Saturday, February 16, 2019

Weekend Movie Fun: Out and About in L.A.

We've had a fun start to the holiday weekend, seeing a trio of classic films in Los Angeles over the past two days as well as visiting some equally classic Los Angeles eateries and landmarks.

Friday morning started off at the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy, where my husband had an appointment to do some film score research. It was my first visit, and it was great fun to look around at all the fabulous posters decorating the building and check out the impressive library stacks.

I also spent some time reading my advance copy of the new Fay Wray/Robert Riskin bio just steps from a giant poster of MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) which prominently featured Riskin's name. That was a nice bit of serendipity! Alas, photos are only permitted in the lobby (above).

For lunch we headed to The Apple Pan, which we first visited last summer. As some of yesterday's photos reflect, it was another rainy weekend here, but the wet weather is most welcome in California.

The restaurant was recently sold but the new owner is a longtime customer who pledges to keep it exactly "as is."

As we stood waiting for seats at the counter to open up, my husband started chuckling and nodded toward the counter -- where none other than Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies was eating lunch! I'd call that an "only in L.A." kind of moment -- except that we've also eaten in the same restaurant as Ben in Lone Pine!

After lunch we had some time before we needed to head to UCLA so we visited the Los Angeles National Cemetery and paid our respects at the final resting places of a pair of actors we particularly enjoy.

Actor-director Richard Carlson, to whom I paid tribute in 2015, served in the Navy during World War II.

He's buried on a hill with a lovely view overlooking much of the cemetery.

John Russell, the star of TV's LAWMAN, was a decorated Marine veteran of the Guadalcanal campaign.

Not surprisingly, the cemetery is organized with military precision and it was easy to find both sites. We hope to return and vist Jack Holt's gravesite at a future date. Russell Hicks, who was in one of the yesterday's films, THE MORTAL STORM (1940), is also buried at the cemetery. (July 2019 Update: A few months later we paid our visit to Jack Holt's gravesite.)

Soon it was time to head to UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum for the first of two screenings we saw at the 2019 UCLA Festival of Preservation.

Local L.A. TV legend Tom Hatten was leaving the theater as we arrived, so it was neat to see him in person, if only for a minute. (March 2019 Update: Tom Hatten passed away just a month later at the age of 92.)

It was also great to see several friends who were on hand for the festival! I loved having the chance to see THE CROOKED WAY (1949), which I reviewed here back in 2013, in a gorgeous 35mm print.

The plot can be a bit clunky at times, especially as the initial exposition is laid out in the opening scene, but John Alton's cinematography is absolutely stunning; I had noted that in my previous review and it's really the word which fits. Over and over I caught myself thinking "That looks so neat!" It's a movie which can be enjoyed simply for the way it looks -- though I also find it quite entertaining for other reasons.

We went to dinner at BJ's after THE CROOKED WAY; we find the Westwood location consistently top-drawer for that chain. Incidentally, we were very surprised to learn that 800 Degrees Pizza around the corner from the museum had closed in October, as it was always packed when we visited, and the Westwood Pieology had closed as well. (April 2019 Update: 800 Degrees has reopened!)

We then returned to the Billy Wilder Theater for THE MORTAL STORM (1940). It was my first time to see it and I found it quite memorable; I'll be writing about it in a separate post in the near future.

What a difference a day makes! Saturday was sunny and crisp; the rain of the last few days left the L.A. skies a sparkling clear blue, as can be seen from this freeway shot below:

We had brunch at The Original Pantry Cafe, which opened in 1924 and is famous for never having closed in the last 95 years.

I couldn't believe it had been over a decade since my last visit!

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at this L.A. landmark. Below are a few more shots of the restaurant, and please visit my 2008 post for additional photos.

Early this afternoon we returned to The Autry Museum of the American West, which we visited last month to see CANYON PASSAGE (1946).

Today's film in the museum's ongoing What is a Western? series was the classic Randolph Scott Western THE TALL T (1957), which I hadn't seen since 2006.

This was my first time to see it on a big screen; the 35mm print shown in the Autry's Wells Fargo Theater was quite nice, a little grainy at times but sharp and crisp in many scenes, and I should note that the sound was vastly improved over last month's screening, which apparently had a soundtrack issue.

I liked the film the first time I saw it, though I found the (mostly unseen) violence early in the film difficult, and I liked it even more today. In the intervening years we have visited where the movie was filmed in the Alabama Hills outside Lone Pine, which made seeing it again even more special.

Like last month's movie, the film was introduced by historian Jeremy Arnold; Jeremy knew director Budd Boetticher and shared some brief audio clips of Budd's interview comments as part of his talk. It was a wonderfully informative way to kick off the screening.

Below, Jeremy (center) greets film fans in the lobby after the film. I hope he'll program future films at the Autry, as I really enjoyed his selections and introductions.

It's been a wonderful weekend, with the kind of experiences which really make me appreciate the opportunities available where we live.

Coming soon: A review of THE MORTAL STORM (1940). Update: Here is my review of THE MORTAL STORM.

Related Posts: Weekend Movie Fun: Canyon Passage (1946) at the Autry (and Philippe's!) (January 2019); What is a Western? Film Series at the Autry.

Also: Weekend Movie Fun (February 2018); Weekend Movie Fun: Design for Living at the Egyptian Theatre (July 2018); Weekend Movie Fun: Counsellor at Law (1933) at UCLA (and the Apple Pan!) (July 2018).


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

This was a really fun and interesting tour, Laura! It really does show the advantage of living in the L.A. area.
We always found an American breakfast a highlight of the day when visiting, although prices have certainly gone up somewhat from our last time there.
Another great trip to the Autry (lucky you) to see what I consider one of the very best of the Scott-Boetticher-Brown-Kennedy westerns. The sunny and friendly opening of the film makes the results of the (unseen) violence following truly shocking - and effective. Fine film-making!
Very much look forward to your review, Laura, of your first viewing of "THE MORTAL STORM", a film I have seen several times over the years. A quite powerful film that would surely have been quite a shocking wake-up to American audiences in 1940.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

A charming weekend. Nice to read of your seeing The Tall T on today, Arthur Hunnicutt's birthdate.

I showed my daughter The Mortal Storm when she was in high school. It put a human spin on some of her history classes, and it is a movie she can never forget.

6:09 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

What a fun weekend and tour! I'm looking forward to your review of "The Mortal Storm" too, as it's a movie I haven't even heard of, but looks like it's one I definitely need to see from the comments here.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much, Jerry! I really do enjoy being able to drive up to L.A. for some "fun stuff" every so often. (I love eating breakfast out!) I discussed with Jeremy afterwards how effective the unseen violence is in THE TALL T -- the opening haunted me so much that it took me over a dozen years to go back to the movie, even though I'd enjoyed it. (Filmmakers really need to learn that less can be more!) I handled it better this time since I knew what to expect, and I think the fact I no longer have a child in that age range helped too.

Caftan Woman, I hadn't realized it was Arthur Hunnicutt's birthdate yesterday, that's lovely. :) It's been a really great holiday weekend!

THE MORTAL STORM is really thought provoking -- Deb, I think you'd find it very interesting. Do let me know if you see it!

Best wishes,

3:23 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Such a fun post Laura. Thank you for sharing. I definitely have to check out both The Apple Pan and the Original Pantry Cafe next time I'm in LA. And what a hoot that you guys saw Ben Mankiewicz at lunch!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Raquel! I think you would really enjoy visiting The Apple Pan and The Original Pantry Cafe. Along with other restaurants such as El Cholo and Philippe's, they are "classic L.A.," part of the city for decades.

It was so funny to see him there! What were the odds?!

Best wishes,

8:24 PM  

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