Before Hollywood came Edendale 2

Architecture & Design · Film
This rustic boulevard, photographed at the turn of the twentieth century, occupied a Los Angeles neighborhood with the aspirational name of Edendale. One hundred years later, it’s called Echo Park. The street was then Allesandro. Now it’s Glendale Boulevard, or more accurately, a two-mile suction tube for automobiles hurtling toward downtown Los Angeles. On this ...

Red hair, red shoes 2

Dance · Film
I recently attended a screening of The Red Shoes, the 1948 Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger classic lovingly restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive, Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, British Film Institute, and others. This film’s huge blast of technicolor transforms red-headed Moira Shearer into an unspeakably firey, unearthly creature … her neat figure, fair complexion, and carrot top ...

Ballerina’s beautiful beach birthday bash 1

Dance · Film
Last year I wrote an article about former New York City Ballet ballerina Yvonne Mounsey coaching a young dancer, Melissa Barak, in the lead role of George Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son.” Mounsey danced the role in the early 1950s. By all accounts, she was an amazing, full-blooded dancer. She went on to become a great ballet ...

Marilyn dances . . . 1

Dance · Film
The first man to impersonate Marilyn Monroe may well have been her dance coach, Jack Cole. Anticipating the iconic Marilyn, he brought out her exceptional femininity through dance. Monroe copied him in return. A star was born. Monroe’s six-movie collaboration with Cole began with 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the breakthrough film that made her a ...

Why film community matters

Film
In this coming Sunday’s Los Angeles Times Calendar section you will find my article about choreographer Jack Cole who coached Marilyn Monroe in movement over the course of six of her films. Most famously, he choreographed “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jack Cole also choreographed “Put the Blame on Mame” for Rita Hayworth in Gilda, at ...

Travis Banton turned tootsies into stars 1

Fashion · Film
I had the great pleasure of spending a few hours with writer David Chierichetti, the film fashion expert. David is the biographer of the under appreciated film director Mitchell Leisen; costume designer Edith Head; and he is author of coffee table volume, Hollywood Costume Design. Driving in L.A. traffic en route to the Egyptian Theater, ...

Liza with a Z at “Last Remaining Seats” 1

Architecture & Design · Film
I love the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Last Remaining Seats summer film festival on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Nothing in our city compares to it as a community event. (Lakers fans may disagree!) To sit in the faded remains of downtown’s glamorous vintage theaters, chock-a-block with an excited, engaged, clapping, laughing, appreciative audience, watching classic ...

La Barbra at BevHills Bergman tribute 2

Film · Music
Barbra Streisand is still a very big star. This was extremely evident at last night’s Alan & Marilyn Bergman tribute at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Wilshire Boulevard outpost. The tribute opened with a film clip of Barbra ogling Robert Redford in Sydney Pollack’s The Way We Were (1973). It closed with Babs, ten years later, ...

Wolf men and other men 2

Film
“It’s rare to truly see a film anymore,” said Robert Boyle, opening a conversation at the Art Directors Society tribute at the Egyptian Theater Sunday night. The legendary art director followed that enigmatic statement by noting how television technique has infiltrated feature film production — in a bad way. According to Boyle, today’s movies are “all ...

The devilish Madam Satan 6

Dance · Film
This is the amazing “electricity” dance sequence from Cecil B. DeMille’s early talkie Madam Satan (1930). A socialite costume ball is taking place — where else? — in a moored zeppelin. The floor show, pictured above, features the fearsome dancing of Theodore Kosloff, a former Ballets Russes star who lived in Los Angeles and acted in many DeMille silent ...