Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Aug. 8, 2020, the snake pit
This week’s mystery movie was the 1948 Twentieth Century-Fox film “The Snake Pit,” with Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Celeste Holm, Glenn Langan, Helen Craig, Leif Erickson, Beulah Bondi, Lee Patrick, Howard Freeman, Natalie Schafer, Ruth Donnelly, Katherine Locke, Frank Conroy and Minna Gombell.

Screenplay by Frank Partos and Millen Brand from the novel by Mary Jane Ward. Music by Alfred Newman, orchestral arrangements by Edward Powell, photography by Leo Tover.

Art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Joseph C. Wright. Set decorations by Thomas Little and Ernest Lansing. Edited by Dorothy Spencer. Wardrobe direction by Charles Le Maire. Costumes designed by Bonnie Cashin. Makeup by Ben Nye. Special photographic effects by Fred Sersen. Sound by Arthur L. Kirbach and Harry M. Leonard.

Produced by Anatole Litvak and Robert Bassler. Directed by Anatold Litvak.

“The Snake Pit” is available on DVD from Amazon  and on streaming from Amazon Prime.

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A Note to Scotty Bowers’ Fans

The announcement that an untitled Scotty Bowers project is in the works at Fox Searchlight has generated new interest in a series of posts I did on Bowers’ “Full Service” in 2012.

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Posted in 2012, Books and Authors, Film, Hollywood, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Black Dahlia: 6 Reasons Dr. George Hodel Didn’t Kill Elizabeth Short — No. 6 No Connection

Elizabeth Short contrasted with the unidentified woman found in George Hodel’s photo album. Not at all the same.

Here are six reasons Dr. George Hodel did not kill Elizabeth Short that you will need to know before watching the TNT mini-series “I Am the Night” or listening to the eight-part podcast accompanying the production.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Horse Racing and Can’t Wait

Feb. 15, 1938: Stagehand noses out Can’t Wait.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Horse racing has always been considered the sport of kings, because it requires so much money for housing, training, feeding, and transporting horses.  In the United States, old money on the East Coast dominated the racing scene, including the Triple Crown races of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont.  The sport mushroomed in California after the state passed Proposition 5 in 1932, legalizing it.  By 1935, Hollywood jumped in on the craze, buying horses and helping build Santa Anita racetrack.
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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: George P. Hommel, Pensive Photographer

Thelma Todd Portrait Hommel
Overshadowed by the work of 1920s Paramount colleagues Donald Biddle Keyes and Eugene Robert Richee, stillsman George P. Hommel crafted thoughtful portraits highlighting both the beauty and sorrow of those he photographed. Like Keyes,  the peripatetic Hommel always looked for new challenges, new opportunities, keeping him on the move. Unobstrusive and elegant, Hommel’s work reveals hidden depths in those he shot.

Little is known about his early life. Born George Peter Hommel in New York City, May 8, 1901, Hommel turned to photography at a young age. Trades list him as an assistant cameraman working with Edwin Carewe in 1919. At the time, Pathe director Carewe had established his own unit to produce “The Girl of the Moulin Rouge” with Dolores Cassinelli in Europe. Young Hommel gained early film experience serving as an assistant cameraman, studying the importance of lighting, angles, and setting a mood.

Mary Mallory’s “Living With Grace” is now on sale.
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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Aug. 1, 2020, Condemned Women
This week’s mystery movie was the 1938 RKO picture “Condemned Women,” with Sally Eilers, Louis Hayward, Anne Shirley, Esther Dale, Lee Patrick, Leona Roberts, George Irving, Richard Bond, Netta Packer, Rita LaRoy and Florence Lake. Musical direction by Roy Webb, photography by Nicholas Musuraca, art direction by Van Nest Polglase and Feild M. Gray, recorded by Earl A. Wolcott, montage by Douglas Travers, edited by Desmond Marquette.

Story and screenplay by Lionel Houser. Produced by Robert Sisk. Directed by Lew Landers.

“Condemned Women” has never been commercially released on VHS or DVD. It last aired on TCM in 2017. Copies of unknown quality are available on the gray market.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1932 Columbia picture “Forbidden,” with Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Bellamy, Dorothy Peterson, Thomas Jefferson, Myrna Fresholt, Charlotte V. Henry and Oliver Eckhardt.

Story by Frank Capra, adaptation and dialogue by Jo Swerling, edited by Maurice Wright, photography by Joseph Walker.

Directed by Frank Capra.

“Forbidden” is available on DVD from TCM in “Frank Capra: The Early Collection.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights — Celebrities in Bloom

Mary Pickford Orchid
Photo: Mary Pickford admires a namesake orchid. Courtesy of Mary Mallory.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Flowers, like actors, sometimes have short-lived celebrity. Once their aura of uniqueness fades, many languish or fall by the wayside. Some disappear. Others continue to thrive because of their hardy nature, popularity, or beauty.

Breeders and growers of flowers have struggled to develop attention-grabbing names for their plants for hundreds of years. Many name discoveries after themselves; others give monikers to plants that resemble the person they are named for or might help it prosper. Most plants that gain popular names are hybrids developed through luck or discovery.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: 2178 High Tower Drive, L.A.’s First Community Elevator

The Tower appeared in the March 24, 1939, installment of Nuestro Pueblo by Joseph Seewerker and Charles Owens of the Los Angeles Times.

Both marketing gimmick and necessity, the elevator shaft that gave the name High Tower Drive to a street in the Hollywood Highland Avenue Tract is now an icon in Los Angeles. Almost 100 years old, the tower represents the can-do spirit of Los Angeles and its residents.

In 1901, Los Angeles investors H.J. Whitley, F.H. Rindge, Griffith J. Griffith, M.H. Sherman, and E.P. Clark organized the Los Angeles Pacific Boulevard and Development Company to purchase land for development north of Prospect Boulevard in Hollywood. Sherman and Clark, brothers-in-law from Arizona, owned the streetcar line around the city adjacent to land they purchased for later sale as residential lots. Their trolley line ran down Prospect Boulevard and up Highland Avenue as well. The November 18 Los Angeles Evening Press stated “the purpose of this corporation is to boom Hollywood, to make it an attractive suburban town.”

Mary Mallory’s “Living With Grace” is now on sale.


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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie was the 1964 picture “The Last Man on Earth,” with Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Rau, Christi Courtland, Tony Corevi and Hector Ribotta.

Photographed by Franco Delli Colli, edited by Gene Ruggiero, production manager Vico Vaccaro, assistant director Carlo Grandone, assistant production manager Lionello Meucci, art direction by Giorgio Giovanni, makeup by Piero Mecacci. Music composed by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter, orchestration by Alfonso d’Artega, music editor Norman Schwartz.

Screenplay by Logan Swanson and William F. Leicester from the novel “I Am Legend” by Richard Matheson. Produced by Robert L. Lippert, associate producer Harold E. Knox. Directed by Sidney Salkow.

Associated Producers Inc. in conjunction with Produzioni La Regina.

“The Last Man on Earth” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Book Review: ‘Cary Grant – A Brilliant Disguise’

Cary Grant Cover

Executive summary: “Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise,” the latest in Scott Eyman’s long series of Class-A Hollywood biographies, opens strong with the last day of the acclaimed actor’s life and quickly declines to a tedious slog in a book more like a catalog than a life story. Only for the most ardent Cary Grant fans, and even they will end up skipping sections and just thumbing through it to see what Eyman says about Grant being gay. Forthcoming from Simon and Schuster on Oct. 20, 2020; 576 pages, $35 for hardcover, $16.99 for Kindle.


Young Archie Leach, born in Bristol, England, in 1904, has a nightmarish childhood with terrible parents, finds refuge in the theater, comes to America, makes some lousy films that are mostly forgotten, and then goes on to fame and fortune in his carefully invented and nurtured persona of the always elegant and charming Cary Grant. He is tight with a dollar, painfully insecure, obsessed with his career and meticulous about his clothes. In later life, he becomes a father during his brief marriage to Dyan Cannon, takes LSD (lots of LSD) and in retirement watches TV game shows and gets his home remodeled.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Other Men's Women
This week’s mystery movie was the 1931 Warner Bros. picture “Other Men’s Women,” with Grant Withers, Mary Astor, Regis Toomey, James Cagney, Fred Kohler, J. Farrell MacDonald, Joan Blondell, Lillian Worth and Walter Long.

By Maude Fulton, dialogue by William K. Wells.

Photography by Barney McGill, edited by Edward M. McDermott,  musical direction by Erno Rapee, wardrobe by Earl Luick, Vitaphone Orchestra conducted by Louis Silvers.

Directed by William A. Wellman.

“Other Men’s Women” is available on DVD from Warner Archive in Volume 3 of “Forbidden Hollywood.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Emma Lazarus’ ‘The New Colossus’ Calls to All Immigrants

Jan. 19, 1884, Harper's Weekly
Construction of the Statue of Liberty, artwork by John Durkin, Harper’s Weekly, Jan. 19, 1884.

Note: This is an encore post from 2018.

Written in 1883 to help raise money for building the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty would stand, Emma Lazarus’ 14-line poem “The New Colossus” would take on a life of its own: becoming enshrined on the statue as a memorial to the poet and as a statement of welcome to those seeking refuge in our country. As we approach Independence Day, the meaning behind its words rings even clearer today.

Born July 22, 1849, in New York City as the fourth of seven children to wealthy merchant Moses Lazarus, Emma received a strong private education, learning to speak at least four languages and becoming an excellent writer, especially in poetry. Ralph Waldo Emerson mentored her. She translated works of literature as well as setting down her own odes, many based on romantic literature and others on troubling historic events regarding her fellow Jews, receiving much praise upon their publication. She also worked to alleviate the suffering of women and the poor.

Mary Mallory’s “Living With Grace” is now on sale.

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L.A. Celebrates the Fourth of July 1889 – 1960


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


Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

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

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights – The Tale of the Alden Besse

Alden Besse
Alden Besse, photographed by Asahel Curtis, Wikipedia Commons.

Surviving tempests, fires, illness, auctions, lawsuits, and salvages, the old whaling ship Alden Besse saw many an exciting adventure over more than 59 years. A magnet for disaster, accidents, and adventure, the ship even served as a set for many an early Hollywood silent film. The history of the Alden Besse seems as exciting as any adventure story or film.

Built in Bath, Maine, out of stout oak by the company Goss and Sawyer in 1871, the 840-ton, narrow-hulled, slender clipper Alden Besse was named after sea captain Alden Besse of Wareham, Massachusetts. Upon completion, the ship hit the high seas, sailing around the Horn of Africa to California, to the Orient, and every place in between. Besides serving the whale trade, the Alden Besse carried all manner of cargo, including lumber, rice, scrap iron, bricks, coal, sugar, beer and coffee.

Mary Mallory’s latest book, Living With Grace: Life Lessons from America’s Princess,”  is now on sale.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

July 4, 2020, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie was the 1957 film “The Black Scorpion,” with Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro, Carlos Muzquiz, Pascual Pena, Fanny Schiller, Pedro Galvan and Arturo Martinez. Screenplay by David Duncan and Robert Blees from a story by Paul Yawitz. Photography by Lionel Lindon, edited by Richard L. Van Enger, art direction by Edward Fitzgerald, sound by Rafael L. Esparza, orchestrations by Bert Shefter, electronic music by Jack Cookerly. Special effects supervised by Willis O’Brien, animation by Peter Peterson, assistant directors Ray Heinze and Jaime Contreras, sound effects by Mandine Rogne. Music composed and conducted by Paul Sawtell.

Produced by Frank Melford and Jack Dietz. Directed by Edward Ludwig.

“The Black Scorpion” is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Archive.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + + +)

June 27, 2020, I Take This Woman

This week’s mystery movie was the 1940 MGM film “I Take This Woman,” with Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, Verree Teasdale, Kent Taylor, Laraine Day, Mona Barrie, Jack Carson, Paul Cavanagh, Louis Calhern, Frances Drake, Marjorie Main, George E. Stone, Willie Best, Don Castle, Dalies Frantz and Reed Hadley.

Screenplay by James Kevin McGuinness from a story by Charles MacArthur.

Musical score by Bronislau Kaper and Arthur Guttmann, recording by Douglas Shearer, art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse, set decorations by Edwin B. Willis, gowns by Adrian, photography by Harold Rosson, edited by George Boemler.

Directed by W.S. Van Dyke II

“I Take This Woman” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights – Josef von Sternberg’s ‘Salvation Hunters’

Georgia Hale is The Girl in “The Salvation Hunters.”

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

From the very beginning of his career, director Josef von Sternberg possessed an extraordinary vision for the art, look, and feel of his films. They were as much or more about design and and art than about story or character. Nowhere is this more true than in his very first film, “The Salvation Hunters.” Shot on a shoestring budget, the motion picture revealed the discriminating pictorial eye and talent of this young man.

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Perry Mason and The Case of the Flawed Fedora

'Perry Mason'

Oh dear. HBO Max’s Perry Mason origin story is set in 1932 Los Angeles, which you would never know by looking at this photo of Shea Whigham and Matthew Rhys. IMDB lists a huge number of costumers, so I can’t be sure who is the hat wrangler, but please. This is not how anybody wore a hat in 1932. This may surpass “Boardwalk Empire” in ridiculous costuming, which is an achievement.

Perry Mason
Good grief. Shea Wigham’s costume and newsboy cap look horrible. Nobody dressed like this in the 1930s. No one. That jacket looks like a horse blanket.

Why do films and TV shows set in the 1930s and 1940s have to be so wretched when it comes to costumes? (For reference on good period costuming, see “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential.”)

For reference: Proper men’s outfits from 1931-32.


Edward G. Robinson, “Little Caesar” (1931). Note the angle of the brim. Note the height of the crown. Note the width of the hatband. Note the lapels on the jacket, with matching vest. The hat isn’t stuck on Robinson’s head like a baseball cap. It’s meant to convey style and class.

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‘The Lid Off Los Angeles’ – Liberty Magazine Examines Corruption in the LAPD and at City Hall

The Lid Off Los Angeles

On Nov. 11, 1939, Liberty magazine began a six-part series by Dwight F. McKinney and Fred Allhoff on the Harry Raymond bombing and the reform movement of Clifford E. Clinton. Liberty also published a response by Dist. Atty. Buron Fitts. The series made an enormous impact in its day, but Liberty is only available on microfilm. So here’s the entire series, uploaded from my files to

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: M.E. Firman, Lady Detective

Marie Firman, L.A. Times, July 17, 1917
In the early 1900s, most women in the United States lacked the right to vote. Groups such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association organized to actively campaign for enfranchisement. Winning the vote would lead to other reforms regarding child rearing, property ownership, fiduciary matters, and most importantly, independence. Women could gain control of their lives and bodies, following their own dreams and career paths, moving beyond roles of mother, wife, teacher, shop clerk or secretary.

Motion pictures aided their mission, making films about the suffrage movement before producing films featuring strong and independent women, particularly in such serials as “Perils of Pauline,” “The Exploits of Elaine,” and “The Adventures of Kathlyn.” Heroines in these films confronted dastardly villains, wild animals, and dangerous adventures, investigating and solving crimes and mysteries.

Mary Mallory’s latest book,
Living With Grace: Life Lessons from America’s Princess,”  is now on sale.

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