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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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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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)


This week’s mystery movie has been the 1933 RKO picture “Professional Sweetheart,” directed by William A. Seiter, written by Maurine Watkins, photographed by Edward Cronjager, with Ginger Rogers, Norman Foster,  Zasu Pitts, Frank McHugh, Allen Jenkins, Gregory Ratoff, Franklin Pangborn, Lucien Littlefield, Edgar Kennedy, Frank Darien and Sterling Holloway.

As far as I can tell, it has never been commercially released on VHS or DVD.

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Civil War: Been There, Done That

Aug. 24, 1863, telegram

A sample telegram from “Decoding the Civil War.”

After reading the Los Angeles Times’  account about the effort to transcribe nearly 16,000 telegrams, I was ready to pitch in. It certainly seemed a more productive way to pass a spare evening than playing Freecell.

But not so fast. I transcribed several telegrams and then, out of curiosity, did a Google search on a particular phrase in one message. Crushing realization: It was already transcribed, published in the 19th century and was even online via Google books.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Rockhaven Sanitarium Seeks Its Rehabilitation

Rockhaven Gate

The gate at Rockhaven, by Mary Mallory

Hiding in plain sight and sitting in a state of arrested decay at 2713 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, the historic Rockhaven Sanitarium stands as the only living example of Glendale’s and the Crescenta Valley’s long history of providing rest and rehabilitation sanitariums for the whole United States. Rockhaven also exists as the only female conceived and operated facility functioning solely for the benefit of women. Now threatened, the site’s fascinating background deserves rehabilitation as both park and center documenting the area’s history.

Glendale and the Crescenta Valley gained fame and prosperity as one of the United States’ first “health resorts,” catering to middle and upper class citizens looking for a peaceful haven to rest and recuperate from illnesses in the pure, dry air and beauty of the area, with more than twenty eventually operating in the community. Many served strictly as rehabilitation facilities after surgeries or sickness, while others served tuberculosis/consumption, alcoholism, and mental illnesses. One of the most famous was the 75-room Glendale Hotel, purchased by the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Co. in 1905 and converted into recuperation center providing rest cures in the sunny, dry climate of the lovely Verdugos, from ads in the 1905 Los Angeles Herald.

Historic Resource and Conditions Assessment of Rockhaven Sanitarium.

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


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Found on EBay: Manly Palmer Hall

Manly Hall

The biography of Manly Hall by my Los Angeles Times colleague Louis Sahagun.

Two lectures by Manly Hall have been listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $69. Hall was included in a Los Angeles Conservancy tour in 2009,  “City of the Seekers,” which was an excellent introduction to some of Los Angeles’ influential religious figures. Other sites on the tour were Angelus Temple, the Self-Realization Fellowship Mother Center, Chapel of the Jesus Ethic and the Bonnie Brae House, where the Pentecostal movement began in the Azusa Street revival.


Manly Hall lecture Manly Hall Lecture

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

'Possessed' 1931
Meet Mystery Movie No. 1, the 1931 MGM film “Possessed,” directed by Clarence Brown, with Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Wallace Ford, Skeets Gallagher, Frank Conroy, Marjorie White, John Miljan and Clara Blandick. The 1931 “Possessed” was adapted from the play “The Mirage” by Edgar Selwyn with additional dialogue and continuity by Lenore Coffee. Art direction by Cedric Gibbons, gowns by Adrian and photography by Oliver T. Marsh.

The 1931 “Possessed” is available from Warner Archive for $15.19

'Possessed' 1947

Mystery Movie No. 2 was the 1947 Warner Bros. picture “Possessed” with Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raymond Massey, Geraldine Brooks, Stanley Ridges, John Ridgely, Moroni Olsen and Gerald Perreau. The screenplay was by Silvia Richards and Ranald MacDougall, adapted from a story by Rita Weiman. Photography was by Joseph Valentine, art direction by Anton Grot, set decoration by Fred M. MacLean. Wardrobe by Bernard Newman, Crawford’s wardrobe by Adrian. Music by Franz Waxman, directed by Curtis Bernhardt.

The 1947 “Possessed” is also available from Warner Archive on DVD for $16.69 and Blu-ray for $18.59.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Larry Edmunds Bookshop Provides Film Education for More Than 75 Years


Jeanne Moreau shoots a scene for the 1970 film “Alex in Wonderland,” starring Donald Sutherland, right, at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, from a catalog listed on EBay 

Long a mecca for film aficionados, Hollywood’s Larry Edmunds Bookshop continues educating film lovers through talks and signings by authors and through its large selection of film books on every topic. Probably the first true film book shop, Larry Edmunds has survived the ups and downs of book publishing for over 75 years as it serves the needs of cineastes.

Original owner Larry Edmunds, who worked at Book of the Day store on La Brea Avenue in the late 1930s, bought out Sam Reiser and his book shop at 1603 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in 1939 and brought in Milton Luboviski, a former co-worker, as partner in 1940. When Edmunds committed suicide in 1941, Luboviski and his wife, Git, took over.

“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 + + + +)

Aug. 13, 2016, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie was the 1941 Twentieth Century-Fox film “Dressed to Kill,” with Lloyd Nolan, Mary Beth Hughes, Sheila Ryan, William Demarest, Ben Carter, Virginia Brissac, Erwin Kalser and Henry Daniel. The screenplay was by Stanley Rauh and Manning O’Connor, based on the novel by Richard Burke and the character Michael Shayne created by Brett Halliday. The film was photographed by Glen MacWilliams, with art direction by Richard Day and Joseph C. Wright, set decorations by Thomas Little, editing by Fred Allen and costumes by Herschel. It was directed by Eugene Forde.

It’s available on DVD from TCM for $8.25.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Cinecon Film Festival 52 Offers Entertaining and Eclectic Films

A still from “The King of Jazz,” which will be shown at the Cinecon Film Festival.

Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, and it offers another madcap melange of movies at the 52nd Cinecon Film Festival at the historic Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. Cinecon, co-presented with Hollywood Heritage, welcomes film lovers, authors, scholars, and collectors to five days of film screenings, special programs, meeting celebrity guests, dealer’s room, and opportunity of making new friends. The festival offers a chance to see vintage rare and restored short films and features on the big screen as they were meant to be seen, with silents accompanied live on piano. This year’s Festival is particularly poignant, as it is dedicated to recently deceased past President Robert S. Birchard.

Virtually every genre is covered in this year’s Cinecon Film Festival, including musicals, westerns, film noir, comedy, and drama, spanning the years 1912 to 1949. Sound stars such as Gary Cooper, Ginger Rogers, Spencer Tracy, Dolores Del Rio, Claire Trevor, Anna Mae Wong, and the Marx Brothers are featured, along with such silent superstars as Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, Tom Mix, and Laurel and Hardy. Supporting player scene stealers like Gustav von Seyffertitz, Sojin, Roy d’Arcy, Sidney Bracey, Charles Lane, and Fred Kelsey also appear in scheduled films.

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

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Olympics: Scenes From the 1932 Los Angeles Games

1932 Olympics

Several years ago, I bought a group of German images showing the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics and the 2016 Rio Games seemed like a good time to share them.

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