CineSavant Column

Tuesday December 19, 2023


Hello, and happy approaching holidays.

I believe we linked to this same item a number of years ago, but I just watched the whole thing all over again. Michael McQuarrie sent in a similar piece showing the Sunset Strip but we like this one better.

It’s called California 1952, Hollywood to Sunset Strip . . . an 11-minute car drive from roughly Cahuenga or Wilcox, all the way into the beginning of the Sunset Strip.

Was the original shot intended for rear-projection use in a driving scene?  Even with the imposed colorization it qualifies as a filmic Time Machine — the cars knock our eyes out, and so do the random pedestrians — a lady doing her shopping is unknowing commemorated for all time. It’s near noon, by the looks of the shadows, and there’s either a little haze or some authentic Los Angeles smog in the air. Raymond Chandler described awful smog conditions in his stories around this time.

This stretch of Sunset is well known to locals; it’s about half a mile from CineSavant Central. The entire route is now expensive commercial property, with high rises at each end. A few taller buildings are present in ’52 but a big part of the route is still single-family dwellings. Most of the traffic signals are from the 1930s. The City of the Angels’ beautiful old-style street light standards are still maintained today in many places.

I marked down some places I recognized, with timings, all on the Left:
• at 0 minutes 48 seconds we pass The Hollywood Athletic Club. Without the awning, it features in a key scene in Kiss Me Deadly .
• at 2 minutes 1 second is the front of Cross Roads of the World. I’m not sure it has the final style makeover seen in L.A. Confidential.
• at 3 minutes 6 seconds is Hollywood High, with its row of giant palms. The motel on the very next block is where our Hollywood In-IN-Out Burger is now.
• at 5 minutes 45 seconds we pass the marquee of the Oriental Theater, a nabe house playing a sub-run of Singin’ in the Rain. The Oriental is featured in a 1958 film (a good one) called Unwed Mother — a young Robert Vaughn robs the box office.
• at the very end at 10 minutes 51 seconds is a glimpse of Ciro’s, the famed nightclub eatery. In 1972, it became The Comedy Store.

When the quality is good, these ‘follow cam’ visual records can be fun to peruse on a big TV. Other similar ‘locked off’ street prowls are viewable on the web. In some we think we see ‘chase cars’ following the camera car, to keep a distance space open so the rear-projection composite doesn’t show cars becoming too big. In one of them, two chase cars straddle lanes, effectively blocking traffic. If sound were being recorded maybe we would hear a lot of horn honking.



A couple of Blu-ray announcements courtesy of Gary Teetzel:

Not everybody knows it, but MGM Home Video is again running a quiet Blu-ray operation under its own label, shipping out a trickle of titles untapped by outside licenses, like Bikini Beach and Pajama Party. They generally have no extras. The surprise is that on January 16 they’ll be releasing a Blu-ray of the crazy Sci-fi movie Red Planet Mars, the one laden with the pro-Christian, anti-Communist message that God Is Alive and Well on the Red Planet. Love or hate the movie, everybody agrees that it is off its rocker. We wrote it all up on our Revival Screening Review in 2018. Too bad there are no extras, that might tell us what the original stage play was all about. If a screener materializes, I’ll dust the review off and work on some of the typos.

We also want to put in a deserved plug for The Criterion Collection for February and March. The good news includes John Sayles’ superlative Lone Star in 4K, Robert Altman’s  McCabe & Mrs. Miller in 4K, Michael Roemer’s  Nothing but a Man, Raoul Walsh’s  The Roaring Twenties, and William Dieterle’s  All That Money Can Buy, aka The Devil and Daniel Webster. Every one a winner.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson