Saturday, June 25, 2011

In a Lonely Place (1950) - Film Locations

Bogart as screenwriter, Dixon "Dix" Steele

In 1950, Hollywood produced three amazing films revealing a dark side to show business: Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, and In a Lonely Place. In my opinion, Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve are the much stronger films overall, but In a Lonely Place is certainly no slouch. Humphrey Bogart's electrifying performance as down-on-his-luck screenwriter, Dixon Steele, really makes In A Lonely Place a gem to watch. Add in Nicholas Ray's melodramatic directing touches and noir starlet Gloria Graham and you got the ingredients for a delicious cinematic treat. Like Sunset Boulevard, In a Lonely Place features a few Los Angeles area locations and I decided to track some of those locations down. 

The film opens with Bogart driving. Bogart comes to a stop at an intersection and turns to a pretty girl who is sitting with her husband in the next lane over. On a hunch, I figured that this intersection would be in Beverly Hills, so using Google Street View, I picked a commercial street and started comparing the buildings to the screenshot below. I couldn't have been more lucky. I found the intersection after scrolling just three blocks from my starting point. The intersection is North Beverly Drive at South Santa Monica Boulevard. The way I spotted this was from the unique detailing on the building which I've circled with the red oval.

N. Beverly Drive at S. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills

N. Beverly Drive at S. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills

The only building still standing at this intersection that can be seen in the film is the one that I've circled. The rest have been torn down and replaced. The next two comparisons give a different view of the intersection.

Bogart at the intersection of Beverly & Santa Monica

Looking south down Beverly Boulevard. The store in the background is now replaced by a modern glass building.

Looking south down Beverly Boulevard.

Looking north up Beverly Boulevard.

Looking north up Beverly Boulevard.

One interesting note about In a Lonely Place, is that Nicholas Ray modeled the set of Bogart's apartment building after the Villa Primavera apartments in West Hollywood, the same apartment building Ray lived at when he first came to Hollywood. Although the apartment courtyard and interiors were recreated on a soundstage, in one scene we do get a glimpse of what is across the street from the actual apartment location. In the screenshot below, Bogart is walking up to the entrance of the Villa Primavera apartments located at 1300 North Harper Avenue. The view in the background is the intersection of Harper and Fountain Avenue.

Bogart at the Villa Primavera apartments.

Fountain Ave at Harper, West Hollywood

Bogart in the apartment courtyard.

The apartment is gated, but below is the entrance to the Villa Primavera apartments. You can see a fountain in the center by looking through the gate, similar to the one Ray recreated on a soundstage.

1300 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood

Later in the film Bogart is seen leaving the Beverly Hills post office which is located directly across from the Beverly Hills City Hall building. Below is a screenshot of Bogart and the City Hall building. As of present, the area between City Hall and the Post Office is fenced off and under construction, so I couldn't get a good photo of the City Hall building. Instead, I have a Google Street View screenshot for comparison.

Bogart in front of Beverly Hills City Hall

Beverly Hills City Hall (c) Google 2011

In another scene, Bogart is taken into the Beverly Hills Police Station for questioning in a murder case. Below, Bogart is seen leaving the police station, which is a side entrance to the City Hall building. Today the bushes have been cut away and now palm trees have been planted in front of the entrance.

Bogart leaves the Beverly Hills police station.

Side entrance to Beverly Hills City Hall.

Below is a scene of Bogart driving off with Gloria Graham after a beach picnic. In the background we see the Canyon Market, located at the intersection of Chautauqua Blvd, Channel Road and the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. Just below the screenshot is a historic photograph of the Canyon Market that gives us a better view of how this intersection once looked. Following that image is a photo I took showing how the intersection looks today. I believe the building that is standing there today is the same building, only greatly modified.

Photo Credit: Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives

Former site of Canyon Market, Santa Monica

As Bogart drives off in a rage, another building we see him pass is the Casino Lunch building. This is located across the street from the Canyon Market building. Below is the screenshot of the Casino Lunch building as seen in the film. Below that is a historic photo providing a better view of the Casino Lunch building, followed by a photo I took showing the intersection as it appears today.

Bogart drives by the Casino Lunch building in Santa Monica.

Photo (c) California Historical Society

Former site of Casino Lunch, Santa Monica

Of the three show biz related 1950 films, Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, and In a Lonely Place, what's your favorite? (I say "show biz" because I know All About Eve is more about Broadway than Hollywood.)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why Palm Springs is Hollywood of the Desert

Palm Springs Postcard

As early as the 1920s, Palm Springs has been a getaway spot for Hollywood stars. Garbo, Clark Gable, Alice Faye, Phil Harris, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, Liberace, Walt Disney, Loretta Young, Marilyn Monroe, Kirk Douglas, and many other classic Hollywood stars have stayed and played in Palm Springs. This YouTube video, "Why Palm Springs is Hollywood of the Desert," highlights some of Palm Springs Hollywood connections, including the site of Ginger Rogers' wedding and the room where Frank Capra polished the screenplay for It's a Wonderful Life.

"Why Palm Springs is Hollywood of the Desert"

Have you ever visited Palms Springs and if so, did you tour any of the places connected with old Hollywood? Where is your favorite getaway?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Fireball (1950) - Film Locations

The Fireball (1950)

Whenever I think of the Roller Derby I usually picture tough Derby Girls and a theatricality similar to WWF wrestling. I've never really thought of it as a true sport or one that men play for that matter, until I saw the Mickey Rooney film, The Fireball. Like the recent Ellen Page film, Whip It (2009), where Page plays an awkward teenager who puts on skates and learns she could be a great Roller Derby girl, The Fireball is a similar coming-of-age type story.

In The Fireball, Rooney plays the orphan Johnny Casar, a rebellious teen living at the St. Luke's Home For Boys. Johnny has no outlet for his frustrations and is regularly getting into trouble. When Johnny is confronted by Father O'Hara, played by the priest when you need one, Pat O'Brien, Johnny decides to run away from the orphanage. 

While roaming the streets, Johnny stumbles across a pair of roller skates. He tries the skates on, finds that they fit, and then the next minute Johnny is rolling wildly down a hill, nearly knocking over anyone standing in the sidewalk. Johnny isn't a great skater at first, but he visits a local skating rink where he meets Mary Reeves (Beverly Tyler), who offers him free skating lessons. After a few lessons and a lot of practice Johnny becomes a superb skater, eventually joining a men's roller derby team. Johnny gains many fans with his outspoken personality and his athleticism. All the attention poured on Johnny from his fans only boosts his ego. At the same time Johnny's cocksure attitude is alienating him from his teammates.

During the international championship, Johnny, who will do anything to win, injures a few other players when he intentionally knocks over a teammate, forcing a pile-up of all the other skaters. The crowd and even Father O'Hara who is watching in the audience, are disgusted by Johnny's unsportsmanlike conduct. Although, disgust turns to concern when Johnny later collapses. 

Doctors discover that Johnny has polio. Upset by his condition, Johnny attempts suicide but Father O'Hara and Mary give Johnny the encouragement he needs for recovery. After a few years of therapy and training, Johnny finds himself back in the rink. When Johnny hears the crowd roar his cocky attitude returns too. But, after a conversation with Father O'Hara, Johnny realizes he should help out others just as people helped him when he needed it most. Instead of trying to be the star on the team, Johnny helps out one of the new younger players on the team.

Raquelle at the blog Out of the Past, who reviewed this film a few months ago, sums up this film pretty well. "Fireball is pure novelty! From the campy plot, to Marilyn Monroe's supporting role, to Mickey Rooney on roller skates. " These really are enough reasons to give this silly and fun film a view, but if I would add one more, it is to see a few Los Angeles locations. Here are a few of those locations.

St. Luke's Home For Boys

The film opens with scenes of St. Luke's Home For Boys, the orphanage where Mickey Rooney lives. See the screenshots above and below. I wasn't familiar with this building so I looked through a few historical photos of Los Angeles area orphanages and even Catholic schools. Eventually I came across a photo of the St. John's Military Academy in Los Angeles and it was very clear that this was the location used for the film.

St. Luke's Home For Boys, really St. John's Military Academy

The photo below, from the Los Angeles Library photo collection, shows the entrance to St. John's Military Academy. The palm trees are a lot taller in the film and the building looks to have been expanded. According to "Patterson's American Education, Volume 60," under their listing of military schools, they have the address for St. John's Military Academy listed at 1927 10th Avenue, Los Angeles.   It appears that this building has been demolished.

St. John's Military Academy, 1927 10th Ave, Los Angeles
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Library Photo Collection

Mickey Rooney runs from the orphanage.

Above Mickey Rooney is seen running from the backside of the orphanage. Below is another photo of St. John's Military Academy showing how this view once looked. From this view, things don't look that much different. The basketball courts are even there in the older photo.

St. John's Military Academy. 
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Library Photo Collection

Rooney climbs the fence at the orphanage.

The next few images are from the scene where Rooney tries on the roller skates and rolls wildly down the hill. That hill is Temple Street in Los Angeles, beginning near the intersection of Belmont Avenue. What seems like a really long hill in the film, is really only a few blocks long.

1648 Temple Street, Los Angeles

1648 Temple Street, Los Angeles

1644 & 1648 W. Temple Street

1644 W. Temple Street

1644 W. Temple Street

1642 W. Temple Street

1642 W. Temple Street

1638 W. Temple Street

1638 & 1642 W. Temple Street

Looking west on Temple Street.

Looking west on Temple Street.

1632 W. Temple Street

1632 W. Temple Street

1630 W. Temple Street

1630 & 1634 West Temple Street

If you would like to check out The Fireball it is currently for sale through the Warner Archive Collection.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Page Interviews: Part Three

Emily outside Paramount's Bronson Gate

"Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" - The character "Gold Hat" from the film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Ok, so studio Pages do need badges in order to get on to the movie studio lot where they work, but once they are on the lot, they often have unlimited access to the studio. Pages wear many job hats that allow them to see the studio from many different perspectives. A Page might be giving tourists a tour of the lot one day, assisting with audience coordination for a television show the next and then even running an urgent errand for a studio executive the next. As a studio Page, you never know what type of assignment will come up next or who you might run into. 

Unlike most jobs at a movie studio, the Page gets to see almost every part of the factory in operation and because of this, they often have many interesting experiences to share.  That's why a while back I did two Q&A's with former Pages as the start of a series on this blog. To continue that series I've asked Emily Ronkar a few questions about her experience as a former Paramount Studios Page.

Emily, what year(s) did you work as a Page at Paramount Studios?

From 2005-2006, a full year from July through the following August

How did you find out about the Paramount Page program and what made you interested in applying for that position?

A friend at a part-time job I was already working had mentioned it to me.  He told me about his previous experience some years before as a Page.  Because of my love for film, appreciation for film history, and general desire to work on a studio lot, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.

What kinds of duties were you assigned as a Page?

Most of my days were as a tour guide or working the audience entrance/exit for the sitcoms.  While at Paramount I was also lucky enough to work two Stunt Man Awards Shows, assist at the American Music Awards, and temp for several different departments on the lot, which aided in a wider appreciation for what goes into creating a film.

What was your most unusual assignment at Paramount?

For the Paramount Christmas party, myself and a couple other Pages dressed up as elves and a Mrs. Claus and assisted with the family/kids Santa pictures.

Emily (seated in front) dressed as an Elf

What was your most interesting experience?

On my lunch break I liked to wander the lot and one lovely wandering day, I happened to stumble upon a live elephant in Chicago street.  A commercial was being filmed on New York street and the elephant was being kept and cared for a street away.  Quite the shock to round a corner to a full-grown elephant!

What was your least favorite experience?

When I look back, I don’t really remember anything being my “least favorite”.  There was only one temp position I did not enjoy so much, but the people I worked with were wonderful, and I learned a lot while I was there.  

Also, an unpleasant run in with a regular audience coordinator for one of the long running shows filmed on the lot, but despite the frustration caused by this individual, I learned a better way to deal with difficult people in that environment.

Any celebrity run-ins?

You were always running into familiar faces and names regardless of where you hung out on the lot.  Two of my favorite random sightings include Tim Burton entering the main Bronson gate entrance, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers on a break outside a stage where MI:3 was filming.

Three of my favorite celebrity run-ins are:

  • Tom Cruise, who was spotted by my VIP tour as we drove by the MI:3 filming stages.  He heard them notice him, and turned and waved with a smile, pausing long enough for my tour to get a great photo.
  • Anthony Clark, from “Yes, Dear”, who unbeknownst to myself, had come up behind my tour while I was showing a mostly empty sound stage 20.  He offered to take our tour next door onto their filming stage and proceeded to introduce my tour to other cast members and explain a little about tv filming.
  • During filming of Disturbia, another Page and I were running an errand in a golf cart and ended up in a game of chicken, nearly running into Shia LaBouf in costume on his way to set.

I've asked this question to two other Pages and I'll ask you, did you encounter any old Hollywood ghosts or hear any of the stories?

I had definitely heard the stories, mostly from security guards who worked the night shift in the New York/Chicago street areas, since those walls bordered the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  Plus, there was always the odd haunted stage story that would rumor it’s way though each Page class.

The only odd experience I ever had on the lot was a night when a former Page from my class and I were hanging around the MI:3 set after working an audience show that night and were headed back across the lot to our cars, we happened to walk through the New York and Chicago streets, both our favorite places on the lot.  When we were on the far side of Chicago street, before it meets up with the stages, and turns the corner back into New York street, the air around us seemed to get eerily quiet, despite all the filming happening on the other side of the lot.  I remember the lights on the side of the false sets flickering and going off and on, pitching the street into random darkness.  Then suddenly, everything went back to normal, light came on, the air around us felt like it lifted.  We high-tailed it out of there, laughing, either from fear or nerves.

Would you recommend a Page program for others entering the work world, especially those pursuing careers in entertainment?

Absolutely!  The Page program was such an integral part of getting my feet wet in LA and the Entertainment industry here.  I met so many interesting people and had opportunities to work and learn in and about so many other facets of the industry I hadn’t even thought about!

What is happening in your post-page life? Where are you working or what projects are you involved with? Has your Page experience helped you in what you are doing now?

I am currently working for Click Communications, a fabulous online PR company.  Specifically I work as a Video Asset Specialist primarily with one of our major studio clients, but assisting in video clip pulling with several other clients as well.  

I would definitely agree that the Page experience has helped me in what I do now.  I have a much broader vision of the studio system and the inner workings of the business and production side of the industry, the first steps of which I learned while a Page.

Now, because this blog focuses on old Hollywood, here are a few quick questions about the classics:

Favorite classic movie?

Double Indemnity, an amazing film noir movie that has stuck with me since my first viewing in a college film course.  Intelligent, subtle, distinctly dark and a bit snarky.  All of my favorite things!

Favorite classic movie actor?

Charlie Chaplin; ever since I saw City Lights I’ve been amazed at what one man was able to accomplish and the brilliance behind each of his films.

Favorite classic movie actress?

Marlene Dietrich was always a favorite.  She was just so sassy!


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