Archive for May, 2008

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Indiana Jones

and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

 

Shia LaBeouf and Harrison Ford in the latest Indiana Jones epic

 

Direction: Steven Spielberg. Screenplay: David Koepp; story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson. Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine, Alan Dale

 

 

by Allan R. Ellenberger

 

After reading the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull reviews coming out of Cannes, my expectations for Steven Spielberg’s latest effort were considerably lowered. But I shouldn’t have worried. Overall, the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones saga delivers the goods.

 

The film’s late-1950s time period is identified in the opening sequence as a teenage hot-rod drag race takes place on screen while Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” plays over the soundtrack. From then on, true to the original, the action is nonstop.

 

 

At first, our hero is kidnapped by communists headed by Cate Blanchett donning a black pageboy and doing what sounds like a bizarre “Natasha” impersonation. In the following twenty minutes, Spielberg and screenwriter David Koepp (George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson received “story” credit) put Indy through shoot-outs, car crashes, and an atom bomb in the Nevada desert. And that’s only for starters.

 

Harrison Ford, of course, is Indiana Jones. What else can be said? Age was never an issue while watching him on the screen, though references — mostly by Shia LaBeouf — are made about it. A Spielberg favorite of late, LaBeouf plays well the role of a knife-wielding, motorcycle-riding Marlon Brando clone.

 

As a plus, it was good to see the return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, the role she originated in Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981. (Marion has a secret for Indy that you can see coming from a mile away.) John Hurt, as a loony archeologist; Ray Winstone, as a spy who you are never sure on whose side he is; and Jim Broadbent, in what amounts to a cameo, round out the cast.

 

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull also offers brief homages to characters played in previous installments by Denholm Elliott and by Sean Connery — who reportedly turned down appearing in this sequel.

 

Indiana Jones billboard on Times Square 

 

Much has been written about the film’s special effects, which indeed are outstanding despite a swordfight during a jungle chase that failed to impress. Nearly everything else, however, is top-notch, including water falls, giant fire ants, attacking monkeys, and aliens in Peru, just to name a few. That said, in regard to the Crystal Skull of the title, one patron was overheard complaining in the lobby that said object looked like a “piece of plastic filled with Saran Wrap.”

 

Notwithstanding its shortcomings, this latest episode is loyal to the spirit of the franchise and will likely please most fans. And be sure not to miss the reference to the series’ first film. Like everything else in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it goes by very quickly.

  

NOTE: My review for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull originally appeared on the Alternative Film Guide site on Monday, May 19. See it HERE.

 

 

Allan Does New York…

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

New York City Highlights

 

 

 Times Square

 

by Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Recently I returned from a trip to New York City where I did research for my Miriam Hopkins biography. I also spent time with some good friends who showed me the greatest hospitality. Thanks again to Adam, Steve, Joe and Arlene.

 

During my stay, I accessed information from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and had a charming visit with media legend, Joe Franklin.

 

The Billy Rose Collection at the NYPL is a great resource especially for the theatre. Miriam Hopkins was exclusive to Broadway from 1921 to 1931 and returned on occasion for the next thirty years. In future postings I will document her stage appearances. At the library, I also perused the papers of Chamberlain and Lyman Brown who served as theatrical agents for Hopkins for more than twenty years. The Cheryl Crawford papers gave me information on the making of the Broadway play, The Perfect Marriage, that starred Hopkins and Victor Jory and was produced by Crawford.

 

The Museum of the City of New York has archives that cover the entire history of Broadway. I was able to go through files for every play that Hopkins appeared in.

 

In future posts I will concentrate on a few New York film related landmarks. For now, here are photos from my visit of some popular New York sites. Please “click” on image to enlarge.

    

 

         

 

 

         

 

 

Celebrity Homes…Anita Stewart

Friday, May 16th, 2008

CELEBRITY HOMES

Anita Stewart

Then & Now

  

 

Stewarts home as it looks today 
(click on images to enlarge)

 

7425 Franklin Avenue

Hollywood, California

 

 Anita Stewart
(1902-1961)

 

NOTE: The former home of silent film actress, Anita Stewart has been empty and in this condition for several years. The porch roof is missing and the grounds are unkempt. Hopefully, someone will restore the home and property before it is lost forever.

 _________________________________

 

Early Hollywood Days

Monday, May 12th, 2008

HOLLYWOOD ORAL HISTORIES

Remembrances of Hollywood Pioneer and Leader who Tells Origin of the Name “Hollywood”

 

 

 

Philo Judson Beveridge (1851-1921) was the son of Illinois governor, John L. Beveridge and the second husband of Hollywood co-founder, Daieda Hartell Wilcox (1861-1914).

 
By Philo J. Beveridge
Holly Leaves
Saturday, January 15, 1921
 

“In 1893, when I came to Hollywood, the name Hollywood legally covered only a sub-division of 160 acres bounded by Franklin Avenue, Sunset Boulevard, Gower Street and Whitley Avenue culminating in a population of about thirty people. The larger territory lying north of Santa Monica Boulevard, west of Vermont and east of Laurel Canyon, was, however, frequently designated as Hollywood. The sub-division of 160 acres was recorded as “Hollywood,” a name selected by my late wife, Ida Wilcox Beveridge, because it was the name of a country estate of a friend in Ohio. 

 

  

“The larger territory had a population of nearly one-hundred people. It was known as the “Frostless Belt of the Cahuenga Valley.” The late E. C. Hurd and Edward Baker were the pioneers in the growing of lemons and oranges, and Mr. Rapp, Jacob Miller and others had suceessfully grown winter vegetables and semi-tropical fruits. Wells were the only source of water supply. Such roads as had been dedicated were upgraded and improved. A four-foot cement sidewalk on the west side of Cahuenga Avenue from Franklin to Hollywood Boulevard and westward to Whitley Avenue, installed in 1888 by the late H. H. Wilcox, was for many years the sole evidence of a desire for better things. The pepper trees within the virginal sub-division were all planted by my wife. Within the larger territory there was one church, and a single school house of one room was located on Sunset east of Gower Street.

 

 Photograph of early Hollywood in 1910. Location of streets are noted.

 

“The Cahuenga Valley Railroad, built in the late eighties by Mr. MacLaughlin, a son-in-law of Senator Cole, ran from Whitley and Hollywood Boulevard to a connection with a cable line at the western end of Temple Street. One engine and a combination passenger and freight car comprised its equipment. It was supposed to make five round trips a day, but frequently discontinued all service for days and weeks at a time. It had two regular passengers, E. C. Allen and Harve Friend, both deceased, and these two with H. D. Sackett who had a general store at southwest corner of Cahuenga and Hollywood Boulevard, represented the active business interests of Hollywood.

 

“The story of the long months of persistent efforts by a number of loyal citizens to secure better streets, a water system, sewer outlet, gas, electricity and a direct electric railway system, would be of interest to the older inhabitants but can not be covered in detail with the limits at my disposal.

 

“The Hollywood Board of Trade, organized about twenty years ago, has accomplished much for Hollywood, and deserves our united support.

 

“To me it is a source of constant satisfaction that while in early days we disagreed amongst ourselves on many matters of public policy no enmities were formed, and the opponents of the past are the friends of today. To the oldtimers and to the strangers within our gates let me recall old Rip’s toast: “Here’s to you and your family. May they all live long and prosper.”

 

 

Philo J. Beveridge’s grave at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

 

The preceeding was reprinted from the Holly Leaves, an early Hollywood newspaper.

 ____________________________________

Anna Hill at Hollywood Forever…

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Anna Hill

aka Annetta Saloski

(1851-1931)

 

The above photo is from a recent auction of Anna Hill ephemera (thanks Dave).

 

AMERICAN OPERA SINGER

 

BORN: February 22, 1851, Cincinnati, Ohio

DIED: February 18, 1931, Hollywood, California

BURIAL: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Mausoleum, Crypt 852

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger 

 

Considered the Toast of Milan, Annetta Saloski (née Anna Hill) blazed a brilliant trail for Americans in a land where only the greatest voices succeeded. At 18, her voice attracted such attention that she was sent to Milan with donations from the public to study under Sam Giovanni. Her debut at Teatro alla Scala(La Scala) as Marguerite in Faust resulted in a standing ovation.

 

In the 1870s Hill was considered queen of sopranos. She made her American debut in St. Louis in 1885. After scoring a marked success, she returned to Cincinnati her home city, to sing. Later she went back to Italy, where she married Oscar R. Giaccaglia.

 

Hill sang in more than thirty operas, her most effective roles being in Faust and Traviata. She was a contemporary of Lillian Nordica and Clara Louisa Kellogg, leading American women singers, with Nordica following her in successful Italian appearances. She was at her zenith before the great Adelina Patti sang.

 

Her husband was decorated as Chevalier of Civil Valor by the King of Italy soon after their marriage. They moved to the United States in 1913 and settled in Hollywood. At the time of her death she was survived by her husband Oscar, who died in 1935, her daughter Pauline Giaccaglia Timme of Beverly Hills, a son, John A. Giaccaglia of New York and Leonard L. Hill, a brother.

 

Anna Hill lived and passed away at her home in Hollywood (below)

 

 

She is interred in the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, next to her husband.

 

 

 

 

 

The preceding is one in a series of biographical sketches of
Hollywood Forever Cemetery residents.

 

Conway Tearle in the 1930 Census…

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

THE 1930 CENSUS

Conway Tearle

 (1878-1938)

ne Frederick Levy

Film Actor

Robert Vantine in The White Moth (1924)

 

Conway Tearle       

  

 Conway Tearle Residence

 The Tearle house as it appears today.

 

 1784 North Orange Drive

Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California

Owned, $37,500
Radio
Census taken on April 10, 1930

 

 HOUSEHOLD RESIDENTS:*

  1. Conway F. Tearle (head), 42 / New York / Actor / Motion pictures.
  2. Adele Tearle [Adele Rowland] (wife), 39 / District of Columbia / None.
  3. Abe Rowland (father-in-law), 73 / Pennsylvania / None.
  4. Joe Muchizuki (servant), 45 / Japan (1896) / Cook / Private family.
  5. Sakayu Muchizuki (servant), 42 / Japan (1896) / General maid / Private family.
  6. Henry C. F. Hackbush (lodger, Rent, $14),  29 / divorced / Civil engineer / Construction.

 

NOTE: The house is now the headquarters for the American Society of Cinematographers.

 

Adele Rowland

 Adele Rowland (1883-1971)

 

 _______________________________________________________________

 

* Information includes relationship to head of household, age / place of birth (year of arrival in this country, if applicable) / occupation / industry.

  

The preceeding text is taken from my recent book, Celebrities in the 1930 Census (McFarland & Co., Inc., 2008). This directory provides an extensive listing of household information collected for over 2,265 famous or notorious individuals who were alive during the 1930 United States Census. Please note: The above photographs do not appear in the book.

 

 

Hollywood Construction…

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Building boom gives Hollywood pause

 

Some worry that a proliferation of high-end projects will bury the charm of the storied area’s golden past.

 

By Roger Vincent
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

 

May 6, 2008
 

Construction cranes hover over Hollywood as the movie industry’s historic home undergoes another sweeping — and sometimes wrenching — transformation.

 

More than a dozen multimillion-dollar projects have been announced, launched or just completed that promise new shopping and restaurants, thousands of new apartments and condominiums and towers of glass and steel.

 

Glitzy clubs dot once-sketchy street corners. Residents swim atop the former Broadway department store at Hollywood and Vine. Construction projects cuddle up to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and are popping up in the shadow of the landmark Capitol Records tower.

(more…)

Rudolph Valentino’s 113th Birthday…

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Rudolph Valentino

 

 Rudolph Valentino and his wife, Natacha Rambova

 

BORN: May 6, 1895, Castellaneta, Italy
DIED: August 23, 1926, New York, New York

 

TUESDAY, May 6, is Rudolph Valentino’s 113th birthday. To celebrate you may want to pay homage to your idol this week at the following five Valentino places of interest.

_________________________________________

  

1. Walk of Fame Star, 6164 Hollywood Boulevard, south side between Argyle and El Centro Avenue.

 

 

Rudolph Valentino’s star on the “Walk of Fame” was one of the original 1,500 installed in 1959. The spot where his Star is located was at one time the front entrance to the Hastings Hotel (formerly the Regent), built in 1925 by producer Al Christie on land where, many years earlier, he had filmed one of the first movies made in Hollywood. The hotel was badly damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and was demolished. The site is now a parking lot used for the Pantages Theatre and nearby subway.

 

 ______________________________________

 

 2. Hollywood High School Mural, southeast corner of Orange Street and Hawthorn Avenue.

 

 

 

Located on the west side of Hollywood High School (1521 North Highland Avenue) is a large mural of Valentino in profile as The Sheik in full headdress blowing in the wind. Until the 1930s, the Hollywood High School athletic teams were known as The Crimson (in emulation of Harvard). It was around this time that a newspaper journalist wrote an article about one of the school’s teams and nicknamed them The Sheiks after “the brave warrior-lover hero in the Rodolf [sic] Valentino film classic of the 1920s.” After the article was printed, the school adopted the name, and they have remained “the Sheiks of Hollywood High” ever since. To view the mural travel south on Orange Street from Hollywood Boulevard. The mural is just past Hawthorn Avenue and overlooks the school’s football field.

 

 __________________________________________

 

 3. De Longpre Park, south side of De Longpre Avenue between Cherokee Avenue and June Street.

 

Statue of Aspiration at De Longpre Park

  

Developed in 1924 for $66,000, De Longpre Park is named after painter Paul De Longpre, whose celebrated home at Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga Avenue was the first tourist attraction in Hollywood. On May 5, 1930 (Valentino’s 35th birthday), at twelve o’clock in De Longpre Park, actress Dolores del Rio drew back a velvet curtain to reveal the bronze figure of a man with face uplifted. The statue, entitled “Aspiration,” was designed by sculptor Roger Noble Burham and was paid for with contributions from fans and admirers. The inscription reads: “Erected in the Memory of Rudolph Valentino 1895 – 1926. Presented by his friends and admirers from every walk of life — in all parts of the world, in appreciation of the happiness brought to them by his cinema portrayals.”

 ______________________________________________

 

 4. Lasky-De Mille Barn, 2100 Highland Avenue (across from the Hollywood Bowl).

 

 

The Lasky-De Mille Barn is presently home to the Hollywood Heritage Museum. At one time this simple wood-frame structure was part of Famous Players-Lasky’s studio, and stood on the southeast corner of Vine Street and Selma Avenue. Built in 1895, the barn was where The Squaw Man (1914), the first full-length motion picture filmed in Hollywood by Cecil B. De Mille, was shot. Valentino would certainly have used this building at different times during his tenure at the studio. There are also Valentino artifacts on display in the museum courtesy of Valentino collectors, Tracy Ryan Terhune and Stella Grace. For information on visiting the barn and museum, call (323) 874-2276 or (323) 874-4005.

____________________________________________

 

5. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, south side between Gower Street and Van Ness Avenue.

 

Rudolph Valentino\'s crypt

 

Founded in 1899, the former Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery is the final resting place of Rudolph Valentino. It is also the site of the annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service held each year on August 23 at 12:10 P.M., the time of his death in New York. Valentino’s crypt, borrowed from his friend June Mathis who is lying in the crypt next to his, is located in the Cathedral Mausoleum, Crypt 1205. As you enter the mausoleum, walk to the back and take the last corridor to the left. Follow that to the end and make a right and walk toward the stained glass window. Valentino’s crypt is the last one on the left at eye level.

 

 

The Laemmle Building

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Hollywood and Vine:

A History

 

by Allan R. Ellenberger

 

Arguably the most famous intersection in the world, Hollywood and Vine sometimes disappoints tourists who search it out. Yesterday’s fire at the intersections northwest corner made me think about its history. The intersection first became famous in the 1930s because many of Hollywood’s important radio stations were located nearby.  “Brought to you from Hollywood and Vine” was a familiar opening to many early radio broadcasts.

 

Historic 1920s office buildings are located on three of its corners. On the northeast corner is the Equitable Building (1929), a Gothic Deco commercial building, designed by Aleck Curlett. The B. H. Dyas building (1927) on the southwest corner at one time housed The Broadway-Hollywood department store. It’s famous sign still stands on its roof. And on the southeast corner is the Taft Building (1923), by architects Walker & Eisen in the Renaissance Revival style. This building once housed offices for Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Hedda Hopper, Photoplay magazine and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

 

On the northwest corner is the building devasted by yesterdays fire. At first glance it may not be mistaken for a Hollywood landmark, however, it was built in 1932-1933 by Universal founder, Carl Laemmle and bore his name (Laemmle Building) for many years. Designed by famed architect, Richard Neutra in the International Style, the building has been altered many times over the decades (beginning in 1940) and no longer retains any of its original features.

 

Below are photos from the Laemmle Buildings past:

 

Vine Street at Hollywood Blvd. in 1907. The house on the left is the
approximate location of the Laemmle Building

 

The former Laemmle Building in the 1950s

 

The Laemmle Building’s (left) incarnation as a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant

 

 

 The former Laemmle Building in the 1990s

 

Currently, the building housed the Basque Nightclub and Restaurant (6263 Hollywood Blvd.), a popular celebrity hangout. Actress Lindsay Lohan recently celebrated her 21st birthday at Basque and rap star Kanye West partied there earlier in April. Scenes from the movie Ocean’s Eleven were filmed there and the property had recently been sold as part of a renovation renaissance in Hollywood.

 

 

 

As the intersection appeared yesterday morning (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

 

Sadly, the 75 year-old Laemmle Building’s future is unclear. It’s not known at this time if the building is a total loss and will be demolished or if it can be saved. Once it’s fate is known, it will be reported here.

 

 (Bob Chamberlain/Los Angeles Times)