Yesterday (8.15) The Hollywood Reporter‘s Seth Abramovitch posted a piece about the old Pico Drive-In, which opened on 9.9.34 and could hold 487 cars. The very first California drive-in was located at 10860 Pico Blvd., which today is the address of Landmark’s Westside Pavillion (although not exactly at the same spot).
The most interesting detail didn’t make it into Seth’s article: Westwood Blvd. dead-ended on Pico in 1934, and so the Pico drive-in was built on a dusty patch due south of Pico (or where the neighborhoody, tree-lined, south-of-Pico stretch of Westwood Blvd. now sits).
After the Pico Drive-in closed in 1944, the postcard screen tower was moved to the corner of Olympic Blvd. and Bundy to become part of the Olympic Drive-In, which stood until ’73.
All the above and below comes from losangelestheatres.blogspot.
Looking south from Westwood Blvd. across Pico.
Looking north with Pico Drive-In located smack dab at the dead-end intersection of Pico and Westwood Blvds.
Armitage began as an exploitation-level director in the ’70s. Alas, the reception to Vigilante Force (’76), a crude and schlocky drive-in flick that he wrote and directed and which subsequently tanked, earned poor George a 14-year stretch in movie jail. Then, as noted, he was out and fancy free during the ’90s.
But then Armitage wrote and directed The Big Bounce (’04), which did so poorly — $50 million to shoot, $6.8 million domestic box-office — that he was sent back to jail, and that time they threw away the key.
Vigilante Force “was the creation of writer and director George Armitage, who saw his career temporarily derailed when Vigilante Force flopped. It would take till 1990’s Miami Blues and then 1997’s Grosse Point Blank for him to get back on track, and by then it was too late for him to establish himself as anything but a cult curio with film buffs wondering what he might have achieved with more opportunities.” — from a review in the UK-based The Spinning Image.
I appreciate the daringness and vaguely lewd flavor that occasionally characterized pre-code films, but I’ve never been able to watch them with much satisfaction. The squawky soundtracks and constipated acting styles, a general lack of camera movement, a feeling that you’re watching a filmed play, etc. Cecil B. DeMille‘s Sign of the Cross (’32) is nervy in certain ways, but it’s more than a little tough to sit through.
Only the monster and gangster flicks of this era (Dracula, Frankenstein, King Kong, The Most Dangerous Game, William Wellman‘s Public Enemy, Howard Hawks‘ Scarface) are still viewable.
I’ve never seen George Fitzmaurice and Greta Garbo‘s Mata Hari (’31), and to be honest I’m still having trouble with the idea. The trailer makes it seem like an eye-rolling drag. But I’d watch it if the all-but-disappeared uncensored version (which includes a mildly exotic dance number) could somehow be transferred to Bluray.
If there could somehow be a nationwide election-day referendum on the American Khmer Rouge…if each and every voter in every state was required to answer yes or no to the question “has the wokester, howling, cancel-culture left gone completely around the bend and totally over the waterfall?”, I would vote “yes, they have.”
If the ballot question is “which is worse — the rural, Trump-supporting right (i.e., bumblefucks, belligerent cops, Proud Boys) or the anarchic, relentlessly confrontational, store-looting, around-the-bend left?”, I would answer that the right is much worse because they’ve shown they’s shown very little concern about the racist, callous, Medicare-defunding, climate-change-denying, authoritarian drift of the Trump administration, but the loony Twitter left is almost as bad because they represent a truly dangerous thing — the New McCarthyism and the rebirth of the spirit of Maximilien Robespierre.
As a friend says, “I can handle almost anything except the stifling of art and free expression, and this is what too much of the progressive left is about today.”
Seasoned critic pally, received this morning: “I’ll admit I was a latecomer to the Hitchcock fan club. After The Birds, which came out when I was 13 (I was too young to see Psycho when it came out), I didn’t see another Hitchcock until Frenzy (’72) and Family Plot (’76), which I reviewed in release as a budding critic. I wasn’t really exposed to him again until the early-mid 80s, when Universal released five Hitchcock films that had been out of circulation for a while, including Vertigo, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much and a couple of others.
“I have to say that in those mid ’80s halcyon days when MTV was ascendant and the attention span was being shattered by the music video, Hitchcock looked pretty staid to my eyes. It took a few years and the advent of home video for me to develop a serious appreciation for his work.
“Your riff on Marnie made me realize I’d never seen that (or Torn Curtain or Topaz, all of which I recall as bombs from reviews of the time). I had no interest in so-called serious films, preferring (as teens do) comedy and action. Why watch Sean Connery in Marnie when there was Goldfinger?
“So I streamed Marnie the other day, and it sucked. Pure and simple. There is no revisionist argument you can make that can forgive that central performance, which blocks the sun and is the proverbial turd in the punch bowl. Tippi Hedren makes Sofia Coppola in The Godfather, Part III look like Ingrid Bergman.
“Not that the film’s psychology makes a whit of sense. I can’t believe, incidentally, this film hasn’t been cancelled because of the casual shipboard rape during their honeymoon.”
Two months ago Deadline‘s Michael Fleming reported that Pablo Larrain (Jackie, No) had cast Kristen Stewart as the late Lady Diana in Spencer, a stand-alone drama. It fell to Hollywood Elsewhere to point out the obvious, which was that Stewart (a) doesn’t look anything like the Real McCoy and (b) is way too short to fill Diana’s shoes with Stewart being 5’5″ and the late princess having stood 5’10” or thereabouts — a perfect physical fit for Charlize Theron if she was 12 to 15 years younger.
Now comes news (from Deadline‘s Bruce Haring) that the producers of Netflix’s The Crown have swung 5 inches in the opposite direction. The stork-like Elizabeth Debicki, who stands 6’3″ without heels, has been hired to play the tragic British heroine. Which means that the men cast opposite her will probably have to stand 6’3″ themselves, if not higher. (The only boyfriend-of-Diana who was clearly shorter was Dodi Fayed.) Does Debicki at least resemble Diana Spencer? Uhm, no.
Why did the Crown producers do this? Because Debicki is a highly respected, above-average actress, of course, but I’m also guessing they wanted to display their woke credentials by striking a blow for women of all shapes and sizes, which is to say a blow against size-ism, fat-shaming and any other -ism that applies.
Am I a size-ist? Not in my day-to-day life, although I do feel that if you’re portraying a historical figure you should bear a certain resemblance, or at least that your physical properties shouldn’t be wildly at odds with the original.
This morning a producer friend wrote the following: “What is your problem with Elizabeth Debecki’s height? Jerry Hall is six feet tall, and Mick Jagger didn’t have a problem with that. And speaking of Jagger, the late designer L’Wren Scott, with whom he had a relationship, was 6’3”. And Veruschka was the same.”