Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Oct. 31, 2015, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie was the 1948 Warner Bros. film “April Showers,” directed by James V. Kern, with Jack Carson, Ann Sothern, Robert Alda, S.Z. Sakall, Robert Ellis, Richard Rober, Joseph Crehan, Billy Curtis, John Gallaudet and Philip Van Zandt. The screenplay was by Peter Milne, from a story by Joe Laurie Jr. The movie was photographed by Carl Guthrie, with art direction by Hugh Reticker and montages by James Leicester. The period wardrobe was by Travilla and makeup by Perc Westmore. The musical numbers were created and staged by LeRoy Prinz.

I rarely use musicals as mystery movies because they are usually much too familiar to the Brain Trust. “April Showers” was a bit of an exception because it’s more obscure and because it has a certain similarity to the life of Buster Keaton. (I will leave it to the Keaton experts to state exactly what those similarities are and possible legal ramifications arising from them.)

“April Showers” is not currently available on DVD.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Chateau des Fleurs Provides Elegant French Style

6626 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, Calif.
6626 Franklin Ave., via Google Street View.

Hollywood, California, exploded in population during the late 1910s and early 1920s with the influx of moving picture companies arriving in town and people looking to work in the industry following suit. Originally a quiet, rural, farming community, Hollywood quickly grew more urbanized, with an increase in density.

Many people did not own their own homes during this period, renting single-family residences as well as apartment units from others. Subdivisions in the foothills began opening to cater to the more affluent new residents. Bungalow court apartments opened, appealing to middle-class singles and couples looking for somewhat independent living. Apartment houses were rushed into construction, replacing the family boarding houses that had dominated the scene.

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

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Black Dahlia Halloween Costume: Just Say No

Oct. 22, 2015, Mystery Photo

Halloween is drawing closer and that means people are working on their costumes. Let us say again: You can do better than dressing up as the victim of a brutal murder. Really you can.

You might consider, for example, Mad Moxxi or Harley Quinn as styled by some of our favorite cosplayers…


Enasni Volz
Enasni Volz

and Alyssa King.

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Dear Steve Hodel Fan 24.125.XXX.XXX

You may rant all you want about being “East Hollywood,” but your reverse ISP geolocation shows you to be a Comcast customer in Ashland, VA.

Thanks for the crazy post. It was the best one I have seen in a long time.

ps. You’re blocked.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1948 film “Raw Deal,” released by Eagle-Lion Films, starring Dennis O’Keefe, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt, John Ireland, Raymond Burr, Curt Conway and Chili Williams. It was written by Leopold Atlas and John C. Higgins, from a story by Arnold B. Armstrong and Audrey Ashley.  It was photographed by John Alton and directed by Anthony Mann.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘Your Girl and Mine’ Promotes Women’s Suffrage

“Your Girl and Mine,” Moving Picture World.

From the 1840s on, many women in the United States fought to vote. Considered merely chattel, like slaves, women were forced to endure horrible marriages, see their children taken away, and forbidden to work in most professions, the property either of their fathers or their husbands.

Women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began fighting for woman’s suffrage, believing if women had the right to vote, not only would their rights and conditions improve, but so would that of those less fortunate: the factory worker, the slave, the foreign laborer. The states and country would be forced to look at conditions like economics, schooling, and social issues, rather than focusing on military and industrial issues. As Anthony stated, “Women, we might as well be great Newfoundland dogs baying to the moon as to be petitioning for the passage of bills without the right to vote.”

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

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Houdini on TCM: ‘The Grim Game’


Harry Houdini in “The Grim Game.”

Update: TCM is airing “The Grim Game” on Oct. 18. Set your DVRs!

Here is Mary Mallory’s post on the film.

Long considered mostly lost, Harry Houdini’s second film, “The Grim Game,” re-premieres in its entirety Sunday, March 29, 2015, at the TCM Classic Film Festival, 96 years after it was released. A suspense thriller packed chock-a-block with hair-raising stunts, “The Grim Game” smartly capitalized on an accident during filming to pack in audiences, obscuring some facts along the way.

Self-liberator and escapologist Harry Houdini ranked as the world’s top illusionist in the 1910s. Hungarian-born Houdini “magically” escaped from handcuffs, chains, strait jackets, and locked cases in performances around the world, thanks to careful planning and special keys. He masterfully employed newsreels, magazine, and newspaper coverage to exploit his fame and derring-do.

TCM Classic Film Festival 

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1933 Paramount picture “The Story of Temple Drake,” with Miriam Hopkins, William Gargan, Jack La Rue, Florence Eldridge, Sir Guy Standing, Irving Pichel, Jobyna Howland and William Collier Jr.

It was directed by Stephen Roberts, with a screenplay by Oliver H.P. Garrett from a novel (“Sanctuary”) by William Faulkner. It was photographed by Karl Struss. The film also featured Elizabeth Patterson, James Eagles, Harlan E. Knight, James Mason, Louise Beavers and Arthur Belasco.

“Deliberately sordid, unsympathetic and nearly offensive … crudely realistic.” — The Los Angeles Times

“Better than anticipated …. A gruesome, sordid tale … but it has a certain strength.” The New York Times

“Temple Drake” elicited several interesting comments from the Brain Trust.

Gary Martin said: Also in 1959 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, I had the pleasure of designing the set for Look Homeward Angel starring Miriam Hopkins. I had been warned that she would be “a bitch” but after I had a stairway changed to her needs …and in record time …I became her pet. One day she gave me a tub of gardenias …of two that she had picked at the beach. It was then I discovered that I am allergic to gardenias. A very nice lady. Is this she or am I just getting old and sentimental?

Howard Mandelbaum said: I saw “Temple Drake” at the Museum of Modern Art. The screening kicked off a big Paramount retrospective. Miriam Hopkins spoke afterward. She apologized for the movie, which was totally unnecessary. There are stories of her jumping the line in the ladies room that night, announcing, “I’ve suffered more than you have.”

And here’s why I picked the movie:

Nitrate Diva
A restored print of the movie was shown at the 2010 TCM Classic Film Festival, but has not been generally released. I happened to record it during my DVR binge last year.

June 3, 1933.
Look! It’s Rube Wolf!

Here’s The Times review from June 3, 1933.


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: La Belle Tour Provides Classic Appeal


6208 Franklin Ave., via Google Street View.

Hollywood’s population exploded during the early 1920s as motion picture production soared, thanks to studios moving their production facilities westward from New Jersey. Land values soared, and businesses and developers rushed to keep up with the growing need for residential and commercial space. Many of Hollywood’s most elegant office towers and theaters were erected during this period, as were some of its most striking bungalow courts and lavish apartment buildings.

Many of these upscale structures emphasized their luxury appeal with names like the Castle Argyle, Trianon, the Fontenoy, the Chateau Elysee, and La Belle Tour, with sparkling French Normandy or Classical-style architecture to match their catchy names. Their sophisticated look and style drew celebrities as well as high society or ambitious clientele.

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

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Wikipedia: A Fact-Checker’s Shooting Gallery

Well, it works for me.

I wanted a quick answer to the date of Aaron Copland’s “El Salon Mexico,” and sure enough, at the top of the Google search there was my old nemesis Wikipedia. I usually exclude Wikipedia from my searches, but this time I read a few paragraphs.

Jaw on floor.

Previously on the Daily Mirror:

Wikipedia: Murder and Myth

Here is the article as it exists at 8:06 a.m. on Oct. 8, 2015, and it’s necessary to quote it because Wikipedia articles are written in sand and can be revised by anyone at any time:

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L.A.’s Transportation Past Found in Broadway Excavation


Railroad Ties on Broadway

This work site at Broadway and 2nd Street is fenced off, but a gate was left open Friday long enough for me to snap a picture. The ongoing excavation  for the Metro station has revealed railroad ties apparently set in gravel. The spacing seems very close together. Anyone have any ideas?
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Happy Birthday, Buster Keaton!


And in honor of Buster Keaton’s birthday yesterday, here’s a link to Buster’s scrapbook, which is online at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Here’s the link. Happy birthday, Buster!

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1930 version of the First National picture “Dawn Patrol,” which was renamed “Flight Commander” when Warner Bros. sold the film to TV to prevent confusion with the 1938 remake starring Errol Flynn. according to the intro by TCM host Robert Osborne.

The movie was based on a story by John Monk Saunders (later novelized by Guy Fowler) and directed by Howard Hawks, with adaptation and dialogue by Dan Totheroh, Howard Hawks and Seton Miller. Photography was by Ernest Haller, aerial photography by Elmer Dyer, edited by Ray Curtiss, art director Jack Okey, the aeronautic supervisor was Leo Nomis, general music director was Erno Rapee, special technical effects by Fred Jackman and the Vitaphone Orchestra was directed by Leo F. Forbstein.

The film’s credits list Richard Barthlemess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, Clyde Cook, James Finlayson, Gardner James, William Janney and Edmund Breon.
Here’s a link to Mary Mallory’s post about Dick Grace, Hollywood’s Sky Pilot that discusses many early aviation films.  Mary passes along the names of the pilots in his “Squadron of Death.” Hallock Rouse, Ross Cooke, Clement Phillips, Charles Snoffer, Frank Baker, B. M. Spencer, Lonnie Hay and E. D. Baxter


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Roy Harlow’s Pump Room Fills Up Studio City Residents

Roy Harlow's Pump Room
A postcard of Roy Harlow’s Pump Room, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Ventura Boulevard has been the dining and entertainment mecca of Studio City residents back to 1927, when the area was still part of North Hollywood. Originally a main highway connecting Santa Barbara with Hollywood and Los Angeles, Ventura Boulevard evolved into a major business corridor for the area as well, thanks to the highway and the construction of the Mack Sennett Studios.

More celebrity driven or upscale restaurants lined the street, offering a more high tone evening for those with some money to spend. Many proffered free entertainment with the purchase of dinner, often with top drawer talent. Most featured hearty fare in elegant surroundings, appealing to the better classes.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + +)

Oct. 3, 2015, Mystery Movie
This week’s movie has been the 1946 Columbia picture “Johnny O’Clock,” starring Dick Powell and Evelyn Keyes. The movie was directed by Robert Rossen, with Lee J. Cobb, Ellen Drew, Nina Foch, S. Thomas Gomez, John Kellogg, Jim Bannon, Mabel Paige and Phil Brown. The screenplay is by Rossen from a story by Milton Holmes. It was photographed by Burnett Guffey, with art direction by Stephen Goosson and Cary Odell, with set decorations by James Crowe.

It is available in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV collection from TCM, with “So Dark the Night,” “Walk a Crooked Mile,” “Between Midnight and Dawn” and “Walk East on Beacon.”

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated)

Sept. 28, 2015, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery lad.


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Erich von Stroheim Unlocks Suspense With the Devil’s Passkey



A poster for “The Devil’s Passkey.”

Riding high on the wave of great reviews and huge box office for “Blind Husbands,” his first film as director, artistic Austrian Erich von Stroheim expanded his horizons with his second film, “The Devil’s Passkey.” Rushed into production after Universal Studios realized the box office potential for “Blind Husbands,” ”The Devil’s Passkey” allowed the young director more freedom to experiment. Would freedom be a blessing or curse for the overly confident director?

“Blind Husbands” turned out well for both the director and studio. von Stroheim revealed a master’s eye for detail in story, capturing character in a line or side glance. He kept both himself and his actors restrained in telling a mature tale, one hinting at depravity without crossing the line. Most importantly, he stayed reasonably within budget; Arthur Lennig in “Stroheim” reveals he spent $125,000, slightly more than the average Universal budget, on his film. Costs stayed relatively within budget by filming the Alpine scenes at Big Bear and Idlywild, and focusing more on simple sets.

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

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Black Dahlia: Halloween Costumes to Die For


Halloween is coming next month and somewhere, someone is already planning a Black Dahlia costume and working out the makeup.

Just stop yourself.

Really, folks, dressing up like the victim of a brutal, gruesome murder is not a good idea. We recommend Harley Quinn or Mad Moxxi instead.


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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Sept. 26, 2015, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been First National Pictures’ 1931 film “Safe in Hell.” It was directed by William A. Wellman. Curiously, the credits come at the end of the film.  It starred Dorothy Mackaill, Donald Cook, Ralf Harole, John Wray, Ivan Simpson, Victor Varconi, Morgan Wallace, Nina Mae McKinney, Charles Middleton, Clarence Muse, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Noble Johnson and Cecil Cunningham. It was based on the play by Houston Branch, with adaptation and dialogue by Joseph Jackson and Maude Fulton. Photography was by Sid Hickox.

Interestingly enough, “Safe in Hell” was also sketched out as a four-act opera, according to a catalog of Branch’s archives. A pre-code opera? Why not.

“Safe in Hell” is no longer listed at Warner Archive, but a Warner Archive version can be found at TCM for $17.99 or $14.99 from Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Jesse L. Lasky, Music Man

The Trained Nurses - Jesse lasky
Jesse Lasky on the cover of “We’ve Had a Lovely Time, So Long, Good Bye,” Courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Best known as one of Hollywood’s early motion picture moguls, native Californian Jesse L. Lasky also excelled at radio and theatrical production during his long career. A natural born performer and optimist, Lasky developed much of the material for the shows he produced, performed on stage by talented actors he discovered, thanks to his wide experience working in entertainment himself.

Lasky himself began performing at a young age, playing the cornet and dreaming of playing in the great John Phillip Sousa band. He points out in his biography, “I Blow My Own Horn,” that he served as solo cornetist in the San Jose Juvenile Band, later playing in tent shows. After his father’s death, he played in tent shows, the Bella Union Hotel, and music halls before landing a job playing in the orchestra at Keith’s Union Square Theatre, per Filmplay Journal in April 1922. The adventurous young man took off on tour to far away places like Hawaii playing his cornet, eventually returning to California to work as a newspaper reporter. Wanderlust captured him again, and he set off to Alaska to prospect for gold.

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

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