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Life-Size Laughing Sailor Automaton from the Film "Sleuth"

Auction:
2419
Lot:
925
Sold for:
$16,878$16,878

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Auction:
Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2419
Location:
Bolton
Date / Time :
August 23, 2008 10:00AM

Description:

Life-Size Laughing Sailor Automaton from the Film "Sleuth", with sculpted foam-rubber features and hands, blue glass eyes, articulated eyelids and lower jaw, seated on capstan head, with electric motors and remote controls causing the sailor to wink, blink, move his head, clap his hands and howl with laughter, in white trousers, striped jersey, navy-blue felt jacket and white hat, ht. 68 in., (foam unstable on face and hands).
Note: The figure contains two motors, one for the arms to cross, and the other for the hands to clap and the head to turn and nod. A solenoid inside the head cause the eyes to wink, blink, and look to the left or right. A second solenoid operates the mouth, which is linked to a voicebox in the coat. Pivots at the shoulder and hinges at the waist form part of two mechanisms (no longer present) for making the sailor rock drunkenly back and forth while moving his arms up and down simultaneously.
Reminiscent of the laughing sailor and laughing policeman arcade machines found on the English piers in the 1940s and 50s, this figure was either created or adapted specially for the film "Sleuth". He plays the third lead alongside Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, forever present and observant. At different points in the film, he laughs at Olivier's jokes, winks at Caine, his coat pocket is used to hide a pistol, and the false eyelashes of a murdered mistress are concealed under one of his eyelids. The sounds of his laughter reverberate until the movie's unexpected conclusion.
Estimate $30,000-40,000

Keywords

Sailor Automaton, sailor , Michael Caine, Sleuth, foam-rubber features, capstan head , policeman , Laurence Olivier, British films, Eye, Knights Bachelor