Often unnoticed to the untrained eye, props function as the glue that holds a movie together. Whether it is a Civil War battle or a futuristic alien invasion, prop masters are charged with the task of making sure every detail on the screen appears historically accurate and realistic.
But what is a prop? It seems like a simple question, but it is not so easy. A prop is anything a character can pick up, be it a magazine, weapon, or lamp. This can include food items and, depending on production, even decals, such as those on the sides of ambulances and police cars.
A prop is not, however, the vehicle itself. It is also not the furniture that the lamp sits on or the uniform that goes with the weapon, although jewelry can be considered a prop. So while Judy Garland’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” pulled quite a prize at auction, they aren’t props. Nor is Orson Welles’ pinstriped shirt from “Citizen Kane,” but the sled called “Rosebud” owned by a young Welles in the movie would be considered a prop, and was bought at auction by Steven Spielberg in 1982 for $60,500.
When it comes to collecting props, there are two types: those that were actually used on a movie set during production, and replicas, which may even be licensed by a studio. Like autographs, it is often extremely difficult to fully authenticate a prop. Studios have even been known to sell props post-production claiming they were used on set, when the piece in question was actually a less collectible re-creation.
Getting your hands on authentic props can be difficult. In older movies, props were often discarded after the film because the studios didn’t have space to store them. In other instances, props were left in the possession of the prop master, which is why such individuals are usually the best sources of authentic props.
Acquiring props from recent movies is no easier. Because studios pay for the props in a film, they often maintain possession of them after production. In recent years, studios have started to hold on to props so they can be used in sequels, potential or planned. In other instances, studios will hire an auctioneer to sell props immediately after filming has ceased in order to recoup some of the movie’s production costs.
The prop collector also needs to keep in mind that many props are not what they appear to be on screen. For example, if a character in a movie that’s set in the 18th century is r...
For the most part, props from the most memorable movies are the ones most sought by collectors, be it a blaster from the original “Star Wars,” a pair of dice rolled by Marlon Brando in “Guys and Dolls,” or the “Witch Remover” sprayer used by the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”
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Recent News: Movie Props
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Movie prop $100 bills pop up in Gouverneur, police chief warnsNorth Country Now, February 8th
GOUVERNEUR -- The Gouverneur Police Department is dealing with what appears to be movie prop money in the form of $100 bills marked “FOR CINEMATIC USE ONLY” and “FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY.” Gouverneur Police Chief Laurina Greenhill ...Read more
Counterfeit bills continue to circulate in Green BayFox11online.com, February 8th
Counterfeit bills continue to circulate in Green Bay. By FOX 11 News Monday, February 8th 2016. Police say this prop $100 bill was used at a Green Bay business on Jan. Police say this movie prop $100 bill was used at a Green Bay business on Jan...Read more
MythBusters' Adam Savage finally holds the real Blade Runner pistolA.V. Club (blog), February 8th
For comparison's sake, he puts his best-made simulacrum on a table next to the real deal to see just how close he came to the original. Happily, he finds that his version of the gun holds up nicely next to the actual movie prop, though he does see a...Read more
CT man charged after crashing into Chevy Chase movie propWTNH Connecticut News (press release), January 25th
David Page III TOWNSHEND, Vt. (WTNH) – A Noank man is facing drunk driving charges, after police in Vermont say he plowed his car into a gazebo that was built for a Chevy Chase movie. On Friday night Vermont State Police say David Page, 71 of Noank, ...Read more
Movie Prop Money Leads to Arrest in WheelingWheeling Intelligencer, January 22nd
Movie Prop Money Leads to Arrest in Wheeling. January 23, 2016. By FRED CONNORS Senior Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register. Save | Post a comment |. A Wheeling man is facing a counterfeit charge after he allegedly paid for a food ...Read more
$100 bill used at Green Bay business was a movie propFox11online.com, January 20th
GREEN BAY — Authorities are issuing a warning after someone used a movie prop $100 bill at a Green Bay business. The state Department of Justice and Green Bay police say the fake money was used to buy food at a business on the city's west side on ...Read more
LCSO issues warning about movie prop moneyValdostaToday.com, January 18th
VALDOSTA – The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office has issued a warning about movie prop money being used for purchases. LCSO Capt. Stryde Jones said several communities in the South Georgia and North Florida area are having issues with fake $100 ...Read more
Lights, Camera, Action?? Cal City's AMP Movie PropsMojave Desert News, January 9th
He recently showed Mojave Desert News his AMP Movie Props studio and the many artifacts and rare vintage vehicles, uniforms, and other accoutrements he has amassed over many years of collecting military paraphernalia since his days in the Army ...Read more