Thursday, October 17, 2013

Los Angeles in 1938

I recently acquired a 1938 Standard Oil map of Los Angeles.

LA looked a bit different then, as you can see. Here's the forerunner of LAX:

Before there were "wetlands," there were "swamp areas."  Notice that the marina was not built yet, and the area was home to a gun club!

There were several small airports in the LA area, including one in Culver City

There were also many "blank" areas on the map, completely undeveloped.

Another couple of small airports, the National Guard Airport in the northeast corner of Griffith Park, and the Grand Central Air Terminal just north of that.

Elysian Park and environs, 20 years before Dodger Stadium

The California Zoological Park, and Cawston Ostrich Farm, both in what is now Highland Park. The Ostrich Farm had previously been in South Pasadena.

Note "the other" Wrigley Field, first home to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. The Fine Arts Museum is the precursor to LACMA.The LA Colosseum is only about six years old at this point. USC has grown a bit since then.

More "blank" space on the map.

Gilmore Stadium, at the corner of Fairfax and Beverly, now home to CBS. Also note the famous [Pan] Pacific Auditorium.  And a lot more "blank space" all the way down to 6th Street, near "the Fossil Pits."

Another small airport, west of the larger one seen above.

Lots more empty space.

The future location of Beverlywood, a big open area, with the Pacific Military Academy in the middle.

Even more undeveloped areas in Mar Vista.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cane River - an Ultra-Orphan Film

During my work surveying the films held at DuArt, I came across an intriguing title I'd never heard of (one among many in the DuArt vaults) called CANE RIVER. My initial research turned up nothing, but eventually I found that the film's director, Horace B. Jenkins, died of a heart attack in December 1982 at just 42 years of age, a mere three months shy of the film's scheduled New York release. That release never happened, and the film was only seen briefly in New Orleans in December of 1983 (IMDB lists a release in Germany in October of 1982, but I question the authenticity of this citation). The only other screening I could find was at New Orleans Film Festival in the 90s, which notes that CANE RIVER was critically acclaimed (I guess in New Orleans, anyway.)

Jenkins was a very successful television producer and documentary filmmaker, and had won Emmys for his work in television, as a producer of SESAME STREET and TONY BROWN'S JOURNAL. It's certainly sad that he died so short of the release of his first fiction feature. This was obviously a very independent film, a labor of love, funded by a notable New Orleans mortuary. It's too bad the film never had a chance to find an audience. I wonder what might have happened had Jenkins lived - CANE RIVER would have opened in New York and perhaps around the country, and who knows? If the film succeeded, would Jenkins made other films?

Is CANE RIVER a lost masterpiece, a mediocre curiosity, or a forgettable misfire? Right now, I have no way of knowing. Though we received the original A&B negative rolls and a 35mm blowup internegative and track, we've got no film print or video copy, so I currently have no way of seeing the film. I have read that the film is a romance, filmed in New Orleans, and is one of the first features to deal with color prejudice within the African Americans community (one of the lead characters is  Creole).  We in the Film Archive are going to make a new 35mm print from the internegative, and have a look at what very few have seen.

Richard Brooks' cigarette lighter

Some time in the mid 1990s, the family of director Richard Brooks donated his film collection to the Academy Film Archive. In addition to all his personal film prints, the collection included all kinds of terrific stuff. He had many outtakes and bloopers from many of his films. In one from THE PROFESSIONALS, Burt Lancaster screws up a line and says, "Your mother's [blank]!" (now, now Mr. Lancaster, is that any way to talk?) Peter O'Toole's reaction to blowing a line in LORD JIM is "God f*** the Pope!" (Not sure exactly the point of that demand.)

Brooks also had many fantastic home movies and other special films, as my colleague Lynne Kirste, the Archive's Special Collections Curator, will attest. Brooks had color footage with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, on Bogey's boat Santana. In another fabulous color film, baseball legend Satchel Paige pitches in Wrigley Field in Los Angeles - watch it on YouTube -

In addition to all the films and paper documentation, we also acquired some film handling equipment and many of his personal effects. I wound up with one of his cigarette lighters, from the famous El Morocco nightclub -

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Warner Bros. Cartoons Golden Jubilee at MOMA, 1985-86

The Museum of Modern Art celebrated Warner Bros. cartoons, from September 13, 1985 to January 31st, 1986. The show included not only a full screening series of the cartoons, but a gallery of original cels, and something special - drawings directly on the walls of the exhibit by Chuck Jones. As I believe the Museum did not take photographs of this gallery when it was up, and did not save them after the show closed, these pictures (even with some grainy shots and scratched negatives) may be the only record of these one-of-a-kind drawings by the animation master.

Gallery Entrance

In the gallery

Elmer Fudd

Henery Hawk drags Foghorn Leghorn

Speedy Gonzales scares Sylvester
Daffy in an ungrateful mood


Daffy (as Duck Dodgers), Porky (as Eager Young Space Cadet), and Marvin Martian

Yosemite Sam and Bugs

Sylvester Jr.


Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner

Sylvester and Tweety

Pepe Le Pew

Panel discussion with (left to right) Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, MOMA curator Adrienne Mancia, and Leonard Maltin

From A BEAR FOR PUNISHMENT (1951), I just know that she's saying, "But Henry..."

From WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? (1957)



Ready for the show's opening night

New York in Black and White in the 1980's, Part 2

Some more photos I took in the 1980s in New York.

TV in the trash. Love those old battered metal trashcans.

Ancient Pepsi Ad

The World Trade Center seen from Queens   

Ditmars Blvd. station, the last stop on the RR line in Astoria, Queens.

I've always wondered about these boards - are they holding the buildings up?

The famous Moondance Diner, on Sixth Avenue near Canal Street.

The FDR Drive

A foggy day in NY town.

USS Maine Memorial, with the Gulf and Western Building (now Trump International Hotel and Tower), Columbus Circle    

Subway light fixture

The RR train at Ditmars Blvd. stop

This is actually a reflection in a window. Note rooftop water tank.

Another reflection shot.