Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jarvis Cocker - Live at the Wiltern

Jarvis Cocker

On Monday, July 27, 2009 I went to see British singer and former frontman of the band Pulp, perform at the historic Wiltern theater in Los Angeles. The Wiltern is a beautiful art deco building that opened in 1931 as a movie theater and was originally intended to be the flagship of the Warner Bros. chain of theaters. However, the Wiltern failed to get business and was forced to close after a couple years.

Over the years the Wiltern went through many different changes but nothing seemed to keep the place full of life. In 1980, the Wiltern theater was even threatened to be demolished until preservation groups stepped in and saved the building. Today the theater is primarily used as a concert venue. Movie lovers will be interested to know that the lobby of the theater was used as a hotel lobby in the Coehn brothers film, Barton Fink.

Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles - Photo by Musely from Flickr

And do you know why the Wiltern theater is called the Wiltern? Because it sits at the corner of Wilshire and Western. Cocker joked during the concert that the theater could have easily been called the Weshire.

I am a regular concert goer and out of the many shows I've seen, Jarvis definitely goes to the top of the list as far as great performers go. The way he swaggers around the stage and interacts with the audience is completely engaging. Although video does not do Jarvis justice for the experience one gets from seeing him live, here is some video I shot from the show on my little camera:

Jarvis Performing "I Never Said I Was Deep" @ the Wiltern, Los Angeles

Here is a video of Jarvis Cocker signing autographs after the show:

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Daily Planet: Los Angeles City Hall

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.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newsreel of Hollywood in 1920s

Here's a cool newsreel of Los Angeles in the 1920s. Watch the video for early glimpses of LA landmarks such as the Chinese Theater, the Mack Sennet studio in Studio City, the Wilshire Brown Derby, and Cafe Montmartre as well as other great shots.

Monday, July 20, 2009

500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer
My favorite films are those shot in Los Angeles. I especially enjoy films that treat Los Angeles almost like the city is a character itself, such as LA Story or LA Confidential. That is why I'm excited to see the movie 500 Days of Summer, starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, which opened in theaters this weekend. The Franklin Avenue Blog recently did a post mentioning how this film is like a love story to LA.
Hop on over to the Franklin Avenue blog to hear about some of the Los Angeles locations that made the film and also watch a great video of Deschanel and Gordon-Leavitt discussing growing up in Los Angeles.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Billy Wilder's "The Front Page" Film Locations

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
Here's the trailer for The Front Page. (At the end of the trailer is a clip of the ambulance scene.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oldest Bob's Big Boy Celebrates 60th by Going Green

Bob's Big Boy in Burbank, CA (C)
The historic Bob's Big Boy restaurant in Burbank, CA is turning 60 years old and in celebration the owners announced they will be kicking off a "Sixty and Solar" campaign. The restaurant, which started in 1949, is getting a 'green' upgrade. With a new 26 kW Canadian Solar photovoltaic panel system installed by HelioPower, Bob's is now able to generate a portion of its own electricity. Patrons of Bob's Big Boy are encouraged to go down to the Burbank restaurant this weekend to celebrate and register their restaurant memories for a filming.
Bob's has always been a favorite restaurant of mine. The fact that The Beatles, James Dean, and Bob Hope have eaten here, among many other famous patrons, is interesting enough for me to stop in once in a while. And the best time to go - Friday evenings for the Classic Car Night.
Filming is taking place Friday, July 17 from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday, July 18 from 10am to 5pm. For more info on the celebration check out this website:

Monday, July 13, 2009

City Lights - Film Locations

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!
Here is a short YouTube video showing the Charlie and Millionaire driving around town drunk:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Strangers When Meet Locations Update

If you've already seen my post on Strangers When We Meet film locations you should check out this update. Reader Dr. Bitz has contributed photos of the Kim Novak house as it appears today compared to the film. The shape of the home remains the same but it looks like one of the owners of the home covered the front in brick.
Scroll to the bottom of the post for the update. Click here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bob Mitchell Dies at Age 96

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 Times obituary here.
Here is a short video of Bob Mitchell playing at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Scenes of Los Angeles in 1946

Check out this video, an MGM presentation of James Fitzpatrick's "Voice of the Globe" Travel Talks, featuring footage from Los Angeles and Glendale, California in 1946. The video starts with scenes of California wildflowers, but the really interesting scenes start 3 minutes into the video. There are clips of Hollywood Boulevard, the Chinese Theater, CBS Studios in Hollywood, NBC Studios in Hollywood (now demolished), the Fairfax Farmer's Market, and even Forrest Lawn Cemetery which I just previously did a post on.
I think it's very interesting to see what's changed since 1946 and what looks pretty much the same. My two favorite clips are those showing the old deco NBC building before it was demolished and the Chinese Theater before the huge Hollywood & Highland complex stood next door.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wee Kirk of the Heather - Chapel for the Stars

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.
If you haven't been to Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale it is definitely worth visiting. The grounds are beautiful and there are numerous old stars buried here. Some others include Irving Thalberg, Red Skeleton, Walt Disney, George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Errol Flynn to name a few. And if you go soon you can still check out the "Fine Art of Marc Davis" exhibit being held at the Forrest Lawn Museum. The exhibit, featuring artwork by Disney animator Marc Davis, runs until July 26, 2009. See me my post on that here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hollywood Canteen - Where Servicemen and Stars Meet

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.
In 1944, Warner Brothers made a film titled Hollywood Canteen. The film was a celebrity circus. Many of the hundreds of stars that volunteered at the Hollywood Canteen appear in the film. Here is a trailer for the movie:
I would love to hear the stories the GIs who attended the Hollywood Canteen must have to share? What it was like chatting with so and so, or dancing with whatever actress, or if the partied continued afterwards at such a place...
Your thoughts?


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