Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + +)

July 24, 2017, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gent.

Note: Pyewacket, our summer intern, went down into the Daily Mirror vault and inadvertently got the colorized version of our mystery movie. We have counseled Pyewacket about colorized films and will present the mystery movie in its original, glorious black and white.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Junius Estep and Alfred Lindstedt, Early but Forgotten Stills Photographers

Bessie Eyton by Estep for Selig 1912
Bessie Eyton by Junius Estep, courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore post from 2015

In the early days of silent film production, moving picture companies promoted their brand names to consumers, selling films around the quality and type of pictures produced by their individual companies. By the early 1910s, these companies quickly discovered that stars drew fans’ interest more than brands, quickly creating publicity building up the stars to the general public.

Beautifully produced images created by portrait photographers crafted the iconography and importance of stars, inaugurating a mass form of publicity practiced to this day. Fans clamored to buy new issues of magazines, postcards, pennants, or any type of product featuring the likeness of their favorite celebrities. These powerful photographs sold the glamour and importance of the film industry, helping to expand profits and audience reach. The images also lured ambitious young people to growing film center Hollywood, exponentially growing the city.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

July 22, 2017, Fast Workers

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1933 MGM picture “Fast Workers,” with John Gilbert, Robert Armstrong, Mae Clarke, Muriel Kirkland, Vince Barnett, Virginia Cherrill, Muriel Evans, Sterling Holloway, Guy Usher, Warner Richmond and Robert Burns, based on the play “Rivets” by John W. McDermott, with continuity by Karl Brown and Ralph Wheelwright, dialogue by Laurence Stallings, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and photography by Peveral (Peverell) Marley. It was directed and produced by Tod Browning.

“Fast Workers” is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $17.99.

Note: It is merely coincidence that “In Fast Company” was a recent mystery movie, but we shall avoid mystery movies with “Fast” in the title for a while.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood’s ‘Five-Finger Plan’ Aids Traffic in the 1920s-30s


A postcard of the Cahuenga Pass showing the cross erected in 1923 in memory of Christine Witherill Stevenson, one of the prime movers in establishing the Hollywood Bowl. Listed on EBay for $6.50.

Throughout the history of Los Angeles, the movement of traffic has driven both transportation and development. With the construction of interurban railways in the early 1900s, far-flung areas could be easily reached, leading to new construction and population growth. The introduction and wide dissemination of low-priced automobiles beginning in the mid-teens also facilitated easy movement throughout the city and further development of rural property. As more people crowded onto narrow or clogged streets during the 1920s, a new plan was required to solve congestion issues while at the same time aiding increased construction in both the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood.

The San Fernando Valley itself helped lead the way in the development of both new roads and real estate speculation. In the early 1910s, land speculators in both the Lankershim and Van Nuys areas advocated for the construction of streetcar lines to their areas, with many serving on the board or owning the railways themselves. With the introduction of the Pacific Electric Railway line from Hollywood to Lankershim (now North Hollywood) and Van Nuys in 1911, many real estate subdivisions opened. Others began springing up after the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, which brought water to the San Fernando Valley when Valley residents voted to annex themselves to the city of Los Angeles.

Jan. 29, 1928, Five-Finger Plan

Jan. 29, 1928: A map of the “Five-Finger Plan.”

After World War I, real estate speculation began in earnest, as developers bought huge swaths of land to sell to increasingly upwardly mobile middle-class residents, some looking for their first homes and others looking for their own small ranch in the area. Mulholland Highway and Canyon Roads also greatly aided real estate construction throughout the foothills. Traffic through the narrow, winding Cahuenga Pass Road increasingly became congested traveling to and from the San Fernando Valley. The February 24, 1928, Van Nuys News quoted traffic experts as calling the Cahuenga Pass Road “the most heavily traveled highway in the world, with practically no outlet for the traffic.” 37,210 automobiles traveled through the Cahuenga Pass every weekday, reaching a peak of 51,000-60,000 on Sundays.

San Fernando Valley real estate man Harry Merrick had advocated for more and better roads since 1922. The former president of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, Merrick had pushed for construction of Mulholland Highway to aid his development of the Hollywood Country Club property in Coldwater Canyon. Speaking to various Chambers of Commerce and Development Associations throughout the San Fernando Valley, Merrick promoted the idea of bigger and better roads to help increase the Valley’s population. Soon he began lobbying Hollywood business interests as well.

The persuasive Merrick earned the support of Hollywood financial and businessmen in 1925 for his plan. The April 26, 1925, Los Angeles Times reported that landowners of 1800 acres from Los Angeles River on the North to Highland Avenue and Cahuenga Avenue on the south, Mulholland Highway on the West and to Griffith Park in the east had embraced the idea for the “Five-Finger Plan,” and then gained the support of the Los Angeles City Council as well. Voters approved a referendum allowing for construction and improvement of roads that month.

Speaking as if the voice of the Los Angeles’ Board of Public Works, Merrick stated that the “Five-Finger Plan” would be expedited by the Board of Public Works and cost approximately $3.75 million. “It will be one of the first units of the major traffic street plan which was approved by the voters of Los Angeles.” Two Cahuenga Avenues would be constructed, one on the west side and one on the east side of the road. Cahuenga would be widened to Melrose Avenue and the part south of Sunset Boulevard would fork, leading to the construction of what is now Wilcox. Highland Avenue would be widened below Sunset as well, and Yucca, Ivar, and Cole Avenues would be widened and improved. Bridges would be constructed across the Cahuenga Pass Road at Mulholland and across Highland at Cahuenga. The Cahuenga Pass Road would be widened to 140 feet all the way to Lankershim Boulevard, and widened to 100 feet all the way to Saugus. “This will give North Hollywood one of the greatest systems of highways in the world.” The April 28, 1925 Van Nuys News declared that this proposed improvement project would “complete the development of the San Fernando Valley.”

Under the proposed “Five-Finger Plan,” Yucca would serve as the thumb, Vine would act as the index finger, Wilcox would serve as the little finger, and Cahuenga and Ivar would act as the other two fingers. Improving the five streets would alleviate traffic problems flowing in and out of Hollywood it was hoped.

Feb. 24, 1928, Van Nuys News

A map of the “Five-Finger Plan” in the Van Nuys News, Feb. 24, 1928.

On May 9, the North Hollywood Association was formally organized at the Hollywood Athletic Club, with Harry Merrick elected as President, followed by the announcement that the Board of Public Works had approved almost $5 million to the improvement and construction of the “Five-Finger Plan.” Supervising engineer Dewitt L. Raeburn of the Department of Public Works stated that surveys had begun for the widening of Cahuenga in Hollywood. On November 1, Los Angeles Mayor Cryer signed an ordinance announcing the city’s intentions to widen Cahuenga from Hollywood Boulevard to Highland Avenue.

Some citizens decried the proposed project, suing the city in order not to see their land condemned or property taxes increased for the project. The Los Angeles Traffic Commission began a strong campaign arguing for the construction of the project, filing an interlocutory decree on October 26, 1926, asking to proceed, receiving it in spring 1927. City Commissions studied the area as they strategically developed their construction plans.

City Councilman Robert M. Allan, a sponsor of the “Five-Finger Plan,” announced in the March 28, 1927, Los Angeles Times that “I am now working to put through a highway on the east side of the Pass. This will give Cahuenga Pass two broad highways over the hill and relieve traffic congestions for all time. The west highway cracked the bottle neck which throttled Hollywood’s outlet to Ventura Boulevard, but the east side will smash it.”

By February 24, 1928, the Los Angeles City Council had approved the “Five-Finger Plan” after lobbying from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which recognized the aid it would provide the heavy population growth of the area. In a March 14 Los Angeles Times article, Thomas Bennett of the Chamber pointed out the exploding values of real estate throughout the area over the past twenty years. He described M. P. Sherman making a 10,000 percent increase in his 1,000 acre Sherman Oaks property from when he purchased it in 1915 to when he sold it in lat 1927, yielding profits of $12 million. In 1912, the southwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street was sold for $8,000, and in 1926, a 99-year lease was taken on the property for $5,000 per front foot or $500,000.

By August 1928, property valued at $15 million had already been constructed or was in the process of development, including the Hollywood Warner Bros. Theatre, Dyas Department Store, Plaza Hotel, Bank of Hollywood, and Vine Street Theatre, all located on Hollywood Boulevard, much near Vine Street. The Mack Sennett Studio had also opened on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, with expansion of Ventura Boulevard, Sepulveda Boulevard, and Riverside Drive expected to aid construction in that area as well. The city hoped to clear up all condemnations, claims and assessments by early 1929 in order to begin construction in 1930, two years ahead of schedule.

Aug. 10, 1930, Reo Speedwagon
Aug. 10, 1930: REO Speed Wagons at work in the Cahuenga Pass.

Condemnation proceedings took a while however, as Leonard Woodruff did not approve of his settlement for his property at Ivar Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, arguing that it should be for what the land would be valued at after the completion of work, not for what was worth when approached. Losing at the District Court of Appeals and California Supreme Court, Woodruff appealed all the way to the Supreme Court in October 1930, losing there as well.

The City Council approved appropriating $7 million from the 9 cent tax fund allocated to street improvement projects to begin work on the project. $200,000 would be allocated to construct a Cahuenga Avenue east of the Cahuenga Pass Road. The County would also allocate money to the construction of these roads. Real estate man Harry Jones estimated that approximately $20 million would be spent in improvements to the Hollywood and Studio City areas.

On January 16, 1929, the Board of Public Works filed the “Five-Finger Plan” assessments map with the city clerk, which the January 15, 1929, Van Nuys News called “the largest street improvement ever proposed in Los Angeles,” approximately $4.25 million.

After an all day and part of the night protest and appeals against the assessments for the implementation of the “Five-Finger Plan,” the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve the project on February 19, 1929, voting unanimously to appropriate over $350,000 for the improvement of streets after their widening. They also approved spending an additional $350,000 to match the almost $150,000 appropriated for the paving of streets. The Courts approved condemnation of property on May 1, 1929.

The City sold the first $2 million in bonds with an interest rate of seven percent to the Elliot Horne Company on May 31, 1929. On July 8, the City Council asked City Engineer Shaw to draw all the plans and ordinances required for the project. Judge Craig ruled in favor of final condemnation of the needed property on October 8, 1929. The City Council approved all re-zoning of the land for the project on May 6, 1930.


The “”Five-Finger Plan”” as shown in the Van Nuys News, 1925.

Beginning on March 1, 1930, the Board of Public Works improved, widened, and repaved Hollywood streets and completed other improvements through the pass. Throughout the summer they would lay cement along the streets to be widened, before paving, grading, laying sewers, sidewalks, and ornamental lights in the fall. No work would occur continuously on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, construction on one would prevent work on the other at the same time. The city rushed to finish work, as more than 10 miles of road required construction, all at the same time.

The Board of Public Works widened Cahuenga to 94 feet from Highland to Yucca, and 80 feet from Yucca to Hollywood Boulevard. Yucca and Argyle from Cahuenga and Franklin were widened to 94 feet. Ivar Avenue was cut 70 feet wide between Yucca and Hollywood, and a new Ivar was cut from Hollywood Boulevard south to Salem (now DeLongpre) to connect diagonally with Cahuenga. Wilcox Avenue would also be extended south from Sunset Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard, as would Cahuenga. Cole Avenue was created as well. At the same time, some additional streetcar lines were laid to assist with connections and increased traffic as well.

Cahuenga Boulevard on the east side of the Cahuenga Pass Road was constructed to match the one on the west side, through the Cahuenga Pass, totaling 140 feet in width, with both costing approximately $1 million. Ventura Boulevard was widened to 70 feet for eight miles west of Lankershim Boulevard. A Mulholland Highways Bridge was constructed over the Cahuenga Pass Road.

By January 4, 1931, most of the work in Hollywood was completed, providing roads to direct automobile traffic from the Wilshire Boulevard and mid-city area north to Hollywood and in to the San Fernando Valley. Congestion was alleviated for the time being, though ownership of automobiles continued growing over the next several decades. Beginning around the same time however, streetcar ridership began declining, and the cars were totally eliminated by the 1950s. Traffic once again exploded in Hollywood, finally leading to construction of a subway line in the area.

Just like in the 1920s, development is exploding in Hollywood at the present time, but little is being done to alleviate the traffic problems it causes, save for constructing bicycle lanes and encouraging people to ride the bus or subway. Will another “Five-Finger Plan” be required to solve Hollywood’s traffic problems, or the construction of additional subway lines to alleviate traffic concerns?

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Bastille Day 1889: Los Angeles Celebrates Centennial of French Liberty

Bastille Day Centennial, 1889

July 16, 1889: the Los Angeles Times uses drawings to illustrate reports on the centennial celebration of Bastille Day in Los Angeles.

Bastille Day in Los Angeles, 1889


The streets through which the procession was to pass had been handsomely decorated, those in the French quarter being especially elaborate, and almost every house had the stars and strips and the tri-color of France displayed side by side.At the corner of Aliso and Alameda streets, from which point the procession was to start, a large banner was suspended across the street, bearing the inscription “Centennaire Republique Francaise, 1789-1889, Liberte.”


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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hollywood Sign Built and Illuminated November-December 1923


The Hollywoodland Sign, in a photo published in the Los Angeles Evening Herald, Dec. 8, 1923.

Note: Today (July 13) is commonly mistaken for the “birthday” of the Hollywood Sign. An encore post from Mary Mallory sets the record straight.

riginally constructed as a publicity gimmick and branding symbol to help generate sales for a real estate development, the Hollywood Sign is now a worldwide icon just as powerful as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty, signifying a land of glamour and opportunity. Myths have always existed about it, from the date of its construction to how the city of Hollywood obtained it. After in-depth research by both historian Bruce Torrence and myself, we can conclusively say the sign was constructed in late November and early December 1923, and illuminated in that first week of December.

Like me, a California transplant involved in history, research, and writing since I was child, Torrence has always been fascinated by Hollywood history, perhaps because his two famous grandfathers contributed much to it. His paternal grandfather, Ernest Torrence, starred in many classic silent films such as “Steamboat Bill Jr.” and “Peter Pan” after a successful career as an opera singer. His maternal grandfather C. E. Toberman could be called the builder of Hollywood for his construction of so many iconic structures around Hollywood Boulevard. Bruce began a photo collection of Hollywood in 1972 with thirty photographs, which has blossomed into thousands. He employed these photos in writing one of Hollywood’s first detailed history books in 1979 called “Hollywood: The First 100 Years.”
Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes, by Stephen X. Sylvester, Mary Mallory and Donovan Brandt, goes on sale Feb. 1, 2017.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Garden Court Apartments Offer Luxurious Living on Hollywood Boulevard


A postcard of the Garden Court Apartments, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $9.99.

Note: This is an encore post from 2014

or decades, the elegant Garden Court Apartments represented high-class living for both aspiring and successful residents of Hollywood. Located just west of the thriving business district at 7021 Hollywood Blvd., the neo-baroque structure featured regal caryatids holding up pilasters just above the first floor, a dramatic design showing the strength and integrity of the building.

The June 3, 1916, Los Angeles Times noted the beginning of construction for J. E. Ransford’s four-story class C apartment home, designed and built by the renowned Frank Meline Co. The classical structure would consist of 190 two and three room suites composed of hard wood and tile. An ad in the Jan. 1, 1917, Times proclaimed Hartwell Motor Co. President Ransford’s $500,000 building, “the Most Modern in the West,” and the paper called it “the most beautiful and complete apartment house” in a Jan. 22, 1917, story.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

July 15, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1945 Michael Powell – Emeric Pressberger film “I Know Where I’m Going!” Unfortunately, I cant do justice to the ingenious opening title sequence, but it should settle once and for all the recent argument (in case you missed it) that opening credits were merely boring lists until the arrival of Saul Bass.

The DVD has been issued by the Criterion Collection and is available from the usual sources.

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L.A. Celebrates the Fourth of July


July 4, 1944: Uncle Sam in a cartoon by Edmund Waller “Ted” Gale for the Los Angeles Examiner and republished in the Milwaukee Sentinel.


Here’s a look at how Los Angeles has celebrated Independence Day over the years.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘I’m the Guy’ – Rube Goldberg as Comic Performer


The cover of “I’m the Guy” as a refrigerator magnet, available on EBay for $4.99.

Long before newspaper humorists like Erma Bombeck and Dave Barry came on the scene, there was Rube L. Goldberg, Renaissance Man of entertainment. Cartoonist, columnist, and script writer, the witty Goldberg is perhaps most well known as the creator of images displaying zany out-of-this-world contraptions that when operated in sequence, perform a simple task like breaking an egg, ringing a bell, etc. He was also perhaps one of the first newspapermen to realize the value of “branding” himself, creating songs, shows, and film projects from his work.

Born on the Fourth of July, 1883 in San Francisco as Reuben Goldberg, the madcap wordmaster graduated from the UC Berkeley with a degree in engineering. Young Goldberg moved on to the San Francisco Chronicle and soon became a hit. Hired by the Hearst syndicate in New York, his work for the paper grabbed him lasting fame, combining his hilarious, breezy ideas with witty drawings and sayings that often became catch phrases. His Evening Mail syndicate gave me approximately seven million readers across the country. One of his cartoons in 1912 was called “I’m the Guy,” and displayed an odd little gentleman who seemed to always get the the goat of whoever he was dealing with, whether they discussed donuts, July 4, sports, or whatever.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

July 8, 2017, Mad Love
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1935 MGM film “Mad Love,” based on the Maurice Renard novel “Les Mains d’Orlac,” translated and adapted by Florence Crewe-Jones, with Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Sarah Haden, Edward Brophy, Henry Kolker, Keye Luke and May Beatty, directed by Karl Freund and produced by John W. Considine Jr. Adaptation by Guy Endore, with a screenplay by P.J. Wolfson and John Balderston, a score by Dimitri Tiomkin, art direction by Cedric Gibbons, William A. Horning and Edwin B. Willis, wardrobe by Dolly Tree and photography by Chester Lyons and Gregg Toland.

“Mad Love” is available on DVD from Warner Archive in the “Legends of Horror” set for $29.99.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jul 1, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1958 Anthony Mann film “God’s Little Acre,” starring Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, Buddy Hackett, Jack Lord, Fay Spain, Vic Morrow, Helen Westcott, Lance Fuller, Rex Ingram, Michael Landon, Russell Collins, Davis Roberts, Janet Brandt and introducing Tina Louise. Music by Elmer Bernstein, photography by Ernest Haller, production design by John S. Poplin Jr. set dressing by Lyle B. Reifsnider. The prop master was Max Miller, and the dialogue coach was Janet Brandt. Costumes by Sophia Stutz, makeup by Maurice Seiderman, hairstyles by Helene Parrish, lighting by Lloyd Garnell (don’t usually see a credit for lighting technician). The film was directed by Anthony Mann and produced by Sidney Harmon. The screenplay was by Philip Yordan “based on the world’s best selling novel by Erskine Caldwell.” The film was preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

You might think I’m on a kick of doing 1950s films with schlocky theme songs. This one is even worse than “Until They Sail.” It may even be worse than the title song for “Home Before Dark,” which is saying something.

The film is available on DVD from TCM for $11.55.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Japanese Gardens Bring Serenity to Los Angeles

Hunt. Hotel Jap Garden
A postcard showing a Japanese garden at the Huntington Hotel, courtesy of Mary Mallory.


Note: This is an encore post from 2015

Throughout its history, Los Angeles has been blessed with an abundance of beautiful parks and gardens in which to relax. In the early twentieth century, Japanese gardens were all the rage, and many dotted the Southern California landscape. Estates as well as city parks contained serene tea gardens in which to contemplate nature and just be.

Popular culture helped lead the way to the creation of many of these Oriental gardens. After American Commodore Matthew Perry and his ships entered Tokyo Bay on July 8, 1853, Japan reopened trade with the West. Textiles, ceramics, and prints soon gained in popularity both in Europe and America, leading to the term, Japonism, referring to the influence of Japanese aesthetics, art, and philosophy on Western culture. A craze for collecting all things Japanese exploded.

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

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Inside L.A.’s Movie Palaces

Theater tour

Gary Martin, one of the members of the Brain Trust, writes to tell us that the Theatre Historical Society of America will meet in Los Angeles next week and offer tours of many theaters.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Tsuru Aoki, Lotus Flower of the Cinema


Tsuru Aoki
Tsuru Aoki, in Sunset magazine.

Though long in the shadow of her more well known husband, Tsuru Aoki achieved just as great a fame as Sessue Hayakawa, with a life story as fascinating as any novel. Born in Japan though raised in the United States, the beautiful Aoki functioned as a crossroads of the East and West, blending together the best attributes of both nations into a wonderful hybrid, though never fully embraced by either. Brought to this country as a child, she was never able to apply for American citizenship thanks to Anti-Asian laws and sentiments, and was often forced to depend on the kindness of others as she was shunted to and fro. Aoki’s life story also reveals America’s changing viewpoints and knee-jerk reactions about and to the Japanese, often during times of trouble in which the “other” became the villain to make up for other groups’ sins.

The vast majority of books and articles mentioning Aoki then and now blend together fact and fiction into her biography, not digging for the true facts. She was not born with Aoki as her name. In fact, she was probably born December 24, 1891 or 1892 in Hakata, the daughter of a poor Japanese fisherman Kahara Isekichi and his wife, Taka Kawakami, which she discovered when her father sent her a letter years after she became a star.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

June 24, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1957 MGM film “Until They Sail,” with Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, Charles Drake, Sandra Dee, Wally Cassell, Alan Napier, Ralph Votrian, John Wilder, Tige Andrews, Adam Kennedy and Mickey Shaughnessy.

The screenplay was by Robert Anderson from a story by James A. Michener, with music by David Raksin and typical schlocky 1950s title song by Sammy Cahn, performed by Eydie Gorme. The film was photographed in CinemaScope by Joseph Ruttenberg, with art direction by William A. Horning and Paul Groesse (Groesse scouted the New Zealand locations) and set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and Henry Grace. The film was produced by Charles Schnee and directed by Robert Wise.

The film is available on DVD from Warner Archive for $19.99.

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Black Dahlia: Don’t Spend Money on the FBI Files


Every so often, some EBay vendor gets the clever idea of selling the FBI’s files on the Black Dahlia case. In this instance, it’s someone in the UK selling Part 1 | and Part 2.

Of course, you can download the file for free from the FBI.

That is for free.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Los Angeles Tennis Club, Society Racket


The Los Angeles Tennis Club, Modern Screen
The Los Angeles Tennis Club, Modern Screen, 1931-32.



Long a favorite activity of high society, tennis has been a way to fashionably exercise and enjoy time with friends for centuries. Los Angeles “in crowd” flocked to tennis, especially in the 1920s when it began to rise in popularity around the world. Seeking to become a world class home for the game, the Los Angeles Tennis Club constructed an elegant Spanish Revival building and courts at its current 5851 Clinton Street location in 1920. Designed by preeminent Southern California architect Sumner Hunt, the refined location has hosted top athletes and motion picture stars for over 97 years.

The “popular” club itself seems to have begun in 1889, per listings in the Los Angeles Times and Herald, with its first courts opening Friday, September 20, 1889 at Ninth and Pearl Streets, per the September 22, 1889 Los Angeles Times. It hosted men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles, and even mixed doubles in its first tournament. While small, the club hosted teas, tournaments, and events through 1897, when all mention of it in the newspaper disappears until showing up again in 1919, when the Red Bluff Daily News reported that the newly formed club intended to build a $25,000 clubhouse with 20 courts, after talking about it for years.

Hollywood at Play, by Donovan Brandt, Mary Mallory and Stephen X. Sylvester is now on sale.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

The Half-Breed

This week’s mystery film has been the 1916 picture “The Half-Breed,” with Douglas Fairbanks, Frank Brownlee, George Beranger, Sam De Grasse, Jewel Carmen, Tom Wilson, Alma Rubens, Winifred Westover and Elmo Lincoln. It was directed by Allan Dwan, production supervisor was D.W. Griffith, photography by Victor Fleming, scenario and titles by Anita Loos, based on Bret Harte’s short story “In the Carquinez Woods.”

This film was the first to be restored by the San Francisco Film Festival and was shown at the festival in 2013.  As far as I can tell, the unrestored version is available on DVD, but I can’t find a DVD of the 2013 restoration.

'The Half-Breed'
We first see Fairbanks in this establishing shot.

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Hollywood Heights / Mary Mallory: San Francisco Silent Film Festival Travels the Globe


San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The Twenty Second Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival concluded Sunday, June 4, after screening an eclectic slate of entertaining and challenging films from around the globe. The festival’s films covered a diverse variety of themes, examining exploration of the land and heart, father figures and daughters, moral choices, and girl power, while coming to life through the magic of live accompaniment.

Harold Lloyd’s “The Freshman” kicked things off Thursday, June 1, a rousing tale of football team water boy makes good. With the climatic football game featuring footage of Memorial Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, and Berkeley’s Memorial Coliseum, likable Lloyd runs to victory, winning the girl and the game. The student group Berklee Silent Film Orchestra provided accompaniment.

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