Sunday, October 19, 2014

Night Moves (1975) - Film Locations


Night Moves (1975), is a 70s era detective story starring Gene Hackman as a detective hired by an aging movie starlet to find her daughter. What at first appears to be a straight forward missing persons case turns out to be much more convoluted. What I found interesting about this film is that it features two old Burbank, California movie theaters that no longer exist. One was demolished and another has been completely remodeled and turned into a recording studio.

The first movie house seen in the film is the Magnolia Theater located at 4403 W. Magnolia Boulevard. In the film, Hackman is following his wife, who he discovers is having an affair when she walks out of the theater with another man. Classic movie fans may recognize this theater as the place where Fred MacMurray first meets Kim Novak in the crime film PUSHOVER (1954). The Magnolia Theater building is located just a mile and a half away from the Warner Bros. Studios lot, the studio that produced this film. Today the building is used as a recording studio and has been greatly remodeled from its days as a theater. The theater was built in 1940 and closed in 1979, just four years after Night Moves was released.

Click images to see larger.

Gene Hackman outside Burbank's Magnolia Theatre.

The former Magnolia Theatre building at 4403 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, Ca.

Another view of the Magnolia Theatre as seen in Night Moves (1975).

The Magnolia Theatre building at 4403 W. Magnolia Blvd.

The screenshot below is of a building located next door to the Magnolia Theatre. That structure is also still standing, although remodled.

Building next door to Magnolia Theatre as seen in Night Moves.

The structure next door to the Magnolia Theatre.

Another old Burbank movie theater that appears in Night Moves is the old Cornell Theatre located at 1212 N. San Fernando Blvd, which can be seen in the screenshot below. What first caught my eye from the screenshot was the old Taco Bell sign and the McDonald's sign. From driving down this street multiple times before I remembered a Taco Bell restaurant and McDonald's located right next to each other. I figured if the earlier scene was filmed in Burbank then maybe this scene was also filmed in Burbank and perhaps at this location. What I didn't recognize was the Cornell neon sign on the right of the screenshot, but I recalled there being a Cornell Theatre in Burbank. I assumed that this must have been the location - and I was right.  That intersection where the Cornell Theatre stands is San Fernando Blvd and Cornell Drive.

The Cornell Theatre opened on November 18, 1949 and was demolished in 1980 after closing in 1978 - just three years after Night Moves was released. According to the website Cinema Treasures, The Cornell Theatre "had two main aisles that ran down the theatre... Inside the auditorium, all seating was on a single level. There were Art Deco style 'swirls' on the side-walls and on each side of the proscenium. The curved ceiling contained 'twinkling star' lights, giving a semi-Atmospheric style to the decoration."

Gene Hackman drives past the now demolished Cornell Theatre.

Looking down San Fernando Blvd. The Cornell Theatre once stood below the yellow arrow.

Night Moves (1972) was directed by Arthur Penn. Also starring are Jennifer Warren, Susan Clark and in early roles, James Woods and Melanie Griffith. The film is available on DVD and is currently available for streaming on Warner Archive Instant. If you like 1970s era detective/crime films like Klute (1971) or The Long Goodbye (1973), then this may be your thing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hollywood Frame By Frame - A Book Review

 
Hollywood Frame By Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997

Between my digital camera and my camera phone I probably take way too many photos. For about every ten photos I take, usually only one of them is any good, but because I can preview the photos before I print them I can be sure I'm printing only the photos I really want. In Hollywood, in the era prior to digital photography, set photographers didn't have this luxury. Instead the photographers printed contact sheets - a printed reproduction of one or more strips of developed film - which allowed photographers to view many different shots on one sheet. The photographers or studio publicity department could then preview the photos in order to select the best ones to serve their purpose.

In the new book Hollywood Frame By Frame: The Unseen Silver Screen in Contact Sheets, 1951-1997, author Karina Longworth presents contact sheets from Hollywood's past containing many never before seen images of Hollywood's biggest stars. James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Chaplin, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and Faye Dunaway are just some of the many stars that are featured. These contact sheets allow us to see not just the photos that made the cut for some publicity photo, but all the images that for whatever reason were passed over. These images are often more interesting than the chosen photos. In some images we see stars caught in a spontaneous moment. In others we get interesting glimpses behind the scenes of the filmmaking process.

Click images to see larger.


A contact sheet showing Audrey Hepburn on the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's.

For each film, the book includes interesting anecdotes about the stars featured in the contact sheets and some background information. In the contact sheet for Sabrina (1954) featuring Audrey Hepburn, I learned that this film marked the beginning of Audrey Hepburn's "long run as muse and model for French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy." The director of the film, Billy Wilder, convinced studio Paramount to pay for Hepburn to fly to Paris and purchase garments from Givenchy to be worn in the film.  When Hepburn arrived at Givenchy's studio, the designer was expecting the other Hepburn - Katharine - but Givenchy allowed her to go through his closets and select what she liked. And everyone knows how that turned out.

Marilyn Monroe in a contact sheet for Bus Stop (1956).

Another tid bit I learned was from an anecdote for Raintree County (1957) involving Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. I already knew that it was during the making of this film that Clift was involved in a major car accident that disfigured his perfect face and would delay and complicate the rest of the film. What I didn't know were some of the gross details. Clift was leaving a party at Taylor's house when he crashed his car into a telephone pole and his face was torn away. According to the book, Clift's friend and fellow actor Kevin McCarthy, "who had been driving his own car ahead of Clift's, ran back to Taylor's house for help, and the actress rushed to Clift's side, sticking her fingers down her best friend's throat to retrieve the two front teeth which had been knocked out by the crash."

James Stewart and Grace Kelly in a contact sheet from Rear Window (1954).

What's amazing is that we have many of these images at all. For a long period contact sheets were trashed once a movie was released. The studios didn't see any purpose in keeping them. This hardcover book is 208 pages, filled with gorgeous black and white images and a couple of attractive color images. I highly recommend it for classic film or photography fans who enjoy a nice coffee table style book. Might make for a great gift for the classic film fan on your gift list.

Special thanks to Princeton Architectural Press for a review copy of this book.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Young Philadelphians (1959) - Film Locations

 

Coming up on TCM as part of their Summer Under the Stars tribute to actress Alexis Smith, is one of my favorite Paul Newman films, The Young Philadelphians (1959). Newman plays an up and coming young lawyer, who despite having  a respected family name in Philadelphia society, has to work his way up the corporate ladder. Along the way he faces several ethical dilemmas.

As the title suggests, the film is set in Philadelphia, however, the movie was actually filmed in California in Glendale, Pacific Palisades and the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank.  Here are the primary filming locations seen in the film.

The film opens with a scene at a church that is supposed to be located on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. There is even a street sign that reads Rittenhouse Square, but I didn't buy that the film crew would have gone to Philadelphia to shoot this scene so I started researching old Los Angeles churches that had a clock tower. I then found a photo of a matching church in the Los Angeles Library collection. Below are two screenshots of the church in the film, a photograph of the church from the 1920s, and an image showing the same modern day location.

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The church as seen in the film.

Don't let the street sign fool you. This is no where near Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square.

Glendale Presbyterian Church.  Corner of Harvard and Louise Streets. Photo Credit: LAPL

Current Glendale Presbyterian Church. Corner of Harvard and Louise Streets.

The Glendale Presbyterian Church building that is seen in the film was constructed in 1923, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1971. There was so much damage that the building had to be demolished and a new building was later built on the same site on top of the existing basement.

Early in the film we see Paul Newman as a young guy managing a construction site. That big hole in the ground was actually on Warner Bros. New York Street backlot. Below you can see a screenshot showing the New York Street set and a modern image of the same set location.

Warner Bros. New York Street backlot used for a Philadelphia construction site.

Warner Bros. New York Street Backlot.

Paul Newman duking it out on WB's New York Street backlot.

Newman's character ends up falling in love with a young socialite played by Barbara Rush. In one scene Newman takes Rush back to her family home. The exterior of the home was actually the Warner Bros. Brownstone Street. These Warner Bros. facades are constantly being changed for project to project and in fact the facade used in the scene below was again being changed out when I took the modern day image.

Warner Bros. Brownstone Street was used for the home of Barbara Rush.

Warner Bros. Brownstone Street as it appears today.

Below is a view of Newman and Rush on Brownstone Street, but looking across to the other side of the street. The facade used during the time of the film has since been completely wiped out. Today this side of the street is the location of the Warner Bros theatre, which does have a facade that can be used for filming - although it now now way resembles the facade which used to be there.

Newman and Rush on Brownstone Street.

The Warner Bros. Theatre now stands on this site of Brownstone Street.

One of the locations in the film is a bar called Ernie's Cocktails. This too was filmed on the Warner Bros. backlot, on New York Street. This facade also has been greatly changed since the film, but you can see below where I've marked with a yellow box, where the Ernie's facade would have been located.

Warner Bros. New York Street was used as the location for Ernie's Cocktails.

The yellow box marks the portion of the facade used as Ernie's Cocktails.

Below is another shot of the Warner Bros. New York Street backlot, this time at Christmas. I love seeing the fake snow on the ground and people wearing heavy jackets. As this is really California - not Philadelphia - I bet it was 80 some degrees at the time.

Warner Bros. New York Street backlot dressed for Christmas time.

The same corner of the New York Street backlot as it appears today.

The next two comparisons show the site of Paul Newman's law office in the film which was also the New York Street backlot.

The Warner Bros. NY Street backlot was used as the exterior for Newman's law office.

The yellow box marks the location of the New York Street backlot exterior used as Newman's law office.

Looking across the street from Newman's office toward the alley.

The WB New York Street backlot. The alley can be seen to the right of the theatre marquee.

This last location is supposed to be the home of the character played by Alexis Smith. In reality, this home is the former Will Rogers Estate, located at 14253 Sunset Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades. The ranch became a State Park in 1944 and today the site includes the 31-room ranch house, a stable, corrals, riding ring, roping arena, golf course, polo field and riding and hiking trails.

Will Rogers House, 14253 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles was used as the home of Alexis Smith.

Will Rogers Ranch House. Source

In addition to airing on TCM, The Young Philadelphians is currently available for streaming on Warner Archive Instant and is available on DVD through ClassicFlix. The film, directed by Vincent Sherman, stars Paul Newman, Barbara Rush, Alexis Smith and Robert Vaughn.


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