Sunday, July 15, 2012

Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine Connection

Ernest Borgnine and Andy Griffith

Sadly, earlier this month movie fans lost two more classic Hollywood stars: Andy Griffith on July 3 and Ernest Borgnine on July 8. During their long careers in both films and on television, I'm sure one could find many connections between these two actors. For one, both acted in an adaptation of the story From Here to Eternity. Borgnine played Sergeant 'Fatso' Judson in the 1953 film version and Griffith played General Barney Slater in a six part television mini-series. Both starred in successful 1960s television comedies: Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show and Borgnine in McHale's Navy. But, the one connection I'm thinking of involves Midwest Street on the Warner Bros. studio lot.

Griffith & Myron McCormick in No Time For Sergeants.

In the film No Time For Sergeants (1958) Griffith plays a country bumpkin who gets drafted into the Air Force. At the beginning of the film, Griffith is brought into town and handcuffed because he is considered a draft dodger. The town is Warner Bros. Midwest Street and the location is used as the pick up spot for all the new recruits who are going to be whisked away to the Air Force base.

Borgnine in Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?

Twelve years later Borgnine would be on Midwest Street for the film Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970). In this film Borgnine plays a tough sheriff of a small southern town that is located near an Army base. Midwest Street is used as the location for the southern town and like in No Time For Sergeants, Midwest Street is where the new recruits are picked up to be taken to base. 

I've previously done film location posts for both of these movies. You can see the locations for No Time For Sergeants here and for Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? here.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Off Limits (1953) - Film Locations

Mickey Rooney, Marilyn Maxwell, Bob Hope

In the film Off Limits (1953), Bob Hope plays fast talking ladies man Wally Hogan, a boxing manager-trainer who's fighter, Bullet Bradley, just won the lightweight championship. Unfortunately, Bradley just got drafted into the Army. Hogan's gangster partners convince Hogan to enlist in the Army in order to keep an eye on their fighter. The thing is, Bradley gets rejected while Hogan gets accepted. While stuck in the Army Hogan meets Herbert Tuttle (Mickey Rooney) an unrelenting little guy who thinks Hogan can turn him into a lightweight fighter. Hogan reluctantly takes him on because he is attracted to Tuttle's aunt Connie Curtis (Marilyn Maxwell) an attractive nightclub singer.

Although this film may not be at the top of any list for best Hope films, I still think this is a pretty funny, quick paced comedy. Hope delivers his usual rat-a-tat-tat comedic quips while getting decent support from fellow actors Rooney and Maxwell. And of course, for anyone that follows this blog, it is an added treat to see some of the location filming. In this case, there are scenes that feature the following Los Angeles area communities: Larchmont Village, Culver City, Hollywood, and Venice.

There is a chase scene that begins in Larchmont Village. Hope confronts one of his gangster partners who got him into the military and vandalizes his car that is parked on 1st Street, as payback. What Hope doesn't realize is that the car doesn't belong to the gangster, but to one of the military officers. Hope quickly flees the scene and a chase ensues. 

W. 1st Street at S. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles

W. 1st Street at S. Larchmont Blvd as it appears today.

This scene takes place in the fictional "City of Ashton." You will even see in the screenshot below, that the service station has the Ashton city name painted on the side of the building, but of course, the real location is Larchmont Village. At the time the film was made, the Ashton Super Service really was a Richfield service station that was located at the corner of S. Larchmont Boulevard at W. 1st Street. The service station building has been demolished (now a Bank of America building stands at the corner) but the buildings seen in the background of the screenshot you will notice still exist.

Ashton Super Service, really Richfield Service Station.

The Richfield Service Station has been replaced by Bank of America.

The Service Station as seen in the film. 1st Street at Larchmont Blvd.

1st Street at Larchmont Blvd as it appears today.

In the screenshot below we can see the northwest corner of S. Larchmont Boulevard. Where the "Drugs" sign hangs is now a Chase Bank. Fourteen years later, Hope would be back at this same intersection to film another comedy, Eight on the Lam (1967), directed by the same director, George Marshall. In the distant background you will notice that the home at the end of the block is still there.

Hope confronts the gangster at 1st Street and Larchmont.

W. 1st Street at S. Larchmont Blvd as it appears today.

After Hope vandalizes the car he flees the scene in Larchmont Village and the chase begins. In the scenes below Hope and his followers drive pass the historic Culver Hotel in Culver City, from different directions. The Culver Hotel is located at 9400 Culver Boulevard. In the first scene comparison Hope and Maxwell drive pass the Culver Hotel and round the corner onto Van Buren Place. This part of the street is now closed to traffic and is a pedestrian only walkway.

Hope and Maxwell pass the Culver Hotel.

The Culver Hotel as seen from the end of Van Buren Place.

In the next scene Mickey Rooney and one of the military officers following Hope and Maxwell drive by the Culver Hotel and turn onto Van Buren Place from the other side of the hotel.

Looking at the Culver Hotel from Van Buren Place.

The Culver Hotel as it appears today as seen from Van Buren Place.

In the next scene below, Rooney and the officer drive by the Culver Hotel from the other end of the hotel. Rooney and the officer are in the jeep driving down Culver Boulevard and then making a right onto Cardiff Avenue.

Rooney drives down Culver Blvd, passing the Culver Hotel.

Looking across Culver Boulevard at the Culver Hotel.

As Rooney turns onto Cardiff Avenue we get a small glimpse of the building at the corner. That building is still there and today it is the site of a Bank of America. That's two Bank of America's now in one location post.

Rooney turns onto Cardiff Ave from Culver Boulevard.

The corner of Cardiff Ave and Culver Blvd as it appears today.

In the screenshot below, Rooney is seen driving down Hughes Avenue in Culver City and then rounding the corner onto Washington Boulevard. As he rounds the corner we get a glimpse of the historic Culver Theatre, now the remodeled Kirk Douglas Theatre. The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Boulevard.

Rooney drives down Hughes Ave towards Washington Blvd.

The corner of Hughes Ave and Washington Blvd.

Rooney drives by the Culver Theatre.

The Culver Theatre is now the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

The side of the Culver Theatre.

The side of the Theatre. The liquor store on the right is now gone.

This next scene was the last one I found. I noticed there was what looked like a church steeple in the background so I was looking for churches that had that same style steeple, but I couldn't find any matches. Then, while walking down Washington boulevard it became obvious that the Studebaker building was the one located at 10003 Washington Boulevard. There is still a church down the street, the St. Augustine Church, but the steeple appears to have changed.

Studebaker dealership at 10003 Washington Blvd. Culver City

Looking towards 10003 Washington Blvd, Culver City.

This next scene I discovered on a lucky hunch. When I saw the building on the right of the screenshot I thought it looked familiar, like one I remember passing regularly on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. As it turns out, it is located on Highland Avenue at the corner of Romaine Street and the building is still  there.

The chase continues down Highland Ave at Romaine St.

Looking down Highland Ave. at Romain St. in Hollywood.

Highland Ave. at Romaine St. in Hollywood.

Highland Ave. at Romaine St. in Hollywood.

What's interesting about the film is that the chase scene is supposed to be in the fictional City of Ashton, but really takes place in four different Los Angeles area neighborhoods. In this last scene the chase suddenly jumps to Venice, California. 

In the scene below we get a glimpse of the 1939 Venice Post Office building located at 1601 Main Street, Venice. The Venice Post Office is located on the left of the screenshot. I just learned yesterday from a Los Angeles Conservancy e-newsletter that USPS is planning to sell the site to movie producer Joel Silver. According to the e-newsletter, Silver "has restored two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residences, the Storer house in Hollywood and Auldbrass in South Carolina." The L.A. Conservancy is working with Silver to ensure the building is protected.

Looking down Winward Ave, near Main Street in Venice.

Looking down Winward Ave. Venice Post Office on left.

Another view down Winward Ave, looking across Main St.

Looking across Main St. down Winward Ave. in Venice.

In this final comparison, we have a close up shot of Bob Hope and the military police who have finally caught up with him. In the background are the buildings that today are the  Cafe Collage and the Winward Farms market located at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Winward Avenue in Venice. And also, a third Bank of America!

Bob Hope is caught. The Winward Farms building is in the background.

The Cafe Collage and Winward Farms buildings as they appear today.

Off Limits (1953) is a fun film and worth checking out. It's available on DVD and also currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Have you seen this film? What are your thoughts?


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