ReelBob: ‘Mad Props’ ★★★½
An entertaining documentary that looks at fans who collect movie props and are willing to pay thousands to capture a memory.
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In my 45-plus years of reviewing movies I have collected several items of memorabilia along the way. It mostly has been posters and T-shirts.
I began my collecting movie-related items in the early 1970s when I attended Cinevent, an annual movie nostalgia convention that is still held every Memorial Day weekend in Columbus,, Ohio.
There, I bought 16mm films, posters and lobby cards among other items. Back then, these memories were not costly.
But, as time passed, and interest in movie memorabilia began to soar, so did the prices.
And a new type of collector emerged — the ones who wanted props that had been used in movies. And these collectors are the focus of “Mad Props,” an interesting documentary written and directed by Juan Pablo Reinoso.
These collectors are out of my league. They are willing to spend hundreds of thousands to hang or display a movie memory in their homes.
The focus of the movie is Tom Biolchini, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, lawyer who also is a collector. Among his items is the chalice from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” for which he paid six figures.
Biolchini decided to look up other collectors to see what drives their passions. His journey took him around the country as well as England, Italy and France.
He discovered that what all collectors have in common is a desire to have a physical manifestation of a memory — be it from childhood or as a young adult.
These people embrace costumes, props from various “Star Wars” movies, horror films — any object that can tie them to a film they fondly remember.
Actor Mickey Rourke even explains how a prop helped him in a scene in which all he had to do was listen to another actor as they walked along.
The movie also looks at museums and curators who see these one-time throwaway items as art more than artifacts.
Reinoso and Biolchini, along with actors Robert Englund and Lance Henriksen, also visit the creators whose companies make these props for filmmakers. These artists are appreciative of the collectors who see the value in their works.
Movie buffs will really enjoy “Mad Props” as it will stir memories of their own movie-going experiences. It is a fascinating and joyful documentary that may send you scurrying to estate or yard sales to see if you can uncover some cinematic treasure that will remind you of your own past.
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob.com or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.