Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Hollywood Way Back Machine stops in 1969

One of the cool (but annoying) things about living in LA is that they film movies here. Annoying in the sense that it can block traffic, take away parking spaces, and just generally be a nuisance. And if you’re inconvenienced so they can film GOTTI 2, fuck them.

But many times the shooting is fun. A few years ago I got to just hang with George Clooney as they were setting up a shot down the block. The GO DADDY girl was filming a few houses over one day. (She wouldn’t let me get near her.) I was in Westwood one night and Usher asked for a light.

What’s really fun is when locations are dressed to look like period pieces. And such is the case currently in Los Angeles as Quentin Tarantino is filming a movie set in 1969 Hollywood. For the past couple of months his crew has been going around to various spots recreating the LA I knew and loved from the late ‘60s. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to stepping into the Way Back Machine. Unless someone builds BOOMERLAND, an amusement park for hippies with attractions like SUNSET STRIP LAND and FREE CLINIC LAND, Quentin’s movie locations are the best I'll ever be able to do.

Earlier this week he filmed in the Westwood Village (near UCLA). This was particularly cool for me because I went to UCLA in 1969 and the village was my stomping ground. So talk about a blast from the past. A lot of the replica storefronts looked pretty close. At one point I said to myself, “Gee, Campbell’s Men’s Store” was not on this street” and then I thought, “Idiot! Who the fuck is going to know? Just be glad you’re seeing Campbell’s Men’s Store again.”

What struck me, walking around Sunday night when they were setting up, was the incredible attention to detail. There are actual promo photos from the Dean Martin movie that is supposedly playing at the Bruin Theatre. No one’s going to see them. In the theatre lobby there are concession prices. I’m sure someone looked them up for accuracy. If a viewer is squinting to see how much popcorn was back then he’s sure not interested in following the story. At the beauty salon there are photos of different hairstyles. I can’t imagine a world where you’ll be able to see and register that. But it’s there.

I’m sure Quentin Tarantino is not examining every single storefront and saying “The LA Free Press was to the left of the LA Herald-Examiner.” But someone did.

And it again brings home the fact that Hollywood is filled with superb craftsmen who take enormous pride in their work. Their attention to detail often goes unappreciated. Their names scroll down in the end credits as the audience is making its mass exodus. But they’re every bit as important in Hollywood as any other filmmaker.

So thanks to them and Quentin Tarantino for a lovely nostalgic trip back to my youth. I hope the movie is good.

Here are a few photos I took Sunday night and Monday.











37 comments :

Peter said...

I'm looking forward to this film, but my enthusiasm took a huge dent when I read that he cast Lena Dunham. Why, Quentin, why?!

On the other hand, she's playing one of Charles Manson's followers, so it'll be even easier to hate her.

Horaceco said...

I felt like this watching X-Men, Days of Future Past". They got 70s DC right in that movie, down to the police cars and the burgundy and gold seats at old RFK stadium.

VP81955 said...

Some weeks back, filming was done outside Paramount, and the studio billboards promoted releases from 1969, including "MacKenna's Gold" (featuring Facebook friend Julie Newmar). It's fun reliving a Los Angeles I never experienced (my first visit to LA wasn't until June 1989). If only I could flip on my radio and tune in 93 KHJ.

TireKicker said...

Ken: Tarantino's research people got in touch with me about six months ago, looking for good-quality unscoped airchecks of KHJ from 1969. Apparently the movie will have them coming out of radios. I was happy to provide some, and I know at least three other collectors who did the same. No idea what will make it through the editing process, but it'll be fun to see.

The Holy Grail for the researchers was any surviving video of KHJ-TV's "Groovy" TV show. None of us had any---maybe somebody else did. An encouraging sign---Tarantino's crew re-created the Channel 9 remote truck from that era. Alison Martino (Al Martino's daughter) had it on her "Vintage Los Angeles" Facebook page over the weekend:

https://www.facebook.com/VintageLosAngeles/photos/a.578880922168631/1981002591956450/?type=3&theater



---Mike Hagerty

Dhruv said...

Thanks a lot Ken for the pics and also for the interview with Mr. Neil Ross. I am listening towards the end of part 2.

If I am not wrong, after 'Hateful 8', Quentin Tarantino has said that he will direct 2 more movies. So this movie "Once Upon a Time In Hollywood" will be his last but one, directorial venture. Hope it is good.

Fred Vogel said...

Thanks for the great photos. The Helms Bakeries truck sure brought back some fond memories. 1969 was the year I graduated high school and in our annual the Senior class took out a 1/4 page ad stating "Class of '69, eat out more often". Maybe because it was placed near the Bob's Big Boy ad the stodgy administrators and faculty kept it in.

Janet Ybarra said...

I've always wondered where a production gets all those period vehicles and such from. Are they owned by the studio?

Are there separate companies that specialize in those types of items that a production or studio contracts with?

Or something else entirely?

Jimmy said...

Really cool photos. I work in the art department (the craftspeople who create the sets and props) and seeing this is impressive. What you didn't mention is that not only is LA a place where there are people that can create all this stuff, but there is another level of resources that make this possible: prop rental houses, prop fabrication houses, picture car rental houses, etc. so that all this stuff is for the most part readily available. Need a vintage city bus? We can get that! Need old candy in the correct 1965 wrapper? That's available! I have a friend who is working on anther 60s period piece movie right now and she is finding that Tarantino's team had reserved much of the 1960's stuff around town, but certainly not everything. This being LA, the city is able to outfit multiple 1960s project simultaneously even if one of them is something like this Tarantino film that is sucking huge amount resources. The dream factory is astonishingly well supplied.

McAlvie said...

Cool! I didn't grow up in LA, but it does evoke the 1969 era as I remember it. Regarding the level of detail, I suspect that even the stuff that won't show still adds a subtle something to getting the right feeling. The little touches will put you there in the moment, instead of saying, "It's almost like."

It would be an interesting experiment, actually, to immerse a group of people in an era and study how it influences their behavior, not just in terms of a lack of modern conveniences, but whether they respond to their surroundings.

Janet Ybarra said...

We got a taste a few months back in Washington DC about what you are describing when they filmed the next WONDER WOMAN. That inxlined reconstruction of Commander Sallamander, a popular shop here from the 1980s (the time the movie is set in) but has since closed down. It was a real blast from the past.

Smilodon said...

The Collinsport Historical Society, a Dark Shadows fan page, has an article about this because there's an ad for Dark Shadows on one of the benches. There's also a video of the set at the bottom of the article which reminds me that I need to watch The Night They Raided Minsky's again.

http://www.collinsporthistoricalsociety.com/2018/10/jonathan-frid-spotted-on-set-of-new.html?fbclid=IwAR3sSB4FCb-fsSNRAA2MiBIp-tcKu20pckROULQyzrEeT75qmAx3egrJ2_E

Janet Ybarra said...

Ken, I would be interested to know whether a drop in the amount of filming has been noticable given that other locales have become filming destinations as they have been offering tax breaks.

For example, the Pacific Northwest has been the site for many sci-fi series in the last 15-20 years. FAMILY FEUD is now produced in Atlanta. DEAL OR NO DEAL was produced in Connecticut, etc.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Terrific Westwood memories for me. Thanks for the posting Ken.

After finishing a Saturday late-night shift on the ucla campus radio station (where Ken was a farrr better DJ than I was), I was walking alone in Westwood after midnight when about 100 feet ahead of me a 6'5" man turned the corner heading my way, and in the street light I could make out that he was wearing a hat and some sort of uniform. As he and I got closer, I saw that he was staggering a bit, drunk, and his hat was a beret. His uniform: army. Lots of medals. Jeezus! A drunk Green Beret was walking right at me! He stopped in front of me, blocking my way, then asked directions to the nearest bar. I had no idea where it was so I made up some goofy directions and off he went. And I double-timed it back to the frat house, lucky to be alive.

Someone tell Mr. Tarantino to put that guy in the movie!

Baylink said...

So... what's the over/
under we'll hear that beautiful Drake/Chenault Boss stinger with a DJ shout at least once? :-)

(Someone else will have to tell me; I can't watch a Tarantino film... :-)

Dana King said...

To your last point, Ken, it drives me crazy that Netflix doesn't let you read the credits when you stream a movie. Would it kill them to push their next recommended show--which I am almost never interested in-back a couple of minutes? it's not like they're on a :30/:60 schedule.

Andy Rose said...

@Janet Ybarra: Family Feud moved from Atlanta back to LA last year. While the tax breaks helped, the main reason it had been shot in Atlanta in the first place is because that is where Steve Harvey lived, and he didn't want to commute to LA. Now that he has moved to LA to do his daily talk show, he doesn't want to commute to Atlanta!

As far as cars are concerned, I have some friends who are part of the classic car community, and word gets around when productions are looking. The Transportation Department people know whom to ask. The hardest part is not finding the car, but convincing the owner to let them borrow it. Occasionally replicas are made.

If it's a background car, those will usually be booked by the extras casting people. They'll just put out a public ask specifically for people who have period cars and are willing to drive them around a film set all day.

Todd Everett said...

it drives me crazy that Netflix doesn't let you read the credits when you stream a movie. Would it kill them to push their next recommended show--which I am almost never interested in-back a couple of minutes? it's not like they're on a :30/:60 schedule.

That bothers me, too; I'd think unions would be raising hell over it. And of course Netflix isn't alone in "rushing" end credits.

Of course we now have IMDB, but they have an understandable problem with TV shows: if I want to know who plays the dishy cop on last night's episode, it isn't up yet and probably won't be for a while.

Gary Theroux said...

You mean it's still not 1969?

Gloria said...

Good pics Ken. Thanks.

Quentin Tarantino was always defending Roman Polanski with the most absurd pathetic logic.

So the story will surely involve portraying Polanski in a sympathetic manner to get the public to shed a tear or two for poor Polanski, and forgive him of the sins, he commits later.

Wonder who plays Bob Evans and Jack Nicholson?

Buttermilk Sky said...

Day-Lewis, Tarantino...when did film people in the prime of life decide they had accumulated enough money to announce their retirement? John Huston directed his last movie (THE DEAD) on an oxygen tank for emphysema. Spencer Tracy just about made it through GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. In NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR Richard Burton looks like his doctor is waiting off-camera. Nobody walked away from a thriving career but Garbo, and people still talk about that.

Wimps.

Anonymous said...

I'll really be impressed if I see Lew Alcindor walking around.

Anonymous said...

Ken: off topic but have you heard of the new Netflix Chuck Lorre production the Kominsky Method? Single camera show with Michael Douglas, Alan Arkin and Nancy Travis. Janice B.

Astroboy said...

Oh man, I can still remember being overwhelmed by the smell from inside of the Helms Bakery truck when the driver opened those two magical doors! I lived for those doughnuts and cakes when I was a kid! Oddly enough, in the last few months I have actually have been daydreaming about finding and restoring one of those trucks. Seeing the photos here I also want that Carnation Milk truck and that Corvair! (You know, I really don't like that feeling of thinking a lot of things were better in the 'old days.' In this case what bothers me about no Helms or Carnation trucks is that those people jobs don't exist anymore, and others like them. The Fuller Brush Man, the Avon Lady. To me, these jobs that brought people to you helped make up life in a neighborhood. You looked forward to the doorbell ringing on a certain day, a delivery truck coming through at a certain time. You got to know them a little bit, they got to know you a little bit, they knew everyone else who lived around you. they were like small threads that helped stitch a neighborhood together. And it also bother me that people don't get to do jobs like that anymore (and make a living at it!). And it's getting worse I think, one day in America most of all be working in Amazon warehouses shipping Chinese stuff to ourselves.)

Anonymous said...

Here's something really spooky.
After the LaBianca murders the whole Southern California area was on edge because no one knew who the perps were.
The LA Times ran a front-page story on the murders, the possible motives and who might be behind it. All speculation of course, and no hint of the Manson Family.
But right next to the article was another article on the hippies living out at Spahn Ranch. It had nothing to do with the murders, was sort of a kooky feature piece. No one made the connection between the two articles side by side.

Cap'n Bob said...

I like the era but not the actor. Pass.

Anonymous said...

I remember Campbell's as a bookstore on LeConte, not a men's store. Far too many years ago to be sure. Where's Licorice Pizza? Jeans West?

Janet Ybarra said...

Any number of broadcast and cable networks do this. Minimizing an outgoing show while a new one comes on, so you can't read the credits.

I've seen with first run as well as re-runs.

I agree, I would think it would be a union issue but apparently not.

I also agree it is annoying.

Joseph Scarbrough Puppet Productions said...

Film crews come to my town quite often as well - just a couple of years ago, Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, and Ariel Winter were in my town filming an indie film - and in fact, there was a film crew, with a police blockade, a few streets away from my neighborhood.

Now if only the powers at be would leave some of their equipment behind, and we had some actual facilities around here (like a studio lot), I could probably get a lot more of my own work done . . . maybe, I don't know. But, I feel as though Knoxville could have the potential to be the southeast point for moviemaking - we have a rather large indie crowd in this town: it's not uncommon to be driving down a main road in the downtown area, and see people lugging cameras down the sidewalk.

Lorimartian said...

Janet - There is a company called "History for Hire" located not far from my home. They stock all manner of vintage items. I donated a few things to their business that I'd been carting around for 45 years (e.g., a 1950's portable Philco tube radio/record player combo and a 1960's portable Royal manual typewriter). I hope to spot them in a movie or tv show some day.

YEKIMI said...

Ah, 1969. Brings back memories of my last year living in Florida before I was "kidnapped" and forced to move north. [Actually, step-dad transferred to new job.] When I went back almost two decades ago, most of what I remembered was gone although a few places remained. Now, even those are gone. Town I lived in when we moved had about 15,000 residents, it's now over 50,000. And there is now not a single speck of privately owned land, except for parks & nature reserves, that is not built over. Used to walk to and from elementary school which was over 1 mile away and not have to worry about getting hit by a car. 2 lane dirt roads now 4 or 6 lane paved highways. Five cents for a candy bar that was almost the size of a loaf of bread and outraged that some were being raised to a dime. Seeing movies at the only indoor theater in town and it only had one screen. Parents taking us to the drive-in to watch movies. One screen but sometime after we moved they made it a two screener. Sadly, now gone. First replaced by a flea market, now home to Publix & Lowes. Peddling down the street till it dead-ended at a wooded section then trundling my bike through the woods to the grocery store on U.S. Highway 19 where grandma worked and she took me to lunch at a diner and got me a coke for a dime. Amazingly, the diner is still there but has been converted into a check cashing place and the store she worked at, like her, are long gone. Lot where we used to play baseball was still there up to 5 years ago when they built condos on it. Amazing what memories of a few photos, even of re-creations, can dredge up. And most amazing, is a tree I planted way back in 1963 when we moved into a new house, is STILL there when I checked it out on Google Maps. And for some reason, that made me very happy!

IHeartBuster said...

Ken, I was contacted about supplying airchecks of The Real Don Steele at KHJ in 1969, as were other folks who collect airchecks. Hoping RDS makes it into the film! ❤ Shaune

Janet Ybarra said...

Sounds like a really fun, neat business. Thanks for letting me know!

Devlin Thompson said...

Oh, there are plenty of folks who wont let the enjoyment of the film stop them from noticing little errors. As much as I love Animal House, it's chockful of anachronisms, and my wife will attest that I vociferously questioned the period-appropriateness of the egg-timer with which Sally Hawkins times her masturbation in The Shape of Water! Looking at these photos, my only beef lies with a few typefaces on signage, but that's always an issue with this sort of thing, and nothing here is really egregious.

T.J. said...

I've been listening to "The Good Place: The Podcast," hosted by Marc Evan Jackson ("I play Shawn"). He interviews all sorts of creative people who work on the show: lead actors, writers, directors, guest actors, set designers, props folks, casting, philosophers, SFX folks, and so forth. It's fascinating. I had no idea all the work and all the people who are involved in getting a show onscreen.

bruce said...

Yeah. The summer of 1969. I was terrified and excited to be leaving my parent's apartment to start my freshman year at Caltech. And my parents were just terrified that I was leaving the safety of the apartment with the Tate-LaBianca killers out on the loose. Made it ok. Not sure I really want to relive that summer.

Jeff Maxwell said...

Fun photos. I remember the Helms trucks equipped with gorgeous sliding wooden drawers filled with those delicious donuts. Yumm.

Eye catching as well...Elke Sommer, Sharon Tate and Nancy Kwan in one movie.

Kaleberg said...

I think the set and props people have their own code of honor. I had a friend trying to figure out what kind of safety socks they wore in a 19th century ammunition factory. Shoes, which often had metal in the soles, might set something off. My favorite will always be Professor X's car in the X-Men movie. It had a New York State handicapped license plate.