Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee and Odyssey Video

As many of you know I recently located to the Los Angeles area,  North Hollywood specifically. The other day we were walking around and we came across something that looked familiar.

Thats right.  This amazing place, as seen on TCM, is right around the corner from my apartment.  Oh Joy!! And, a block south of this, is another great rental place, Odyssey Video. Between the two of them, so far we've been able to find every title we've gone in for (got the Great Dictator, Night Tide, Keaton's The Camera Man,  just to name a few).  I'd like to see the Blockbuster across the street do that.

Blockbuster brings me to my point though.  These two shops, Eddie Brandts since 1969, and Odyssey since the 80s, have character.  They have great films on DVD and VHS. The people who own and work there know what you want when you say "its got that dude that was in that thing that one time", and can talk to you all day long about films, history, and give you pointers on your new neighborhood.  These two shops, amazing and wonderful as they are, aren't doing so hot financially.  Odyssey had to sell off alot of their inventory, and there's a "for lease" sign hanging over Eddie Brandts.

Inside Eddie Brandts

What can we do? Patronize your locally owned video stores.  10 to 1 odds says they're cheaper than Blockbuster, have a way more diverse selection, and actually know what they are talking about, instead of having to deal with the snot nosed teen army at corporate chains that don't know Valentino from a hole in the ground.

To me, the appeal of "200 copies of new releases" isnt all that appealing, because lets face it, most new movies are awful. Redbox's selection isn't very good (why is Kindergarten Cop a New Release??) And the folks at Blockbuster dont care, its a job and money to them. To the local shop, they opened that on their own because it's something they are passionate about and this particular breed has forgotten more film history than any of us will ever know.  Its like our own personal Robert Osbornes right there in our neighborhoods, just waiting for questions.

So wherever you are, look up your local shops, dust off the VCR if you gotta (theres still something comforting about blowing into the tape and adjusting tracking, i must say) and go.  Buy a poster,  a soda, just let em know we havent forgotten who's there for us when we can't find an out of print silent film or want a movie that didn't come out in the past 15 years.

Odyssey Video                                                                                                                                                                                             
4810 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601 34.1579 -118.3705

Eddie Brandts Saturday Matinee
5006 Vineland Ave
North Hollywood, CA 91601

Monday, August 29, 2011

Here's Looking at You Kid - Ingrid Bergman Born and Died, Aug 29 1915 - 1982

Born in Stockholm Sweden in 1915, Bergman always knew she wanted to become an actress.  At the age of 17 she entered an acting competition and while she thought she had failed, she was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Dramatic Theatre School, where Garbo had attended a few years prior.

After only one year she was hired by Swedish film studios and discovered by David O. Selznik, who brought her to the US for her first major role,  Intermezzo: A Love Story.  Unable to speak much english and unwilling to alter her appearance to match the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Ingrid was convinced this would be her only role and she would return to Sweden after filming.

"Miss Bergman is the most completely conscientious actress with whom I have ever worked, in that she thinks of absolutely nothing but her work before and during the time she is doing a picture ... She practically never leaves the studio, and even suggested that her dressing room be equipped so that she could live here during the picture. She never for a minute suggests quitting at six o'clock or anything of the kind... Because of having four stars acting in Gone with the Wind, our star dressing-room suites were all occupied and we had to assign her a smaller suite. She went into ecstasies over it and said she had never had such a suite in her life... All of this is completely unaffected and completely unique and I should think would make a grand angle of approach to her publicity... so that her natural sweetness and consideration and conscientiousness become something of a legend... and is completely in keeping with the fresh and pure personality and appearance which caused me to sign her..."  -

Intermezzo was a huge box office success. She relocated to Hollywood and began a career that would span over 5 decades.  While all her films were moderate to major successes, the role she is most famous for was in Casablanca in 1942.  The movie won 3 academy awards and solidified Bergman's place in the A-list of the golden age of Hollywood.


From Gaslight to Anastasia, all of Bergman's films were critically hailed.  Even through an 8 year battle with cancer, she continued to work and never let on just how bad her condition was. Ingrid's last acting role was in the 1982 television miniseries "A Woman Called Golda," in which she portrayed Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, a role that won her both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. 

                                   She died on her 67th birthday after losing her battle with cancer in London England. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August 25, 1939 - Wizard of Oz Hits Theaters Nationally

Depicting the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum the film stars Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, Charles Grapewin, Clara Blandick and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins

Due to it's cutting edge special effects, release in technicolor, and the fact that this was MGMs most expensive production to date, Oz has become one of the most recognizable and popular movies ove the years.  However upon its release and despite positive reviews and being nominated for two Academy Awards (best Picture - Lost to GWTW, and Best original song, Won with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), overall Oz initially was a box office failure. 


Initially Oz was going to be filmed as a fantasy film, but MGM felt audiences wouldn't relate and made the amazing, colorful, song and dance filled portion a dream. Casting problems, filming delays, and set problems plagued the MGM set, and post production wasn't much easier, having to compose the backing score and special effects in a limited amount of time.

A fact I didnt know, in the scene where the film goes from the black and white farmhouse into the wonderful world of Oz, it wasn't shot in black and white. It was too expensive and tedious to "stencil print" (hand tinting each scene) so they painted the interior sepia tone, and had a fill in for Dorothy's back wear a sepia toned dress, so when the camera switched to Oz, Garland could step out in her blue dress against the sepia background.

The film grossed approximately $3 million (equal to $47,437,500 today) against production/distribution costs of $2.8 million (equal to $44,275,000 today) in its initial release. It did not show what MGM considered a large profit until a 1949 re-release earned an additional $1.5 million (equal to $13,819,327.73 today).

It wouldnt let me embed, but heres the first 7 minutes of Dark Side of the Moon synced to Oz :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first Classic Hollywood event in Los Angeles - Valentino Memorial

On this date in 1926 one of the first sex symbols and superstars of Hollywood passed away in New York from pleutitis at the age of 31.
Line of cars wrapping around Hollywood Forever

An estimated 100,000 people lined the streets of New York City in 1926 to pay their respects at his funeral. Fans committed suicide, others rushed the funeral home breaking windows to get to the deceased actor. Over 100 Mounted officers and NYPD's Police Reserve was deployed to restore order.

To this day, fans can pay their respects every year beginning at noon at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  I honestly thought this was just going to be a touristy memorial but they had it set up as a full blown funeral:

Unfortunately for me, due to LA traffic and a tardy cable guy, I missed most of the ceremony, but made it just in time for the prayers, end of service, and got to see all of the great original memorabilia that has been donated over the decades.

Original Playbills and Postcards

1926 Newspaper 

This didnt have a label on it but I loved the artwork

At the front of the service

The shrine in the mausoleum

If any of you hardcore Valentino fans know, there was a young man and a middle aged woman there that they introduced as Valentino's direct family, but a cast member from Glee was in attendance and they were making such a fuss over him I couldnt hear who it was or get close to see.  The young man looked just like Valentino.

Even missing a lot of it, this was the most amazing thing i've witnessed here so far.  There were at least 60 people there, all ages, all ethnicities, paying their respects to one of the greats.  to be in the same room with so many fans was my pleasure.  I cannot wait for next year at the 85th anniversary,  Im told every 5 years it's a much bigger deal.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The American Dream

This will be my last post for a week or two as I am relocating to Los Angeles from Arizona.  So excited!

I am one of those people with an insatiable itch.  A need to move, a twitch that I develop when I stay in one place for too long.  The urge to run gets so bad it borderlines depression sometimes.  We started in my hometown of Louisville Ky, Then moved to St. Louis, Austin, Phoenix, and now, Los Angeles. I was thinking about all the places Ive been, all the times Ive started over with nothing more than a coffee pot and my guitar, starting out in each new town living in my car, then to a studio apartment, then moving up from there until the urge hits again, wash, rinse, repeat.

  It made me realize, America is the only country in the world this behavior would be possible.

The American dream promises us nothing more than the CHANCE. The possibility to do amazing things if you try really hard. In what other country could you completely reboot your life numerous times and not fall on complete and utter ruin? Ive had close calls, I've been homeless. I've been on the brink of throwing in the towel, Ive had the thoughts that maybe everyone is right, i should just stay put, get married, finish school, and do what they say im SUPPOSED to do.  But i've also received an education better than any course I've ever sat through. I've learned more about people as a whole in these 10 years than I ever wouldve if i'd just stayed put, lived the status quo, and I wouldnt trade that for anything.
Im not saying America is perfect.  Anyone who watches the news knows we have our problems.  We are a nation divided on many, many issues. But I refuse to believe it's something we cant overcome.  The main thing Ive learned from living all over the country is that there are good people everywhere. People where greed isnt the driving force, where differences educate instead of divide, and there are people still willing to put their neck out for someone down on their luck.  With all the negativity in our media that makes me just want to give up sometimes,  I still have drive and compassion, and they cant take that away from me.

Call me stupid, call me irrational or irresponsible. I call my self living my life the way I want to, and that is what freedom and the American Dream is all about.

See you guys in about a week!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Penguin and the Paperback Revolution

The first paperback books were released in Aug. 1935 by Penguin Books (at first only as an imprint of Bodley Head (of Vigo Street) with the books originally distributed from the crypt of Holy Trinity Church Marylebone.)  These were more obtainable due to cheap price and smaller size than their hardback predecessors.

Paperbacks, originally linked to poor production quality and pulp fiction, made rights to many classics obtainable for a cheaper price than they wouldve been through a known publisher and in hardback. The general consensus that paperback would be a passing fad paved the way for Penguin to buy thousands of titles and publish them.

Now, over 80 years later, The Penguin Group is a huge operation that is one of the larger distributors worldwide.  They are also known for carrying many of the beat generation under their label.

First 10 Books Published by Penguin:
Ariel: a Shelley Romance — AndrĂ© Maurois
A Farewell to Arms — Ernest Hemingway
Poet's Pub — Eric Linklater
Madame Claire — Susan Ertz
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club — Dorothy L. Sayers
The Mysterious Affair at Styles — Agatha Christie
Twenty-Five — Beverley Nichols
William — E.H. Young
Gone to Earth — Mary Webb
Carnival — Compton Mackenzie

Monday, August 8, 2011

War Time Jamboree - Where's our National Pride?

I was looking through the old song charts from the early 1900's recently ( and I noticed that during World War 1 over half of the top hits were war songs,  like these, in 1917 when America declared war against Germany:

                                                                                                  Send me Away with a Smile -
                                                                                                   John McCormack
       Over There - Nora Bayes

During the Great Depression, they had Pennies From Heaven, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and They Can't Take That Away From Me.
When America joined the second World War in 1941, everything I've found was naturally more "Hollywood", but not any less patriotic:

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy -
                                                                                                    Andrews Sisters

Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammunition -
                                                                                                       Kay Kyser

Even during Vietnam during the greatest generation gap before or since, this was the first time Ive noticed that pop culture beat out traditional media, and also the first time anti-war songs were heavy in the charts.  Anti-war, but still about society at the time:

Buffalo Springfield - What its Worth

Ssgt Barry Sadler - Green Berets

Looking through the song charts for each year you can get a pretty decent handle of what was going on in the country, when America joined a war, when the economy wasn't doing so hot, same goes for film.  But then, and I'm looking right at a chart of top 100 songs from 1991 (Desert Storm), ( something had changed. Granted not the intensity of the previous 3, but a war none the less.  Not a single mention of conflict.  The only thing I can really gather looking at that list is that we were really horny.  Fast forward to the current war, the month after 9/11... nothing.  Whole year of 2002 . . . nothing.  2007, the US most massive insurgence yet . . . sex, drugs, loss of vocabulary as we know it, but nothing in the top charts about the war, the depression, the government take over...   I think maybe one or 2 one hit wonders came out as a shameless grab for publicity (oh Rascal Flatts, Im going to rip you a new one in the near future for that ridiculous Casey Anthony song),  a couple of rednecks singing about putting boots in asses, but no camaraderie, no chart toppers.. Where's the Bob Hope of my generation?  The Cohans? The Andrews Sisters?  Everyone wants to talk so much but seems no one is saying much of anything.  And every day more freedoms get ripped from us and more tax dollars leave my pocket...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dear Hollywood, You suck.

I was getting ready for bed the other day when my boyfriend walks in and says "I have something I think you should know, but im kinda scared to tell you." Im thinking, oh great, cheating?  Drained the bank account?  "okaaaay . . . ." I say.  He makes me sit down, takes a deep breath and says "some dude is going to remake the Wizard of Oz... AND Yellow Submarine" and backs away from me quickly.

After I stopped throwing things and cussing everyone from MGM to this Zemeckis character and the vein stopped pulsing in my forehead, I ran to the Internet to look it up.  I was surprised (and relieved) to learn this was actually pretty old news and both projects were DEAD IN THE WATER (as they should be). 

I dont know if my heart can take much more of this crap, Hollywood.

Since you are obviously trying to keep the bottom line Hollywood,  I have a suggestion for you.  Instead of butchering classics and selling it as the greatest thing ever when you couldn't even come up with an original thought,  how about this:  Re-release whatever movie you are planning on mutilating to the big screen.  No casting budget, no costly computer animation, just re-release the original.  We don't have to sit through your hack job, you don't have to pay anyone, but you'll still turn a profit.  Everyone wins.

I dont care if your childhood dream was to re-direct Gone With the Wind in your own vision.  I dont care if the only reason you got into movies was to up the special effects in Oz.  If you want to do something good for society, re-release those great films that inspired you to the big screen.  Dont ruin them.

Can you imagine how different it would be if kids were flocking to see Philadelphia Story instead of Final Destination 107?  If they had the choice to go see The Snake Pit instead of Miley Cyrus? Cool Hand Luke instead of Cowboys and Aliens

 Since 99% of what comes to theaters is absolute crap anyway, why not just let the golden age carry you for a while so directors who actually care can get a leg up while all you big-money powerhouses stop taking up screen space with your junk that no one will remember in a year anyway?