Movieland Mystery Photo

Sept. 26, 2016, Mystery Photo
Monday’s mystery woman has a glass of something foul. Or perhaps she was registering frustration because I had to go through five frame grabs before I found one that wasn’t on Google images

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Barney Oldfield Sets Up Shop in Downtown Los Angeles


Oldfield & Kipper

A postcard showing the interior of Barney Oldfield’s saloon on South Spring Street, courtesy of Mary Mallory.


ile a minute” Barney Oldfield, the first automobile racer to achieve that feat while racing, was quick when it came to promotions bearing his name as well. Like many famous celebrities, actors, and sports stars before and after him, he quickly realized he could turn his fame into cash. Oldfield promoted various products throughout his life like Firestone Tires and the Fisher Auto Co., but for a brief time, operated a saloon under his name in downtown Los Angeles.

Born Berna Eli Oldfield in 1878, daredevil Barney Oldfield first found his outlet for speed racing bicycles. His car racing career began in 1902 when fledgling automobile designer Henry Ford hired him to race his model 999 car. With little to no experience, Oldfield fearlessly took the lead and won the race against more experienced competitors.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Voices: Curtis Hanson

In honor of Curtis Hanson, who died yesterday at the age of 71, here is a recording I made of him on May 23, 2007, with Eva Marie Saint and Patricia Hitchcock before a showing of “North by Northwest” by the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats.

Curtis Hanson, Eva Marie Saint and Patricia Hitchcock on “North by Northwest.”

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Because You Can’t Have Too Much Lupe Velez


Lon Chaney and Lupe Velez in a still from “Where East Is East,” listed on EBay with bids starting at $35.

For my money, Lupe Velez has it all over Garbo—she was just as beautiful, and not only a great dramatic and comedic actress, but she could sing and dance like nobody’s business. Sadly, after a great start out of the gate, Lupe found herself typed as “the sexy funny-accent girl,” like Carmen Miranda, Lyda Roberti, the Gabors, Fifi D’Orsay, and today’s Sofia Vergara. We all know of her sad ending: unmarried, pregnant and Catholic, she killed herself in 1944, aged 38 (and no, she did not drown in her toilet—gawd, Kenneth Anger has a lot to answer for).

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)



This week’s mystery movie has been the 1952 MGM picture “The Devil Makes Three,” with Gene Kelly, Pier Angeli, Richard Rober, Richard Egan, Claus Clausen, Wilfried Seyferth, Margot Hielscher and Annie Rosar. The screenplay was by Jerry Davis, based on a story (“Autobahn”) by Lawrence Bachmann.  Photography was by Vaclav Vich, art direction by Fritz Maurischat and Paul Markwitz, musical direction by Rudolph G. Kopp, and songs by Bronislau Kaper and Jupp Schmitz. it was directed by Andrew Marton.

It is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $15.49.

“My Man and I,” with Ricardo Montalban and Shelley Winters, which was on the original double bill, is also available from Warner Archive for $15.49.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Esther Ralston and Hollyridge Drive

Esther Ralston

The Esther Ralston home on Hollyridge Drive, via Hollywood Vagabond.

alifornia saw a renaissance of Spanish Revival architecture in the wake of World War I, as it both saluted the life and culture of the Mediterranean and paid homage to the state’s colonial past. Moving beyond Mission Revival, it focused on exquisite and romantic details like graceful arches, decorative lanterns, colorful tile, Juliet balconies, lush gardens, languid patios and terraces, decorative wood beams, graceful staircases, and refined wrought iron railings.

The height of Spanish Revival in the 1920s just happened to coincide with the peak of the silent film industry, which both promoted the lavish style in its glamorous films and rushed to construct their own high-end haciendas. Such stars as Fred Thomson and Frances Marion, Richard Dix, and Mary Pickford and Douglass Fairbanks built or renovated their homes into lavish Spanish Revival masterpieces.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: I Have Such a Crush on Bill Goodwin



A still of Bill Goodwin, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $17.50.

Among my unlikely crushes is Bill Goodwin, an actor whose name is pretty much forgotten today. He was good-looking in an ordinary-guy sort of way; like your high-school friend’s cute dad, or the dentist you might have Thoughts about as he shoved his hands in your mouth.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Silver Screen Revue Salutes Silent Days



A matchbook from the Wilshire Bowl, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $9.95.

ithin just a few years of sound motion pictures becoming the approved film format, silent films became a virtual pariah in popular culture. They were pulled from shelves, destroyed by studios who failed to foresee new technologies, satirized in mass market entertainment as old fashioned and out of place, and even made the brunt of jokes by studios who added laugh tracks and sound effects to prints.

Once important or popular stars found themselves lucky to still be employed. Some found nice supporting roles on stage, radio, and the screen, while many were relegated to bit parts or even just extras standing in the corner of scenes, trying to make crumbs in order to survive.

“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Sept. 17, 2017, Intruder in the Dust
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1949 MGM picture “Intruder in the Dust,” with David Brian, Claude Jarman Jr., Juano Hernandez, Porter Hall, Elizabeth Patterson, Charles Kemper and Will Geer, from a screenplay by Ben Maddow based on the novel by William Faulkner. The movie was photographed by Robert Surtees, with art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Randall Duell, music by Adolph Deutsch, set decoration by Edwin B. Willis and Ralph S. Hurst, and makeup by Jack Dawn. It was produced and directed by Clarence Brown.

“Intruder in the Dust” is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $16.99.

Mary Mallory notes that the Film Noir Foundation recently posted a three-part interview with Claude Jarman Jr. on “Intruder in the Dust.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: 52nd Cinecon Offers Something for Everyone


A DVD of “None Shall Escape,” listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $12.75.


Offering both something for the esoteric cineaste as well as the general film fan, the 52nd Cinecon Film Festival just concluded at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre with an entertaining selection of films over its 4 1/2 days. Switching out between silent and sound films, the festival features excellent live accompaniment, special guests, and even some bonus material thrown in to spice things up. While there is never a general theme planned, some unexpectedly show up, such as the many films about breaking into the movie business and little mini salutes to John Boles, Jack Haley, and Jack Oakie.

Opening day Thursday, September 1 began with a Dean Martin Roast segment beloved by the former Cinecon President, Robert S. Birchard, who recently passed away. New President Stan Taffel saluted Birchard as he praised the past and announced changes bringing new life to the festival before Jack Oakie Foundation Chairman David Sonne offered an hilarious tribute to Oakie as well as generous support to the festival.

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Black Dahlia: The Struggle for Superlatives



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Mystery Manuscript

Mystery Manuscript

If you think the mystery movies are tough – try the British Library’s mystery manuscript.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: John Gilbert in Living Color

John Gilbert Book

“John Gilbert: The Last of the Silent Film Stars” by Eve Golden, listed on

Now that you have all read my 2013 biography of John Gilbert [meaningful pause as you all guiltily order your copies on Amazon], you are all bursting at the seams to see him in action, yes? I recommend The Big Parade, The Show, Love (a much better version of Anna Karenina than the staid 1935 remake), Downstairs (his best talkie) and The Captain Hates the Sea (his last film, and an underrated corker).

Everyone goes nertz about the Garbo and Gilbert love affair, but really, it lasted less than a year and Garbo was less “in love” with him than “bowled over and terrified.” What I find more interesting is his last dalliance, with Marlene Dietrich, in the last year of his life. After he’d been given the bum’s rush by MGM and Columbia by 1935, and Marlene took it upon herself to dry him out, buck him up, and get him a supporting role in her delightful crime-caper comedy Desire. Gary Cooper was cast as her leading man, and Jack Gilbert was to play her partner in crime—exactly the kind of smooth villain he adored and was so good at.

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Posted in 1926, 1935, Eve Golden, Film, Hollywood | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Thunder Rock

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1942 Charter Film production “Thunder Rock,” an unusual British film that deals with a lighthouse on Lake Michigan north of Milwaukee, with Michael Redgrave, Barbara Mullen, James Mason and Lilli Palmer, from a screenplay by Jeffrey Dell and Bernard Miles based on a play by Robert Ardrey. It was photographed by Mutz Greenbaum, with art direction by Duncan Sutherland, music by Hans May, special effects by Tom Howard and Fred Ford, produced by John Boulting and directed and edited by Roy Boulting.

A review by P.P.K. in the New York Times (Sept. 15, 1944) says:

In the picture “Thunder Rock,” which came to the World yesterday, the social-conscious young journalist, as played by Michael Redgrave, falters much and fumbles much, but the story indicates that eventually he finds his true course. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the picture itself. The film, produced by Charter Films Ltd., starts out promisingly but very quickly begins straying down tortuous paths, and before the long journey is finished it becomes irritrievably lost.

A review by G.K. in the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 21, 1944) called “Thunder Rock” “one of most noteworthy pictures to come out of England.”

“Thunder Rock” is available from Amazon UK for £9.99 (check compatibility with your DVD player before ordering).

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — The Selig Zoo, Motion Pictures’ First Theme Park

Selig Zoo
The Selig Zoo, in Cement and Engineering News.

Note: This is an encore of a 2014 post.

rom its humble beginnings as merely a boarding home for William Selig’s wild animal film stars, the Selig Zoo at 3800 Mission Road in East Los Angeles eventually became one of the metropolis’ top tourist attractions in the 1910s and 1920s. Featuring exotic wild animals from around the world, extensive landscaped grounds, and elaborate amenities, the Zoo served as the impetus for the city of Los Angeles to organize a permanent public zoo for its citizens, and served as the city’s first theme park.

Col. (honorary) William N. Selig served as an itinerant traveling magician and managed minstrel companies before establishing a fledgling moving picture technology and production company in Chicago in 1896. A California resident in the late 1800s, Selig eventually established a permanent Los Angeles studio in 1909.

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

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: ‘Vote for Gracie’



Gracie for President
Listen to “Vote for Gracie.”

Listen to “Gracie Wins Wisconsin” from April 20, 1940.

No matter if you’re voting for Clinton or Trump or Stein or Johnson—I think we can all agree that Gracie Allen would be this—or any—year’s ideal candidate. Every presidential election has its gag celebrity candidate (and you can insert your own Clinton or Trump or Stein or Johnson joke here). I’m old enough to remember Pat Paulsen, Snoopy and “Pigasus the Immortal” running in the ’late 60s, though I just missed Jayne Mansfield’s “The White House or Bust!” campaign of ’64. England had Screaming Lord Sutch of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party running for Parliament from 1963 till his death in 1999.

Gracei for President

I’m sure searches of newspapers would find gag candidates running all the way back to the 1780s. As we suffer through the last few months of this election, enjoy the song stylings of Gracie Allen, running on the 1940 Surprise Party platform (keeping in mind that, like all politicians, she did not write her own material—George Burns, and his brother Willie were the credited writers, but you know darned well a lot of nameless gag-writers got underpaid for much of the material).

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1963 Allied Artists release “Soldier in the Rain,” with Jackie Gleason, Steve McQueen, Tuesday Weld, Tony Bill, Tom Poston, Ed Nelson, Lew Gallo, Rockne Tarkington, Paul Hartman, John Hubbard, Chris Noel, Sam Flint, Lewis Charles and Adam West. It was photographed by Philip Lathrop,  with music by Henry Mancini, art direction by Phil Barber and set decorations by James W. Payne.  The screenplay was by Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards, from the novel by William Goldman, directed by Ralph Nelson.

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $16.69.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Sojin Kamiyama

Road to Mandalay
Photo: Sojin Kamiyama in “The Road to Mandalay,” listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $23.95.

Note: This encore post on Sojin Kamiyama coincides with a showing of one of his films: “Diplomacy” at Cinecon 52 at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 3  at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.

Hollywood never seemed to know what to do with Asian actors during its early silent days. While Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa became a major star, his wife Tsuru Aoki never achieved such high status, nor did George Kuwa or Chinese American actress Anna Mae Wong. They mostly performed stereotypical roles, like the buffoon, the sexual tempter, the foreign innocent, or often, the creepy, threatening villain. Sojin Kamiyama found himself lumped in this last category because of his unconventional looks and miniscule English, occasionally playing buffoonic characters for the seven years he remained in Hollywood.

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The L.A. Public Library’s Thriving Authors


The Los Angeles Public Library seems to be a thriving hub of book authorship these days, and if you wonder how the library contributed to their writing, you can hear them explain at a panel at 1 p.m. Friday Aug. 26 in Meeting Room A at the Central Library.

The panel, moderated by Mary McCoy (author of “Dead to Me”), will feature Glen Creason, author of “Los Angeles in Maps”; Christina Rice, author of “Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel”; and Diane Eddington, author of “Top 10 Best Synastry Aspects” and “Star Synastry, the Power of the Astrological Conjunction.”

I have written about three of the four authors and the having them in one place to share experiences sounds like a terrific idea.

Here’s my 2012 profile of Glen Creason for the Los Angeles Times.

Chatting with Christina Rice in 2013 about Ann Dvorak.

And a review of Mary McCoy’s “Dead to Me” from 2015.

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Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Ann Pennington and Her Anti-Gravity Legs

Ann Pennington in an ad for Lux soap, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $9.99.

Note: We are pleased to introduce a feature by author Eve Golden, whom longtime readers will recall from her previous feature “Queen of the Dead.”

Ann Pennington (1893-1971) was a tiny bundle of delight who shone on Broadway in the 1910s and ’20s. From a Quaker family, she dashed off to Broadway, where she was soon dancing in the Ziegfeld Follies (seven editions between 1913 and 1924–she also danced for Ziegfeld’s arch-enemy George White, in five of his Scandals, proving that she was both an invaluable performer and a delight to have around).

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