MARTIANS DESTROY CITY HALL! Well, a model of it, at least. The replica was built (and destroyed) for the 1952 production of “War of the Worlds.” Scott Harrison at Framework, the L.A. Times photo blog, has the story.
Photo: May 8, 1952: Los Angeles Times staff photographer, using a high-speed 35-millimeter camera, was present during special effects filming for the movie “War of the Worlds.” Credit: Phil Bath / Los Angeles Times / UCLA Archive
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Gravity Talking Points. In summary: Don’t forget to breathe.
And probably go see it, if you trust resident film critic Kenneth Turan, who said of the new film (without GIFs, sadly):
"Gravity" is out of this world. Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates. It is a film whose impact must be experienced in 3-D on a theatrical screen to be fully understood.
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Welcome to SlapCon
Athletes train their bodies, artists practice their craft and the performers who attend SlapCon hone their abilities to fake being walloped in the face:
The brainchild of Hollywood entertainer and pancake juggler Scot Nery, SlapCon is in its second year and has more than doubled in size since its inception. Held this year in Echo Park, the convention draws together actors, comedians, circus performers and slapstick enthusiasts of all backgrounds and levels of experience for a marathon of loving hurt.
Photos: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
The rise and fall of the Grauman dragons: For 43 years, a pair of neon dragons flanked the forecourt of one of the most famous theaters in Los Angeles: Grauman’s Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard. They were taken down in 2001, and, The Times’ Nita Lelyveld writes, one of them was promised to the Museum of Neon Art. But the museum didn’t get the dragon that year, and for a while it appeared lost. It’s now been found – but in need of about $35,000 for restoration.
Grauman’s Chinese, also formerly known as Mann’s Chinese and now TCL Chinese, first opened in 1927, sans dragons (first photo above). The dragons were added in 1958 “to give an old movie palace new pizazz,” Lelyveld writes. You can see the dragons in all their glory in the second photo above, taken in 1981. And finally, in the third photo is MONA director Kim Koga with the recovered dragon, which a former museum board member found in a prop yard on the 5 Freeway.
"We consider the dragon sign an icon of Los Angeles," Eric Lynxwiler told Lelyveld. "And yet we basically had to snatch it out of the hands of a Dumpster."
(Photo credits: Top: LA Times File Photo, Los Angeles Times /November 17, 1997; middle: LA Times File Photo, Los Angeles Times /June 4, 2002; bottom: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times /August 27, 2013)
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Above: Los Angeles Times aviation writer Dewey Linze examines a flying saucer found in the Hollywood Hills on Jan. 24, 1957.
What strange calamity brought this unearthly craft to the Hollywood Hills? What interstellar machinations could be behind such a otherworldly craft? And where are the presumably tiny alien pilots, did they go down with their ship?
All of those answers were unveiled by Times reporter Cecilia Rasmussen:
In January 1957, actress Gloria Swanson and a group of friends heard that a spaceship had landed in the Hollywood Hills. So, off they trekked through mud and dark of night to an area off Lakeridge Road. (History does not record what they had been consuming before they set out.) In a shallow hole at the end of their hike, they found a 12-foot-diameter disk, which purportedly had knocked down a lamppost upon landing. The cockpit seats were upholstered in coral Leatherette, and two electrical cords dangled to the wooden flooring.
Amazed by their find, they called The Times.
After a careful inspection, Times aviation writer Dewey Linze not only found that the “spacecraft” was lacking an engine and controls, but — after interviewing neighbors — learned that it was a prop that had been discarded after a documentary was filmed on the site.
Photo: Gordon Wallace / Los Angeles Times
I love you, I hate you: you might call it a mixed message, if the message weren’t so unmixed. You’re allowed to love Paris, up to a point, New York, more or less, Dublin and Glasgow, definitely, but loving Los Angeles is just plain wrong. Oxymoronic, in fact – if you promise to go easy on the oxy.
Los Angeles, and especially the abbreviated LA, has become a byword for the shallow, the ephemeral, the vain – and it is the duty of any right-thinking Englishman, properly cask-aged in rainwater, body dysmorphia and sarcasm, to scorn it. And it’s not just the British press who feel this way.
The rest of the world, and much of America, treats Los Angeles with the same weird mixture of envy and snobbery – qualities that ought to contradict each other, but somehow never do.
Well, I warn you now, I’m heading in the other direction. I’m sticking up for the beautiful city of Los Angeles. That’s right. Beautiful…
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Evidence the 1970s were a strange time: ‘Miss Beautiful Ape’
Run as a promotional vehicle for the wildly popular “Planet of the Apes” series, the contest determined who would win a role in the fifth film in the series, “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.”
The winner, by the way, was contestant no. 2, Dominique Green.
Photo: Larry Bessel / Los Angeles Times
Orson Welles: Obituary writer
The last written work from the man known for revolutionizing film with features such as “Citizen Kane” and “The Third Man,” wasn’t a script, but an obituary published by the Los Angeles Times back in 1979 for his friend, and legendary director in his own right, Jean Renoir.
The story behind Welles’ foray into posthumous reporting was recently recounted by former deputy editor of the Sunday Opinions section, Steve Wasserman, in a piece for the L.A. Review of Books, which we 100% recommend reading.
A snippet of Welles’ obituary, as it ran in the Sunday paper, is seen below:
As for his conclusion to the piece:
I have not spoken here of the man who I was proud to count as a friend. His friends were without number and we all loved him as Shakespeare was loved, “this side idolatry.” Let’s give him the last word: “To the question ‘Is the cinema an art?’ my answer is ‘What does it matter?’ … You can make films or you can cultivate a garden.
Both have as much claim to being called an art as a poem by Verlaine or a painting by Delacroix… . Art is ‘making.’ The art of love is the art of making love… . My father never talked to me about art. He could not bear the word.”
Photo: Steve Wasserman / L.A. Review of Books
Made-to-order poetry in Los Angeles
Jacqueline Suskin, a writer and former vegetable gardener, has taken to the Hollywood Farmers Market for her latest venture: The Poem Store.
Sitting with her typewriter, Suskin takes requests from curious passersby and regulars, taking requests for poems on back pain to making verse fit the title “Since Wednesday.”
As for the most popular request?
"Everyone is always asking for love poems," she says. "We are all obsessed with love."But love, as a topic, is deeply unspecific. When someone asks her to write a poem about love, she responds by asking what kind of love. That usually leads to a story about a girlfriend living far away, or a person new to Los Angeles desperately missing her family, or the love a mother has for her new baby.
She thinks people ask for poems that help them understand their path or direction in life.
"They want hope, or confidence, or they just need someone to see who they are," she says. "Half the time I feel like I am a therapist or a psychic."
Photos: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times
On August 5, 1962, the 36-year-old actress Marilyn Monroe was found dead at home in Los Angeles. Her death was ruled a “probably suicide” by L.A. police. Widely publicized reports indicated she was found in the nude, face down on her bed with a telephone in hand with empty pill bottles nearby.
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A heightened Hollywood skyline passes the city council
The so-called Millennium plan made it through the L.A. City Council yesterday, opening the doors for New York developer Millennium Partners to build two skyscrapers and more than 1 million square feet of office, hotel and retail space in the area surrounding the Capitol Records building.
Opponents of the proposal have criticized 39 and 35-story-tall buildings for clashing with the preexisting scenery, and predict traffic will become even messier in the immediate area.
And, pouring fuel on the fire, the head of the California Geological Survey, John Parrish penned a letter warning that the skyscrapers would be built within an earthquake fault zone.
Millennium Partners stand by the structural stability of their designs, regardless of the fault line, and the city council didn’t seem particularly worried, passing the proposal unanimously.
For more info, head over to L.A. Now.
Photos: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times, Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Is a bigger screen always better?
There may still be plenty of box office successes, with recent summer releases like “Iron Man 3” and “Fast & Furious 6” raking in tons of cash, but theaters nonetheless are feeling the squeeze from online streaming services, digital purchases, improving hardware at home and other non-cinematic media.
From Terrell Mayton, marketing director for Carmike Cinemas Inc. of Columbus, Ga.:
"It’s all about the sizzle, it’s all about the showmanship. When you’ve got an experience that you can’t duplicate in the home setting, that’s going to encourage more people to come to the theaters more often."
So do you agree, is it all about the “sizzle,” or is, perhaps the movie on the screen more important?
Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times
Echo Park Lake circa 1920
Above is a panorama view of Echo Park Lake, as seen from Temple Street. If you look closely off into the distance, you can see Edendale, a former district of Los Angeles that was home to pre-Hollywood movie studios.
Photo: Los Angeles Times