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

 

im_the_guy
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

image

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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ALLIES INVADE FRANCE! JUNE 6, 1944; Complete Radio Coverage

June 7, 1944, D-day

June 7, 1944, D-Day Map

The headline and map by Charles Owens from The Times.


June 6, 1944: Complete radio coverage of the D-Day Invasion. This was pool coverage using correspondents from various news organizations. By 10 a.m., CBS had resumed regular programming with news bulletins, so I’ll only post up to noon. The full day is at archive.org.

It’s worth noting that German radio was the source for most of the information in the early hours of the invasion. The eyewitness accounts are vivid and it’s worth listening to Quentin Reynolds’ analysis on how the Allies learned from disastrous surprise invasion at Dieppe in 1942.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

June 10, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1932 RKO film “Bird of Paradise,” with Dolores del Rio, Joel McCrea, John Halliday, Richard “Skeets” Gallagher, Bert Roach, Creighton Chaney, Wade Boteler, Arnold Gray, Reginald Simpson, Napoleon Pukui, Agostino Borgato and Sofia Ortega. The screenplay was by Wells Root, Wanda Tuchock and Leonard Praskins, suggested by a play by Richard Walton Tully. Music by Max Steiner, art direction by Carroll Clark, photography by Clyde DeVinna, Edward Cronjager and Lucien Andriot, with photographic effects by Lloyd Knechtel. The executive producer was David O. Selznick, the director was King Vidor.

“Bird of Paradise” is available on DVD from Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Nigel De Brulier — Soothsayer From the East?

Nigel de Brulier Nigel de Brulier, courtesy of Mary Mallory.


Note: This is an encore post from 2014


F
or decades, Hollywood typed actors for their looks, personality, temperament, a shorthand telling audiences what they could expect whenever the actor appeared. Some personalities like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Crawford, and Cary Grant rocketed to fame through their megawatt looks and charm, deep talent, or fierce drive. Others like Franklin Pangborn, Ned Sparks, Edna May Oliver, and Thelma Ritter provided tart flavor to films as prominent character actors, adding zesty spark, comic interludes, or high energy with their strong characterizations.

Gaunt, imploring Nigel de Brulier, a live version of an El Greco painting, added a note of mysticism or fanaticism to silent films with his impassioned clerics or wild-eyed madmen. His characters often seemed to inhabit their own spiritual worlds. Tall, lean, gaunt and possessing piercing eyes, de Brulier endured ill health and work struggles as a young man, bringing realistic fervor and devotion to his roles.


Corrections: This post changes the year De Brulier declared an interest in U.S. citizenship from 1909 to 1899 and notes that he was in the second screen version of “Ramona,” the first being made in 1910.


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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s movie has been the 1946 Monogram Pictures film “In Fast Company” with the Bowery Boys.  Continue reading

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: San Francisco Silent Film Festival Salutes World Cinema

 

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For those who find it difficult to get to Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato or Pordenone’s Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, scheduled June 1-4) highlights classics of silent film the world over right here in California. Showcasing everything from Harold Lloyd, Douglas Fairbanks, Clara Bow, Lois Weber, Wallace Beery, and Anna Pavlova to Polish, Italian, Swedish, Russian, and Japanese silent films, the festival covers virtually every genre and emotional gamut, all with moving live accompaniment. And who knew that Beery and Rupert Julian would lead the pack for most films over the festival?

The weekend features several recent restorations rarely shown on the big screen. The Library of Congress recently restored the Clara Bow/Buddy Rogers’ film “Get Your Man,” a story of a flirty, confident shopgirl who finally lands her handsome blue blood. Directed by one of the rare female directors of Hollywood’s sound era, “Get Your Man” was shot on location around Hollywood Boulevard and at Pasadena’s Jewett Estate. Following the feature is a twenty-three minute fragment of the Wallace Beery/Raymond Hatton “Now We’re in the Air!” with Louise Brooks putting in a supporting performance. SFSFF President Rob Byrne discovered the film in the Czechoslovakia Film Archive, and has restored it for the festival.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, June 1-4.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

May 27, 2017, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1937 Paramount film “True Confession,” with Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, John Barrymore, Una Merkel, Porter Hall, Edgar Kennedy and Lynne Overman. It was produced by Albert Lewin, from a screenplay by Claude Binyon based on a play by Louis Verneuil and Georges Berr. Musical direction was by Boris Morros from a score by Frederick Hollander. Photography was by Ted Tetzlaff, art direction by Hans Dreier and Robert Usher, costumes by Travis Banton and interior decorations by A.E Freudeman. The film was directed by Wesley Ruggles.

It is available on DVD from Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Equitable Building Double Art Deco Pleasure on Hollywood Boulevard

Equitable Building

Superimposed photograph showing the Bank of Hollywood building as it will appear with the completion of the 12-story annex, photo courtesy of Mary Mallory.


 

One of Hollywood’s first height limit buildings, the lovely Equitable Building, has proudly stood at the northeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street for over 88 years. Built in two parts over two years at the start of the Great Depression, architect Aleck Curlett’s gorgeous building stands as one of Hollywood’s architectural treasures.

Various small businesses operated at the address 6253 Hollywood Blvd. and on the block long before the Equitable arose, showing the evolution of Hollywood and its world famous Boulevard, which began life as Prospect Avenue, from small town street to major business hub and center. J.F. Kent built a residence at 6251 Hollywood Blvd. per an October 25, 1912 building permit. On June 5, 1913, Clara Holt obtained a permit to construct a one-story brick building on the lot to hold several stores, with the permit estimating a cost of $6,000. From 1917-1923 at least, Ida Fortwengler operated a hairdressing business in the building. In 1924, new owners Foster and Kleiser obtained a permit to erect a metal sign atop the building after reinforcing it.

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

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Hats Off to Black-Foxe Military Institute

Oct. 24, 1950, DiMaggio at Black-Foxe

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

 
Long before there were Tiger Moms, many parents stressed discipline and hard work to their school-age children. Boys were often enrolled in military prep schools to learn discipline, rigor and fortitude through both schoolroom work and athletic pursuits.

Several Los Angeles military academies existed in the 1920s, and chief among them was Black-Foxe Military Institute.

Founded in 1929 by Hollywood real estate tycoon C. E. Toberman and headed by former actor Earle Foxe as president and Harry Black as commandant, the school educated day pupils and boarding students at the former Urban Military Academy, established in 1902. Many celebrity children either attended and/or graduated from the institute. The institution itself appeared in a few films.

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

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

 

May 20, 2017, Mystery Photo

This week’s mystery movie has been the 1931 RKO picture “Consolation Marriage,” with Irene Dunne, Pat O’Brien, John Halliday, Myrna Loy, Lester Vail and Matt Moore.  It was produced by William LeBaron, directed by Paul Sloane, with scenery and costumes by Max Ree,  photography by J. Roy Hunt, written by Bill Cunningham and screenplay and dialogue by Humphrey Pearson. Musical direction was by Max Steiner,

It’s available on DVD from Warner Archive for $21.99.

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