Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

May 4, 2019, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie was the 1933 Fox film “State Fair,” with Janet Gaynor, Will Rogers, Lew Ayres, Sally Eilers, Norman Foster, Louise Dresser, Frank Craven and Victor Jory. Screenplay by Sonya Levien and Paul Green, from the novel by Philip Stong, photography by Hal Mohr, sound recorder A.l. Kirbach, settings by Duncan Cramer, wardrobe by Rita Kaufman, musical direction by Louis De Francesco. Directed by Henry King.

“State Fair” is not commercially available on DVD. Amazon Prime seems to offer a streaming version of a lousy print and the accompanying reviews are of the later musicals. TCM occasionally airs a fairly good print of this version and that’s where I got it.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘The Home-Maker’ Upends Gender Stereotypes

The Home Maker (1925) Directed by King Baggot Shown: Clive Brook, Alice Joyce

In the early 1920s, Universal purchased many popular novels and short stories for adaptation into motion pictures. Many of these were hugely popular and possessed giant name recognition with filmgoing audiences, while also focusing their stories on intimate human relationships, cheaper and more economical to produce.

The studio turned to the intimate family drama “The Home-Maker” in 1925, based on Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s widely successful novel of the same name, ahead of its time in gender depictions and expectations. Canfield Fisher, one of the most popular and acclaimed writers of the day, was a well-known advocate for adult education, racial equality, and women’s rights, and one of the people Eleanor Roosevelt most admired.

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, May 1-5

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March 16, 1969: The Rosey Grier Show

Rosey Grier Show

March 16, 1969: Rosey Grier, seen in the “Fearsome Foursome” making their debut on Shindig, is the star of a weekly TV show on Channel 7. Keith Thursby has the story.  This post originally appeared on in 2009 and is available via

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Long Beach: Cyclone Racer in ‘Half Angel,’ Part 3

'Half Angel'

In this sequence, our romantic leads dash out of the Cyclone Racer.

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Long Beach: Cyclone Racer in ‘Half Angel,’ Part 2

'Half Angel'

Cut to Cyclone Racer, which closed in 1968. Our romantic leads go for a ride on a roller coaster, being 1950s symbolism at its best.

The bored operator is Edwin Max.

The sign in the background appears to say: “Hold Your Hats and Your Girls, Not Responsible for Lost Items.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: Alberto Vargas Glorifies 1940s Young American Woman

Vargas poses with Kay Aldridge in a photo published in Cine-Mundial.

Note: This is an encore post from 2014.

“One day I will paint a Vargas girl so beautiful, so perfect, so typical of the American Girl, that I shall be able to show it to people anywhere in the world, without my signature on it and they’ll say, that’s a Vargas girl!” — Alberto Vargas quoted in “Vargas” by Taschen.

lthough some people might not know his name, many recognize the curvy, overly endowed model drawings designed by illustrator Alberto Vargas in the latter half of his career. Drawn for Esquire and Playboy magazines, these luscious line drawings of sexy yet innocent young women attracted great attention, and cemented his name in the national conscience.

Born Joaquin Alberto Vargas y Chavez in Arequipa, Peru, to wealthy parents, young Vargas showed deep interest in art from an early age. Drawing caricatures from the age of 7, before moving on to landscapes and portraits in his teens, Vargas was inspired by his famous photographer father to follow his dreams. His mother sent him and his brother to Zurich, Switzerland, in 1914 for a quality education in photography and languages, but Vargas soon traveled Europe after taking up painting. A natural autodidact, the young artist studiously visited galleries and museums, learning technique and form.

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


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Long Beach: Cyclone Racer in ‘Half Angel,’ Part 1

'Half Angel'

Here’s the Cyclone Racer sequence in “Half Angel,” last week’s mystery movie, that begins about the 32-minute mark. Joseph Cotten and Loretta Young are promenading along what is probably a Twentieth Century-Fox set, judging by the lighting. Editing by Robert Fritch.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 27, 2019, Two Arabian Knights

This week’s mystery movie was the 1927 United Artists picture “Two Arabian Knights,” with William Boyd, Mary Astor, Louis Wolheim, Ian Keith, Michael Vavitch, M. Visaroff, Boris Karloff, De Witt Jennings, Nicholas Dunaev, Jean Vachon and Denis D’Auburn.  Screenplay by Wallace Smith and Cyril Gardner, from the story by Donald McGibeny, continuity by James O’Donohue, titles by George Marion Jr., art direction by William Cameron Menzies, photography by Antonio Gaudio, technical direction by Ned Herbert Mann, interior decorations by Casey Roberts, assistant director Nate Watt, editing by Douglas Biggs, production managers Walter Mayo and Leeds Baxter. Produced by Howard Hughes and John W. Considine Jr. Directed by Lewis Milestone.

Turner Classic Movies in association with the University of Nevada  Las Vegas, digitally restored by Flicker Alley, music by Robert Israel, dedicated to Irvin Kershner.

“Two Arabian Knights” was digitally restored by Flicker Alley but has not been commercially released. It airs occasionally on TCM, which is where I got it in 2016, during the William Cameron Menzies retrospective hosted by Robert Osborne and James Curtis. The restoration is quite good, but the nitrate damage is still apparent in some segments.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: TCM Film Festival Walks on the Dark Side

Humphrey Bogart in a Warner Bros. ad for “All Through the Night.”

TCM threw a wild party for its 25th Anniversary on air and 10 years of honoring classic films with its just concluded TCM Classic Film Festival, a packed four days of classic films, social activity and special events for cineastes and fans alike. With an eclectic blend of movies, it offered a little something for everyone, a crowd- pleaser to the nth degree.

Depending on the selection of films to watch, the festival-going experience offered divergent emotions and points of view, thereby fulfilling every taste. Though I chose to attend only 1920s through 1940s films, I ended up walking on the dark side of life, where movies produced decades ago dramatically confronted issues and subjects as timely today as when they first raised their ugly heads, showing the dramatic impact of popular culture and entertainment to open minds and thoughts.

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘The Signal Tower’ Faces Danger

'The Signal Tower'
“The Signal Tower” in Picture-Play Magazine.

In 1923, Universal Studios handed Clarence Brown an opportunity to return to his youth by assigning him the film “The Signal Tower” to direct. A story of a railroad man directing train traffic and trying to read the signals in his own marriage, the movie seemed perfect for a former engineer who grew up near the railroad in Knoxville, Tenn.

Born 1890 in Massachusetts, the precocious Brown displayed great interest in machines and technology, pulling them apart and repairing them. Theatrics also fascinated him, a perfect blend for a future director. He graduated from high school in Tennessee at 15 and by 20 earned a double degree in engineering and established his own business while also maintaining an interest in amateur theatrics.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, May 1-5, 2019

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 20, 2019, Half Angel
This week’s mystery movie was the 1951 Twentieth Century-Fox picture “Half Angel” with Loretta Young, Joseph Cotten, Cecil Kellaway, Basic Ruysdael, Jim Backus, Irene Ryan and John Ridgely. Screenplay by Robert Riskin from a story by George Carleton Brown,  Technicolor consultant Leonard Doss, musical direction by Alfred Newman, music by Cyril Mockridge, orchestration by Herbert Spencer and Maurice de Packh, photography by Milton Krasner, art direction by Lyle Wheeler and John DeCuir, set decoration by Thomas Little and Paul S. Fox, editing by Robert Fritch, wardrobe by Charles Le Maire, costumes by Travilla, music and lyrics by Alfred newman and Ralph Blane, makeup by Ben Nye, special effects by Fred Sersen, sound by Bernard Freericks and Harry M. Leonard. Produced by Julian Blaustein,  directed by Richard Sale.

“Half Angel” is available on DVD from TCM, although the listing says it’s in black and white.

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March 1977: Body of Boxing Manager Howard Steindler Found on Ventura Freeway

March 16, 2009, Howard Steindler

Note: I’m still catching up with posts from the blog when it was at This post about the unsolved killing of Howard Steindler originally appeared in 2009 and is available via


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March 5, 1959: Blinded by Bullet, Officer Shoots Gunman Who Killed Partner

Ector A. Garcia

Note: I’m way behind on revisiting old blog posts but here’s one I especially like. It’s a little story about  LAPD artist Ector A. Garcia. Garcia also published a paperback “Portraits of Crime” in 1977. It’s a bit hard to find but has lots of information about old LAPD cases.

The blog post originally appeared on and is available via

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: San Francisco Silent Film Festival Salutes Human Connection

The Cameraman, San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Many rarely seen and newly restored films from all over the globe examining relationships and the human condition will screen May 1 through 5 at the Castro Theatre as part of the 24th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival. From acknowledged masterpieces to obscure chamber plays, all express the longing for connection or affection, through the deep emotionalism of silent cinema.

Classic American filmmakers receive their due this year covering virtually every genre of silent film. Horror maven Tod Browning directs Lon Chaney in their 1928 revenge-driven horror film “West of Zanzibar,” with despicable Phroso plotting retribution on the man who left him paralyzed. The picture features another of Chaney’s remarkable portrayals of men consumed with madness, anger, and deep sorrow.

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, May 1-5.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

April 13, 2019, Iceman Cometh
This week’s mystery movie was the 1973 American Film Theatre production of “The Iceman Cometh,” with Lee Marvin, Fredric March, Robert Ryan, Jeff Bridges, Bradford Dillman, Sorrell Booke, Hildy Brooks, Nancy Juno Dawson,  Evans Evans, Martyn Green, Moses Gunn, Clifton James, John McLiam, Stephen Pearlman, Tom Pedi, George Voskovec, Don McGovern and Bart Burns. Photographed by Ralph Woolsey,  production design by Jack Martin Smith, costume consultant Dorothy Jeakins, edited by Harold F. Kress, production supervisor Irving Temaner. For the American Film Theatre, Henry T. Weinstein, executive producer Edward Lewis, producer Ely Landau, directed by John Frankenheimer.

A special thanks to B.J. Merholz, who mentioned this film in a conversation several years ago.

“The Iceman Cometh” is available on DVD from Kino Lorber, and on streaming via Kanopy.

More about the American Film Theatre here.

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April 3, 1957: Matt Weinstock

L.A. Times 2006

And here’s what the Daily Mirror looked like when debuted at the latimes in 2007.

Matt Weinstock’s complete column is here.

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Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

This week’s mystery movie was the 1932 Warner Bros. film “Big City Blues” with Joan Blondell, Eric Linden, Jobyna Howland, Ned Sparks, Guy Kibbee, Grant Mitchell, Walter Catlett, Inez Courtney and Thomas Jackson, based on a play by Ward Morehouse, screenplay by Ward Morehouse and Lillie Hayward, edited by Ray Curtiss, art direction by Anton Grot, photography by James Van Trees, Vitaphone orchestra conducted by Leo F. Forbstein. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

“Big City Blues” is available on DVD from Warner Archive in “Forbidden Hollywood,” Volume 9, which also has previous mystery movie “Hell’s Highway.”

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Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: ‘Open Secret’ a Timely Tale of Tolerance

Open Secret
TCM tackles a vital subject with its screening of the motion picture “Open Secret” during the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival April 11-14. 2019. As timely now as when it was first released in 1948,“Open Secret” promotes religious and racial tolerance to a country fighting to accept the very principles upon which it was created. Produced on a much smaller budget than studio films “Crossfire” and “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” “Open Secret” takes a no-nonsense look at growing racial intolerance and anti-Semitism in the late 1940s, fighting back against these loathsome tendencies.

Two years after the United States and its allies crushed the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan to win World War II and restore dramatic principles of equality and tolerance, fear and hatred of foreigners and “others” was growing among the disenchanted in America. The July 17, 1946, Los Angeles Times reported that the Jewish Labor Committee was beginning a campaign to “eliminate racial discrimination and bigotry among workers.” “It takes a concerted campaign against the conditions which tempt ordinary people to grasp at the dangerous belief that it is the Jews, or the Negroes, or the foreigners who are taking away their economic bread and butter or cultural opportunities. Most antagonism arises from economic insecurity which pits man against his fellow man for jobs, better living standards and social advancement.” The Committee hoped to show that it was economic and political practices which were causing these cuts in wages, not the people.

The TCM Classic Film Festival begins April 11.

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Black Dahlia: Steve Hodel’s Lies on ‘Dr. Phil’; A Case Study

March 26, 2019,. Steve Hodel, Dr. Phil

Would you like to see how Steve Hodel lies about things that can be easily checked? Of course you would. This is a graphic that appeared during Steve Hodel’s appearance on “Dr. Phil.”

It’s helpful, at least for me, for Steve to give the date of this supposed excerpt from the LAPD bug at the Sowden House. Because I have all the transcripts and they are (spoiler alert) Bo-RING! Steve also merges the quotes from March 25, 1950, and March 26, 1950. This guy was a detective with the LAPD? This guy?

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Gentlemen, Your Wedding Photos Are Ready After 62 Years, Part 7

1957 Same-Sex Wedding

In case you just tuned in, I’m slowly going through a set of photos of the wedding of two men in Philadelphia in 1957. The film was left at a shop to be developed and the store manager refused to return the prints because he found them objectionable. Rather than destroying them, however, he allowed a shop employee to keep them and they were eventually sold on EBay with copies given to the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, which is trying to identify the men in the pictures.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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