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Preview: Dear Old Hollywood

Dear Old Hollywood



Exploring Hollywood, Los Angeles and the Valley with a nostalgic look to the past, while still enjoying the present.



Updated: 2018-04-18T12:20:36.942-07:00

 



What Would You Do With a Check Signed by a Celebrity?

2015-05-19T14:13:47.431-07:00


In his memoir, The Garner Files, actor James Garner mentions how when he got famous he couldn't go anywhere without someone approaching him for an autograph. Garner explains that he usually would just smile and write out his name, that it was easier than turning someone down and no feelings got hurt. According to Garner, Paul Newman stopped signing autographs after a guy approached him at urinal with a pen and paper. When the Dirty Harry films were in release, Garner says that Clint Eastwood used to get requests from people to autograph their guns. And Garner mentions that "Gary Cooper wrote checks for everything - gasoline, cigarettes, groceries, meals in restaurants - because he knew most of them wouldn't be cashed."

That got me thinking. If a celebrity wrote you a check for something, would you cash that check or frame it for the autograph?

That's a pretty clever idea on Gary Cooper's part.



Jim Rockford and the "Paramount House"

2015-05-09T21:27:41.400-07:00


In The Rockford Files season 2 episode, "In Hazard," Jim Rockford (James Garner) discovers a body inside the garage of a suburban house. The home just happens to be the former "Paramount House" which used to be located on Universal Studios Colonial Street backlot and was originally constructed for the film The Desperate Hours (1955) starring Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March. Below is a comparison of the Paramount House as seen in The Rockford Files episode and in The Desperate Hours.

The "Paramount House" in The Rockford Files.


The house looks mostly the same except for in The Rockford Files episode there is the addition of a lower roof. What I find most interesting is seeing how the tree in the front lawn has grown in 20 + years between Desperate Hours and Rockford Files. The tree trunk and branches still maintain the same shape, but by the time of the Rockford Files the tree is much larger and fuller.



Happy Cinco de Mayo.

2015-05-05T14:21:38.488-07:00

(image)

It's been a little quiet here on the blog, I know, but that's because offline I've been very busy. I've moved into a new place, my wife gave birth to another daughter, and I picked up some new responsibilities at work. My free time has been very limited to say the least.

But don't worry. I'll be back soon with some new posts. However, instead of fewer lengthy posts I'll be trying to post shorter, but more frequent posts - so keep your eyes peeled. Thanks to all the dedicated readers who keep checking back!



tick...tick...tick... (1970) - Film Locations

2015-02-09T16:51:51.953-08:00

Jim Brown, a football star turned actor, is the lead in ...tick...tick...tick (1970), a drama about racial relations in a small town in Mississippi. The film is similar in some ways to, In the Heat of the Night (1967), starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, but lacks the depth and punch of that earlier film. The story is set in the American South, but the movie was actually filmed in the small Northern California town of Colusa. Here are some of the Colusa, California filming locations.Click images to enlarge.Colusa Police Department, 260 6th Street260 6th Street, Colusa, CaliforniaAbove is the Colusa Police Department building located at 260 Sixth St which also is used as a police department in the film. In the screenshot we see actor George Kennedy approaching the stairs of the police department. Although the building is still used as a police department today, it was originally built as a Carnegie library in 1906. It was one of 13 Carnegie libraries built in the Sacramento Valley during 1903-17.Below are two views looking up the street from the police department building. The first view is looking towards 210 Sixth St. and the second is looking at the lot next door to the police department.210 6th Street, Colusa, Ca.210 6th Street, Colusa, Ca.The parking lot next to Colusa Police Department.The parking lot next to Colusa Police Department.George Kennedy, one of the police officers, lives in a home located at what is now 659 Jay Street in Colusa, California. The below views show comparisons of the homes across the street at 644 Jay Street, the home at what is now 659 Jay Street, and the home next door. The property next door to Kennedy's house has since been razed and replaced by a new building.George Kennedy with 644 Jay Street in background.644 Jay Street, Colusa, Ca.George Kennedy's home at what is now 659 Jay Street.659 Jay Street, now the site of Steidlmayer Leo Law Office.The property next door to the Kennedy house.The property next door to the Kennedy house appears to have been replaced by an apartment building.Below, is a comparison of the First Christian Church located at 725 Jay Street, just up the street from Kennedy's home. First Christian Church, 725 Jay StreetFirst Christian Church, 725 Jay StreetJay Street at 7th StreetJay Street at 7th StreetBelow is a view of actor Fredric March with the Colusa Hall of Records building located in the background, just across the street from the Colusa Police Department.Hall of Records in background from Colusa Police Department.Hall of Records building across from Colusa Police Department.Looking towards the Federal Land Bank Association, Jay Street at 6th StreetLooking towards the Federal Land Bank Association, Jay Street at 6th StreetMarket Street at 5th StreetMarket Street at 5th StreetJim Brown walks along 6th Street at Market Street.6th Street at Market Street.The finale of the film takes place on a bridge leading out of town. I believe the location is the River Road bridge near B Street.River Road bridge near B Street.River Road near B Street....tick...tick...tick also stars George Kennedy and Fredric March. It was directed by James Lee Barrett. The film is available on DVD through the Warner Archive Collection.[...]



The Rockford Files - Film Locations - Donut Prince in Burbank

2014-12-30T12:23:32.933-08:00

While watching the Season 2 episode of THE ROCKFORD FILES, The Girl in The Bay City Boys Club (1975), I was surprised to spot the Donut Prince, in Burbank, California. I knew the Donut Prince sign was old, but I never thought the place was serving up fresh pastries in the early 1970s when Jim Rockford (James Garner) would be driving by in his gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit. I've been making trips to Donut Prince for the last 10 years (fortunately my waistline doesn't show it), so when I caught a glimpse of the unique neon yellow sign it stood out immediately.Click images to enlarge.James Garner on Olive Avenue, Burbank, CADonut Prince sign hidden just behind the trees. Olive Ave, Burbank.The Donut Prince is located at 1721 W. Olive Avenue, Burbank, California. Just behind the Donut Prince is a McDonald's which is also still in business. The Safeway that can be seen just before the Donut Prince was later a Von's grocery store and then a few years ago it was changed into a CVS Pharmacy.In the comparison below we can see that on the opposite side of the street there is a liquor store and a bank. Today there are still a bank and liquor store at these locations but not the same bank and liquor store from the date of the Rockford Files screenshot.Garner looks into his mirror while passing the Safeway on Olive Ave.The Safeway is now a CVS Pharmacy. Olive Ave, Burbank.The Donut Prince has been used a few times as a filming location (Larry Crowne, T.J. Hooker) and is also popular with celebrities. Pictures of stars who have dined there adorn the walls. George Lopez apparently is an especially big fan of the place. Even though the place is a donut shop, I primarily go for the hot ham and cheese croissants. This episode of the Rockford Files includes many other Valley locations, including the Burbank YMCA, and a North Hollywood Jack-in-the-Box and Bob's Big Boy. Check out this Rockford Files website for additional locations.[...]



2014 Dear Old Hollywood Holiday Gift Guide

2014-11-26T21:48:58.360-08:00

'Tis the time of year to start making lists and shopping for holiday gifts. For the first time here on Dear Old Hollywood, I've decided to help by putting together a few items that might make a perfect gift for that fan of old Hollywood or classic movies you need to shop for, even if that person is yourself. I've left out obvious things such as movie tickets, DVD box sets or silly things like popcorn containers and tried to come up with items that were either different or would just be great gifts. Here are ten items to get you started.1. Newsboy Caps from Hat PeopleWearing one of my many hats from Hat People.Fans of classic movies and old Hollywood tend to also be interested in retro fashions. One popular accessory seen in classic films is the newsboy cap and some of the best are made right here in the U.S. of A. by Hat People. For over 30 years, in the mountains of Southern Oregon, Hat People has been making cloth hats by hand. Over the years I've accumulated four different hats from Hat People, thanks to my wife who has given them to me as gifts for different occasions. They never disappoint. All the hats are made to your specific size. You just pick out your fabric, the style hat, and send in your measurements. My wife says she has received excellent customer service each time and that after ordering the first hat, they had my measurements on file the next time she ordered.2. Classic Movie "Fan Club" Pins by Kate GabrielleClassic movie fan and artist Kate Gabrielle has designed numerous "fan club" pins for fans of almost anything, including many old Hollywood celebrities. The pins are simple black and white designs that wear well on a lapel, a tote bag, shirt or anywhere else you would display a pin. This is another item I received as a gift from my wife that I was excited to open. I've got a few pins including Don Ameche, Spencer Tracy and Vincent Price. I've already received a few compliments from people while wearing them out and about.3. Classic Books that were made into Classic Movies from Random HouseOne activity I've been enjoying lately has been reading books that were eventually made into popular classic movies. Random House has a line of books called "Vintage Movie Classics" that include titles like Cimarron, The Bad Seed, Alice Adams and other popular titles. You can visit their site or find them available at other places that sell books.4. Subscription to ClassicFlixClassicFlix is a DVD by mail service much in the way Netflix was before going the streaming route. What's great about ClassicFlix for classic movie fans is that they only have pre-1970s titles. Many are rare or exclusive titles, including releases from the Warner Archive, Fox Cinema Archives, and TCM Vault collections. If there are rare classics you want to see, but don't necessarily want to buy, then renting them through ClassicFlix may be a great option.5. Subscription to Warner Archive InstantAnother great service is Warner Archive Instant. Much like ClassicFlix, Warner Archive Instant specializes in classic films, especially rare and off beat classics, but this is a streaming service you can use with a Roku set top box, on your computer or an iPad.6. Roku Set-top box and Roku TVThe New Roku TVs.If for some reason there is someone on your list who has managed to live the last few years without a set-top box and have not been able to take advantage of streaming Netflix, Warner Archive Instant, YouTube and other services on their television, I must recommend the Roku set-top box above all others. It's easy to use, the price is fair, and the quality and channel selection is superb. Better yet, Roku has now come out with a Roku TV which basically is a flat screen TV with the built in smarts of a Roku set-top box.7. Frame a piece of classic movie art.Do you know the favorite movie, actor or actress of the person you are shopping for? Why not purchase them a movie still, poster or other piece of artwork and have[...]



Talking Old Hollywood: John Bengtson, Silent Filming Locations Historian

2014-11-18T09:05:58.282-08:00

Author and Historian, John Bengtson I'm back with another installment of Talking Old Hollywood and this time I had the chance to ask silent filming locations expert and historian John Bengtson a few questions. John has written three expertly researched books chronicling the filming locations of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. He blogs about these and other silent filming locations at his website Silent Locations. John's detective work uncovering many long gone or deeply hidden locations is impressive. I'm honored to have him share a little about his research, interest in silent films, and which of the three silent film comedian greats he would choose to spend the day with. How and when did you first become interested in silent films?I grew up watching silent movies on Public Television, and seeing the Robert Youngson compilations.  The good silent comedians were so talented and clever that they immediately hooked me.When did that interest evolve into hunting down silent film locations?I’ve always enjoyed looking at old photographs, and how they draw you into real-world environments from the past.  But my interest in the location work began as a fluke.  When Buster Keaton’s films first became available on home video in 1995, I was surprised to notice that a chase scene from Day Dreams (1922) was clearly filmed in North Beach in San Francisco, near where I once used to live.  So I set my camera up on a tripod, took photos of the scenes off of my television set, and after getting the photos back from the drug store (this was all pre-digital!), I walked around North Beach armed with my snapshots and quickly found all five spots.  It was a very odd sensation to stand in a spot where many elements were exactly the same as when Buster had filmed there, and contemplating all of the history over the decades these buildings had silently witnessed.  I never set out to do a series of books, but what started as a simple curiosity kept expanding, and triggering amazing coincidences and lucky breaks, until it reached the point where I just gave in to it, to see where it would lead.  That process continues expanding even today.What are your methods for finding locations and how might they have changed over time?My first approach is to look for street signs and business signs in the background. Sometimes you get lucky and can find things this way quite easily using the old city directories. In one movie Keaton actually covered up a street sign with a paper bag, but I still figured out where it was filmed!  I also look for trolley tracks, “T” intersections, and special use buildings like churches and schools.  The ridge lines in the background are also good markers. Apart from the city directories, I like to use vintage maps and aerial photographs.  The Sanborn Fire Insurance Company maintained large scale maps, covering just a block or two at a time, detailing the precise footprint and construction materials of nearly every building in Los Angeles.  The Baist Atlases were drawn with a broader view, showing all of the buildings within a several block radius.  The US Geological Survey’s topographic maps from the early 1900s also show streets and neighborhoods as they once looked.  My favorite tools are low elevation oblique vintage aerial photographs, with views like you would see from a helicopter.  These photos are true time machines, placing everything in context to everything else.  What did this corner look like, what was across the street, what was nearby?  A good aerial photo provides all of the answers, and often reveals how related shots were staged adjacent to each other.   The Internet has made everything so much easier.  I once had to travel to Los Angeles in person to study research materials, and drive around looking for clues.  T[...]



Tyrone Power Centennial Celebration Exhibit Now Open

2014-11-15T09:19:49.952-08:00

Tyrone Power

A new exhibit celebrating the centennial birthday year of Golden Hollywood film star Tyrone Power debuts this weekend at The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor building in Hollywood. At the age of 22, Power became an instant star and remained a popular screen idol during the 30's, 40's and 50's until an untimely death at the age of 44, when the actor suffered a heart attack on the set of Solomon and Sheba. The new exhibit "will take an 'inside' look at the life, passions and career of the handsome star of more than 50 films," according to the press release.

Power was considered "King of the Fox Lot" (20th Century Fox Studios) and starred in many romance and swashbuckler roles. He was a male sex symbol, but what Power really wanted was to be a great actor, which he was, but he didn't always get the opportunity to demonstrate his full range. Power fought with studio boss Darryl Zanuck to get meatier roles and one time he won out when he was cast in the film noir Nightmare Alley (1947).

The exhibition includes costumes worn by Power including the iconic matador "suit of lights" from Blood and Sand (1941), costumes worn by Power's co-stars, some of Powers personal items such as mementos, photos, clothing and other film memorabilia from Power's movies.

Classic movie fans, if you live in the Los Angeles area or will be traveling through during the holiday season, this exhibit should be a worthwhile visit.

When: November 14 through January 11, 2015
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 10am - 5pm
Location: 1660 N. Highland Ave. (at Hollywood Blvd). Hollywood, CA 90028
Tickets: General admissions $15, $12 for students and seniors; and $5 for children five and under.







Champagne For Caesar (1950) - Film Locations

2014-11-04T21:00:10.592-08:00

In Champagne For Caesar (1950), Vincent Price, the "Master of Horror," shows that not only can he be sinister, but uproariously funny as well. I'm actually quite surprised that after this film that Price didn't do more comedies than he did. He nearly steals every scene in which he appears. But seeing Price in a perfect comedic part is just one of the delightful reasons that make Caesar a fun film to watch.The story centers on Beauregard Bottomley, a genius (naturally played by Ronald Coleman) who goes on a television quiz show. While Coleman is on the show, he keeps getting all the questions correct and wins more and more money. The show's sponsor, the Milady Soap Co., headed by Price, wants to stop Coleman from winning. His solution is to send the seductive Celeste Holm after Coleman as a distraction. Coleman must resist Holm if he wants to continue winning on the show.Click images to see larger.CBS Columbia Square as seen in Champagne For Caesar.CBS Columbia Square, 6121 Sunset Boulevard.The quiz show takes place at CBS Columbia Square, located at 6121 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. See the comparison above showing how the building appears in the film compared to how the building appears today. This building served as CBS's radio and television operations for the West Coast from 1938 to 2007. Many popular radio programs originated here, including shows for Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, Donald O. Connor, Burns and Allen, and Steve Allen. When television arrived, shows such as The Ed Wynn Show and the pilot episode for I Love Lucy were produced here. According to the book, James Dean: Dream As If You'll Live Forever, author Karen Clemens Warrick mentions that James Dean was an usher at CBS. She writes of Dean's experience that "Dean enjoyed watching the shows, but he did not like being told what to do and what to wear. He called the uniform a 'monkey suit.' He was fired at the end of the first week."Art Linkletter and Ronald Colman at CBS.Art Linkletter stars in the film as the quiz show host. In real life Linkletter was a popular radio and television host including the popular CBS program House Party, which ran for 25 years.Vincent Price and Celeste Holm.Red Studios Hollywood located at 846 North Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood was the location used for the Milady Soap Co. headquarters. The independent studio lot, first built in 1915, has had many previous tenants over the years and has been known at various times as the Metro Pictures Back Lot #3,  Motion Picture Center Studios, DesiLu Cahuenga Studios, Television Center Studios, and Ren-Mar Studios. Although the main entrance to the studio is on Cahuenga, for Champagne For Caesar the back entrance to the studio located on Lillian Way was used to film the entrance to the Milady Soap Co. Although the studio has been drastically remodeled, there are some details that are still the same, like the power source on the side of the building in the red circle and the sliding wire fence.Red Studios Hollywood used for the "Milady Soap Co."The back entrance to Red Studios located on Lillian Way.During one part in the film we see Celeste Holm take Ronald Colman on a wild ride through Hollywood. They mainly drive down Hollywood Boulevard and then make a turn from Hollywood on to Vine Street heading south. They pass such landmarks as the Egyptian Theatre, the Vogue Theatre, and in the distance of one shot we see radio towers that stand on top of the Warner Hollywood Theatre.Hollywood Boulevard approaching Las Palmas Ave.Hollywood Blvd looking towards Las Palmas Ave.In the comparison above we can see that the Egyptian Theatre is still standing on the right, the Vogue Theatre is still on the left, and in the distance the radio towers are still standing on top of what was formerly the Warner Hollywood Theatre.Hollywood Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue.Hollywood Boulevard [...]



Night Moves (1975) - Film Locations

2014-10-19T14:12:31.417-07:00

Night Moves (1975), is a 70s era detective story starring Gene Hackman as a detective hired by an aging movie starlet to find her daughter. What at first appears to be a straight forward missing persons case turns out to be much more convoluted. What I found interesting about this film is that it features two old Burbank, California movie theaters that no longer exist. One was demolished and another has been completely remodeled and turned into a recording studio.The first movie house seen in the film is the Magnolia Theater located at 4403 W. Magnolia Boulevard. In the film, Hackman is following his wife, who he discovers is having an affair when she walks out of the theater with another man. Classic movie fans may recognize this theater as the place where Fred MacMurray first meets Kim Novak in the crime film PUSHOVER (1954). The Magnolia Theater building is located just a mile and a half away from the Warner Bros. Studios lot, the studio that produced this film. Today the building is used as a recording studio and has been greatly remodeled from its days as a theater. The theater was built in 1940 and closed in 1979, just four years after Night Moves was released.Click images to see larger.Gene Hackman outside Burbank's Magnolia Theatre.The former Magnolia Theatre building at 4403 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, Ca.Another view of the Magnolia Theatre as seen in Night Moves (1975).The Magnolia Theatre building at 4403 W. Magnolia Blvd.The screenshot below is of a building located next door to the Magnolia Theatre. That structure is also still standing, although remodled.Building next door to Magnolia Theatre as seen in Night Moves.The structure next door to the Magnolia Theatre.Another old Burbank movie theater that appears in Night Moves is the old Cornell Theatre located at 1212 N. San Fernando Blvd, which can be seen in the screenshot below. What first caught my eye from the screenshot was the old Taco Bell sign and the McDonald's sign. From driving down this street multiple times before I remembered a Taco Bell restaurant and McDonald's located right next to each other. I figured if the earlier scene was filmed in Burbank then maybe this scene was also filmed in Burbank and perhaps at this location. What I didn't recognize was the Cornell neon sign on the right of the screenshot, but I recalled there being a Cornell Theatre in Burbank. I assumed that this must have been the location - and I was right.  That intersection where the Cornell Theatre stands is San Fernando Blvd and Cornell Drive.The Cornell Theatre opened on November 18, 1949 and was demolished in 1980 after closing in 1978 - just three years after Night Moves was released. According to the website Cinema Treasures, The Cornell Theatre "had two main aisles that ran down the theatre... Inside the auditorium, all seating was on a single level. There were Art Deco style 'swirls' on the side-walls and on each side of the proscenium. The curved ceiling contained 'twinkling star' lights, giving a semi-Atmospheric style to the decoration."Gene Hackman drives past the now demolished Cornell Theatre.Looking down San Fernando Blvd. The Cornell Theatre once stood below the yellow arrow.Night Moves (1972) was directed by Arthur Penn. Also starring are Jennifer Warren, Susan Clark and in early roles, James Woods and Melanie Griffith. The film is available on DVD and is currently available for streaming on Warner Archive Instant. If you like 1970s era detective/crime films like Klute (1971) or The Long Goodbye (1973), then this may be your thing.[...]



Hollywood Frame By Frame - A Book Review

2014-09-29T21:02:10.757-07:00

 Hollywood Frame By Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997Between my digital camera and my camera phone I probably take way too many photos. For about every ten photos I take, usually only one of them is any good, but because I can preview the photos before I print them I can be sure I'm printing only the photos I really want. In Hollywood, in the era prior to digital photography, set photographers didn't have this luxury. Instead the photographers printed contact sheets - a printed reproduction of one or more strips of developed film - which allowed photographers to view many different shots on one sheet. The photographers or studio publicity department could then preview the photos in order to select the best ones to serve their purpose.In the new book Hollywood Frame By Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997, author Karina Longworth presents contact sheets from Hollywood's past containing many never before seen images of Hollywood's biggest stars. James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Chaplin, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Faye Dunaway are just some of the many stars that are featured. These contact sheets allow us to see not just the photos that made the cut for some publicity photo, but all the images that for whatever reason were passed over. These images are often more interesting than the chosen photos. In some images we see stars caught in a spontaneous moment. In others we get interesting glimpses behind the scenes of the filmmaking process.Click images to see larger.A contact sheet showing Audrey Hepburn on the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's.For each film, the book includes interesting anecdotes about the stars featured in the contact sheets and some background information. In the contact sheet for Sabrina (1954) featuring Audrey Hepburn, I learned that this film marked the beginning of Audrey Hepburn's "long run as muse and model for French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy." The director of the film, Billy Wilder, convinced studio Paramount to pay for Hepburn to fly to Paris and purchase garments from Givenchy to be worn in the film.  When Hepburn arrived at Givenchy's studio, the designer was expecting the other Hepburn - Katharine - but Givenchy allowed her to go through his closets and select what she liked. And everyone knows how that turned out.Marilyn Monroe in a contact sheet for Bus Stop (1956).Another tid bit I learned was from an anecdote for Raintree County (1957) involving Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. I already knew that it was during the making of this film that Clift was involved in a major car accident that disfigured his perfect face and would delay and complicate the rest of the film. What I didn't know were some of the gross details. Clift was leaving a party at Taylor's house when he crashed his car into a telephone pole and his face was torn away. According to the book, Clift's friend and fellow actor Kevin McCarthy, "who had been driving his own car ahead of Clift's, ran back to Taylor's house for help, and the actress rushed to Clift's side, sticking her fingers down her best friend's throat to retrieve the two front teeth which had been knocked out by the crash."James Stewart and Grace Kelly in a contact sheet from Rear Window (1954).What's amazing is that we have many of these images at all. For a long period contact sheets were trashed once a movie was released. The studios didn't see any purpose in keeping them. This hardcover book is 208 pages, filled with gorgeous black and white images and a couple of attractive color images. I highly recommend it for classic film or photography fans who enjoy a nice coffee table style book. Might make for a great gift for the classic film fan on your gift list.Special thanks to Princeton Architectural P[...]



The Young Philadelphians (1959) - Film Locations

2014-08-12T22:27:43.618-07:00

 Coming up on TCM as part of their Summer Under the Stars tribute to actress Alexis Smith, is one of my favorite Paul Newman films, The Young Philadelphians (1959). Newman plays an up and coming young lawyer, who despite having  a respected family name in Philadelphia society, has to work his way up the corporate ladder. Along the way he faces several ethical dilemmas.As the title suggests, the film is set in Philadelphia, however, the movie was actually filmed in California in Glendale, Pacific Palisades and the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.  Here are the primary filming locations seen in the film.The film opens with a scene at a church that is supposed to be located on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. There is even a street sign that reads Rittenhouse Square, but I didn't buy that the film crew would have gone to Philadelphia to shoot this scene so I started researching old Los Angeles churches that had a clock tower. I then found a photo of a matching church in the Los Angeles Library collection. Below are two screenshots of the church in the film, a photograph of the church from the 1920s, and an image showing the same modern day location.Click images to see larger.The church as seen in the film.Don't let the street sign fool you. This is no where near Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square.Glendale Presbyterian Church.  Corner of Harvard and Louise Streets. Photo Credit: LAPLCurrent Glendale Presbyterian Church. Corner of Harvard and Louise Streets.The Glendale Presbyterian Church building that is seen in the film was constructed in 1923, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1971. There was so much damage that the building had to be demolished and a new building was later built on the same site on top of the existing basement.Early in the film we see Paul Newman as a young guy managing a construction site. That big hole in the ground was actually on Warner Bros. New York Street backlot. Below you can see a screenshot showing the New York Street set and a modern image of the same set location.Warner Bros. New York Street backlot used for a Philadelphia construction site.Warner Bros. New York Street Backlot.Paul Newman duking it out on WB's New York Street backlot.Newman's character ends up falling in love with a young socialite played by Barbara Rush. In one scene Newman takes Rush back to her family home. The exterior of the home was actually the Warner Bros. Brownstone Street. These Warner Bros. facades are constantly being changed for project to project and in fact the facade used in the scene below was again being changed out when I took the modern day image.Warner Bros. Brownstone Street was used for the home of Barbara Rush.Warner Bros. Brownstone Street as it appears today.Below is a view of Newman and Rush on Brownstone Street, but looking across to the other side of the street. The facade used during the time of the film has since been completely wiped out. Today this side of the street is the location of the Warner Bros theatre, which does have a facade that can be used for filming - although it now now way resembles the facade which used to be there.Newman and Rush on Brownstone Street.The Warner Bros. Theatre now stands on this site of Brownstone Street.One of the locations in the film is a bar called Ernie's Cocktails. This too was filmed on the Warner Bros. backlot, on New York Street. This facade also has been greatly changed since the film, but you can see below where I've marked with a yellow box, where the Ernie's facade would have been located.Warner Bros. New York Street was used as the location for Ernie's Cocktails.The yellow box marks the portion of the facade used as Ernie's Cocktails.Below is another shot of the Warner Bros. New York Street backlot, this time at Christmas. I love[...]



Bronk (1975-76) - Film Locations: Banning House

2014-08-02T08:21:22.528-07:00

Another landmark that can be seen in the pilot episode of the television series BRONK (1975-76) starring Jack Palance is the Banning House. Built in 1863, the Banning House was originally the home of Phineas Banning, a businessman and entrepreneur known as "The Father of the Port of Los Angeles." Banning was also one of the founders of Wilmington, the neighborhood in Los Angeles where this house can be found. Since 1927 the Banning House property has been owned by the City of Los Angeles and is currently operated as a museum.In BRONK, the Banning House is used as the location for a convalescent hospital where Jack Palance's daughter is living. In the scene below we see Palance pulling out of the front driveway.Palance leaving the Convalescent Hospital / Banning House.The Banning House, 401 E M St, Wilmington, CAIn the next shot we can see the view looking across the street from the Banning House driveway. The house on the corner in the screenshot is still standing.Palance exits the Convalescent Hospital.Looking across E. M St, from the Banning House.To learn more about the Banning House visit The Banning Museum website. Coming up on August 16, the Banning House will be having a 150th Anniversary celebration on the property that will be "in the spirit of the Rancho-period of the Banning property." There will be live country music, country style dancing, and a "good old fashioned BBQ buffet" provided by The Outdoor Grill.BRONK: THE COMPLETE SERIES is currently available for streaming through Warner Archive Instant.[...]



Bronk (1975-76) - Film Locations: Koontz Hardware

2014-07-26T16:28:49.529-07:00

Bronk (1975-1976) is a TV series starring Jack Palance. It would be only one of a couple times that Palance would be the star of his own show, but unfortunately, it only lasted one season. In films Palance frequently played villains or dark characters, but in Bronk, Palance is a sympathetic good guy, although still a tough guy. If you're a fan of 1970s era detective shows like The Rockford Files or Columbo, then Bronk may be worth checking out. However, where Rockford and Columbo have plenty of humor, Bronk has a more serious tone.In the pilot episode directed by Richard Donnor, one of the locations that shows up is Koontz Hardware in West Hollywood. In the scene below Bronk (Palance) is leaving a pet store and the neighboring building in the background is Koontz, located at 8914 Santa Monica Blvd. Koontz is still in operation on the same site, but in a newer building from the time this show was filmed.Click images to see larger.Palance leaves a pet store next door to Koontz Hardware.Koontz Hardware, 8914 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood.As Palance walks back to his car he notices a note on the windshield. In this view we get a glimpse of the business located across the street on the corner of Santa Monica and Hilldale. The corner building is still standing and today is home to Champagne French Bakery & Cafe. Before New Line Cinema was basically absorbed by Warner Bros., New Line used to have production and post production offices in the tall building just behind Champagne. When I used to work at New Line I would pass this intersection daily.Palance finds a note on his car. The NE corner of Santa Monica and Hilldale can be seen in the background.Looking towards Champagne French Bakery & Cafe at 8919 Santa Monica Blvd.Below is another view looking across Santa Monica Boulevard from inside the Pet Store location next to Koontz Hardware.Looking towards 8921 Santa Monica Blvd.8921 Santa Monica Blvd is now the site of a Bank of America.This last view is looking west down Santa Monica Boulevard from in front of the Pet Store location. In the background we can see a Safeway grocery store. Today this building has been replaced be a new modern Pavilions supermarket. Across the street is the Hamburger Haven burger stand on the opposite corner.Looking west down Santa Monica from out front of the pet store.Looking west down Santa Monica toward Robertson Blvd.Bronk is currently available for streaming through Warner Archive Instant.[...]



Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood's Legendary Hotel of the Stars

2014-07-19T20:01:00.080-07:00

I first visited the Chateau Marmont, a Gothic European inspired hotel located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, about eight years ago. A friend of mine was celebrating a birthday and her boss had rented one of the large suites on the upper floor. I had heard some of the stories about the Marmont - how Marilyn Monroe stayed at the hotel or rock stars like Led Zeppelin crashed at the place - so I was excited to experience the hotel for myself. As soon as I entered the hotel I got the feeling I was walking into a mythical place. I remember the hallways being dark and narrow, little European architectural details, seeing some high profile guests hanging out in the lobby and when I got to to the top of the hotel - the amazing view of Los Angeles that looked out from our suite. I could see for myself why so many of Hollywood's biggest stars have chosen to make the Marmont their home. The Chateau Marmont on the Sunset Strip.I've always wanted to learn more about this hotel, so as part of my Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge hosted by Out of the Past - A Classic Movie Blog, I chose to read Life at the Marmont: The Inside Store of Hollywood's Legendary Hotel of the Stars - Chateau Marmont, by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten. The book is an interesting in-depth look at the hotel's history and filled with stories of the many celebrities that stayed there over the years. The book goes in chronological order, so it begins with some background on how the hotel was founded in the 1920s, in what was at the time a little strip in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Hollywood and Beverly Hills. We then learn about the different guests who have visited and how things changed at the hotel over the passing decades.Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood.Some of the guests that have stayed at the Marmont include director Billy Wilder, Jean Harlow, William Holden, Glenn Ford, Howard Hughes, Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty,  Boris Karloff, Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, Roddy McDowall and many, many others. When Harry Cohn got a young 21 year old William Holden and a 22 year old Glenn Ford to work at his Columbia studio under contract, he didn't want his business investments getting into trouble, at least not where anyone would find out, so he rented them a room at the Marmont. In the book Ford recounts his time at the Marmont:"Harry really worried about Bill and me. He had put us under contract at approximately the same time, and we were constantly getting into trouble - going places where we shouldn't have gone and mixing with the wrong people. In his eyes, rather bad company. One day he sent for us and said, 'If you must get into trouble, go to the Marmont.' He made it clear that he had rented the small penthouse there just for us, to protect us. As upset and concerned as he was, he never raised his voice. But he made sure we got his point."Throughout 1939 Ford and Holden shared the suite with actor David Niven. I like to think that maybe during my stay at the Marmont that I was in the same suite - regardless - I know many old Hollywood stars have.Nicholas Ray, James Dean, Natalie Wood, Jim Backus and the Rebel Without a Cause cast.Following his divorce from actress Gloria Grahame, director Nicholas Ray moved into the Chateau Marmont and lived here for a few years off and on. Ray stayed in one of the private bungalows next to the main building. He worked on many of his films from here, including his most famous film, Rebel Without a Cause. During Rebel, Ray held the early script sessions at his bungalow, inviting the cast over for readings, including James Dean, Natalie Wood, Jim Backus,[...]



Big City (1937) - Film Locations

2014-08-02T14:11:00.747-07:00

Luise Rainer and Spencer TracyWhen I really like an actor I feel the need to see all of their films. I know not all of them will be great. Some will probably be only so-so or simply bad, but I get some enjoyment from watching the smaller or maybe less appreciated films that my favorite stars appeared in. At times I'm even surprised and a movie that I go into not expecting much turns out to have some qualities I really like. That's what happened when I watched Big City (1937), starring Spencer Tracy and Luise Rainer.Tracy plays a New York City cab driver married to an immigrant wife (Rainer). The two are madly in love but things are tough in the big city, especially for independent cab drivers trying to make a living like Tracy, who are constantly being harassed by the big unionized cab drivers. Things get out of control, escalating to an all out battle between the independents and the union cabbies. After one person dies in an explosion, Tracy's immigrant wife is threatened to be deported.The trouble with Big City is the story is all over the place. What starts as a romantic drama evolves into a manic slapstick comedy by the end, when a brawl erupts between the independents, the union cabbies and some famous athletes. The feel of the movie is inconsistent. Nevertheless, Tracy and Rainer make this movie fun to watch. I really enjoyed seeing Tracy and Rainer on screen in the only film they made together. Some other gems include seeing cameo appearances by some famous athletes of the time and something I'm always interested in, real world film locations.Click images to see larger. Jack Dempsey's Restaurant as seen in Big City.Former site of Jack Dempsey's Restaurant in New York.Near the end of the film, Tracy barges into a dinner meeting taking place inside Jack Dempsey's Restaurant. Tracy's wife is about to be deported and he pleads with the mayor, who is speaking at the dinner to help him, that if anyone could save his wife, it would be the mayor. The restaurant was a real location,  located at 8th Avenue and West 50th Street in New York and owned by heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey, who has a cameo appearance. The place opened in 1935, just a couple years before Big City was filmed.  Above is an image of Jack Dempsey's Restaurant as it appears in the film and below that is a vintage postcard image of how the restaurant looked.Jack Dempsey Restaurant site, 8th Ave at 50th St. Photo courtesy ScenePast.The mayor decides to help Tracy. Escorted by some of the other dinner patrons (more famous athletes including Jim Thorpe, Jim Jeffries and Maxie Rosenbloom) the group races to the docks in a few cars to stop the ship that is about to deport Rainer. We see the cars race down two more real New York streets and then suddenly, for someone looking closely, one will notice the cars are racing down the streets of Hollywood! Below are two more views of New York and then the jump to Hollywood.The first view is of Broadway, near the Jack Dempsey Restaurant location. In this view we see the Trans-Lux Theatre, located at 1619 Broadway. This theatre, which opened in 1931, was struggling by 1937 when this film was made. What's interesting is that in 1937, Jack Dempsey and his business partner Jack Amiel purchased the Trans-Lux property and converted the site into Jack Dempsey's Broadway Bar and Cocktail Lounge.Trans-Lux Theatre, 1619 Broadway, New YorkContemporary view of the Trans-Lux Theatre site.The next New York view seen in the film shows us the corner of West 47th Street and Broadway in Times Square. The most prominent building that can be seen in the screenshot is the Florsheim Shoe store. It'[...]



Meet John Doe (1941) - Film Locations

2014-06-24T06:57:07.048-07:00

Frank Capra is one of those directors where I can watch just about any one of his films and be entertained. Many of Capra's movies are heavily sentimental, wholesome message pictures which some critics have dismissively referred to as "Capra-corn." Although Capra's filmmaking style may seem a bit old-fashioned, for me personally it's one of the qualities I enjoy about Capra's films, and regardless of Capra's style, the subject matter in his films from the 1930s and 1940s, are just as relevant now as they were then. Whether it be a naive scout leader who thinks by becoming a senator and going to Washington he can help his country in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) or a presidential candidate who struggles to stick by his ideals and not sell out to special interest groups in State of the Union (1948), Capra's films touch on subjects that still strike a chord as a contemporary viewer watching the current political circus taking place.The film Meet John Doe (1941), starring the always wonderful to watch Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, is another Capra classic portraying a "common man" fighting greed and corruption for the greater good of society. In this story, Stanwyck is a reporter who finds out that she is being laid off. For her last column she publishes a letter from a fictional "John Doe" who threatens to kill himself on Christmas Eve in response to society's inattention to people in need. When the letter is printed it causes a sensation and newspaper sales spike.  Stanwyck is kept on at the newspaper to continue her charade and to exploit the popularity of John Doe to sell more papers. After interviewing several hobos, Stanwyck discovers John Willoughby (Gary Cooper), a former baseball player in need of cash to repair an injured arm, to portray her John Doe.With Cooper as the face of John Doe, Stanwyck continues to be John Doe's voice through her typewriter, publishing a series of letters from John Doe in the newspaper. With people all over the country stirred by John Doe's philosophy, the newspaper's publisher, D.B. Norton, decides to take things further and hires Cooper to give radio speeches which Stanwyck will write. A grassroots movement begins with John Doe supporters around the country creating John Doe clubs, with the simple philosphy of "Be a better neighbor."Intending to capitalize on John Doe's growing popularity, Norton plans to use John Doe to endorse him as a presidential candidate. Cooper himself begins to believe the John Doe philosophy, realizes he is being used and attempts to make things right with the public by exposing the entire scheme.There is no real life city mentioned in the film, only a fictional town called "Millville" but the exterior scenes were all filmed in the Los Angeles area, including the Warner Bros. Studio backlot in Burbank. Here are a few of the Meet John Doe filming locations as they appear today.Looking south down Vine Street just above Yucca Street.Looking down Vine St. above Yucca St. as it appears today.When John Doe is going to make his premier on radio, the scene opens with a shot of a guy hammering an advertisment to a pole that is on Vine Street in Hollywood. The camera gives us a view looking south down Vine Street from just above Yucca Street. We get a glimpse of the Broadway Hollywood building on the right. Just behind the bill advertising "Hear John Doe TONIGHT 9 P.M. W.B.N." is where today stands the Capital Records building, which wasn't finished until 1956, fifteen years after Meet John Doe was made.NBC Studios, corner of Sunset Blvd. and Vine St.Former site of NBC Studios at Sunset and Vine.The location where Cooper gives [...]



Welcome, Foolish Mortals: The Life and Voices of Paul Frees

2014-06-09T20:37:48.755-07:00

First up as part of my participation in the classic film book summer reading challenge is Welcome, Foolish Mortals: The Life and Voices of Paul Frees by Ben Ohmart. The name Paul Frees may not be immediately recognizable but, as the title suggests, you're more than likely familiar with one of his many voices. Some of my favorites include his voices as the Ghost Host in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion attraction, as John Lennon and George Harrison for The Beatles TV series (1965-1969), the Pillsbury Doughboy, as various characters in those Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas specials, as well as various voices on Rocky and Bullwinkle. Prior to reading this book I knew of many of Frees' voice credits but I knew little about the man himself.Born in Chicago, Frees got his start in entertainment in the 1930s doing impressions. He then got established in radio and developed the reputation as a talent you could count on. He appeared on popular radio programs such as Suspense and Crime Classics. Many times Frees was called in to fill in as the voices of popular celebrities such as Peter Lorre and Humphrey Bogart. According to Frees, Bogart once told him that "you sound more like me than I do." Later in his career, once while seeing Sammy Davis Jr. perform in Vegas, Davis admitted to the audience that he was embarrassed to do impressions for them because there was someone who was sitting in the audience they probably didn't know that was considered the best at doing impressions - referring to Frees.Frees was known to antagonize his coworkers on occasion and one of my favorite stories involves a time he worked at NBC in Hollywood with Lionel Barrymore on the Dr. Kildare radio program. Frees explained, "Oh, the terrible things I used to do to Lionel Barrymore. He was in a wheelchair and outside of NBC at the corner of Sunset and Vine across the way there was a place called The Key Club we used to go to. I would wheel the old man behind there, and I would start running and I would wheel his wheelchair so fast down the ramp. I'd be wheeling him at 30, 40, 50 miles an hour and he'd be shouting, 'You sonofabitch, if you don't stop this chair...!" I can just picture a perturbed Barrymore yelling at Frees.Paul Frees with Fred MacMurray in the Shaggy Dog (1959).Frees did appear in some films, but mostly in minor roles. Some of his film credits include Reverend Morrison in A Place in the Sun (1951),  Corley in His Kind of Woman (1951), and as one of Sinatra's thugs, Benny in the film Suddenly (1954). However, Frees never got beyond minor roles and was more likely to be hired to do voice-over work and provide dubbing for films. For example, in Patton (1970) he provided the voices for a war correspondent, one of Patton's staff members, and the voice of a sheik. He also dubbed for Humphrey Bogart in Bogart's last film role, The Harder They Fall (1956).Paul Frees in one of his three-piece suits.I was most interested in learning some of the quirky things about Frees. Like how Frees grew a big, Edwardian looking mustache and how he was always impeccably dressed. Frees often wore three piece suits and had a large collection of pocket watches, along with a large collection of different watch fobs. Frees was short but would talk like he was the biggest person in the room. Because he was short and he dressed flashy, Frees always carried a gun for protection. During the 1960s, he had a side gig working as an undercover narcotics agent for the DEA in Marin County. In addition to voice talents, Frees was also a gifted painter, writer and singer. He got around in a Rolls Royce and frequently [...]



My Summer Classic Film Book Reading List For 2014

2014-05-30T11:49:07.008-07:00

 Raquel of Out of the Past - A Classic Film Blog is once again hosting a classic film book summer reading challenge. I missed out last year, but I thought if I participated in the challenge this year, it would be the kick in the pants I need to get caught up on some books that I've been putting off reading. The goal is to read six classic film related books by the end of summer. If you participate in the challenge you are also eligible to win a prize. Full details can be found at her blog here.Here is my summer reading list:First up is Welcome Foolish Mortals...The Life and Voices of Paul Frees by Ben Ohmart. I've always been fascinated by the many voices of actor, artist and foremost voice talent, Paul Frees. I know his voice well from Disney's Ludwig Von Drake or the Haunted Mansion ride's "Ghost Host," the Pillsbury Doughboy, and from impersonating everyone from Orson Welles to Peter Lorre; but I never knew much about his personal story. There has since been a revised edition of this book but a friend had already given me a copy of the first edition.Next is Life at the Marmont: The Inside Story of Hollywood's Legendary Hotel of the Stars--Chateau Marmont by Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten. I had the opportunity to attend a private party and crash in one of the hotel's suites a few years ago. It's an amazing hotel that just feels old Hollywood. I've been waiting to dig into this book to find out more of the hotel's storied past.What would Hollywood be without a few wild guys around? Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty, and Jack Nicholson by Robert Sellers is next on my list.Carole Landis is one of Hollywood's tragic characters so I'm curious about this book, Carole Landis: A Most Beautiful Girl by Eric Gans.Next is Humphrey Bogart from TV Guide's American Icons series. This isn't really a book but it's more than just a magazine. Flipping through the pages I'm already attracted to the many stunning images of Bogart and intrigued by the different articles on his life.One of my favorite actors from early Hollywood is Glenn Ford. The guy just seemed so cool, especially in all those film noirs. Last on my list is Glenn Ford: A Life by Peter Ford.If you would like to participate in the summer reading challenge head on over to Out of the Past to fill out a form and get the full scoop. I'll be publishing my reviews of the above books throughout the summer.Happy Summer Reading![...]



Cass Timberlane (1947) - Film Locations

2014-05-20T22:20:07.404-07:00

In the film version of Sinclair Lewis's story, Cass Timberlane (1947), Spencer Tracy plays the title character, a judge who falls for a younger woman (Lana Turner) from the "wrong side of the tracks." Although the story for Cass Timberlane is set in a small Minnesotan town, filming actually took place in California, around Los Angeles and the MGM Studios backlot in Culver City. Early in the film, when Tracy first meets Turner, he literally crosses the railroad tracks but they are a long way off from Minnesota. In the scene below Tracy sees a baseball roll from underneath a railroad car. Tracy is standing near Myers Street, just north of the 1st Street bridge in downtown Los Angeles. Click images to enlarge.Tracy stands on N. Myers St near the 1st Street bridge.Looking toward the 1st Street bridge from N. Myers St.Tracy joins the action of a baseball game taking place in a parcel of land north of the 1st Street Bridge and east of the Los Angeles River. Naturally, being a judge, Tracy acts as the umpire. While Tracy stands next to Turner near the pitching mound, we get a view of the Southern California Gas Company tanks that once stood near Jackson Street and Center Street, just across the LA River. These recognizable structures appeared in quite a few early films before they were razed, and were particularly popular in film noirs.Tracy and Turner with the The Southern California Gas Company tanks in the background.Looking across L.A. River towards Jackson Street. The gas tanks have since been razed.A closer view of the tanks that stood near Jackson St. and Center St.Spencer Tracy's home in Cass Timberlane was one of the homes originally built for the popular Vincente Minnelli film Meet Me in St. Louis (1945) starring Judy Garland. For Meet Me In St. Louis, Minnelli insisted that MGM construct an entire street of Victorian homes rather than dress an existing set, which would have been much cheaper. The sets remained well after Minnelli's film, getting their fair share of screen time. Tracy would not only work on this St. Louis Street backlot for Cass Timberlane, but also in the film  The Sea of Grass which came out the same year.Tracy walks home, one of homes on MGM's St. Louis Street backlot.Cass Timberlane is available on DVD through the Warner Archive Collection, it can be rented through ClassicFlix, and is currently available for streaming on the Warner Archive Instant service.[...]



Katharine Hepburn's Hiking Spot

2014-05-12T06:53:02.096-07:00

 Hepburn hiking country road during break from filming in London.Katharine Hepburn was always athletic. At an early age, while growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, Hepburn's father, a doctor, encouraged his kids to swim, play tennis, ride horses and golf. Swimming was an activity that Hepburn was particularly fond of and she would continue to swim regularly even into her 80s. Another activity that Hepburn enjoyed doing for exercise was hiking and during her time living in Los Angeles, one of her favorite hiking spots was by the Franklin Canyon Reservoir. Franklin Canyon Lake at Franklin Canyon Reservoir. Source.Located just below Mulholland Drive, west of Coldwater Canyon and near Beverly Hills and Studio City, Franklin Canyon Reservoir feels like an escape from the city. No wonder why Hepburn, someone who enjoyed her privacy, liked hiking this spot. Without ever having visited the canyon, you may recognize the location from numerous appearances on film and television. Shows like Bonanza, The Waltons, Lassie, Murder She Wrote and Combat have filmed scenes here. During the opening credits of each episode of The Andy Griffith Show one can see Griffith and little Ron Howard walking around the 3-acre lake. The films It Happened One Night (1934), The Lady Escapes (1937), I Met My Love Again (1938) and even the Hepburn film On Golden Pond (1981) have filmed scenes at Franklin Canyon Reservoir.The Andy Griffith Show filmed at Franklin Canyon Reservoir. Source.During Hepburn's years with Spencer Tracy, she would urge him to join her for walks around Franklin Canyon Reservoir. In early 1964, a few months after Tracy had started to recover from a major health scare, Hepburn purchased a police dog named Lobo to encourage Tracy to go on walks at the reservoir. Spencer Tracy, Ruth Gordon, Garson Kanin, Katharine HepburnHepburn's friend, the writer Garson Kanin, in his memoir on Hepburn and Tracy recounts a story in which Hepburn played hero in the rescue of a kidnapped boy during one of her hikes at the reservoir. In 1969, the teenage son of Dr. Simon Ramo, a wealthy aerospace executive living in Beverly Hills, was kidnapped. During Hepburn's hike she heard some yelling. She was then approached by a police officer who had been called out by the reservoir keeper. Kate pointed the officer in the direction of the keeper's house and later the boy was recovered unharmed. One can imagine that Hepburn's involvement was probably played up for dramatic effect.On a side note, during the early 1960s Hepburn's frequent co-star, Cary Grant, participated in supervised medical LSD experiments. Grant was a proponent of LSD "therapy" and claimed that it helped to control his drinking and to come to terms with unresolved conflicts he had about his parents. While praising the benefits of LSD Grant mentioned, "Just a few healthy magnums of LSD in the Beverly Hills reservoir..." So while Hepburn hiked the reservoir Grant found relaxation in the reservoir in his own way.Address for the trailhead: Lake Drive & Franklin Canyon Drive, Franklin Canyon Park, CA 90210 This post is part of The Great Katharine Hepburn Blogathon hosted by blogger Margaret Perry.[...]



Perfect Strangers (1950) - Film Locations

2014-04-29T08:38:12.225-07:00

Dennis Morgan and Ginger RogersWhen I watch classic movies I often watch them differently than contemporary films. With classic films I can get sucked in just by the vintage fashions and sometimes the real world film locations. That's the case with Perfect Strangers (1950), a court room drama starring Dennis Morgan and Ginger Rogers.The film is a day in the life of Los Angeles jurors forced to live together during a trial. Morgan plays a married man who falls in love with another juror, a woman separated from her husband, played by Rogers. The story is interesting for its look into the juror process circa 1950, but the drama is a bit lackluster. What really won me over was the fantastic Los Angeles film locations and also that the film features some of my favorite actors. In addition to Morgan and Rogers, the film also features, Thelma Ritter, Paul Ford, Alan Reed (the voice of Fred Flintstone), and other recognizable character actors.Here are some of the Los Angeles filming locations that appear in Perfect Strangers.Click on images to see larger.United States Post Office Terminal AnnexLos Angeles Terminal Annex, 900 N. Alameda StreetThe film begins with a scene of Los Angeles residents being selected at random for jury service and the notices being processed for delivery at the United States Post Office Terminal Annex located at 900 North Alameda Street, in downtown Los Angeles. In the comparison above is a screenshot of the Terminal Annex as seen in the film and an image of how the historic post office building appears today.In the comparison below, we see a helicopter take off from the roof of the Terminal Annex. In the background, we get a glimpse of Olvera Street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles. One of the structures that can bee seen and is still standing is La Plaza United Methodist Church, which stands at the entrance to Olvera Street. See inside the yellow rectangle.Terminal Annex rooftop. Olvera Street can be seen inside the yellow rectangle.Bird's Eye View of Olvera Street as it appears today.In the next comparison the helicopter takes off from the Terminal Annex rooftop and we see, from left to right, Los Angeles City Hall, the United States Courthouse building, and the historic Hall of Justice building.From left to right: City Hall, Courthouse, Hall of Justice buildings.A view of the three buildings as they appear now.One of the people called for jury service is Ginger Rogers. In the scene below, Ginger Rogers arrives via trolley in front of Los Angeles City Hall, located at 200 north Spring Street. She gets off the trolley and walks across the street from City Hall towards the Hall of Records building.Ginger Rogers arrives by trolley in front of City Hall.Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street.Below we see Rogers walking towards the Hall of Records building located directly across from City Hall. After Rogers arrives at the Hall of Records building she then walks next door to the Hall of Justice building. The Hall of Records was a 12-story building constructed between 1909 and 1911 and then demolished in 1973. The Hall of Justice building, which was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, has been closed ever since the quake, but is still standing and undergoing a 231 million dollar renovation.Rogers walks towards the LA Hall of Records building.A photo from 1954 looking down Spring Street showing the Hall of Records, Hall of Justice, and on the right, the United States Courthouse and City Hall buildings.Looking down Sprin[...]



Jersey Boys (2014) - Film Locations

2014-04-18T09:16:13.758-07:00

Jersey Boys, the hit Broadway musical about Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, is getting the cinema treatment. The film version, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Christopher Walken and Vincent Piazza, hits theaters on June 20, and a new trailer was released today. One thing I spotted immediately in the trailer was a scene that was clearly filmed on the Warner Bros. New York Street backlot set in Burbank, California. The below screenshot was taken from the trailer. As the movie has not yet been released, I don't know exactly what is taking place in the scene, but it looks like the band must be arriving to perform at a concert. Notice how with a little movie magic the film designers were able to change the background to appear differently from what the actual background looks like. If you go see this movie in theaters, keep your eyes open for this scene.Click images to see larger.A screenshot from Jersey Boys (2014).The Warner Bros. New York Street backlot set.A wider view of the Warner Bros. New York Street backlot set.Below is the full trailer for Jersey Boys. I must admit, when I first heard that Clint Eastwood was directing a musical I was a bit skeptical, but the trailer looks interesting and I'm much more excited than I was before. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/fY0YmsVNq_Q" width="560">Official Trailer for Jersey Boys (2014).So what do you think of this upcoming film?All images (c) Warner Bros.[...]



The Toluca Lake Homes of Shemp Howard

2014-04-15T09:17:55.780-07:00

Shemp Howard of The Three Stooges.Toluca Lake, a tony neighborhood located partly in Burbank and Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, has long been a favorite place to live for Hollywood celebrities, including Bob Hope, William Holden, Frank Sinatra, Ann Sheridan and many others. Part of the appeal of Toluca Lake is the small town village feel. The primary commercial street in Toluca Lake, Riverside Drive, is like an Eisenhower era main street filled with little shops. The quiet tree lined residential streets look like they belong somewhere in Middle America, not minutes from the energy of Hollywood.One of the best descriptions I've seen of Toluca Lake comes from Sandie Howard (granddaughter to Shemp Howard of The Three Stooges). In 2012, Howard wrote a post on the Los Angeles Times website in which she reminisces about growing up in Toluca Lake. Howard describes the shops, the homes,  and what life was like as a child in this celebrity hood. I thought Howard's description was a charming read. Here's what she wrote:"Toluca Lake. I was born and raised as 3rd generation in our house. Born in 56' and resided there til 81. Grandparents, Babe and Shemp Howard bought this home at 4604 Placidia Ave. My grandpa was Shemp, the original of the Three Stooges. Our home was on the corner of Placidia and Sara St. They lived there from the 40's -mid 50's. They had chickens, a Victory Garden. My grandfather owned a gun only to use on pesty Gophers that would steel all the carrots. My dad bought the home shortly before I was born. We didn't have air conditioning nor a pool for many years. Click images to see larger.Shemp Howard's home at 4604 Placidia Ave.I recall the fwy being put in. Stayed cool by sprinklers, Water Wiggles, Slip and Slides. All the kids played together. Boys and girls, roller skating, riding bikes, having flour fights. We walked the back wall to get to friends houses regardless of being scratched or cut up by brush and bushes. Toluca Lake kids on Saturdays would spend much time on Riverside Dr. at Pop and Cork for a 'BigStick Popsicle then to The Five and Dime to play with all the open tables of toys. We'd walk through the T.L. Pharmacy where we were not allowed to touch anything. The T.L. Market where you could actually pick up the phone and order your groceries and have them delivered. Bob's Big Boy's car hops to see rollerskating waitresses. Patys for the big Pineapple and Marshmallow syrup. The Pancake House syrups. The Little Green Store on Camarillo. It was safe! Neighborhoods of Walnuts, Birch and Magnolias. 4604 Placidia Avenue, Toluca Lake, CA.The Rock on our lawn was the meeting spot for the kids. A mom would call and the friend would run home. I listened for the St. Charles Church bells at 6:00pm. T. Lake. Safe, quaint and well kept neighborhoods. Jill and I both had our weddings in our backyard. Doors of the house were only locked by Skeleton Keys. We had many varieties of fruit trees from Satsuma Plums to Kumquats. At 23, mom leased the house to Denzel Washington then sold it to him. I was crushed not to have an affiliation to that neighborhood anymore. I honestly thought someone in the family would be in that house, in Toluca Lake forever. I make a point to drive through the neighborhood still. I want to go inside to see my house but I don't have the nerve - yet. Toluca Lake is still quaint today. Still close with a couple of kids from the blocks. Many of busine[...]



Book Review: Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows by Ken LaZebnik

2014-03-27T20:38:25.023-07:00

In addition to wanting to work in the entertainment industry, part of the reason I moved to Los Angeles was to be able to live in an area where so much Hollywood history has taken place. To me Los Angeles is like an amusement park for Hollywood history nerds. Instead of different themed "lands" you have different neighborhoods, each containing their own unique stories and landmarks. The trouble is if you don't know what you are looking for you might completely miss out on some of these fascinating stories. There are many interesting Hollywood stories that are hidden or forgotten, they just need to be uncovered.In his book, Hollywood Digs: An Archaeology of Shadows, author and screenwriter Ken LaZebnik has done just that - he has dug up some Hollywood stories that have been buried over time and where only shards of history remain. Each chapter focuses on a particular item or place that lead into untold histories involving such subjects as Dick Powell, Marlon Brando or Judy Garland. A street sign in Encino is used to begin a story about F. Scott Fitzgerald during his final days living in a cottage on the estate of Edward Everett Horton. In another chapter a plaque at the legendary Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City honoring stuntman (and father of actress Sally Field) Jock Mahoney, is the starting point for an essay about the stuntman's tragic life.One of my favorite stories involves LaZebnik visiting a Los Angeles garage sale at Sunshine Terrace, up Laurel Canyon, where he uncovered a binder that included on the first page the note, "Melville Shavelson: THE LITTLE BUGLER." It turned out to be that LaZebnik was in the home of a former president of the Writers Guild of America, West, as well as a successful Hollywood writer,  but who today is largely forgotten. Shavelson got his break as a joke writer for Bob Hope but then went on to write screenplays like HOUSEBOAT with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren and CAST A GIANT SHADOW with Kirk Douglas. What LaZebnik found at the garage sale was a binder containing an unfinished script that Shavelson had started late in his career. LaZebnik, who purchased the binder containing the screenplay, uses this as the starting point to tell us more about who Shavelson was and what the notated, unfinished screenplay reveals about Shavelson.LaZebnik's writing is very natural and does an excellent job of painting a picture of the places and people he writes about. In the chapter "A Neighborhood Walk"  LaZebnik writes about the homes of George Wendt and Ed Begley Jr. and how several decades prior the same neighborhood was home to Donald O'Connor, Farley Granger, and Marilyn Monroe who once lived briefly in a guest house in the area. LaZebnik shares little anecdotes as he leads the reader along the way. I felt like LaZebnik was giving me a personal tour of his neighborhood in the Valley and I was right behind him as he pointed out key points of Hollywood history.If you enjoy Hollywood history you will have fun reading this book. Hollywood Digs is a fast read with each chapter focusing on a different subject. Also to be admired are the over sixty stunning photographs that fill the pages that come from the collection of master photographer, Leigh Wiener. The images include photos of Shirley Jones, Jimmy Stewart, Groucho Marx, and Paul Newman to name a few.Recommended for fans of books like Peter Bogdanovich's "Who the Hell's in It" or "Celebrity Circu[...]