Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Main Title, the Strange Affair of Uncle Harry
This week’s mystery movie was the 1945 Universal film “The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry,” with George Sanders, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ella Raines, Sara Allgood, Moyna MacGill, Samuel S. Hinds, Harry Von Zell, Judy Clark, Coulter F. Irwin and Craig Reynolds.

Screenplay by Stephen Longstreet, adaptation by Keith Winter. From the play by Thomas Job, as produced on the stage by Clifford Hayman.

Photography by Paul Ivano, special photography by John P. Fulton. Edited by Arthur Hilton, art direction by John B. Goodman and Eugene Lourie. Set decoration by Russell A. Gausman. Costumes by Travis Banton.

Music direction by H.J. Salter, sound by Bernard B. Brown, technician Glenn A. Anderson. Makeup by Jack P. Pierce. Assistant director Melville Shyer.

Produced by Joan Harrison. Directed by Robert Siodmak.

“The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry” is available on DVD from TCM. It’s also available on Blu-ray from Amazon.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Valentino Statue Aspires to Greatness

Valentino statue

Silent film lover and superstar Rudolph Valentino commanded the screen with his intense magnetism and sensuality. His untimely, tragic death in 1926 at the age of 31 gave him instant immortality, with thousands descending on the funeral home, church, procession, and funeral of their beloved star.

Upon his death, many clamored for ways to memorialize this worldwide icon. Chicago residents announced the first proposed memorial for Valentino within days of his death on Aug. 23, 1926. Judge Francis Borrelli, Assistant State Attorney Michael Romano and lawyers Ellidoe Libonati, Stephen Malato and Michael Rominia filed articles of incorporation for a Rudolph Valentino Memorial Association with the intent of constructing a memorial for the star in the Windy City.

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

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Black Dahlia: Jean Spangler and the Dr. George Hodel Non-Connection

Executive summary: A story in Entertainment Weekly looks at the 1949 disappearance of bit actress Jean Spangler. The author lists purported suspects, including Dr. George Hodel, whom Steve Hodel has accused of countless unsolved killings, including the Black Dahlia, and of being Zodiac. Newspaper accounts from the time show that when Jean Spangler disappeared, George Hodel had just been arrested on charges of molesting his daughter Tamar and held in the County Jail on $5,000 bond pending his preliminary hearing.

Interested? Read on, as I expose even more of Steve Hodel’s lies…

Posted in 1947, 1949, Another Good Story Ruined, Black Dahlia, Cold Cases, LAPD | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights — ‘Julius Caesar’

Beachwood Canyon

Photo: Beachwood Canyon in a panorama from the Library of Congress.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Throughout history, people have come together to communally celebrate.  From groups worshipping at Stonehenge, rejoicing in Times Square at the end of World War II, or experiencing the height of 1960s’ music at Woodstock, unique cultural experiences tend to create small moments of rapture among its participants.  Los Angeles and Hollywood experienced one such unique chapter during a massive outdoor 1916 production of “Julius Caesar” in Beachwood Canyon to celebrate William Shakespeare’s 300th birthday.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 30, 2021, I'd Climb the Highest Mountain Main Title
This week’s movie was the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox film “I’d Climb the Highest Mountain,” with Susan Hayward, William Lundigan, Rory Calhoun, Barbara Bates, Gene Lockhart, Lynn Bari, Ruth Donnelly, Kathleen Lockhart and Alexander Knox.

Screenplay by Lamar Trotti from a novel by Corra Harris.

Color by Technicolor, Monroe W. Burbank consultant.

Music by Sol Kaplan, photography by Edward Cronjager.

Art direction by Lyle Wheeler and Maurice Ransford. edited by Barbara McLean, wardrobe direction by Charles Le Maire, costumes by Edward Stevenson, musical direction by Lionel Newman, orchestration by Edward Powell. Makeup by Ben Nye, special photographic effects by Fred Sersen, sound by Eugene Grossman and Roger Heman. Technical advisor the Rev. Wallace Rogers.

Produced by Lamar Trotti.

Directed by Henry King.

“I’d Climb the Highest Mountain” is available on DVD from TCM.

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Posted in 1951, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

Black Dahlia: Norton Avenue and a Lesson in L.A. Geography Via EBay

Norton Avenue

Map of Norton Avenue An EBay vendor has listed a sign from South Norton Avenue with an asking price of $500, stating that:

Elizabeth Short, the infamous Black Dahlia was found brutally murdered, severed in two, just down the street from where this sign was posted.

Street numbers in Los Angeles start at 1st Street, on the south side of City Hall, so 600 South Norton is at 6th Street. Which means that 39th Street is 3.6 miles away. Not “just down the street” even under the most generous interpretation. It’s just plain old flea market flimflam.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘Story of Dr. Jenner’ Promotes Vaccination

Matthew Boulton as the physician who develops a cure for smallpox in MGM’s 1939 “The Story of Dr. Jenner.”

For centuries, smallpox infestations caused massive deaths and disfigurings to civilizations. First appearing in agricultural communities around 10,000 BC, the disease affected rich and poor. Everyone from Egyptian pharaohs to New World residents infected by Spanish conquistadors suffered from the dread disease, either covered in disfiguring skin lesions or dying. The British commander of North American forces fighting during the French-Indian War in the 1750s, suggested using it as biological warfare on Native Americans.

Even after a vaccine was discovered, education was required to inform people of the ugliness of the disease and the salvation of vaccination. Thanks to motion pictures, vast audiences could be educated on the value and importance of inoculation and vaccination. MGM’s 1939 Passing Parade short, “The Story of Dr. Jenner,” provided an entertaining but informative look at Dr. Jenner and his propagation of vaccination.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

The Enforcer

This week’s mystery movie was the 1951 film “The Enforcer,” with Humphrey Bogart, Zero Mostel, Ted de Corsia, Everett Sloane, Roy Roberts, Lawrence Tolan, King Donovan, Robert Steele, Adelaide Klein, Don Beddoe, Tito Vuolo, John Kellogg and Jack Lambert.

Written by Martin Rackin.

Photographed by Robert Burks, art direction by Charles H. Clarke, edited by Fred Allen, sound by Dolph Thomas, set decoration by William Kuehl, orchestrations by Maurice de Packh. Music by David Buttolph.

Produced by Milton Sperling. Directed by Bretaigne Windust (and Raoul Walsh).

It’s available on DVD from TCM, via streaming from Amazon. And in a pretty sharp print with Spanish subtitles from

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Posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , | 37 Comments

Black Dahlia: Purported Movie of Elizabeth Short on V-J Day in Hollywood – FALSE!

Jan.16, 2021, Film of Elizabeth Short on V-J Day FALSE!

Every so often, this clip shows up on social media, purporting to be Elizabeth Short on Hollywood Boulevard during V-J Day celebrations in August 1945.

False. Elizabeth Short was in Medford, Mass., on V-J Day and didn’t arrive in Los Angeles until the summer of 1946.

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Black Dahlia: Trim Your Roses on Jan. 15 to Remember Elizabeth Short

Today is Jan. 15, the anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s death. As is the custom, the Daily Mirror will be dark.

Trim your roses in her memory.

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Black Dahlia: On the Anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s Murder, a Guide for the Hasty Reporter


My Page 1 story on the Black Dahlia case. Now behind the Los Angeles Times pay wall. The full version of the story (expanded by two-thirds) is available on my old, old website.

The anniversary of Elizabeth Short’s murder, coming up Friday, always promotes a flurry of retrospectives on the 1947 Black Dahlia case. The stories are typically scraped off the Internet by reporters dashing off stories who rarely venture beyond Wikipedia.

A few guidelines to avoid the more common mistakes:

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Mary Mallory: Hollywood Heights — ‘Barbara Frietchie’


Photo: Filming “Barbara Frietchie.” Courtesy of Mary Mallory/Collections of the Margaret Herrick Library.

Note: This is an encore post from 2012.

Thomas Ince, sadly more recognized today for his tragic, early death than for the fine films he created, was one of Hollywood’s most successful early film producers. Building his first studio in 1912 at what is now the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Sunset Boulevard, Ince churned out mostly westerns and Civil War pictures at this location, stories that possessed fine drama along with exciting action. In 1918 he built a fancy, state of the art studio facility at 9336 W. Washington Blvd. in Culver City, which later housed Selznick International Pictures and still stands today as the Culver Studios. Here Ince turned out a wide range of films with high artistic values. In 1924, he turned once again to a story of the Civil War, BARBARA FRIETCHIE, one that would allow him to employ many studio buildings as stand ins for Maryland buildings and mansions.

“Barbara Frietchie” was a poem written by John Greenleaf Whittier in 1864, inspired by the legend that the elderly Frietchie proudly displayed the Stars and Stripes outside her home in Frederick, Maryland, as Confederate General’s “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops rode by.  While there was a real person named Barbara Fritschie in town, she had nothing to do with the incident; another woman in her city actually raised the flag.  As the Fritschie family was famous and respected there, the story became attached to them, which they did nothing to disprove or disown.  Clyde Fitch’s play of the same name makes the story more romantic by making the heroine young instead of old and adding in romance.  John Hopkins University students disproved Whittier’s thesis in a study they conducted in 1923, per a Jan. 8, 1923 story, in The New York Times.

Ince recognized the drama inherent in the Civil War story, of a town and families divided between North and South, which offered examples of character, courage, and determination.  In the film, Frietchie, played by the attractive Florence Vidor, and family support the South.  She loves William Turnbull, played by Edmund Lowe, who of course sympathizes with the North.  When war is declared, they are separated before they can be married.  Over the next several years, they come into contact as Turnbull’s troops come through the city.  He is wounded and brought to the home of the Frietchies.  Believing him dead, Frietchie honors her lover by flying the American flag from the balcony as General Jackson’s troops victoriously parade by.  As the crowd jeers her, Jackson warns that anyone who harms her will die like a dog.  Barbara is still shot and she crawls to William’s bedside.  Miraculously, both revive, and a wedding ends the film.

July 20, 1924: Barbara Frietchie

As the July 20, 1924, Los Angeles Times points out in a story coming from Ince publicity materials, the film would comprise more than just the facts of the play and poem.  “It will, in fact, show various crucial moments in American history, beginning with the landing of the Pilgrims to the period of the Civil War, with the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac.  Primarily, however, “Barbara Frietchie” is a love story, one of the most appealing as related to the history of this country, and as such it is being filmed.”  Not only would the film show the pilgrims, it featured scenes of the Revolutionary War and President Abraham Lincoln as well.

To make the story more realistic and cheaper than traveling to the South, Ince erected a residential street to represent Frederick, Maryland.  Brian Taves, in his new biography of Ince, notes that the grounds of the studio also represented a Southern village and military camp.  The pillared, antebellum looking administration building of the Ince Studio and its surrounding grounds became the Frietchie mansion.  The studio played up the use of the mansion in publicity stills sent out promoting the picture, many picturing the building.  Some photos show it regally as a fine, Southern home, while others show it under attack.  In this off-camera photo, cavalry veterans of World War I play Civil War soldiers, riding up Washington Boulevard on horses as an eager crowd watches the action.  The studio plays up the film with free publicity for Culver City residents, locating a large sign noting the production’s name at the front of the property.

Taves states that the film was an important one for the studio, running over ninety minutes and costing almost $175,000.  Shooting so much on the lot made strong financial sense in order to reduce costs.

The Los Angeles Times loved the film; reviewer Edwin Schallert in the Sept. 17, 1924, paper called it “…more than entertainment, although it is that in full effect; it is also an animated and highly colorful page of history.  To be sure, there is an obvious line of hokum running through the feature, but as it is the source of much humor one can accept it.”  Schallert thought Vidor outdid any of her previous performances, adding prestige to her as an actress, giving heft to the picture.  He found Lowe fine, and thought that Mark Hamilton, the humorous scapegoat throughout the film, almost stole the feature.  Schallert noted as well that the film connected to the present day, as the grandson of the two leading characters returns from the war in Europe, helping “reawakening of patriotic feeling.”

Los Angeles Times gossip columnist Grace Kingsley reviews the film in her story about its Oct. 3 premiere at the California Theatre, pointing out how sophisticated audiences were to movie plots.  “It seemed to be the aim of the picture people to wring every drop of drama possible from every situation.  Hero and heroine suffer in every way they could be made to suffer before the happy finale, even to our being caused to think (unless we were very movie wise, which we are) that the hero was dead.  We knew very well that even if his heart wasn’t beating he would hop up just before the final curtain.  And so he did.”

Sadly, this would be one of the last films Ince produced that he would see on screen.  Thomas Ince died of stomach problems on Nov. 19, 1924, leaving behind a studio with several films still shooting or in post-production.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 16, 2021, Cheers for Miss Bishop Main Title

This week’s mystery movie was the 1941 film “Cheers for Miss Bishop,” with Martha Scott, William Gargan, Edwin Gwenn, Sidney Blackmer, Dorothy Peterson, Sterling Holloway, Donald Douglas, Marsha Hunt, Lois Ranson and Mary Anderson.

From the novel “Miss Bishop” by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Screen adaptation by Stephen Vincent Benet. Screenplay by Adelaide Heilbron and Sheridan Gibney.

Music by Edward Ward. Assistant to the producer Grant Whytock. Photographed by Hal Mohr, casting director David C. Werner, art direction by John DuCasse Schulze, costumes for Miss Scott by Irene Saltern. Makeup by Don Cash, sound by Earl Sitar.

Edited by William Claxton, re-recording by Richard Heermance. Set decoration by Julia Heron. Assistant director Joseph C. Boyle. Production manager Sherman A. Harris.

Released through United Artists. Produced by Richard A. Rowland. Directed by Tay Garnett.

“Cheers for Miss Bishop” is available on DVD from TCM and via streaming at Amazon.

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Black Dahlia: My Annual Donation in Memory of Elizabeth Short


As longtime readers know, I always begin a new year with an annual donation in memory of Elizabeth Short to Heading Home, which works with the homeless in the Boston area. Partly because of my research on Elizabeth Short, I try to make the issue of homelessness a continuing theme of the Daily Mirror.

I donate to an agency in the Boston area because of Elizabeth Short’s connections there, but Los Angeles also has a severe, chronic problem with homelessness and there are many local agencies that welcome donations. I recently visited Hollywood and saw camps of homeless people along the exit ramp from the northbound 101 onto Hollywood Boulevard and along the Walk of Fame. Men pushing shopping carts. Women cowering in doorways of buildings that are boarded up or closed with roll-down shutters that are tagged.

I believe people will find helping the homeless more meaningful in the long term than, for example, leaving a bottle of liquor and some cigarettes at her grave, especially since Elizabeth Short didn’t smoke and rarely drank.

Posted in 1947, Black Dahlia, Hollywood | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Mystery Movies 2020 in Review

Roy D'Arcy in 'The Temptress'
Roy D’Arcy in “The Temptress,” one of 2020’s mystery movies.

I used a different method in selecting last year’s mystery movies, relying on the trade papers available on Lantern in a systematic fashion. The films might seem iffy now, but they generally got good reviews, and sometimes raves, when they were released. And in some instances, I chose movies for their historic value regardless of the reviews, notably “Native Son.”

In general, I had more movies from the 1930s (17 in 2020 vs. 13 in 2019) and more from the 1960s (nine in 2020 vs. 3 in 2019), fewer movies from the 1940s (11 in 2020 vs. 14 in 2019) and 1950s (12 in 2020 vs. 16 in 2019). And nothing from the 1970s, vs. two films in 2019.

MGM and Warner Bros. were the top mystery movie studios in 2020 at nine each, while 20th Century-Fox went from 10 mystery films (the leader in 2019) to five in 2020.  

On the jump, the mystery movie statistics for the year……

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Posted in 2019, 2020, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: The Paris Inn Sings for Its Supper

Paris Inn Postcard

From its beginnings, Los Angeles attracted dreamers and schemers looking to devise new, more successful lives. Early leaders practiced hucksterism and hyperbole to draw Midwesterners and others to the golden, promised land of sunny Southern California and its budding metropolis Los Angeles. Umberto (Bert) Rovere arrived in Los Angeles and fashioned a successful life through his own boosterim and branding promoting his restaurant, The Paris Inn Cafe.

Born in Turin, Italy, in 1890, young immigrant Rovere sailed to New York in 1906, finding work as a waiter and employing his singing to help pay the bills. Gradually, he ended up as a busboy at the Waldorf Astoria, where he claimed to make $20 a week. Rovere worked as a singing waiter on San Francisco’s Barbary Coast, performed with opera companies as a grand baritone, and sang occasionally in vaudeville acts preceding film screenings before arriving in Los Angeles in 1922. When not working, he found time to compete in running, wrestling, and swimming matches. During the summer of 1922, he even sang in a production of “Carmen” at the Hollywood Bowl.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Jan. 9, 2021, The Sin of Madelon Claudet Main Title

This week’s mystery movie was the 1931 MGM picture “The Sin of Madelon Claudet,” with Helen Hayes, Lewis Stone, Neil Hamilton, Cliff Edwards, Jean Hersholt, Marie Prevost, Robert Young,  Karen Morley, Charles Wininger, Alan Hale, Halliwell Hobbes, Lennox Pawle and Russ Powell.

From the play “The Lullaby” by Edward Knoblock. Dialogue continuity by Charles MacArthur. Recorded by Douglas Shearer, art direction by Cedric Gibbons, wardrobe by Rene Hubert, photographed by Oliver T. Marsh, edited by Tom Held

Directed by Edgar Selwyn.

“The Sin of Madelon Claudet” is available on DVD from Warner Archive.

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Posted in 1931, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo, Stage | Tagged , , , , , , | 58 Comments

Mary Astor’s Lost Film ‘New Year’s Eve’

Note: This is an encore from January 2020.

Since TCM is featuring Mary Astor, here’s a brief post on her lost movie “New Year’s Eve.” (A tip of the hat to Lou Lumenick, who tweeted about the movie on — New Year’s Eve.) I also uploaded a version of this post to IMDB, in case you see it there.

Fox originally announced the film under the title “Strong Arm,” based on the story “$100” by Richard Connell, published in the August 1928 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. The film was supposed to star Lois Moran and George O’Brien in the leads, under the direction of J.G. Blystone. Fox initially planned the movie as a talkie, but released it as “New Year’s Eve,” a silent directed by Henry Lehrman with sound effects and music, designated “sound on film.”

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide — Pisco Punch

New York Sun, April 23, 1934

Note: This is an encore post from 2013.

Just in time for New Year’s, we’ll take a look at a “lost drink,” making a brief inquiry into San Francisco’s Pisco Punch, made famous by Bank Exchange saloon owner Duncan Nicol (often spelled Nichol or Nicoll), who  died in 1926 without revealing the recipe.

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L.A. Daily Mirror Retro Drinking Guide – The Queens Cocktail

Note: This is an encore post from 2017.

Joe Vogel asks if there was a Queens Cocktail. The answer is yes.

According to the Jamaica Long Island Daily Press, Jan. 24, 1935, the Queens Cocktail debuted at the Hotel Commodore in a toast to President Roosevelt. Via

(No word yet on the Staten Island Cocktail — and boy that sounds like a straight line).

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Posted in 1935, 1937, Food and Drink | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments