Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tony Curtis - R.I.P. (1925-2010)

Tony Curtis (tonycurtis.com)

I just heard the sad news this morning that Tony Curtis has passed away (1925-2010) which is a great loss for all fans of old Hollywood. Curtis was not only an entertaining actor, but an entertaining personality. Anyone who has had the chance to be in his presence or see him do an interview knows that Curtis could really tell a story, which he had many.

One of my favorite things about Curtis is that he was so willing to share many of his stories and the stories of the people he has encountered throughout his life. To read some of the stories he would share pick up a copy of one of his two autobiographies. Because of Curtis's openness, he was like a link to the past, a portal to another era in film and Hollywood.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet Tony Curtis in person last year at a dinner. He was such a friendly person with all in attendance, taking time with everyone.

Tony Curtis's films will always be around to watch and cherish, but my wife and I will miss the amazing man who starred in the films. R.I.P. Tony!

Robby, Zinnia, Tony Curtis (2009)

Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Warner Breaks James Cagney's Contract

Warner Bros. Publicity Still for Ceiling Zero

Around the time James Cagney was making the film The Crowd Roars, he started having troubles with the Warner Brothers studio brass. By now, Cagney had a few films under his belt which had earned the studio a decent profit, although, the studio still paid Cagney like a regular contract player. Cagney has said, "I realized that there were roughly two classes of stars at Warner's: those getting $125,000 a picture - and yours sincerely, who was getting all of $400 a week." Cagney, recognizing his value to the studio, decided to walk out. 

Warner Bros. Hollywood Theatre

A few years later, Cagney would again walk out on the studio when he learned that Warner's broke his contract. According to Cagney's contract he was to get top billing in his films. When the movie Ceiling Zero was released Cagney found out from his friend and co-star, Pat O'Brien, that Warner had placed O'Brien's name above his on the marquee of the Warner Bros. Hollywood Theater. Cagney sent a photographer to take a picture of the marquee and then took Warner to court. This was not about ego, but about money.

These were the studio days when actors worked six and seven days a week, from first thing in the morning until late in the evening or even the next day, with not much for breaks. So, Cagney's walkouts, although financially motivated, were also about being treated fairly.

In the above photo is the marquee of what used to be the Warner Bros. Hollywood Theatre, now owned by the Pacific Theatre company and operating as a church. It is this marquee that Cagney sent a photographer to capture Warner's breach of contract. The theater opened in 1928 and in 1951 was converted to showcase Cinerama films. The theatre was converted again in 1978 into a triple-screen theatre and finally closed for good in 1994, after the Northridge Earthquake.

In the 1940s, Carol Burnett, who grew up in Hollywood, worked as an usher at the Warner Theatre.

Looking East down Hollywood Blvd. at the Warner Theatre

On another note, maybe someone out there can help me out with the photo below. I picked up the photograph from an antique store. I know the man on the left is actor Pat O'Brien, but can anyone tell me the names of the two men on the right? Also, does anyone know any background on this image? I know that during the 1940s, O'Brien participated in USO events supporting the troops, so I'm guessing this is around that time.

Pat O'Brien on left looking at weapons.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eight on the Lam (1967) - Film Locations

Eight On The Lam (1967)

In the film Eight On The Lam (1967) Bob Hope plays a widower trying to raise seven kids on a bank teller's income. One day, Hope stumbles across $10,000 in the parking lot of a grocery store and he must decide whether to keep the money which his family could certainly use, or turn the money over to the grocery store for the rightful owner to come back and claim it. Hope decides to wait two weeks to see if any one reports in the newspaper that they have lost the money. When no one claims the money, Hope decides to keep the cash after checking with the management at his bank first, to see what the best thing to do would be.

Hope goes on a spending spree, buying his teenage daughter new dresses, the other kids the toys they want, and a larger car for the family to ride in (trading in the little VW bug that was way too small for a family of 8 plus one dog). Meanwhile, the bank finds out that they are missing $50,000 and immediately they think that Hope is embezzling the money. After Hope is tipped off by one of his co-workers that the bank is sending the cops to arrest him, Hope's family babysitter, played by the theatrical Phyllis Diller, tells Hope that he should take the seven kids and go somewhere where the family can lay low until things get figured out. Hope loads the kids into the new station wagon and tells them they are going on an "early vacation."

The film is not one of Bob Hope's best, but it has some fun moments, including the usual Bob Hope one-liners and a big screwball chase scene. In addition to Hope and Diller, the cast also includes Jonathan Winters and Jill St. John. Although set in Altadena, California and Phoenix, Arizona, quite a bit of the film was actually filmed in the Larchmont Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, located just a few blocks south of Paramount Studios. Here are some of the film locations in Larchmont.

At one point in the film Hope sneaks into the bank that he works at to see if he can find any evidence that will clear his name. While Hope is in the bank he accidentally triggers an alarm. Soon the cops are on their way. Below are a few scenes of the cops driving down Larchmont Boulevard in the heart of the village.

192 N. Larchmont Blvd as seen in Eight On The Lam

192 N. Larchmont, Blvd, Los Angeles (2010)

157 N. Larchmont Blvd, as seen in the film.


157 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles (2010)

147 N. Larchmont Blvd. The police arrive at the bank.


147 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles

What was a First National Bank in the movie is now the movie rental store Blockbuster; but, like the First National Bank, the way things are going with Blockbuster, I'm sure the location will soon be turned into another business.

147 N. Larchmont Blvd. The cops arrive at the bank.

147 N. Larchmont Blvd. The bank is now a Blockbuster.


147 N. Larchmont Blvd.

When the cops arrive at the bank, Hope, who is disguised in a beard, sneaks out the backdoor into the back alley. The alley Hope goes down is just behind the shops on Larchmont Blvd, but is actually a couple blocks down from where the bank is supposed to be.

Hope exits in the back alley.


The alley behind the shops on Larchmont Blvd.


Hope comes out of the alley at First Street.


Looking down First Street


Hope pretends to be a protester. First Street at Larchmont Blvd.


First Street at Larchmont Blvd.

You can see in the image above that the Richfield gas station is no longer standing. Today there is a Bank of America. The tall red roof building next to the gas station is also now gone. Below is another view looking at the southeast corner of Larchmont Blvd. The house is still standing but now is surrounded by a wall of bushes.

Hope at First Street and Larchmont Blvd.


Looking at the Southeast corner of Larchmont Blvd.


Another view of First and Larchmont


First Street and Larchmont Blvd

I almost didn't notice this next location with the Safeway, but fortunately, I have a photographic memory when it comes to buildings and I remembered the funny shaped rooftop of the building next door to the Safeway. When I was walking down the sidewalk of Larchmont Blvd I saw the same rooftop on a building next door to a Right Aid. I took a picture of the location so I could see if it matched what I remembered from the film and it certainly does.

226 N. Larchmont Blvd in the film was a Safeway grocery store.


226 N. Larchmont Blvd. Today is a Rite Aid drugstore.

Your thoughts?

Friday, September 3, 2010

History of Warner Bros. Program

Jack Warner (1938) (c) LIFE

If you live in the Los Angeles area, mark your calendars. On Saturday, September 25, at 2pm, the Burbank Historical Society will be hosting a program about the history of Warner Bros. Studios, presented by a representative from the WB Corporate Archives. The Burbank Historical Society says the presentation will cover "legends, stars, soundstages, backlots and some of what goes on behind the studio"

The event is free and should be an interesting presentation. And if you haven't been to the museum in Burbank it is worth stopping in. In addition to history on Warner Bros. there are exhibits on the Disney Studios, NBC Studios as well as non-entertainment history of Burbank.

To recap, here are the details: Saturday, September 25th at 2pm at the Gordon R. Howard Museum in Burbank, located at 115 N. Lomita St.

Warner Bros. Studios (1938) (c) LIFE

Backlot set, Warner Bros. (1938) (c) LIFE

Makeup (c) LIFE

Constructing Sets at Warner Bros. (1938) (c) LIFE

Dressing a Set (1938) (c) LIFE

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