Q. While watching a relatively recent movie about a historical event that took place decades ago, it reminded me of a question I’ve had for a long time: Where do film companies find all of those like-new vintage cars and trucks needed to make you believe that the scene you are watching was filmed 50 or 100 years ago?
— Gary Simmons, of Fairview Heights
A. Need a 1928 Ford Model A for Al Capone to shoot his tommy gun from as he barrels through the streets of Chicago?
How about a 1949 Mercury for a remake of “Rebel Without a Cause”? Or would you like one of those sleek, 1960s-era, red ’Vette roadsters to help you get your kicks on “Route 66”?
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No problem. Just motor over to www.movietimecars.com and pick out most anything you might need for your next film project, from a 1903 Oldsmobile parade wagon to a 2015 Mercedes G450. It’s one of numerous companies that serve as middlemen between Hollywood studios trying to re-create an authentic look and owners of vintage vehicles who would like to make a buck renting or selling their wheels and then watching them in the next blockbuster release.
Movie Time Cars, for example, proudly lists dozens of productions for which it has provided vehicles, including “Billy Bathgate,” “Julie & Julia” and “Spider-Man.” And it’s not just movies that need them. Movie Time Cars also has provided them for countless TV shows, music videos (Madonna, Willie Nelson, etc.) and a host of companies for both TV and print advertisements (Alpo to Walmart). This particular company accepts vehicles of any year, and they don’t even have to be in mint condition.
Here’s how it works, according to Steve Linden, who has run his Specialized Vintage Vehicle Services in New York for more than a quarter century (www.stevelinden.com). You list your car with one or more of these companies that work to fill this vintage-vehicle niche for Tinseltown. If someone needs it, you will be contacted and asked to provide your car at a specific time and place. If they cancel — which they often do — you simply wait for the next call. (To meet tight filming deadlines, producers usually contact several owners of the same types of cars at the same time, so the first person with the best match to respond wins.)
When you finally do make the cut, you’ll sign a contract detailing all the particulars: fee, rental period, how the car will be transported, how the car will be used and what risks your precious baby might face. Linden says the typical fee is $300 to $800 a day unless you have a particularly rare or otherwise unique car. And it’s not just cars these companies provide, either. If you check Movie Time Cars, for example, you’ll find a long list of offerings, including aircraft, boats, garbage trucks, steamrollers — even non-running vehicles.
“Because of these rather modest fees, it’s important to make sure that the rental company has appropriate insurance and to be clear what they will be responsible for,” Linden warns.
Linden says production companies generally take good care of the rentals and any damage is extremely minor.
“In 95 percent of the cases, everything goes smoothly and you get paid a fair price while getting to enjoy the day,” he told Newsday. “Notice that I didn’t say 99 percent of the time, or even 98 percent of the time, because sometimes things do happen. Bad things.”
He remembers one case in which a production company needed to spray on a chemical that simulated frost on a car. The chemical did not react well with the lacquer-based paint you usually find on classic cars, and the entire car required a new paint job.
“Under any circumstances, this would not be an ideal situation, but with a survivor (a classic car that has not been restored) the value of the car was significantly diminished once it was repainted,” Linden said.
But if you’re like the vast majority of people who rent vehicles to the movie industry, Linden says you’ll enjoy an experience not open to most as you enjoy “better living through classic cars.”
What now-common female name did Anglo-Irish writer Jonathan Swift invent in the early 1700s?
Answer to Sunday’s trivia: On Nov. 5, 1872, social reformer Susan B. Anthony and four dozen other women in Rochester, N.Y., attempted to vote in the presidential election. They claimed that the 14th Amendment, which had been ratified in 1868, promised full and equal rights for all U.S. citizens — including a woman’s right to vote. Most of the women were turned away, but Anthony and 14 others convinced election officials to allow them to cast ballots based on a handful of cases involving women voting in the past without major repercussion.
This time, however, Anthony was arrested two weeks later and put on trial the following June in the federal courtroom of Judge Ward Hunt. On the second day of the trial, Hunt directed the jury to deliver a guilty verdict. Hunt fined Anthony $100.
“May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” Anthony replied. “And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim — that resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”
Apparently realizing the pickle he was in, Hunt decided not to jail Anthony until the fine was paid, thus preventing her from appealing the case to the Supreme Court. As a result, Anthony never paid the fine, and in 1875, the Supreme Court ruled in Minor v. Happersett that the U.S. Constitution “does not confer the right of suffrage upon anyone.” So women had to wait until 1920 when the 19th Amendment finally gave them a say in elections.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-239-2465.