Archives for posts with tag: Hollywood

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HOLLYWOOD HILLS NOIR
by Laurel Ann Bogen

Aberration of weather studs
the sloe eyed city where change
gels in ripples after due process
I could go deeper
pry open the locked vault
below, combustible fossils bubble
in tar and petroleum beneath
Wilshire Blvd. — the jacaranda’s roots
divide the house
Los Angeles
erupts in violet blossoms
each spring the profusion
is uncontained by stucco

Nature needs tending, or course
every few years the plates shift
the photogenic councilman is arrested
and somebody takes a fall
That’s how I came here — by a calling
as surely as the devil herself
cloaked in the need to be seen
in filtered light
latticed with faultlines
and an underground whirlpool
as profligate as oil.

“Hollywood Hills Noir” appears in Laurel Ann Bogen‘s collection Washing a Language (Red Hen Press, 2004), available at Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Ann Bogen is the author of 10 books of poetry and short fiction, and from 1996 until 2002 was literary curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has been an instructor of poetry and performance for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program since 1990 and received the Outstanding Instructor of the Year in Creative Writing in 2008. Selected “Best Female Poet/Performer” by the L.A. Weekly in their Best of L.A. issue, she is well-known for her lively readings and is a founding member of the acclaimed poetry performance troupe, Nearly Fatal Women. The recipient of the Curtis Zahn Poetry Prize from the Pacificus Foundtion and two awards from the Academy of American Poets, her work has appeared in over 100 literary magazines and anthologies.

Photo: “The Famed Hollywood Sign from Bronson Canyon” by Corey Miller, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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PAT HOBBY’S CHRISTMAS WISH (Excerpt)
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was Christmas Eve in the studio. By eleven o’clock in the morning, Santa Claus had called on most of the huge population according to each one’s deserts.

Sumptuous gifts from producers to stars, and from agents to producers arrived at offices and studio bungalows: on every stage one heard of the roguish gifts of casts to directors or directors to casts; champagne had gone out from publicity office to the press. And tips of fifties, tens and fives from producers, directors and writers fell like manna upon the white-collar class.

In this sort of transaction there were exceptions. Pat Hobby, for example, who knew the game from twenty years’ experience, had had the idea of getting rid of his secretary the day before. They were sending over a new one any minute — but she would scarcely expect a present the first day.

Waiting for her, he walked the corridor, glancing into open offices for signs of life. He stopped to chat with Joe Hopper from the scenario department.

“Not like the old days,” he mourned. “Then there was a bottle on every desk.”

“There’re a few around.”

“Not many.” Pat sighed. “And afterwards we’d run a picture — made up out of cutting-room scraps.”

“I’ve heard. All the suppressed stuff,” said Hopper.

Pat nodded, his eyes glistening.

“Oh, it was juicy. You darned near ripped your guts laughing –”

He broke off as the sight of a woman, pad in hand, entering his office down the hall recalled him to the sorry present.

“Gooddorf has me working over the holiday,” he complained bitterly.

“I wouldn’t do it.”

“I wouldn’t either except my four weeks are up next Friday, and if I bucked him he wouldn’t extend me.”

As he turned away, Hopper knew that Pat was not being extended anyhow. He had been hired to script an old-fashioned horse opera, and the boys who were “writing behind him” — that is, working over his stuff — said that all of it was old and some didn’t make sense.

“I’m Miss Kagle,” said Pat’s new secretary.

She was about thirty-six, handsome, faded, tired, efficient. She went to the typewriter, examined it, sat down and burst into sobs.

Pat started. Self-control, from below anyhow, was the rule around here. Wasn’t it bad enough to be working on Christmas Eve? Well — less bad than not working at all. He walked over and shut the door — someone might suspect him of insulting the girl.

“Cheer up,” he advised her. “This is Christmas…”

READ THE ENTIRE STORY (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN ESQUIRE, JANUARY 1940) AT PROJECT GUTENBERG HERE.

The Pat Hobby Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald are available at Amazon.com.

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In the above photo, author Ernest Hemingway (left) dines with director Frank Capra at the Paramount Studio commissary in 1941. Capra holds a copy of Hemingway’s then-latest novel — FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS (1940). Set during the Spanish Civil War (1933-1939), the book became the basis for the 1943 film of the same name starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman — actors that Hemingway selected for the roles.

Whether or not Capra was pitching his services during this lunch with Hemingway, he did not end up with the director’s slot — instead, Sam Wood assumed the role because shortly after this photo was taken, the United States entered WWII. Frank Capra served as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where he remained during the war years (1941-1945) making a variety of military films, including many shot during combat. Hemingway spend much of WWII as a war correspondent in various parts of the world.

After the war, Capra’s first Hollywood assignment was to direct James Stewart in the now-classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946). Hemingway did not release another major novel until 1952, when he published THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 and was cited for “his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”

OPENING PASSAGE FROM FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees. The mountainside sloped gently where he lay; but below it was steep and he could see the dark of the oiled road winding through the pass. There was a stream alongside the road and far down the pass he saw a mill beside the stream and the falling water of the dam, white in the summer sunlight.”

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The Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown (not the singer!) is among the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Brown’s stories about his Hollywood pitch meetings — especially the one about the young executive who cracked open peanuts and threw the shells on the carpet during the meeting — give you a ringside seat at the inner workings of LA-LA Land.

In the book, Brown offers an honest portrait of himself — his difficult childhood and struggles with substance abuse — and a scalding assessment of Hollywood and its denizens. Find The Los Angeles Diaries at Amazon.com.

HIGH PRAISE FROM BEST-SELLING AUTHORS:

The Los Angeles Diaries is terrific. It’s one of the toughest memoirs I’ve ever read, at once spare and startlingly, admirably unsparing. It glows with a dark luminescence. James Brown is a fine, fine writer.” MICHAEL CHABON

“One of those rare memoirs that cuts deeply, chillingly into the reader’s own dreams. It is a dramatic, vivid, heartbreaking, very personal story…cleanly and beautifully written, and it is also incredibly moving.” TIM O’BRIEN

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Brown is the author of the memoirs, This River and The Los Angeles Diaries, and co-editor with Diana Raab of the anthology Writers on the Edge. The most recent reprint of The Los Angeles Diaries from Counterpoint Press includes a foreword by Jerry Stahl, as does the French edition, Les Carnets de L.A., from 13 eNote Books, and is currently under option for a feature film with producer Jude Prest and Lifelike Productions, LLC. Brown has also written several novels, including Final Performance and Lucky Town. He’s received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction Writing and the Nelson Algren Award in Short Fiction. His work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, Ploughshares, The New York Times Magazine, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The New England Quarterly, and anthologized in Best American Sports Writing; Fathers, Sons and Sports: Great American Sports Writing; and the college textbooks Oral Interpretations, and Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief. Brown can be contacted through his website at www.jamesbrownauthor.com.

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He reached the end of Vine Street and began the climb into Pinyon Canyon. Night had started to fall. The edges of the trees burned with a pale violet light and their centers gradually turned from deep purple to black. The same violet piping, like a Neon tube, outlined the top of the ugly, hump-backed hills and they were almost beautiful.” Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West

October 17, 2013 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Nathanael West, author of the 1939 novel The Day of the Locusta biting depiction of Hollywood, the movie business, and life in Los Angeles.

West, like his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, was working as a screenwriter in 1940 — the year that marked the end to both men’s lives. Fitzgerald dropped dead of a heart attack at age 44 on December 21, 1940 at an apartment in near Sunset and LaCienega. West and his wife died the following day in an auto accident — when some believe they were on their way to a memorial service for Fitzgerald. During his four years in Los Angeles, West wrote over a dozen screenplays.

Photo: Tobysx70, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more work here.

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Jon took us up to see the hotel. It looked authentic. The barflies lived there. The bar was downstairs. We stood and looked at it…It was painted grey as so many of those places were. The torn shades. The table and the chair. The refrigerator thick with coats of dirt. And the poor sagging bed…I was a little sad that I wasn’t young and doing it all over again, drinking and fighting and playing with words. When you’re young you can really take a battering. Food didn’t matter. What mattered was drinking and sitting at the machine. I must have been crazy but there are many kinds of crazy and some are quite delightful. I starved so that I could have time to write. That just isn’t done much anymore. Looking at that table I saw myself sitting there again. I’d been crazy and I knew it and I didn’t care.

From Chapter 28 of Hollywood by CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Photo: “City street scene with neon signs of bars, hotels and theatres along skid row in Los Angeles, California, 1965.” Los Angeles Timesphotographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library. More information here.

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“I think of my photographs as ‘found’ paintings because I don’t crop them, I don’t manipulate them or anything. So they’re like ‘found’ objects to me.”

DENNIS HOPPER

Photo: “Double Standard” by Dennis Hopper (1961), Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

Note: Dennis Hopper shot “Double Standard” from a convertible stopped at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and Doheny Drive. A Los Angeles Times article following Hopper’s death on May 29, 2010 celebrated his work as a photographer and called the above image, “…an icon of the era, an exemplar of car culture cool…a delectably dense urban moment.”

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Lois Smith made her film debut in East of Eden, based on the John Steinbeck novel, where she shared the screen with James DeanWarner Brothers released the movie in April 1955, about six months before Dean’s death in a car crash.

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More than a half century later, in 2012, Lois Smith starred on Broadway in Heartless, the Sam Shepard-penned drama, where she played Mable, a woman partially paralyzed because she fell out of a tree while watching East of Eden on a drive-in movie screen.

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While shooting Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Dennis Hopper and James Dean became good friends. (Hopper was 19 and Dean was 24 when they shot the movie during the spring of 1955.)  Dean served as an artistic mentor to his friend — and gave Hopper his first camera, encouraging him to take it everywhere and shoot everything. Rebel was released in October 1955 —  a month after James Dean’s death in a car crash. Hopper was devastated by Dean’s passing — but paid tribute to his memory by applying himself to the art of photography. And a fine photographer he was, as evidenced by the above 1965 self-portrait. Hopper passed away in 2010 at age 74.

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Earlier today, we posted several lists of books from Marilyn Monroe’s library. A reader commented that no women appeared on the list — and, to correct that oversight, a list of books from MM’s library by women authors appears below. (I only selected authors whose names today’s readers would recognize.)

The Women by Clare Boothe Luce

Memories of a Catholic Girlhood by Mary McCarthy

Collected Sonnets by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Collected Short Stories by Dorothy Parker

Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson

Photo: Marilyn Monroe  at home in Los Angeles reading a book by a woman author while dressed in pink.