Saturday, March 31, 2012

Save Pickfair Studios!!!

"The Lot".  "Pickfair Studios".  "Samuel Goldwyn Studios". "United Artists" "Warner Studios".   The studio has gone through more names than any other studio in Hollywood, however it was one of the first that served as both a film site and distribution center while being fully independent from the major studios, and is one of the last remaining in almost original capacity.

Renovated in 1922 by the UA team, everyone from Chaplin, Valentino, Swanson, and Flynn to Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Lemmon, and George Lucas worked at "The Lot" at one time or another.  Son of The Sheik, Wuthering Heights, Some Like It Hot, West Side Story, Star Wars, and many other films were made there. Harrison Ford was discovered there. Erroll Flynn is said to have had a tunnel constructed from the studio to the bar across the street so he could grab a drink undetected.  All that history, and basically the very beginning of everything Hollywood was and has become,  started at this studio.

The current owners (CIM/ Skye Partners) plan to tear it down this month to replace it with parking structures and "modern" buildings. They've been trying since the 90's, but unfortunately the voice of their major opposition died in 2008 and the City of West Hollywood has given them the go-ahead to destroy what to many is one of the most valuable historical sites in town.  How does a city that wouldn't exist without this history completely disregard it less than 100 years later?

There are so many vacant properties all over town i don't fully understand why companies buy up these historical buildings if they have no interest in the history and fascination they hold, only to tear them down to make room for Starbucks, parking lots, and shopping centers.  I understand change is inevitable but purposely buying out these gorgeous properties only to burn them to the ground makes no sense to me.

There is a protest planned for 1pm this Sunday if anyone in the LA area would like to come show support.  There is also a petition:

Old Hollywood has been almost completely demolished. The boulevard is a shadow of its previous self, the studios are gone or inaccessible, and the amazing talents that built this city with their genius and drive are almost forgotten.  Maybe we can show them there is still an interest, and if out of nothing more than respect for Hollywood's "founding fathers", maybe we can save this one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Musso and Frank

I've wanted to go here since we moved to Los Angeles 6 months ago but it's kind of expensive so we held off going until a special occasion arose. Turning 30 seemed special enough, so we got dolled up, made a reservation, and had the best fillet mignon this side of the Hoover Dam.

A Hollywood staple since 1919, everyone from Chaplin, Fairbanks, and Valentino to Welles, Bukowski, and of course the rat pack have been regulars here.  I wish they hadn't been so busy as I had so many questions, guess I'll have to go see Manuel on a slower day to hear some stories first hand about the place.

They say the lamb kidney was Chaplin's regular order, and that the recipe used for their alfredo sauce was brought back from Rome by Mary Pickford and Fairbanks. Started almost 100 years ago by Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet, they say the only thing that's changed since it was officially named M & F in 1927 is the location - its main entrance used to be next door, but has since expanded. The menu is the same, the decor, the waitstaff in full dress, it's an amazing experience, and the food is excellent. There is so much history in this place it would take me pages to recap, but their website:  has all the gossip and myths, it's an interesting read.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Film

I put it on documentaries i think will be boring to fall asleep to.  Something about narrated educational films on bobcats or Alaskan wilderness knocks me right out.  I had assumed that this flick from 1995 would be similar, I mean, how good could a 4 hour film about one guy's favorite movies be? Incredibly good, and very unfortunate for my sleep schedule that day.

Everybody and their mother talks in this documentary from Clint Eastwood to Gregory Peck to Billy Wilder.  They go into how the studio system worked, how movies become mainstream, the struggle for artistic freedoms, and go over a million movies, half of which I'd never even heard of and am now desperately searching for.

I don't know why i assumed this would be boring.  Scorsese's a great story teller, and this is no exception. Instead of going through the usual suspects year by year, he breaks it up by subject and why it's important to him.  It's not totally through the eyes of a director, he's obviously a huge fan who is very knowledgeable on all things cinema, and I was so happy with its educational value as he gives us a behind the scenes look at what it took to get some films made, what they had to deal with in the studio system, and the huge, huge, list of obscure films. I was also happy that he didn't favorite his personal influences like the Welle's and Hitchcock touches in Scorsese's films.  He touches base objectively across a wide spread of styles and genres.

Its all over YouTube and if you have DVD service with Netflix you can order it (they took it off instant queue, bummer).  make sure you have 4 hours to kill, you won't want to turn it off once you start.  This is my far the most educational doc I've seen, ever.