Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rebel Without a Cause: Film Locations

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
The mansion was torn down shortly after the filming of Rebel Without a Cause. Above is photo of the location as it appears today.
You're thoughts?

A Tribute to Mel Brooks

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!
For more info on this event and to purchase tickets visit www.oscars.org.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Dick Tracy Project? Maybe.

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 Imdb.com 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.
Your thoughts?

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's a "Wonderful" Swim Gym in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills High School, Swim Gym (From It's a Wonderful Life)
The other day I was driving past my friend's old home in Beverly Hills and decided to take a side street past Beverly Hills High School. I figured while I was over here I should take some pictures of this school that has been featured several times on film and television, most notably for classic film fans for the appearance of the "Swim Gym" in Frank Capra's, It's a Wonderful Life.
Beverly Hills High School Swim Gym, 241 Moreno Drive
Do you remember the scene where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are doing the Charleston on the basketball court, when suddenly, the floor opens to reveal a swimming pool? Well, that scene was filmed inside the Beverly Hills High School Swim Gym which you can see in the above photos. This gym has a basketball court with a swimming pool underneath - the floor can open and turn into a pool! I still think that is pretty impressive now for a high school gym let alone for a high school gym back in 1947 when the film was released.
Here's a video of the "Bailey Kids" reunited in 1993 showing the Swim Gym as it appeared then. Also in the video is a clip from It's a Wonderful Life showing the Swim Gym as it appeared in the film.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis House for Sale

Ennis Brown House, Los Feliz, Los Angeles
The famous Ennis Brown house designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright is up for sale. If you have an extra $15 million in the bank you could call The House on Haunted Hill your home! Yes, this house was featured in the Vincent Price classic as well as Blade Runner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Twin Peaks to name just a few of the productions this building can be seen in. It will be interesting to see, with the dismal U.S. economy, that the the sellers get what they are asking for?
The home is located in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles near Griffith Park. The home was built in 1924, and is constructed from thousands of concrete blocks with a Mayan design. It's one of only 4 homes like it.
What do you think should happen to the home? Who do you think should buy the home from the Ennis House Foundation?

Universal Studios Courthouse Square is Back!

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.
Exciting news don't you think?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Florentine Gardens - Hollywood Nightspot

Florentine Gardens, 5955 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood
In the late 1930s and 1940s radio was huge in Hollywood. Stations were located all over town - up and down Vine Street, Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard. The radio stations brought a large crowd into Hollywood and at night that crowd needed a place to party. There were many clubs and entertainment joints that popped up around Hollywood and one of them was the Florentine Gardens on Hollywood Boulevard.
Opening in 1938, the Florentine Gardens was a dinner theater. The cost back then was $1.50 and an audience would get some Italian food, partially nude girls, an emcee, dancers, a singer and more. Whereas the Sunset Strip featured many upscale nightspots, Hollywood had more of the working class nightspots and the Florentine Gardens was one of them.
Various performers made appearances at the Florentine Gardens including such big acts as the Mills Brothers and Sophie Tucker. Yvonne DeCarlo, or more famously known as Lily Munster, from the 1960s television show The Munsters, started as a chorus girl at the Florentine Gardens. And another interesting tidbit - when Norma Jean Baker, just 16 years-old, married Jim Dougherty, the wedding party celebrated at Florentine Gardens. Of course Norma Jean did not stay married to Dougherty for long. She eventually moved on with her life and became the big star Marilyn Monroe. She would have many different and more notable lovers after Dougherty.
Business wasn't always good at the Florentine Gardens but in the early 1940s, with WWII going on, many servicemen could be found in Hollywood. It's no surprise that these young men would find the affordable and at times sleazy entertainment of the Florentine Gardens attractive. These servicemen kept the business coming for the Florentine Gardens. But, of course this didn't last. In 1948, the Florentine Gardens went bankrupt. It later reopened as the Cotton Club and ran for a few more years as a place for black performers but the Cotton Club would also struggle. Today the building still stands and is a nightclub featuring live groups and D.J.s.
Here is a great YouTube video featuring some nice images of the Florentine Gardens:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tony Curtis Awarded at Jules Vern Festival: Photos

Tony Curtis
Many thanks to the Kitty Packard Pictorial blog for the heads up to the Jules Verne Festival event honoring legendary actor Tony Curtis. On Saturday, June 13, 2009 the Jules Verne Festival was all about Tony Curtis. Beginning at 2:30pm was a screening of the Curtis film Houdini at the historic Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles, followed by a dinner with Curtis at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, and back to the Million Dollar Theater for a special 50th anniversary screening of the hilarious film Some Like it Hot. My fiance Zinnia and I were fortunate enough to attend the evening events. Here are some photos from that night.

Million Dollar Theater, Downtown Los Angeles
The screenings of Houdini and Some Like it Hot were held at the historic Million Dollar Theater. I wasn't able to make the Houdini screening but arrived at the theater in time to catch the party shuttle from the theater to the Los Angeles Athletic Club where the dinner was to be held.

Out Front of the Million Dollar. Bradbury Building in Background
Out front of the theater there were many old classic cars lined up. I especially liked this green Plymouth. They certainly don't make cars like they used to. Also, you may recognize that building from my earlier post on Double Indemnity film locations. That's the historic Bradbury building.


Tony Curtis strapping in escape artist Curtis Lovell II
Once the Houdini screening let out the shuttle took us to the Los Angeles Athletic Club for dinner. There was champagne, shrimp, sushi, ice cream sundae bar and all sorts of delicious food. For dinner entertainment, the escape artist Curtis Lovell II performed Houdini's straight-jacket escape stunt. Tony helped to secure the straps of the straitjacket.

Assistant steps in to help strap in Lovell


Lovell attempting to break out of the jacket while Curtis watches.


Robby, Zinnia, and Tony Curtis

After the escape stunt Tony Curtis started to sign his memoirs. Curtis was very generous and took time to sign autographs and take photos with everyone in the room. Some time you meet celebrities and its disappointing to learn how big their egos have become. Not Curtis. He's a class act. I felt the same way when I met actor Robert Wagner for the first time a few months back. Both men seem to have an appreciation for their success and the hard work it took to get to their level. They both seem to have a respect for their fans knowing that it's because of them in part that they had such successful careers.
Thanks Tony for the autograph and photo!

Tony Curtis honored by City of Los Angeles

Next we hopped back on the shuttle to the Million Dollar Theater for the 50th anniversary screening of Some Like it Hot. Jean-Christophe Jeauffre and Frederic Dieudonne, the founders of the Jules Verne Festival were the host for the night. After they showed a film reel with many entertaining clips from Curtis's many films the City of Los Angeles presented Curtis with an award for his many contributions to the city.

Frederic Dieudonne, Tony Curtis, Jean-Christophe Jeauffre

Tony Curtis came out on stage and shared many of his life stories. And even though Tony Curtis is getting up there in age (he just turned 84 on June 3) he is still an amazing storyteller. His stories were told with wit and perfect comic delivery. One of my favorite stories that Curtis told was about when he first met actress Marilyn Monroe for the first time. Curtis was a new actor under contract at Universal, only 22 years old, and he was asked by one of the Universal guards to give another young actress who was not under contract a ride back to her hotel. Curtis looked at the actress and started to describe her: "she wore a dress that was a little above her knee, orange and yellow in color, cinched in where her waist was (and)... her bosoms were remarkable!" Curtis turned back to the guard and said, "I would be privileged to give her a ride."
Another a funny story was told by Jean-Christophe. At another event in Paris honoring Tony Curtis, a French reporter asked the actor, "Mr. Curtis, you are getting older and you have a wife who is almost half your age. Aren't you worried about having sex with a woman her age?" Curtis replied without skipping a beat, "If she dies, she dies."


Tony Curtis reaches out to Frederic Dieudonne


Tony Curtis is presented the Jules Verne Award

After sharing some stories Jeauffre and Dieudonne brought up on stage two of Curtis's co-stars from Some Like it Hot, Tracy Moss and Marian Collier, to present him with the Jules Verne Award. The actresses were members of the all-female band in the film.

Tony Curtis with Some Like it Hot co-stars Tracy Moss and Marian Collier

After the award presentation it was time to start the film. Some Like it Hot played to a full house and the theatre was filled with laughter from start to finish. The film holds up pretty well and is a true classic with many great performances.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

MGM Stag Party - "Girl 27"

Patricia Douglas, "Girl 27" - photo from Boston.com
Who doesn't like a juicy Hollywood scandal? If you're like me you want to hear the horror stories just as much as the fun and fanciful tales of Hollywood's past. That's why I was intrigued when I came across the documentary, Girl 27 (2007), which tells the story of Patricia Douglas, a young starlet who was raped at an MGM stag party in 1937. I had not heard of this story before and that is because the powerful MGM movie studio did their best to bury it. Then director/writer David Stenn came along, did some sleuthing and reintroduced this scandal to the public.
In 1937, MGM held a huge party in Los Angeles for their top film salesmen. The studio brought them in by train from all over the country. The party started with a ceremony at the famous Ambassador Hotel with a speech by MGM exec Louis B. Mayer, but it wasn't until after the ceremony that the real party would start.
All the salesmen went to an old barn located on property owned by RKO which was used for filming purposes. MGM had loaded the barn with booze and had hired over 100 underage girls for entertainment, one of them being Patricia Douglas who was listed as "Girl 27" in MGM's studio records. Of course the mix of booze, underage girls, and wild salesmen would lead to trouble.
One salesman from Chicago attempted to get Douglas drunk. Douglas didn't drink so a few of the salesmen held the 17 year-old down and forced booze down her mouth. This led up to the Chicago salesman raping the young girl.
Douglas would go public with her story and eventually take her case to court. If you think MGM would have taken the side of the young raped girl you're wrong. MGM couldn't let the public know that one of their top salesman raped an underage girl at a stag party they organized; so, the studio went into overdrive to bury the scandal. They had their Publicity department create other newsworthy stories that were not embarrassing so that the Douglas scandal would not be a cover story, but buried deep into the pages of the newspaper where noone would read it. The MGM publicity department also made attempts to project Douglas as a whore, to discredit her case.
Stenn, the director and writer for Girl 27 tracks down Douglas to see what happened of the young girl from the scandal and to see if he can get her to open up about the case. Douglas eventually left Hollywood and would become a recluse in her old age. Stenn makes several attempts to reach Douglas, and eventually he does, getting her to open up a little at a time.
You can watch this very interesting documentary in its entirety on Youtube by going here. Also, the documentary is available through Netfilx and is one of their InstantWatch titles.
You're thoughts?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Public Enemies: Film Locations

Public Enemies, (C) Universal
Usually I just write about locations that can be found in the greater Los Angeles area, but because I'm looking forward to the upcoming film Public Enemies, I decided to make an exception. The film, starring the always great Johnny Depp, as well as Christian Bale, was shot primarily on location in the Midwest, including many places where I grew up in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism website, www.travelwisconsin.com has a list of many of the shooting locations as well as related tours on gangsters.

Downtown Columbus, WI - photo from flickr

The San Fernando Valley newspaper, Daily News listed several of the filming locations a few weeks back. Here is a list from the May 3, 2009 Daily News:
  • Little Bohemia, a resort near Manitowish Waters, has bullet holes and artifacts from an FBI shootout with John Dillinger, George "Baby Face" Nelson and other gangsters in April 1934.
  • Mirror Lake State Park in Lake Delton hosted several nights of filming, complete with late-night gunfire and squealing tires.
  • Oshkosh was turned into a movie set with refaced buildings and '30s-era billboards, window displays, awnings and marquees. Crews filmed two famous Dillinger robberies here, with a downtown bank/office building standing in for the Security National Bank and Trust in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Oshkosh's Masonic Temple standing in for the American Bank and Trust Co. in Racine, Wis. The actual bank in Racine, now the Racine Museum of Art, features "The Scene of the Crime: Warrington Colescott Depicts Dillinger," May 24-Sept. 6, and the Racine Police Department lobby has a Dillinger submachine gun, mug shots and press clippings on display.
  • Also in Oshkosh: A planned July 4 gallery walk will include displays of photos and artifacts from the shoot, extras dressed in costume, and an opening of the bank vault where crew filmed; and the Oshkosh Public Museum's exhibit "The Era of Public Enemies: A Wave of Crime in a Troubled Time. Oshkosh's Pioneer Field stood in for Chicago Midway Airport, where Dillinger was flown after his arrest in Arizona. Visitors can see and ride in the vintage plane used for the scene, a Ford Trimotor owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association.


Madison, WI, Capital Steps, filming Public Enemies
  • Columbus, Wis., was turned into Greencastle, Ind., where a $75,000 bank robbery took place, filmed in Columbus at West James Gallery, a former bank. Columbus' downtown, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will host a July 25 celebration that will include a parade, old cars and extras from the movie, music and dancing from the 1930s, a look-alike-contest, treasure hunts, tours and there may even be a Johnny Depp look-alike.
  • Ishnala Restaurant in Wisconsin Dells is near the site of a chase scene involving Depp.
  • The interior and exterior of the state Capitol in Madison was FBI headquarters in the movie, with Christian Bale as FBI agent Melvin Purvis and Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover.
  • The historic Hotel Rogers in Beaver Dam, now an apartment building called The Rogers, stood for Tucson's Hotel Congress, the site of the Dillinger gang's capture after a fire broke out and authorities recognized them.
  • The Lafayette County Courthouse in Darlington was a substitute for the Lake County Courthouse in Crown Point, Ind., where Dillinger was arraigned.
  • Milwaukee County Historical Society building in Milwaukee, a former bank, was converted back into a bank by film crews. The society plans to restore some sets.

Oshkosh, Madison and Milwaukee will host movie premieres and parties June 30

Here is a video of showing Johnny Depp being filmed in Public Enemies:


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Film Locations

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (C) Disney
Recently I did a post about the traffic dilemma in Los Angeles as detailed in a book written in 1950. The summation was that there are too many cars on LA roads and not enough roads and public transportation to relieve the congestion. No other film more amusingly and dramatically pokes fun at how this Los Angeles traffic problem evolved than the 1988 film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. So, to continue with this Los Angeles traffic theme I decided to post some of the filming locations from Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Ren-Mar Studios as Maroon Studios
The film begins at Maroon Studios which is actually the Ren-Mar Studios located on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. Ren-Mar is an old Hollywood studio lot dating back to 1915. It's also famous for being Desilu Studios, when Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz bought the property in the early 1950s. Many shows, including some of the Dick Van Dyke and The Andy Griffith shows as well as many music videos have filmed here over the years.


Ren-Mar Studios, 846 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood
Above is a photo of the Ren-Mar Studios minus the "Maroon Cartoons" sign. Other than the sign and the maroon awnings, the building looks mostly the same as in the film.

Maroon Studios
Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) catches a trolley out front of Maroon Studios. There are no trolley or rail tracks that run in front of the studio. In fact, that's what Who Framed Roger Rabbit is all about. Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) wants to shut down the Red Line (the Los Angeles trolley system) and create, hold your breath, a freeway! "I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night. Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful," says Judge Doom.

Ren-Mar Studios, location for Maroon Studios


Valiant Detective Agency, Hope Street, Los Angeles
Above is the Valiant and Valiant detective agency.

Valiant Detective Agency, 1130 Hope Street, Los Angeles
Above is how the Valiant Detective Agency building appears today. The building is completely vacant. The doors and windows are all boarded shut. Most of the other buildings that once stood near this building have been torn down. From the photo above you can see how newer structures have sprung up on both sides. It's only a matter of time before this building is torn down as well.

Eddie Valiant and Dolores argue on Hope Street, Los Angeles



Hope Street, Downtown Los Angeles
Above is a shot of Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles, just a few blocks from the Staples Center. This location is right out front of the Valiant detective agency. You can see the two buildings in the distance haven't changed. The closer buildings where completely disguised in period decor for the film.

Hope Street, downtown Los Angeles
Above, Roger Rabbit and Eddie Valiant are running from the Weasels in Benny the Cab. Here they are driving down Hope Street, one block south of the Eddie Valiant detective Agency. Again, the trolley car and the tracks do not exist. However, there has been talks about bringing a trolley system back to downtown LA.

Hope Street, downtown Los Angeles

Same shot as above as it appears presently (June 2009).


Hyperion Bridge, Los Angeles
When Eddie, Roger and Benny run from the Weasels they had for the Hyperion bridge which connects the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village and Silver Lake.

Hyperion Bridge, Los Angeles
Above is a shot of Eddie, Roger, and Benny getting away on the Hyperion bridge. Below is how the bridge appears today (June 2009).

Hyperion Bridge, Los Angeles


Eddie Valiant, Jessica Rabbit leave Toon Town

Later in the film when Eddie Valiant and Jessica Rabbit are leaving Town Town they exit through what is the Griffith Park Tunnel. Above is a shot of them leaving the tunnel and below is a picture of the tunnel today. This tunnel has been used in other films, including the Back to the Future films.
Griffith Park Tunnel, Los Angeles

If you go visit the Griffith Park Observatory you will pass through this tunnel. It's only a few blocks from the Observatory.
Anywho, to find out why the traffic is so bad in Los Angeles go back and watch the very entertaining Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Your thoughts?

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