Wednesday, January 27, 2010


George Reeves as Superman
In the Adventures of Superman television show that aired in the 1950s, starring George Reeves as Superman, the Carnation Building located at 5045 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles stood in for the "Daily Planet." However, according to the website DC Database episodes 27 - 104 used the Los Angeles City Hall as the Daily Planet building.

Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street
The Los Angeles City Hall has appeared on film frequently. It can bee seen in Dragnet, LA Confidential, All the President's Men, The War of the Worlds, Another 48 Hours, Changeling and many other titles.

Los Angeles City Hall looking from 2nd Street
Above is a photo of the Los Angeles City Hall looking from the 2nd Street tunnel. For many years City Hall, which was built in 1927, was the tallest building in Los Angeles, standing at a height of 450 feet. That was until 1967 when the skyscraper known as 611 Place was built to a height of 620 feet. 611 Place is located at 611 West 6th Street.
And just like City Hall, 611 Place has also appeared on film. In the Ben Stiller movie Along Came Polly it is the location of the basejump scene.

Charlie "The Tramp" Chaplin in City Lights
Many of the scenes in Charlie Chaplin's film, City Lights, were shot on the backlot and soundstages of the Chaplin Studios located on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood. The screenshot above where Charlie first meets the blind flower girl, as well as the opening scene in the film where Charlie is found sleeping on the city statue were all shot at the Chaplin Studio. However, there were a few scenes shot around the city of Los Angeles.

Chaplin Studios, 1416 N. La Brea Avenue, Hollywood

7th Street & Grand, Los Angeles, CA
Above is a screenshot from the scene where Charlie and the millionaire go for a drunken drive around town after a night out. Below is a photo of how the same area appears today. Notice now there are the addition of trees and many more high-rise buildings, otherwise, the building on the left looks pretty close to the same. This building just happened to be right next door to the parking garage for my jeweler which made finding this building pretty easy.

7th Street & Grand, Los Angeles, CA

7th Street & Olive, Los Angeles, CA

Just a block down from the above location is another location from the same scene. Above Charlie and the drunken millionaire are about to turn right onto Olive. I think it's interesting if you look in the below picture you will see that Olive Avenue is now a one way street. If Charlie and the drunk would have turned down Olive today they would have been heading the wrong way!

7th Street & Olive, Los Angeles, CA

Vintage Postcard, Town House apartment building.

The millionaire's house is actually the Town House apartment building on the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard - not far from the other downtown Los Angeles locations. When Charlie receives a wad of cash from the millionaire he heads outside the building to buy flowers from the blind flower girl.

Charlie races to buy flowers from the blind flower girl.

Town House apartment building. Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Above is the same corner of the Town House apartment building as it appears today. The building is no longer used as an apartment building. Now it is available for film location rentals as well as wedding and other special events.

Turning on Berendo from Wilshire - Gaylord Apartments
In the above screenshot Charlie and the millionaire are driving down Wilshire Boulevard and are about to turn onto Berendo. The Gaylord Apartment is the large building in the background and is an easy landmark to spot.

Turning onto Berendo past Immanuel Presbyterian Church

Above is another screenshot that shows Charlie and the millionaire making the turn onto Berendo. Another landmark that can be seen is the Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
Above is the same intersection as it appears today. The church is still standing and so too is the Gaylord Apartments. You just can't see the apartment from this angle now because of all the trees.

Charlie & Millionaire passing Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills
Above is a photo of Charlie and the drunken Millionaire now driving pass the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. Below is a photo looking at the hotel today.

Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills
With the exception of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, all the other locations are in very close proximity to one another. I recommend visiting the downtown locations early on a weekend when traffic isn't so bad and then do a drive to the other locations. Just don't follow Charlie and the Millionaire's example - drive sober!

Bob Mitchell, photo (C) Eric Richardson
The legendary silent film organist Bob Mitchell died this past weekend. He was 96 years old. I mainly knew Mitchell for his weekly performances at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. Mitchell would create the soundtrack for the silent films, anything from Charlie Chaplin to Valentino pictures, using the theater's organ. However, I didn't realize how fascinating the rest of Mitchell's life was until after reading his obituary in the Los Angeles Times. Mitchell was the first house organist for the Dodgers, he started the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir which appeared in over 100 films, including Going My Way with Bing Crosby, and he was also an organist for the Los Angeles Conservancy's Last Remaining Seats, a series that presents classic films. Read the Los Angeles

Wee Kirk of The Heather at Forrest Lawn Glendale
Above is a vintage postcard I picked up recently of the Wee Kirk O'The Heather chapel located in the vast Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. The chapel and the grounds around look nearly the same today. This quaint chapel, which is a replica of a European church, has many old Hollywood connections.

Ronald Reagan & Jane Wyman Wedding 1940
The actor turned president, Ronald Reagan, married actress Jane Wyman at this chapel in 1940. The two met while filming the Warner Brothers picture, "Brother Rat."

Clark Gable & Carole Lombard at Jean Harlow Funeral
But there are also funerals at the chapel. Above is a photo from 1937 of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard attending Jean Harlow's funeral. Gable was Harlow's costar on the then unfinished film, Saratoga. Harlow's funeral was a huge event, like one of the big musicals her studio MGM would create. At the funeral MGM stars Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy sang Harlow's favorite song, "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life." Harlow was later buried in the Great Mausoleum also located on the Forrest Lawn grounds.
Five years later Carole Lombard would be back at Forrest Lawn for her own funeral. Her funeral, unlike Harlow's was a small private event. Lombard and Gable are also buried at Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale.

Hollywood Canteen - 1451 Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA
Above is a vintage postcard of the famous Hollywood Canteen. The Canteen, created by film actors Bette Davis and John Garfield , along with MCA president Jules Stein, was a place where the Hollywood stars fed and entertained United States servicemen, as well as servicemen from allied countries, during World War II. From 1942 until Thanksgiving 1945, servicemen who ventured into Hollywood for a night out could gain access to the Canteen if they were in uniform. Everything was free of charge.
Below are pictures of where the Hollywood Canteen used to stand.

Looking Northwest at Cahuenga Blvd & Sunset Blvd
On the left of the above photo is where the Hollywood Canteen used to stand. Today there is a tower for CNN and a parking garage. Across the street is Amoeba Records, one of the best record shops in the country. And just a block and half north on Cahuenga Blvd are a few film locations from the Buster Keaton film, The Cameraman. Check out my past post on that here.

Looking Southwest at Cahuenga Blvd. & Sunset Blvd.

Cary Grant entertains the troops at Hollywood Canteen
The Andrew Sisters, Jimmy Durante, James Cagney, Betty Hutton, Danny Kaye, Shirley Temple, Ruby Keeler, Ronald Reagan, Dorothy Lamour, Dana Andrews, you name it - if you were a big Hollywood star you volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen. Some served food, others sang and dance, the comedians cracked jokes - the actresses even danced with the servicemen. The one millionth guest to visit the Hollywood Canteen was lucky enough to receive a kiss from Betty Grable! On one night, at the nearby corner of Sunset and Wilcox, a tent was set up where Orson Welles performed magic tricks. One of the tricks was sawing his wife Rita Hayworth in half!
But it wasn't just the stars that volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen. Producers, writers, technicians, costumers, agents, assistants, publicists and many others who worked in Hollywood volunteered as well. Even the murals painted inside the Canteen were the volunteered work of some of Hollywood's cartoonists.
The Front Page
Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors and I haven't seen a film of his I didn't like. That was until just recently, when I finally saw one of his later films, The Front Page. The movie even has some of my favorite actors - Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Carol Burnett and a young Susan Surandon - but that still didn't help my opinion of the film. However, I was very excited to notice that this film which is set in Chicago was actually filmed in Los Angeles!
The film is about competing newspaper men in 1920s Chicago so I thought I would see some iconic Chicago locations. Instead, I found some iconic downtown Los Angeles locations.

The corner of 4th & Main, Los Angeles, as seen in The Front Page
In the film a prisoner who is awaiting execution is believed to have escaped. A circus of police go on a chase around the city in search of the convict. Above is a scene of the squad cars rounding the corner of 4th Street and Main Street as it appears in the film and below is the same corner today.

Hotel Barclay, Los Angeles, California
Right away I knew this film wasn't shot in Chicago because I recognized the above building as being the historic Hotel Barclay. If you look at the building it hasn't really changed too much over time, other than the shop at the bottom.

The Regent Theater, Main Street, Los Angeles

Continuing on the chase, we get a glimpse of the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The theater is on Main Street, just around the corner from the Hotel Barclay. Below is the present day view showing the Regent Theater.

Regent Theater, Main Street, Los Angeles (7/2009)

5th & Main Street, Los Angeles as seen in The Front Page
The chase continues down Main Street going towards 5th Street. Above is a screenshot of the intersection from the film and below is a photo I took of the intersection showing how it appears today. I'm very happy to see that the old building on the right is still standing. The chicken shop isn't so lucky. As you can see that building has been replaced by another building and a parking lot.

5th & Main Street, Los Angeles (7/2009)

4th Street & Main Street, Los Angeles as seen in The Front Page
In one scene, a doctor who was accidentally shot, is being rushed in an ambulance. The ambulance suddenly stops and the doctor goes flying out the back door on the stretcher which you can see in the screenshot above. This scene gives us another glimpse of the Hotel Barclay on the corner of 4th Street & Main Street. Below is the same location today.

Hotel Barclay, 4th Street & Main Street, LA (7/2009)

Spring Street as seen in The Front Page
Above is another screenshot from the police chase. Here the cops are driving down Spring Street. You can barely make out the Alexandria Hotel in the background. Below is a photo I took recently looking down Spring Street. The Alexandria Hotel can barely be seen in the back to the left. That hotel, which is now an apartment building, is a historic landmark with a rich film history. Everyone from Chaplin and Greta Garbo to Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable have stayed there. Perhaps I'll do a post just on the Alexandria Hotel at another time.

Looking North on Spring Street, Los Angeles

Rebel Without a Cause (C) Warner Bros.
With the upcoming United States of America Independence Day celebration coming up I thought I would do a Rebel related post. The Americans rebelled against Britain and James Dean rebelled, well, just because, in the film Rebel Without a Cause. Ok, bad comparison, but I thought I would work it in somehow. Here in today's post are some of the locations from the film Rebel Without a Cause.

James Dean outside house at 7529 Franklin Ave, Hollywood
The opening shot of the film is of James Dean laying in the middle of the street outside a house. That home is located at 7529 Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. The location is near the main stretch of Hollywood Boulevard where many tourist attractions are located and would be very easy to visit if you have a vehicle. Below is a picture of how the home appears today.

7529 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, California

James Dean being dragged into Police Station.
Above is a screenshot of James Dean being dragged into the Police Station. The exterior of the police station was actually a facade located at the Warner Bros. Studios backlot. Below is a photo I took showing the same facade as it appears today. This facade is located on the Midwestern Street and can be seen if you take the Warner Bros. Studio tour.

Police Station facade located at Warner Bros. backlot.
Here is another photo of the same facade. If you look closely you can see that they are dressing this building as "Eastwick High School" for the upcoming TV series Eastwick.
Another view of the Police Station facade at Warner Bros.
Dawson High is really Santa Monica High School
The above screenshot from Rebel Without a Cause is of James Dean's new high school, Dawson High. The school is really Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California. Although the exteriors of Dawson High School were filmed at Santa Monica High School, I've been told that some of the interiors were filmed inside John Marshall High School, located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Santa Monica High School, California

Dawson High, really Santa Monica High School

Santa Monica High School

Griffith Observatory as seen in Rebel Without a Cause

Many of the scenes filmed in Rebel Without a Cause were shot at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The Observatory even has a statue of Dean on the grounds because of the extensive use of the Observatory in the film. Above is how the Griffith Observatory appears in Rebel Without a Cause and below is a picture of how the location appears today.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California

Inside the Griffith Observatory entrance as seen in the film.

Inside Griffith Observatory 2009

Griffith Observatory, Rebel Without a Cause fight scene

Griffith Observatory fight scene location 2009

Getty Mansion, 641 N. Irving Boulevard
Near the end of the film, James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood's characters go up to an abandoned mansion. This home is the Getty Mansion and is the same home featured in the film Sunset Boulevard. Above is a screenshot of Dean, Mineo, and Wood in the same pool that was used in the opening scene of Sunset Boulevard where William Holden's character is found dead. Below is a screenshot of the same pool as seen in Sunset Boulevard.

Getty Mansion as seen in Sunset Boulevard

641 N. Irving Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

Mel Brooks
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be honoring living legend Mel Brooks on Friday, July 24 at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The event, hosted by Leonard Maltin, will feature some very special guests who will be sharing their personal stories about the comedian. These guests include Carl Reiner, Cloris Leachman, Tracey Ullman, Richard Benjamin, Teri Garr, and Lesley Ann Warren. And of course, Mel Brooks himself will be appearing in person!

Madonna and Warren Beatty from Dick Tracy
Could there be another Dick Tracy project in the works? Maybe. In 1985 actor Warren Beatty worked out an agreement with Tribune Media Services for the rights to the comic strip character Dick Tracy. This led to the making of the 1990 film Dick Tracy, starring Beatty in the title role. According to the agreement the rights to Tracy would revert back to Tribune if principal photography had not started on another film, television show, or special within a designated amount of time.
In 2006 Tribune sent a reversion notice to Beatty. The company claims the actor has been unable to prove photography has begun on any project and that the rights to Tracy should therefore revert back to Tribune. Beatty claims that he started principal photography on a Dick Tracy television special. If you check out Warren Beatty's credits on the website lists a Dick Tracy Special as being in post-production.
So is there a Dick Tracy television special in the works or is Beatty just trying to keep the Dick Tracy rights from reverting back to Tribune? I know I wouldn't mind seeing a Dick Tracy television special but what I would be more excited to see is another Dick Tracy film. If Hollywood is so eager to recycle past material why not start work on another Tracy film - but with a younger more fitting actor in the lead role of course.

Universal Studio Backlot Fire - Photo from NY Times
Courthouse Square, one of the few backlot facades of Universal Studios Hollywood has been rebuilt after a fire destroyed this section, among others, during a devastating fire on June 1, 2008. Above is a photo from the New York Times the day the fire burned. The fire was an accident caused by workers using a blowtorch on one a rooftop.

Universal Studios Backlot destroyed by fire.

Back to the Future, filmed at Courthouse Square
Courthouse Square has appeared in hundreds of films and television shows dating back to the 1940s. Some of the productions that have filmed here include To Kill a Mockingbird, Bye Bye Birdie, and The Nutty Professor, but probably one of the most famous films set in this locations is Back to the Future as seen in the photo above. It's this courthouse where lightning strikes the clock tower near the end of the film.

Universal Studios backlot being rebuilt.
On Thursday, Universal Studios reopened this section of their backlot, celebrating with a champagne toast and the USC Marching band which was an extra treat for the first visitors. Guests visiting Universal Studios can see the newly built backlot if they go on the park's famous studio tour.

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