Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1966 Czech film “Closely Watched Trains,” which won the Academy Award for foreign film in 1968. It was directed by Jiri Menzel and written by Menzel and Bohumil Hrabal from a novel by Hrabal. It was released on DVD by the Criterion Collection.

Part 1, via Dailymotion.
Part 2, via Dailymotion.

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Harry Houdini: An Interview by Marcet Haldeman-Julius, October 1925

October 1925, Interview with Houdini

We have been collecting issues of Haldeman-Julius Monthly for several years, but one issue was particularly elusive: The October 1925 number featuring an interview with Harry Houdini, written by Marcet Haldeman-Julius, which was published a year before his death and is apparently keenly desired by collectors.

A copy of this issue was recently added to the archives and we are pleased to present the interview, which appears nowhere else online, refuting the argument that “everything is on the Internet.”

The paper is old and brittle and would not stand up to a scanner, so I photographed the article (Pages 387-397) instead. The images are watermarked because of prevalent practice of swiping pictures on the Internet without attribution or acknowledgement of a source. Pinterest and, this means you.

Haldeman-Julius Monthly was published by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius with the motto “Make the World Unsafe for Hypocrisy.” It changed names to “The Debunker” in 1928 and apparently ceased publication about 1931.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius loved to debunk charismatic religious figures of the  day and Louis Adamic wrote a series of articles for the magazine about Los Angeles evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s mysterious disappearance and miraculous return in 1926. In this vein, the bulk of the Houdini interview is devoted to the charlatans of the day posing as mediums who could communicate with the dead and frequently duped grieving and gullible survivors.  There is also a detailed of description Houdini’s New York brownstone, which was crammed with books and memorabilia, and a cameo appearance by Mrs. Houdini.

Previously in the L.A. Daily Mirror
Aimee Semple McPherson’s Fight With Satan
C.B. DeMille: Movie Evangelist


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Los Angeles Breakfast Club Dines on History

Breakfast Club

Leading up to the twentieth century, few social organizations existed, except for those of wealth or higher class, or working for a charitable organization. Most people attended a religious organization of some kind. Military veterans honored those who died in service, and fraternities were organized on college campuses to serve the needs of those both within the group and the greater community. As the United States became more urban, more clubs were organized among like-minded individuals looking for companionship outside of those they worshipped or worked with.

Los Angeles saw handfuls of clubs formed in the late 1890s-early 1900s. State groups, service groups like the Elks, Moose, Knights of Columbus, and Scottish Rite Masons, high end clubs like the Los Angeles and Hollywood Athletic Clubs, Jonathan Club, and City Club, these and more were organized as social opportunities to fill the hours when not working. Many served the community in charitable ways, while others simply served the cause of fun. The Los Angeles Breakfast Club was founded both to entertain and inform its members in 1925, and still operates as an active group 90 years later.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.


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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

May 30, 2015, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1930-31 Warner Bros. pre-code film “Illicit,” starring Barbara Stanwyck (Friday’s mystery woman) with James Rennie (Thursday’s mystery chap), Ricardo Cortez (not shown), Natalie Moorhead (Tuesday’s mystery woman), Charles Butterworth (Wednesday’s mystery chap), Joan Blondell (Friday’s mystery woman) and Claude Gillingwater.

The film was directed by Archie Mayo, with a script by Harvey Thew, whose next picture was “The Public Enemy.”  The script was adapted from the 1930 Broadway play “Many a Slip” by Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin. “Illicit” was photographed by Robert Kurrle with wardrobe by Earl Luick.

St. Petersburg Times, March 21, 1931.
“Illicit” star Barbara Stanwyck is a strong advocate of marriage, St. Petersburg Times, March 21, 1931.

Note that imdb gives the date of 1931, while the print gives the copyright date of 1930. It was in production in September 1930 and released in Los Angeles in February 1931.  Edwin Schallert of The Times wrote (Jan. 18, 1931) “Marriage versus free love receives interpretation in ‘Illicit’ — a picture which judging by all past precedents, is due for a popular reign, even though it may not pass the censors in all localities.”

The DVD is available from Warner Archive packaged with “Girl Missing.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: San Francisco Silent Film Festival Celebrates 20 Years

“Sherlock Holmes” starring William Gillette, courtesy of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

Conceived by Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons as a way to share the beauty of early cinema with the world, The San Francisco Silent Film Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary May 28 through June 1, 2015, as the largest and most important silent film festival in the Western Hemisphere. Exhibiting gorgeous prints on the big screen as they were meant to be seen, the festival extols silent cinema from around the world, accompanied by talented performers in a wide range of styles and instruments. This year’s Festival salutes top stars, exciting new restorations, and fascinating foreign films, with some eclectic programs thrown in.

Two newly restored films highlight this year’s schedule. The long thought lost 1916 film, “Sherlock Holmes,” stars the great stage actor William Gillette in the first feature adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s renowned mystery series, a holy grail for Holmes’ fans. Gillette adapted Doyle’s books about the Baker Street detective into a world-renowned play, which he toured globe-wide for years. Chicago’s Essanay Film Company finally convinced him to star in and produce his version of the deer stalk hat wearing Holmes in 1916, allowing him to cast the film almost entirely with actors who had starred with him in the production. As reviewed at the time, the film omitted any mention of Holmes’ drug use or possible addiction and maintained a deliberate style. It looked good on screen and seemed too long, but the May 1916 issue of Motography called it “Frankly melodrama, well produced…,” with Gillette and Ernest Maupain as Moriarty giving the best performances. It remains Gillette’s only film, as he never completed “Secret Service,” the second motion picture included in his contract.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Black Dahlia: ‘Black Dahlia’ Composer Bob Belden Dies at 58


Adam Parker of the Post and Courier is reporting the death of composer Bob Belden, who wrote the orchestral suite “Black Dahlia,” which was released on CD in 2001.

If you’re not familiar with the suite, here’s a selection. I particularly like this clip because it shows the recording process.


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Why Don’t Asians Wear Vintage?


We went through a vintage clothing phase in 1974 while at the University of Arizona and working on the Invisible Theatre play “Mad Dog Coll,” which was set in New York in the 1930s. Our vintage suits went back to the thrift stores long ago, but we enjoy the vintage clothing community vicariously through some our friends.

Annora Theong is a vintage clothing enthusiast in Australia – and, as she points out, one of the few Asian vintage clothing enthusiasts. In a recent blog post, she visits the question of “Why Don’t Asians Wear Vintage?” on her blog Nora Finds.  We found it a worthwhile read. Hope you do too.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1915 picture “The Coward,” written by Thomas Ince and directed by Ince and Reginald Barker. It was shown in Los Angeles at Clune’s Auditorium in November 1915 with  Dorothy Gish and Wallace Reid in “Old Heidelberg” and Mack Sennett’s “A Favorite Fool” with Eddie Foy and the little Foys.  It will air on TCM on Sunday May 24 at 4:30 a.m. Pacific time as part of the the Memorial Day marathon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Griffith Observatory Celebrates 80 Years of Reaching for the Stars

The cover of an undated brochure about Griffith Observatory, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

Originally a dream of Los Angeles benefactor and convicted murderer “Colonel” Griffith J. Griffith, Griffith Observatory now stands as one of the city’s preeminent and most beautiful structures. Looming high over Franklin Avenue and visible for miles, the magnificent building stands as one of Los Angeles’ Art Deco jewels. Still radiant after 80 years, the Griffith Observatory stands as a monument to ingenuity and ambition, urging residents to look up to the skies.

Griffith, a wealthy mining speculator, donated 3,015 acres of the old Rancho Los Feliz to the city of Los Angeles in 1896 for use as a public park. In 1903, however, residents turned against him after he shot his wife in the face during a drunken rage. Inspired by a look through Mount Wilson’s enormous telescope in 1912, Griffith offered Los Angeles $100,000 to construct a similar observatory on Mount Hollywood.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Another Good Story Ruined: Vintage Eateries in L.A.

Fair Oaks Pharmacy
Fair Oaks Pharmacy’s neon sign, which was restored and re-mounted on the building after years of languishing in obscurity.

A recent post by the Los Angeles Beat of vintage Los Angeles restaurants included Fair Oaks Pharmacy in South Pasadena.

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Movieland Mystery Photo ( Updated + + + + )

May 16, 2015, Mystery Movie
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1962 film “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”  best known in its “Mystery Science Theater 3000” version.

MST3K version 1/9
MST3K version 2/9
MST3K version 3/9
MST3K version 4/9
MST3K version 5/9
MST3K version 6/9
MST3K version 7/9
MST3K version 8/9
MST3K version 9/9

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Colleen Moore’s Dollhouse Supports Children’s Charities

Colleen Moore’s doll house in a frame grab from CBS “Sunday Morning.”

From the beginning of time, people have been collectors. Objects as diverse as paintings, stamps, shells, rocks, postcards, photographs, baseballs, or even furniture have been compiled for the joy they brought to those acquiring them. Individuals such as J. P. Morgan, Henri Francis du Pont, Henry Huntington, and William Randolph Hearst created large assemblages of objects, which are now open for research and visits by the general public. Hearst’s “Enchanted Hill” on the Central Coast of California is now known as the stupendous Hearst Castle, filled with gorgeous and exquisite works of art from around the world, including whole magnificent rooms saved from mansions and castles in the process of being demolished.

Silent film actress Colleen Moore, the effervescent embodiment of the jazz-mad 1920s flapper, collected doll houses and small miniatures from the time she was a child. In the late 1920s, she began assembling what became her masterpiece, a luxurious doll’s house that reflected every young girl’s romantic dreams of what it meant to be a princess. Moore’s “Enchanted Castle,” a Lilliputian relative of Hearst’s “Enchanted Hill,” rivaled the newspaper magnate’s Hearst Castle for its unique works of art and outstanding craftsmanship.Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.


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Cafe Frankenstein, When a Cappuccino was 70 Cents


Here’s something truly awesome: A menu for the Cafe Frankenstein in Laguna Beach with artwork by Burt Shonberg, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $125.  I wrote about Cafe Frankenstein in 2011 when a group of slides was listed for sale. And in the Beat Era, a cappuccino was 70 cents ($5.69 USD 2015).

Posted in 1958, Art & Artists, Food and Drink, Found on EBay | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1957 MGM picture “Edge of the City,” which was Martin Ritt’s debut as a film director. It starred John Cassavetes (Tuesday’s Back of the Head Guy), Sidney Poitier (Friday’s mystery guest), Jack Warden (Friday’s mystery guest), Kathleen Maguire (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Ruby Dee (Thursday’s mystery guest), Robert Simon (Monday’s mystery guest), Ruth White (Wednesday’s mystery guest), Val Avery (not shown), William A. Lee (not shown), David Clark (not shown) and Estelle Hemsley (not shown).

It was written by Robert Alan Aurthur, with music by Leonard Rosenman and photographed by Joseph Brun, with titles by Saul Bass. The producer was David Susskind in his first venture into film.

“Edge of the City” was shown in Los Angeles as the second half of a double bill with the now obscure film “Lizzie,” which starred Eleanor Parker.

The DVD is available from TCM in its Greatest Classic Legends collection, with “Something of Value,” “A Patch of Blue” and “Blackboard Jungle.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: L.J. Burrud: Hollywoodland Publicity Man and Western Adventurer

Jan. 6, 1924, Hollywoodland Sign
Jan. 6, 1924: The Times publishes a photo of an Oakland car that was driven up to the Hollywood sign.

Southern California and Los Angeles exploded into the public zeitgeist thanks to imaginative advertising and publicity from area supporters and officials. Posters, postcards, and lavish illustrations in magazines and newspapers touting glorious weather, abundant land, and great opportunities started the great march westward.

Later, real estate developments around the Los Angeles area like Hollywoodland that successfully promoted themselves as exclusive, elegant, and close to business centers prospered, thanks to creative advertising gimmicks by salesmen. Leland J. Burrud excelled in innovating practices and developing schemes to sell real estate, from bringing in newsreel cameras to record the construction of the Hollywoodland Sign in November 1923 to creating dramatic images of a car posing adjacent to the Sign. He developed his great talent from his multi-faceted film career traveling the American West in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

May 2, 2015, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1948 Eagle-Lion picture “Hollow Triumph,” also known as “The Scar.” The movie stars Paul Henreid (Friday’s mystery guest), Joan Bennett (Thursday’s mystery guest) and Eduard Franz (Wednesday’s mystery guest). It was written by Daniel Fuchs, from a novel by Murray Forbes and was produced by Henreid and directed by Steve Sekely.

A DVD is available from TCM Shop and there is a restored version on Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood’s Pig’n Whistle Draws Film Fans

Pig'n Whisle
A souvenir postcard for the Pig’n Whistle, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Famous for decades as an upscale destination for sweet treats and light bites, Hollywood Blvd.’s Pig’n Whistle soda fountain and candy shop featured elegant surroundings and lighthearted family atmosphere, surrounded by jolly images of happy-go-lucky dancing pigs. A favorite destination for filmgoers and off-camera movie stars long before Starbucks, the gorgeous chain restaurant promoted itself through eye-catching images of prancing pigs.

In 1906, founder John. F. Gage, proprietor of the Hotel America on Market Street, escaped San Francisco with his family after the Great Earthquake and fire, which burned down his inn, per author Veronica Gelakoska in her book, “Pig’n Whistle.” Coming to Los Angeles, the entrepreneur opened a high class candy shop and soda fountain at 224 S. Broadway, next door to City Hall, offering afternoon tea, French pastries, and light lunches as well as excellent candy.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s movie has been the 1934 RKO picture “Murder on the Blackboard.” The film, the second in the Hildegarde Withers series, was released by Warner Archive in a set of six films after being unavailable for years. The first film in the series was “The Penguin Pool Murder.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Ravished Armenia and the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide


A still from “Auction of Souls,” in the Washington Times.

For more than 120 years, Armenians have seen slaughter and death at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and the Turks. In 1894, Sultan Abdul-Hamid II ordered the first massacre and harassment of the Armenian population, with more than 300,000 people killed over three years. 30,000 Armenians were killed in 1909 when Turks in Cilicila revolted against Armenian democratization efforts. In 1915, the wholesale slaughter of Armenians began as a result of World War I, when Armenia became separated from the Allied Forces which supported it when Turkey sided with Germany. As Tony Slide reveals in his book, “Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian,” Russia invaded Turkey and British and French forces attacked Constantinople, precipitating disaster. On April 23-24, 1915, Turkish police began rounding up 800 leading Armenians in Constantinople, exiling them, and began widespread extermination of the Armenian population on April 24. This year marks the Centennial of the Twentieth Century’s first massive genocide, in which more than one million Armenians were slaughtered, half of the population at the time.

One young Christian girl, Arshalouys Mardigian “Aurora Mardiganian,” suffered horrific experiences during the genocide but survived and escaped to America. Her story of a young girl suffering abuses and ravages came to stand for that of Armenia itself when her book, “Ravished Armenia,” was released in 1918. Mardiganian herself starred later that year in a movie adaptation called “Ravished Armenia,” later changed to “Auction of Souls.” In many ways, Mardiganian represents her ravished homeland, as she was exploited and abused by the very individuals who were supposed to provide help, becoming a bit player in her own story. Her story helped publicize the widespread genocide and diaspora of her people, vividly personified in what little remains of the powerful film.

Mary Mallory’s “Hollywood land: Tales Lost and Found” is available for the Kindle.

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Black Dahlia: Re-Creating Elizabeth Short’s Final Meal Puts the Ghoul in Goulash

Dahlia Dinner
An image of the Black Dahlia crime scene sets the mood for dinner. How about some pinot extra noir? 

It takes a special sort of person to think it’s a swell idea to have a pricey meal ($65 per) while looking at photos of the Black Dahlia crime scene. Although I can’t imagine many things more distasteful, I suppose that in a city the size of Los Angeles, there are enough ghoulish people with too much money who will make this a profitable enterprise. The event was part of something called “Los Angeles Eats Itself” and no, we won’t go there.

The premise of this meal, by chef Jonathan Moulton of City Tavern, according Paul Teetor in L.A. Weekly, is that because Elizabeth Short had bad teeth, the meal would consist of dishes that she wouldn’t have trouble eating. Ignoring the fact that she carried a supply of candles with her and plugged the cavities in her teeth with melted wax. Had those who planned the meal been aware of this fact, possibly the table decorations would have included matchbooks and large, plain white candles so that patrons could apply wax to their teeth for the true Black Dahlia experience.

Teetor (whom you may recall from a gushing, unskeptical article about Steve Hodel in the now-defunct Times magazine) falls into the old lie that Elizabeth Short had “deformed genitalia.” Sorry, no. This popular story was concocted by the late Will Fowler, for whom lying was as natural as breathing.

Specifically, Moulton wanted to re-create what Elizabeth Short might have eaten on the last day of her life, quite overlooking the autopsy report on the contents of her stomach, which included feces. There apparently was no interest in going overboard with this accuracy nonsense.

I would suggest that for the next gathering of the grim eaters, the last meal of Bugsy Siegel, who dined at Jack’s on the Beach in Santa Monica shortly before being shot in the head with an M-1 carbine while he was reading the newspaper. And my, wouldn’t all those cartridges and bloody copies of the Los Angeles Times make festive table decorations?  And maybe bits of eyelash stuck to the wall.

Bone appetit, folks.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Food and Drink | Tagged , , | 5 Comments