Master of Disguise

I didn’t know this until a friend pointed it out — John Chambers, Oscar-winning makeup artist on PLANET OF THE APES (Arthur C Clarke theorized that the reason 2001 didn’t win is the Academy didn’t realize Kubrick hadn’t cast real apes) worked for the CIA, and designed makeup kits to allow American prisoners to escape the Iranian hostage crisis in disguise.

The image comes to mind of a troupe of nervous Dr Zaiuses sauntering awkwardly past the guards.

The kit.

Chambers is played by John Goodman in the forthcoming movie ARGO, which details this story.

The illustrations here come from an auction site which recently sold a bunch of Chambers’ effects, including the escape kit above. Also for sale: George C Scott’s nose from PATTON ~

I used to work in a memorabilia shop when I was 19, and I went through a period of craving all this stuff — we sold posters mainly. Some of them were real beauties. But being surrounded by the stuff all that time had a weird effect — I came to see it as ultimately irrelevant to the movies. I decided to concentrate on the films themselves rather than on ephemera. Having no money helped make that decision easy.

Still, I’m as big a sucker as anyone for the totemic power of a movie-related object…

The Chambers yarn is now a movie from Ben Affleck. “Based on a declassified true story…” And apparently King of Comics Jack Kirby was also involved…


5 Responses to “Master of Disguise”

  1. I liked this movie better than when it was called Wag the Dog.

    International soap operas like the “Iran Hostage Crisis” are perfect diversions for governments committed to brinksmanship as a propaganda tool. IOW the “Cuban Missle Crisis” opened my eyes and they haven’t shut since.

  2. Ah, but Argo is based on a story that has happened, whereas Wag the Dog was based on a story which SUBSEQUENTLY happened.

    I liked Affleck’s The Town OK, but it lacked guts. Hopefully this one will be more willing to challenge its audience, because it needs to, to have any chance of success. I think it’s already close: it’s about events nobody under 40 remembers, so that suggests they’re willing to take a risk.

  3. Yeah, the movie that the hostage rescue team chose was an adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s LORD OF LIGHT books, with designs by Jack Kirby.

  4. Randy Cook Says:

    The above mask comes with an inflatable guide dog.

  5. Ha!

    Y’know, I think I actually remember little pieces about a Zelazny adaptation planted in Starlog magazine. They would say things like, “We’re going to build gigantic sets, but we’ll keep them open as a theme park after the movie opens. If Cleopatra had done that, they would be in profit.” I guess those sets wouldn’t have been in Iran… although as the whole film was fictional anyway, it wouldn’t matter…

    Lord of Light is the one based around Eastern mythology — a big sci-fi Buddha movie with designs by Kirby, imagine that! Too bad they didn’t mean it.

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