Thursday, 29 December 2011

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

If I had to pick my favorite movie as a child, it had to be Walt Disney's, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. After my parents categorically refused to take me to movies and have to sit through it again I'd go next door and con the neighbors to take me. I thought it was wonderful. When asked what I wanted for Christmas in 1971 (or was it 1972?) I asked for the soundtrack and I got it! Now, my parents were frugal at the best of times but when it came to records why pay $3.99 when you could buy a generic version with nameless singers for $1.50 from K-Mart.

Yes, you guessed it. I had the version by, The Living Voices. I know, you've probably never heard of them. In our family we owned A LOT of records by The Living Voices. They took modern songs and turned them into muzak. Actually, wonderful muzak. Credit where credit is due, Angela Lansbury is a great actress but I was never fond of her singing. The Living Voices divided up the tunes equally between the men and the women and gave the songs a unique twist. Needless to say this record was THRASHED over and over and over. The odd thing today, this version sells for more money than the original soundtrack. As far as I know it hasn't been released on CD. I've added it to my mp3 playlist for that hint of nostalgia. When the songs come on they take me back to a time long ago when I believed if you had a bedknob it could make a bed fly.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Ain't technology grand?!

Can JVC deliver the goods or what!? A clock radio AND a televison! They sold me on the title, "the time machine."

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Is this actress Marge Redmond?

I need your help. I was watching Mad Men (Series 4, episode 9 - The Beautiful Girls) when I almost fell off the sofa seeing what I think is actress Marge Redmond. Marge was of course, Sister Jacqueline in The Flying Nun and so many other classic shows. I searched the credits and her name is not listed, searches on the internet have also proved fruitless. If you can help, it would be most appreciated. It looks like sounds like her...what do you think?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Antonio Bay. The town in John Carpenters, 1980 thriller, The Fog. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d have a chance at visiting locations from The Fog.

The original Fog was filmed in Northern California, Inverness, Bodega and Point Reyes, all which helped become the fictitious, Antonio Bay. Interiors were filmed at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. The film starred Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins and James Canning.

Late last year I found myself in Bodega as part of a vacation. I was so obsessed with planning my visit to Bodega & the location of Hitchcock's, The Birds I didn’t think to plan surrounding possibilities. I saw a sign in Bodega for the Point Reyes Lighthouse. I knew it was in The Fog so I made a plea to Randy to go for a drive and check it out. Little did we know how far away it was.

Heading towards the lighthouse, just like in The Fog

After getting lost (so much for satellite navigation) and driving past countless farms, we finally ended up at the Point Reyes Lighthouse after what seemed hours of driving. Upon seeing the lighthouse it was instantly recognizable and looked as if time had stood still. It was radio station KAB Radio 1340 right before my eyes.

Then there was this sign...

Going down was easy...getting back a nightmare

It’s a long walk down the lighthouse, 300 stairs. There was such a sense of joy heading towards the lighthouse, once I was there I knew there was only one way back ...climb 300 stairs!

Climbing up the stairs I saw a crowd of people watching me. (I'll admit I had to stop a few times to catch my breath) humiliating to say the least. I soon discovered why they were watching. The park ranger had closed off the stairs as it was too windy and too dangerous to walk to the lighthouse. At least we arrived in time. Desperate to catch my breath I asked the Ranger about The Fog and where I could find the house featured in the movie. She said something about the “mushroom house”. Mushroom house hunting is extremely difficult when you have no idea what your looking for. I noticed some onion dome minarets on a house. Was this it? Was this the house from, The Fog.

After some Internet detective work, it IS the house used in The Fog. I'm so glad we stopped for a photo. Randy again can't be thanked enough for being so great that day. There are other local places around Inverness The Fog filmed but it was late in the day and we headed back to San Francisco. It was a perfect way to be introduced to the sights of Northern California.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Debbie Reynolds amazing collection for sale

Years ago, actress Debbie Reynolds, amassed an amazing collection of costumes and props when MGM did a sell out of it's inventory. Through her connections in Hollywood she's also been able to own a variety of the screen worn items from various other studios. Debbie has, for years, tried to open a museum to display some of Hollywood's most seen (and beloved items) from Hollywood's history. Debbie was lucky to be offered many of Marilyn Monroe's screen worn gowns before the auction went public. Sadly, nobody seems interested in helping Debbie fund a museum to contain her amazing collection. So now Debbie has decided to auction her entire collection. Highlights are the dress worn by Barbra Streisand in Hello Dolly, Julie Andrews costumes from The Sound Of Music, Debbie's own costumes from Singin' In The Rain and the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and so many others. Sadly these costumes will now (most probably) end up in the hands of private collectors, never to be seen again. My hope is the Hollywood History Museum can obtain some of these treasures for future generations to see.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A pictorial visit to Disneyland

I have to admit that anytime I hear the word, "Disneyland" my ears prick up. Since I'm so far away from The Happiest Place On Earth, I treasure every photo I take. So here's a few holiday snaps taken on my last visit, Christmas week , 2010.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Farewell to the Sahara

The iconic casino, The Sahara, in Las Vegas has announced it's to close its doors on May 16th. The Sahara was built in 1952 and has, for 59 years been apart of Las Vegas history. When I was in Las Vegas I went through the Sahara a few times, coming or going to the monorail station. It wasn't as busy as the other resorts so the closing has not really come as a surprise. Walking past Wynn's I over heard a conversation between a few men in their 20's.

Man 1: "What's down that way?"
Man 2: "Not much, just old school"
That pretty much sums up people's feelings about history and the Northern part of the Strip. People don't seem interested in the resorts that really put Las Vegas on the map. If your in Las Vegas go to the Sahara, reacquaint yourself with a this iconic casino. Take a photo for prosperity.

Friday, 25 February 2011

My visit to Bodega

Finally, a dream come true. To visit Bodega Bay seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. I discovered a tourist web site offering a day visit to Bodega and the surrounding Sonoma Coast for a minimum of $500 per person. My dream of visiting Bodega finished right there. A few days before I arrived in San Francisco my good friend, Randy, offered to drive me to Bodega so I could fulfill my wish of seeing where The Birds was filmed.

The day started early (there was no way I was going to sleep in) catching up with Randy and driving to Bodega. It was a fun drive, from San Francisco catching up with our lives and the latest goings on with Hollywood celebrities past and present. The weather wasn’t very co-operative and it started raining on the drive to Bodega. I wasn’t too concerned, you don’t see a lot of blue sky in The Birds. The weather made it more atmospheric. Before I knew it, Randy said, “there’s the church!” At that moment the rain stopped. We were then driving up the same road towards the school house just as Melanie Daniels did! I was so excited but was trying desperately to keep it controlled and not freak Randy out. Needless to say, standing in front of the school house was pretty awesome and naturally I wanted to be attacked by any passing pigeon.

The school house (now a private residence) in 2010

Walking past where the schoolyard play equipment used to be, it's now covered with trees. Sadly there's no bench to sit on either.

The Jungle Gym in the school yard was once at this location.

However, a very odd moment was glimpsing a few bird cages in the yard. Luckliy, I'm easily impressed!

I wandered the street, totally in awe of being there. The house where Annie Hayworth lived was a facade built for filming , however a new stands there today.

The Annie Hayworth House (technically a facade)

The new house stands at the Annie Hayworth location

The home opposite is seen briefly as Melanie Daniels gets into her car. Again, it’s as if time has stood still. The house opposite the Hayworth facade

The same house in 2010

The original Druids Hall (only seen briefly) is now an antique store.

Druids Hall is now an antique store

There’s (I’m going to call it a Hitchcock museum) but it’s probably better described as a general store with Hitchcock items. The man who runs the store guessed pretty quickly why Randy and I were there. He promptly turned on a DVD of The Birds for us. It did feel super exciting seeing The Birds on the TV and looking out the window towards the schoolhouse. There were some wonderful items for sale and I could have purchased them all.

Next stop was lunch at The Tides. Yes, The Tides.

Although it’s been remodeled a few times I was impressed to see some Birds lobby cards inside the entrance. You now pass a huge Bodega souvenir shop where Randy promised me I’d find some Birds related items. Bodega is a small fishing community and naturally The Tides sells a lot of seafood in their menu. Not being a lover of seafood I chose a cheeseburger and promptly souvenired a Tides placemat as a memento.

Of course, the one thing any Birds fan wants to see outside The Tides is a gas station and phone box.

In the movie, these were standing sets at Universal Studios in Hollywood. BUT, across the street from The Tides is a gas station! AND a phone box! Seeing a phone booth, a gas station AND The Tides was pretty nifty.

You can make out the "S" of the Tides in the distance

Sitting in The Tides you can see across the bay towards where the Brenner farm house was. We went for a drive around to visit the location. The actual property burnt down in the late 1960’s and the land is now owned by the Government but I snapped a photo of where the Brenner facade stood.

The former location of the Brenner home...the trees remain.

Then it was off to visit Taylor Street, another street seen in The Birds. There’s two locations seen in The Birds. Bodega and Bodega Bay. If the children had run from the school to The Tides they probably would have died from a heart attack. It’s a good six miles between the two locales. So, if you see the children running with the school behind them, they’re on Bodega Lane in Bodega. If you see the children running towards The Tides, they’re on Taylor Street in Bodega Bay. Ahh the magic of movies!

Running on Taylor Street in Bodega Bay

Taylor Street in 2010

Another location is the farm house Lydia visits. It's not too hard to see the trees still standing (although one farm house looks like another). In the movie it's Dan Fawcett's farm but it's still good to see it's still a farm property.

The farm property in 1962

The same farm property in 2010

I still can't belive that Bodega is the same as it looked in 1962 when The Birds filmed. It's well worth checking out if your ever in Northern California.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Loving McDonalds

With Valentine's Day approaching, what better way to say "I Love You" than with a vintage McDonald's Valentine Day card. These vintage 1974 cards go great with a Big Mac and fries!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

My true love

I can not lie, my heart belongs to Clarabelle Cow. Clarabelle is one of Walt Disney's earlier creations. Clarabelle had minor roles in Walt's cartoons of the 1930's and even featured in Mickey Mouse's first color cartoon, The Band Concert.

She doesn't appear in the Park very often, although in a the last few years she's made a few appearances in a number of Disneyland parades. However, she's always fronted for the Christmas Fantasy Parade. Originally, her and Daisy Duck were positioned on the gingerbread float. Now she's part of the Gingerbread Treats unit where she performs the Nutcracker with the Gingerbread Men.

Clarabelle has (in the past) played a love interest of Goofy's, however she's normally paired with Horace Horsecollar. On Christmas Eve last year, I hung around the train station steps at closing time aware a few characters were coming out to wave goodbye to the guests as they left. I wasn't disappointed, Clarabelle AND Horace both turned up. I (along with the rest of the crowd) was thrilled to see them. Clarabelle is a good friend of Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck and shops at the same shoe store. She's decidedly feminine and proudly wears her cowbell as if it were fine jewelry. Just recently she and Horace were nominated by fans to appear the the Character Fan Days at Disneyland. When your over at Disney California Adventure stop by the Silly Symphony Swings and check out Clarabelle (and Horace) painted on the ride.

Clarabelle & Horace Christmas Eve 2010

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A tale of a glass elevator

Apologies, I've been vacationing in the United States, soaking up as much as I could in thirty-three days. I love America. It's been an obsession since I can remember and when I get there, I'm like a kid in a candy store. So...I got to visit beautiful San Francisco for the first time. Tons of movies have been made there and what did I obsess about...The Doris Day Show (I kid you not) and one of the most famous disaster movies of the Seventies, The Towering Inferno. ( I will admit to wanting to obsess about Vertigo but I'll talk about that later)...onto The Towering Inferno.

Going back to the seventies for a moment. The Towering Inferno (in case you didn't know) was a huge release. Huge! It was produced by the Master of Disaster, Irwin Allen, who scored big with The Poseidon Adventure a few years earlier. Inferno, was so big in Australia our local paper even offered a full color poster advertising the movie as a collectible. (Not quite sure where it ended up). The cast of Inferno was a who's-who of Hollywood. It's reported that Steve McQueen and Paul Newman actually had the same amount of dialogue in the movie so neither could be considered the "star". (Ahem, Diva!) Fred Astaire, Jennifer Jones, Faye Dunaway were known to me even as a kid but seeing Mike Lookinland (Bobby Brady) in a role was damn cool. Over the years The Towering Inferno remains an important part of the DVD collection. So when I went to San Francisco I had to go see where it all happened.

The lobby of the Towering Inferno was filmed at the San Francisco Hyatt. I'd planned to visit, but, a few days before my flight to the US, my friend, Randy, had booked a room just so I could have a chance at riding the the glass elevators seen in Inferno. (You need to be a guest to actually use the elevators). To see the glass elevators was one thing, to ride in them, blew me away.

The first glimpse of the Glass Elevator in The Towering Inferno

I got the the Hyatt early and caught the escalator up to the lobby (it's on the second floor) just as Fred Astaire did in the movie. Riding the escalator and seeing everything appear before my eyes was a thrill. It was December and the lobby was decorated for the holidays and what they did with L.E.D lighting blew me away.

Fred Astaire arriving in the lobby.

In reality I was at the Hyatt but I knew where I really was, I was inside The Towering Inferno lobby. I turned and saw the elevators. I was in heaven. They were mesmerizing. I found a seat, sat down and just watched in awe. The elevators are also in another favorite movie, Mel Brooks, High Anxiety. It was so cool to be there. Randy came down and said, "let's go for a ride" at that point there has never been a happier tourist in San Francisco. I was on my best behavior, (although secretly I wanted to do a Jennifer Jones impression). I got to ride the elevators a few times, okay, I refused to get out.

The Jennifer Jones impression I secretly wanted to do

The elevators today..still going strong

In the movie, you only see one, however, there are five merrily going up and down taking guests to their room. They even had red and green lighting to help celebrate the holidays.

If you go to San Francisco go to the Hyatt, have a coffee and watch the elevators while humming, We May Never Love Like This This Again. It's just too cool!