Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ernest Borgnine Beverly Hills Home For Sale

 
Ernest Borgnine in front of his home in 1969.

The longtime Beverly Hills home of Oscar winning actor Ernest Borgnine is currently for sale at $3.395 million. Borgnine lived in the house for six decades. Pretty impressive when you hear so many other stars constantly buying and selling houses. The home is located at 3055 Lake Glen Drive, in the Beverly Hills Post Office area, on a 1/2 acre lot above Mulholland Drive, and has views of the San Fernando Valley.

The home was designed by architect L.G. Scherer in 1938 with a Country English style. The house has a formal entry hall, large spacious living and family rooms that open up to a swimming pool, a library, office, den, breakfast, room and kitchen. There are six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, plus a one bedroom guesthouse. For more details on the house visit the official real estate listing.

As I've mentioned with other classic Hollywood homes that have gone on the market, I only hope the buyer maintains the integrity of the house. How great would it be to start your day by having breakfast in the same kitchen as a Hollywood icon like Borgnine or doing some reading in the same den?

Click images to enlarge.

The front of Borgnine's home as it appears today.

A view of the swimming pool.




The gated entrance.

The formal entry hall.

Borgnine and wife Tova Traesnaes by the stairwell.



Borgnine with an earlier wife, Donna and their kids:
Sharon, 3, and Cristofer, 3. July 1, 1969.









Borgnine passed away in July at the age of 95. Although it doesn't normally come as a shock if someone dies and they are 95 years old, I was a bit surprised when I heard that Borgnine had died. I had seen him a year earlier at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood when he did a Q&A with TCM host, Ben Mankiewicz, as part of TCM's "Road to Hollywood" series. I have some video clips of Borgnine that day you can see here. Borgnine was so energetic and appeared like one of those guys who still had at least a few more years ahead of him - like a Bob Hope or George Burns. The much younger Mankiewicz even joked that earlier in the day he was having trouble keeping up with Borgnine.

What are your thoughts on Borgnine the man and his home?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On the Loose (1951) - Film Locations

Robert Arthur and Joan Evans

On the Loose (1951) is one of those 1950s films with a theme about juvenile delinquency. In this short B movie Joan Evans plays a neglected teenager who will do anything to get her parents attention, including suicide. Her aloof parents are played by Melvyn Douglas and Lynn Bari. This is one of those quick movies I'll throw on when I can't really make up my mind what to watch. It's not too long, can be easily watched in the background while doing something else (like playing with a baby on the floor!), and if I'm lucky, maybe I'll see some interesting film locations.

As for film locations, most of the action in this film takes place on interior sets that were clearly constructed on a studio soundstage, but there is one scene that takes place outside a high school. In the film the school is identified as Central High School. In reality the school is the Beverly Hills High School located at 241 Moreno Drive.


"Central High School" really Beverly Hills High School.

241 Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills High School

The front of the high school has not changed much since 1951. The most dramatic change are those high-rise buildings standing in the background.

I'm not sure if On the Loose is available on DVD, but if you are looking for some 1950s teenage drama, the film is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Present day image of Beverly Hills High School (c) 2012 Google.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Strange Intruder (1956) - Film Locations

Ida Lupino and Edmund Purdom

The main reason I started watching the film Strange Intruder (1956) was because it starred Ida Lupino. A nice surprise was spotting the Sierra Madre, California town square that is more famously recognizable from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which coincidentally enough was filmed the same year as Strange Intruder. Beyond Lupino and seeing exterior scenes filmed in Sierra Madre, the film is a bit of a clunker.

The story is about a Korean War veteran, Paul Quentin (Edmund Purdom), who promised his dying friend that he would look after his family when he returned to the United States. Purdom, however, has gone crazy and begins to envision killing his friend's kids as well as the man who was having an affair with his friend's wife (Ida Lupino). The film is very melodramatic and the tone and story feels very schizophrenic, like director Irving Rapper didn't know what kind of film he wanted to make. Lupino seems to be just going through the motions and Purdom seems like a stand-in for James Mason. Nevertheless, there are some interesting moments, notably the filming in Sierra Madre.

When Purdom is first dismissed from a Veteran's hospital and arrives in town via bus, he is dropped off at the Sierra Madre, California town square, about 18 miles Northeast from downtown Los Angeles and only 3 miles from Santa Anita Racetrack. We see the bus drive South on Baldwin Avenue and then round the corner onto Sierra Madre Boulevard heading West. At the end of the film we see him leave town on a bus from the this same location.

The bus heads down Baldwin Avenue.

20 N. Baldwin Ave, Sierra Madre, Ca

Lupino says goodbye to Purdom at corner of Baldwin & Sierra Madre.

Looking up Baldwin Ave from Sierra Madre Blvd.

In this view we see what was then a Union gas station.

Now on the corner is a Valero gas station.

The bus turns from Baldwin Ave on to Sierra Madre Blvd.

As the bus turns the corner from Baldwin Avenue on to Sierra Madre Boulevard we get a glimpse of a market in the background. The market building is still standing but in the yellow triangle you will see that the adjacent building at the end has been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot.

Corner of Baldwin Ave & Sierra Madre Blvd.

The adjacent building is now a parking lot.

Once the bus is on Sierra Madre Boulevard we see that the first building on the Southwest corner is also demolished and is now a parking lot.

Sierra Madre Boulevard at Baldwin Avenue.

The site of the building is now a parking lot.

The rest of the buildings on this strip of Sierra Madre Boulevard are still standing, most recognizable is the "HAPPY'S" building. The other buildings that are still standing have added second stories and have made other exterior alterations.

Happy's Wines Spirits & Market 
12 West Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre, Ca.

12 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard.

The buildings next to Happy's have no 2nd floor.

A second story has been added to the buildings next to Happy's.

The corner of Kersting Ct. at W. Sierra Madre Boulevard.

The corner of Kersting Ct. at W. Sierra Madre Boulevard.

I don't believe Strange Intruder has had any official DVD release but it is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Your thoughts?

All contemporary images (c) 2012 Google.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ain't No Party Like An Old Hollywood Party...

Entrance to Buster Keaton Estate

Mark your calendars. On Saturday, October 6, 2012, the Los Angeles Conservancy is having a benefit dinner party that is being held at the Buster Keaton Estate in Beverly Hills. This your chance to support a great cause and explore the home of a Hollywood legend - and not just one Hollywood legend.

Media Room

The Los Angeles Conservancy website says this about the home:
"Buster Keaton built the 10,000 square-foot home shortly after completing his masterpiece, The General (1926). Yet the estate's Hollywood pedigree doesn't stop there: it was later the home to other stars, including Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, and James Mason. By the mid-1990s, the estate had fallen into disrepair. It was purchased by a pair of preservation-minded buyers who immediately undertook a major restoration."

The Entry

Just think of all the guests who have passed through the above entrance way. If only walls could talk - the stories they would be able to tell!

Billiard Room

If you would like to attend, tickets don't come cheap. Individual tickets begin at $300 each and go up to $10,000! But hey, if you got that kind of dough why not put it to good use. Space for dinner is limited. Attire is cocktail or 1920s vintage.

For full details and to purchase tickets visit the Los Angeles Conservancy website.

All photos (c) 2012 LAFIA ARVIN, A DESIGN CORPORATION. To view more photos of the Keaton Estate, including photos before the restoration as well as after the restoration, visit their website here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kiss Them For Me (1957) - Film Locations


The film Kiss Them For Me (1957) is a bit of a mixed bag. Although this comedy directed by Stanley Donen is weak on plot and doesn't deliver many big laughs there are still quite a few things that make this film worth watching including Cary Grant, some nice San Francisco filming locations, Ray Walston in his first film role (you know, "Mr. Hand" from Fast Times at Ridgemont High!), bombshell Jayne Mansfield, and some of the fashions.

The film is about three Navy pilots, all war heroes, who are on leave in San Francisco for four days. They are put up in a posh suite in a fine hotel and Commander Andy Crewson (Grant) plans to fill the suite with girls, booze and music. Meanwhile Lieutenant Wallace is trying to get the pilots to make speeches that will rally the homefront for the war effort but after several months in combat all the pilots want to do is have some fun - not give speeches.

The hotel where the three pilots stay is San Francisco's historic Fairmont Hotel, located at 950 Mason Street. In the next few screen comparisons below we see the pilots, Cary Grant, Ray Walston and Larry Blyden, being driven down Mason Street to the hotel entrance. On their way to the hotel they pass the Brocklebank Apartments located at 1000 Mason Street which was also a key filming location in another film that is a personal favorite, Impact (1949) starring Brian Donlevy.

Looking North down Mason Street from the Brocklebank Apartments.

Looking North down Mason Street from the 
Brocklebank Apartments as it looks today.

The taxi passes the Brocklebank Apartments.

Brocklebank Apartments, 1000 Mason Street.

Looking East down Sacramento St. from Mason St.

Brocklebank Apts on left. Fairmont Hotel on right.

The taxi arrives at the Fairmont Hotel.

The Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street.

Walston gets out of the taxi at the Fairmont.

Behind Walston is the Pacific-Union Club a private
social club across the street from the Fairmont Hotel.

Grant, Walston, and Blyden enter the Fairmont Hotel lobby.

The stylish Cary Grant with Suzy Parker

Just a side note: The August 2012 issue of GQ magazine has a four page spread praising the monkstrap dress shoe, so I thought it was interesting in the scene above with Grant sipping a martini on the floor with Suzy Parker, to see that he is wearing a pair of monkstrap shoes. Cary Grant never goes out of style!

A view of San Francisco from the Fairmont Hotel.

In the next scene Grant and Parker leave the Fairmont Hotel and board a trolley to a nightclub. The trolley heads away from the hotel going East down California Street but when they got off the trolley they are a few blocks Northeast from the hotel at the intersection of Powell and Washington in front of the Low Apartments building.

Grant and Parker board a trolley. Mason St. at California St.

Mason Street at California Street.

The trolley approaches the Low Apartments, 1060 Powell St.

The Low Apartments, 1060 Powell Street.

When Grant and Parker get off the trolley at the corner of Powell and Washington, it looks like they are walking across the street to the nightclub, but in reality the nightclub location is a half mile away at 498 Broadway Street.

Grant and Parker leave the trolley at Powell and Washington.

Looking up Powell St. from Washington St.

Below is the exterior of the nightclub location located at the corner of Broadway and Kearny Streets. Only the exterior of the location was used. The interior scenes were filmed on a soundstage. 

Looking up Kearny Street from Broadway.

Looking up Kearny Street from Broadway.

My first thought was that the nightclub location would have been across the street from where Grant and Parker get off the trolley, but the building that was there didn't look anything like the Club that is featured in the film, so I started looking elsewhere. As I mentioned before, the nightclub location turned out to be a half mile away from where Grant and Parker get off the trolley. 

Using the historic photographs available from the San Francisco Public Library I tried searching for old clubs and restaurants and eventually I came across an old photograph of a restaurant called "Vanessi's" (see below). Immediately when I saw the photo of Vanessi's restaurant I knew that that was the correct location for the nightclub scene. I also noticed that in the screenshot below with Grant and Parker standing in front of the Club are the numbers "49" and the address of Vanessi's happens to be "498" Broadway. See the yellow squares in the images below. Click the images to enlarge.

Grant and Parker at 498 Broadway, in front of the nightclub.

Vanessi's restaurant. 498 Broadway St, San Francisco

498 Broadway as it appears today - drastically remodeled.

In one of the last scenes of the film Grant and Parker are seen riding in the back of a taxi on their way to the shipyards. Along the way they drive down Hyde Street towards Lombard Street, the "Crookedest Street in the World," and then making a left down Lombard. In one view we can see Alcatraz Island in the distance and once they round the corner on to Lombard we get a view of Coit Tower in the background.

Looking North down Hyde Street from Lombard Street.
Alcatraz Island can be seen in the background.

Looking down Hyde Street from Lombard Street.

The taxi turns left down Lombard St. from Hyde St.

The small house at the corner of Hyde and Lombard is now gone.

The taxi heads down the crooked Lombard Street.
Coit Tower can be seen in the background.

Looking down crooked Lombard Street.

Even though the overall story for Kiss Them For Me may not be great, I still think this movie is worth watching for the reasons I mentioned before. The film is currently available for streaming on Netflix and is also available on DVD.

Your thoughts?

All contemporary images (c) 2012 Google, all screenshots (c) Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Vanessi's restaurant photograph from San Francisco Library collection.

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