The Debut of the Auto Universum Comète d’Or du Cinéma

by James Kraus

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The coveted Comète d’Or du Cinéma.

December 2104 marks the beginning of a new tradition; the annual announcement of the Comète d’Or, to be awarded to films that best capture the look and feel of the heyday of the Jet Age as celebrated in the pages of Auto Universum.  

While widely beloved movie classics will be given due consideration; rare and forgotten gems featuring a consistent 1960s Jet Age aesthetic in location selection, production design, art direction, set decoration, wardrobe and of course, automotive casting will be given priority. This year’s honored and distinguished recipient is Bachelor in Paradise from the year 1961.

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Janis Paige pulls up to a pale yellow shake-roof California ranch house in a Mardi Gras Red ’61 Chrysler 300. Unlike Ford and General Motors, Chrysler retained fifties styling motifs well into the early ’60s as illustrated by the large tail fins on this 300G.

The film, starring Bob Hope and Lana Turner, illustrates the travails of a globe-trotting writer sent on assignment to live in the new suburb of Paradise Village and document the lives of its inhabitants. The housing tract used for location filming was a brand-new section of Woodland Hills, northwest of Los Angeles. Because the houses were all newly constructed, they all reflect contemporary design currents of the early 1960s.

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Bob’s rental house: modernist fireplace and Pecky Cypress-paneled accent wall.

The result is an abundance of long, low ranch-style homes, colorful interiors, modern kitchens, and some stylish furniture. This was the golden age of modernism in the U.S. before the nascent trend for traditional flourishes, “Early American” period styles and “Earth Tone” colors became increasingly widespread.

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Lana Tuner prepares to depart in her Fawn Beige ’61 Plymouth Fury with Dark Copper interior. Note TV-tube-shaped clear acrylic steering wheel rim.

Adding to the sixties ambiance, Hope and Turner dine separately at a Jetson-esque mid-century drive-in diner, and later in the film cavort together over drinks at a swank Tiki lounge. A modernist bowling alley also receives some screen time.

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Visiting a new suburban supermarket Bob Hope parks his Silver ’61 Dodge Polara next to an Azure Blue over Colonial White ’58 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Victoria.

Other than a brief appearance of a Morris Minor 1000, the lead actors drive 1961 Chrysler products, with a Plymouth Fury, Dodge Polara and Chrysler 300 garnering the most on-camera time.

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Bottoms Up. Note S-shaped door handle and colorful bar with built-in TV.

Other highlights of the film are the presence of talented character actor John McGiver portraying Bob Hope’s literary agent and 5’10” (1.78 m) comedic actress Paula Prentiss.

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Hope and Turner enjoy fauna-filled libations at a Tiki nightclub. Tiki cuisine and cocktails were very much au courant in 1960s America.

Here is a true visual time capsule that will teleport the viewer back to halcyon days of 1961. All in all, a most worthy recipient of filmdom’s newest accolade; the Auto Universum Comète d’Or.

The Comète d’Or du Cinéma

Like the World Cup trophy, there is and always be just one genuine Comète d’Or which henceforth will be kept on permanent display in the Auto Universum Global Headquarters Tower here at 1 Auto Universum Plaza.

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The origin of the Comète d’Or: 1961 Ford Galaxie.

The Comète d’Or (Golden Comet) was specifically developed to incorporate design currents of the 1960s with an appropriate yet subtle automotive motif.

The completed work integrates pieces sourced from far and wide: the red oak base was specially cut and milled by H.A.L. Woodworking of Virginia, while the black acrylic surfboard-fin shaped main body was fabricated by California Acrylic Design in Los Angeles. The brass plate was engraved by Hollywood Trophy and finally, the Galaxie ornament was supplied by Galaxie Performance of Michigan.

1 thought on “The Debut of the Auto Universum Comète d’Or du Cinéma

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