window.'

From left: Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart
From left: Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart
Photofest; Courtesy of Joseff of Hollywood; Photofest

Classic film fans share a passion much like those who adore Star Wars or Marvel — but instead, the obsession is focused on cinematic moments crafted before many were born. Such classic movie lovers want to dissect the greatness of Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday or To Have and Have Not. Like other film buffs, Ryan Reynolds is a fan of Howard Hawks and Cary Grant — he has said he plays Turner Classic Movies in his home pretty much 24/7.

Lovers of Hollywood’s golden era are also insanely easy to buy gifts for, from the latest crop of books and DVDs to products created as a tribute to genuine items that made their appearance in a beloved film (in the days before product placement became an accepted practice). Here’s a roundup of ideas that spans both eras and price points to give to classic film aficionados for the holidays.

  • 'Some Like It Hot,' 'Nothing Sacred' and a New Bogart & Bacall Collection

    A trio of DVD and Blu-ray debuts combine crisp restorations with behind-the-scenes features: Criterion Collection’s just-released special edition of 1959’s Some Like It Hot ($39.95 for the Blu-ray; $29.95 for a two-DVD set) offers a new 4K digital restoration of the movie ranked No. 1 on the American Film Institute’s list of greatest comedies (it’s No. 14 on AFI’s “100 Greatest Movies” list). Also included is a featurette on Orry-Kelly’s costumes, a 1982 appearance by director Billy Wilder on The Dick Cavett Show, separate archive interviews featuring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (both discuss co-star Marilyn Monroe) and not one but three making-of documentaries.

    In November, Warner Archives released Bogart and Bacall: The Complete Collection, a four-disc set ($39.99, on Blu-ray only) that showcases the quartet of films Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together both before and during their marriage, starting with the film that famously launched both Bacall’s career and the couple’s relationship, 1944’s To Have and Have Not. Also included are 1946’s The Big Sleep, 1947’s Dark Passage and 1948’s Key Largo – in addition to new editions of To Have and Have Not and Dark Passage, special features include a look at one of Hollywood’s most iconic love stories and the “lost” version of The Big Sleep, a 1945 cut by director Howard Hawks, with an introduction by longtime UCLA Film Preservation Officer Robert Gitt.

    For Carole Lombard fans, Kino Lorber has released a restored edition of 1937’s Nothing Sacred ($29.95 for Blu-ray; $19.95 for DVD), the William Wellman screwball comedy that co-stars Frederic March and is also Lombard’s only Technicolor film. Special features include an audio commentary by Wellman’s son, William Wellman, Jr., who discusses Lombard’s unique brand of sophisticated beauty and impeccable comedic timing (she was nominated for an Academy Award as best actress for 1936’s My Man Godfrey). Five years after Nothing Sacred’s release, the actress would be killed in a 1942 plane crash while returning from a tour selling war bonds; she was married to Clark Gable, who six months later enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces, partly as a way to deal with his grief. 


  • Humphrey Bogart’s Borsalino Fedora

    Iconic Italian hatmaker Borsalino has partnered with the Humphrey Bogart Estate to create a special edition of the fedora he was seen wearing in many of his roles, including 1942’s Casablanca. The “Bogart by Borsalino” is a classic gray felt style with a medium brim and a grosgrain band; inside, the leather band is stamped with a favorite Bogart phrase: “Do everything. One thing may turn out right.” Priced at $485, each hat is handcrafted in Borsalino’s workshop in Alessandria, southwest of Milan, and is packaged in a specially created gift box. 

  • Grace Kelly’s Mark Cross bag in 'Rear Window'

    What’s better than a bona fide style icon name-checking her handbag in a classic film? That’s exactly what happens during one scene in 1954’s Rear Window, the Alfred Hitchcock voyeur mystery that co-stars James Stewart. As the ultra-stylish Lisa Carol Fremont, Kelly in one scene impresses her boyfriend, Stewart’s wheelchair-bound L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, with the ingenuity of all that can fit into her Mark Cross overnight case. Hitchcock commissioned the piece from Gerald Murphy, who at the time was president of the family-owned Mark Cross, which was founded in 1845 in Boston. Over the years, the bag has been reinterpreted in a number of styles that have been rechristened as the Grace bag, including an on-trend mini box style, but for $3,995 you can still buy the original as seen in one of Hitchcock’s most-loved films. 

  • Books on Female Filmmakers, Judy Garland’s 'Star Is Born' Journey and the Beauty of Marlene Dietrich

    This trio of film books explores topics both classic and timely, starting with The Female Gaze: Essential Movies Made by Women (Mango, $19.99) by Alicia Malone, the Turner Classic Movies host who also wrote 2017’s Backwards and In Heels, about the history of women in Hollywood. As the #MeToo movement continues to evolve, Malone explores how female filmmakers — from Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino to Greta Gerwig and Patty Jenkins — have succeeded over the past century of the male-dominated industry, while also contributing their unique voices and perspectives.

    Fans of Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born may find themselves in a spirited debate with a classic film fan over whether this latest remake bests any of the others, including the 1954 version directed by George Cukor and starring Judy Garland. A Star Is Born: Judy Garland and the Film That Got Away (Running Press, $28) tells the behind-the-scenes story of one of Garland’s best-known roles, from how Cukor accepted the project — considered a much-needed comeback for the troubled star — to the extensive cuts Warner Bros. demanded from a film they considered to be too long. Written by Lorna Luft, Garland’s daughter with Sid Luft, who produced A Star Is Born, and film historian Jeffrey Vance, this book highlights both the love and the heartbreak that went into one of Hollywood’s most iconic performances. 

    For simply gorgeous photography, check out Obsession: Marlene Dietrich, The Pierre Passebon Collection (Flammarion, $29.95), a slim (at just 88 pages) but beautiful look at one of cinema’s most stunning women. A Parisian gallery owner and antiques dealer, Passebon has curated a selection of Dietrich images from some of the 20th century’s most revered photographers, from Edward Steichen and Irving Penn to Cecil Beaton and George Hurrell. A mix of on-set shots and publicity photos, these black-and-white images exude the glamour of Hollywood’s golden era, all woven through the thread of a woman who continues to mesmerize. 

  • Joseff of Hollywood Zodiac Brooch

    Eugene Joseff was renowned as the costume jeweler whose pieces can be seen in classic films including Gone With the Wind, Camille and Now, Voyager. After his death in 1948, his wife, Joan, kept the business going, creating pieces that appeared in Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve and The Godfather. For 1950's Harriet Craig, Joan designed a brooch depicting the character’s zodiac sign, Aries, which also happened to be the same astrological sign as Joan Crawford's, who portrayed the titular Harriet. Crawford liked the brooch so much that she purchased one for herself.

    Joan Joseff died in 2010 at the age of 97, but the Joseff family continues to run the Burbank business and recently expanded into e-commerce to sell pieces often inspired by designs seen in classic films. The Harriet Craig brooch is one example: Kristin Joseff, a third-generation family member, notes that the vintage pieces are limited in quantity and priced at $195, though in addition to Aries, all zodiac signs are available, interpreted as brooches as a collection sold at retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Bullocks Wilshire.

  • 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Sleep Set

    Remember the Audrey Hepburn costume party in the season-one finale of HBO’s Big Little Lies? For those film fans dying to host a similar event – or anyone who is simply is a devoted fan of the iconic actress – online retailer Utopiat is offering a three-piece sleep set that mimics the look seen on Hepburn in an early scene of 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

    The $93 gift-boxed set includes a tuxedo-style nightshirt crafted of organic cotton, a blue silk eye mask trimmed in gold and tassel earplugs, which also double as earrings. You also can buy the pieces separately.

  • Fictional Hotel Notepads

    Here’s the perfect gift for that office co-worker who mentions over the watercooler that he or she watched The Shining or The Graduate the night before. British-based Herb Lester Associates crafts unique travel books and other items using recycled materials, and among the selection is its Fictional Hotel Notepads, which feature interpreted logos for lodgings ranging from the Hotel Empire in Vertigo to Kellerman’s Resort in Dirty Dancing, all created on 100 percent recycled paper. Alas, a gift set featuring notepads for all eight hotels in the series is currently sold out, but some sets of three notepads touting one hotel are still available and priced at $11.36. 


  • 'Blade Runner' Whisky Tumblers

    Paula Benson’s love of classic cinema inspired her to create a blog several years ago titled Film and Furniture – as its name implies, the site is inspired by furniture and props seen in movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining. A search for the patterned carpet seen in the latter led to the site’s expansion into e-commerce, with the London-based Benson working with various manufacturers to either locate the items or, as in the case of The Shining carpet, create special pieces.

    For fans of Blade Runner, know that she’s also sourced the whisky tumblers seen in both the 1982 original and last year’s Blade Runner 2049; from Italian architect and designer Cini Boeri, the glasses are seen onscreen in both films as Harrison Ford pours himself a drink. Gift-boxed, you can buy one glass or a set of two; the latter is priced at $157.