Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

Los Angeles Times file photo
[Update: This truly is a mystery photo. It was taken near Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards and the set of “Intolerance” is in the background but there’s no information on what is occurring in the photo, which is undated.[The picture was published Jan. 1, 1980, with an article by Eric Taub and John G. Watson about looking for old movie locations in Los Angeles. There aren’t any huge surprises in their feature, which covers the steps from “The Music Box” and some other Laurel and Hardy locations, Greystone Mansion, etc., but one must admire their diligence in tracking down information on “Casablanca.” ]Here’s another crowd scene….

Notice the Auto Club traffic sign…. [This is for you, Callbox Sam!]

… a mystery billboard and a very tiny mystery house….

… a mystery motorcycle…

… a mystery car …

… a mystery Spanish mission/service station… [Fill ‘er up, Padre.]

… mystery cowboys and a mystery photographer. A laurel and hearty handshake, perhaps?

Wait a moment. What’s this??

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Architecture, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

  1. Mary mallory says:

    Is this over by the Fine Arts Studio near where the Vista Theatre is, where Sunset and Hollywood Blvds. come together? And is that the Birth of a Nation set standing across the street? Woodbury was a stills photographer for Griffith.


  2. Sam Flowers says:

    I am drooling over the Ao. Cal. Auto Club sign Larry, THANKS.


  3. Mark Heimback-Nielsen says:

    West of the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood Blvd looking northeast. In the back is the still standing set from Intolerance which is now the Vista Theatre.


  4. Sam Flowers says:

    So. Cal. Auto Club sign is very early. Car and bikes as well as dress of crowd looks like early to mid teen years. The structure in the background looks like a movie set with covering on the fence to keep Lookie -Lous out.


  5. Gregory Moore says:

    Could this be the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood Blvds., where the massive set of Griffith’s “Intolerance” (1916) stood for four years before finally being torn down? I’d place this picture at about 1918. And I’ll take a wild stab that it was a Wallace Reid film being shot?


  6. herb nichols says:

    guessing that the sets in the background are from griffths intolerance


  7. Mike Hawks says:

    Wish me luck on this guess, DANGEROUS CURVE AHEAD 1921, the boy may be Newton Hall.


  8. Dan Bazarian says:

    Could this be the location where the movie Intolerance was filmed? At Hollywood Blvd & Sunset Blvd junction.


  9. Arye Michael Bender says:

    “Forget it Jake. It’s gastown.”


  10. Mark Heimback-Nielsen says:

    I wonder if this could be for publicity for D.W. Griffith’s “Scarlet Days” (1919)? It was a period Western.


  11. Sam Flowers says:

    I sold newspapers on the corner of Hillhurst and Hollywood Blvd in about 1956 ( I sold the good paper, The Herald Express). I used to go inside the studio and deliver to regular customers. My memory may be failing but weren’t those sets on the studio’s lot on Sunset.


  12. benito says:

    That car looks like a Mercer Raceabout


  13. Arye Michael Bender says:

    The “Intolerance” set was part of the old Vitagraph lot, most recently ABC Studio Center at Prospect and Talmadge. I remember a faded photo mural of the set on a wall in a mid-level management building on the lot in the sixties. Few who worked on the lot then knew of its historic importance. And yes, Talmadge Street was named for Norma, who owned much real estate in the studio’s shadow.


  14. Arye Michael Bender says:

    A footnote on where ‘Casablanca’ was shot:
    In the Seventies, Columbia Pictures sold its Hollywood lot and combined facilities briefly with the Warner Brothers Burbank lot to save money. The shared space was briefly known as The Burbank Studios. When Columbia Pictures reached its fiftieth anniversary in 1976, it produced a two hour special for ABC. I was the post production supervisor on that show. To celebrate the anniversary and the show’s airing, The Burbank Studios held a huge party on the lot. The huge soundstage set of Rick’s Cafe Americain was reconstructed and furnished exactly as it was in 1941. It was magnificent, and like stepping back in time. I know, I was there.


  15. Stacia says:

    Terrific story, Arye!
    As long as I’ve known about “Casablanca” — which was probably after this 1980 article was written — I’ve heard that the airport scene was indeed done on a soundstage. There is even a story about how, to get the proper perspective, they used little people and a small (but to scale) plane in the background. This was mentioned on the deluxe (ooh!) VHS “Casablanca” set back in the 1990s. I would say that this article was a big part of the research of where the sets were done, but Arye’s story indicates that some people knew it was all on a set years before the article.


  16. Marc Wanamaker says:

    The photo in question is no mystery at all and never has been. I have had this photo in my Bison Archives for over twenty years and it was taken in 1916 in the middle of Sunset Blvd across from the Triangle-Fine Arts Studio at 4500 Sunset Blvd. The gas station in the background is at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard, Hillhurst Avenue and Sunset Boulevard across the street from the D.W. Griffith “Intolerance” set on Sunset Avenue now the site of the Vista Theatre. The people gathered in front of the studio are there for publicity shots with Triangle cowboys most likely actors in Douglas Fairbanks western films being made at the studio at that time. If you look closely there are two small children wearing “Welcome” signs and the cowboy actors are holding them high for the cameras. I don’t see Douglas Fairbanks in the photo, but he might have already been photographed earlier. Holding publicity shoots in front of the studio was a common practice at that time. KCET TV studio is located on the site of the Kalem Studio that was there at that time as well. The Triangle studio at this time was originally the Kinemacolor, Reliance, Fine Arts, Triangle/Fine Arts, Tiffany, Sunset Studio/Columbia Pictures Annex and was demolished in the 1960s making room for a market that is still there today.


  17. Mary Mallory says:

    According to a coworker, the gas station is still there sans mission top and is now red and a used car building. It can be seen on google view.


Leave a Reply. Note: Your IP is logged with your comment so a fake name and email address are useless.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s