Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Roustabout ferris wheel today

If your a fan of Elvis Presley you pretty much know his 1964 movie Roustabout. Probably more than me. I've only seen the film once, basically to see the Ferris Wheel. That makes me sound like I have some unnatural obsession with ferris wheels. Far from it. I'm not a huge fan of riding them but for the sake of a good story, I did. A few years ago I heard that the ferris wheel from the movie, Roustabout, was now living in Australia.

The original exteriors for Routabout were filmed in Thousand Oaks, California. In a cow pasture! Luckliy the ferris wheel now has ocean views. When I found myself in Semaphore, I made a beeline and I just had to check out this movie icon. As I walked up I noticed the sign claiming it to be the real thing! Yes, it's even called, The Roustabout! Poor Barbara Stanywck doesn't even rate mention on the sign.

As I'm easily impressed I asked the operator if he knew any history and how it ended up half way around the world. He didn't seem interested in talking about it. I'm guessing he'd recounted the story so many times he was probably bored repeating it. The sign claimed it was in the movie, so I kept up my questions. I learnt that it WAS from the film. The original chairs were replaced a few years ago. The originals were unsafe and he didn't know where they were now. The only other fact I could muster was it shipped to Australia a number of years ago. I thanked him for having to deal with my questions and I hopped on for my three minute ride.

When visiting Semaphore in South Australia make sure to visit and ride the ferris wheel that Elvis rode in the movie, Roustabout. Book that vacation now!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Hitchcock's The Birds

I've touched on this before so think of this an extended version. I love the Alfred Hitchcock classic, The Birds. The basic premise of the movie is simple. The small coastal town of Bodega Bay is besieged by attacking birds. Birds do attack. I've been dive bombed by overly protective birds when walking past a tree where it's newborns are nesting. It is a scary feeling as you hear the clap of their wings and feel a peck on your head. I've even witnessed a bird fly into a window.

Universal backlot 1962

I've always dreamed of visiting the town of Bodega Bay in Northern California the second I saw the movie. One of my "must-do's" was to walk up the street where Melanie drives to find directions to the Brenner home at the general store and to have lunch at the Tides and make a phone call from the telephone box. All this was back in the early 1980's when I was much younger and stupidly naive. The dream of putting myself in The Birds died a sad death the day I purchased the DVD back in 2001. Watching The Making of The Birds (a great bonus feature I must add) there my dream died, much of Bodega Bay was the Universal Studios backlot.

Universal backlot 2005

In 2005 I was lucky enough to grab a capture of what I originally thought was Bodega Bay. The location looked remarkably the same all these years later. It was only after I returned home I discovered I'd captured the Birds location.

Universal Studios 2009

In 2008 Universal Studios suffered a fire losing much of their New York sets. The Birds location (one of Universal's original western sets) was spared. However, a decision was made and the black fish market facade was removed making way for a park. The facade of The Tides restaurant, phone box gas station no longer remain. The general store and saloon remain, a legacy of Hitchcock's, The Birds.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

I've always wondered what it must be like to live in a home that has been featured in a movie or TV series. Countless gawking tourists standing outside taking photos as a memento of their vacation to Hollywood USA. Yes, I am one of them and ironically I couldn't wait to do it. One of my first ever attempts at "property stalking" proved quite a buzz.

Thanks to the internet I was able to track down the address of the house used in the 1962 movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? starring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. If you haven't seen the movie it can be best described as; a thriller about an aging ex-vaudeville star (Davis) waging a psychotic reign of terror over her crippled ex-movie star sister (Crawford).

You really have to give it to these two ageing broads, they play their characters to the hilt. Bette Davis proves herself as a marvelous character actress as does Joan. The fact they appeared so grotesquely certainly proves you don't need beauty to have star power. Anyway...

Randy and I set out to stalk this real home in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles. It was surprisingly easy to find. Once we arrived at our location Randy opted to stay in the car but I had to get out and get as close as I could to the property. Considering the movie was filmed in 1962 the house looks virtually the same some 47 years later.

1962 Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? appearance


Actor, Victor Buono at the front door in 1962

The ornate gates in 2009

The neighbours house was seen briefly in a few establishing shots.


Mrs Bates (the neighbor) was played by Anna Lee who would go on to play a nun in The Sound of Music and her daughter was played by Bette Davis real life daughter BD Merrill.

Filming Baby Jane 1962

All the interiors for Baby Jane were filmed at Raleigh Studios on Melrose Ave. While the real house was used on McCadden Place for exterior shots, a facade of the exterior was partially built on a soundstage at Raleigh.