The Catalina Film Festival nominated my screenplay “Sideshow Bandit” for Best Screenplay & invited me to attend the awards ceremony. I’m eternally grateful to them & all my other sponsors & supporters for the opportunity to see LA & Catalina Island, as well as attend the festivities.
I stayed in the heart of Hollywood. The glamour of its early days barely glimmers through all the modern raz-ma-taz but if you keep your eyes on the ground, you can find Jean Harlow’s shoe prints or Eleanor Powell’s shiny taps imbedded in the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Most tourists in this area walk with their heads down, not just for the foot-and-hand prints but also as they follow the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Blvd. Started in ‘58, the Walk runs 1.3 miles. As you can see, I found one of my favourite movie stars. (photo above by Aaron Schwartz)
I also found my namesake on the Walk: if you don’t know Marie Wilson from such flicks as “Fools for Scandal” (’38) or “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” (‘62) or her sitcom “My Friend Irma”, look her up: she was good! She also played the secretary in the second cinematic treatment of “The Maltese Falcon” – “Satan Met a Lady” (‘36). (Pictured below in “Mr. Hobbs”).
Just a block up the street from Hollywood & Vine, you can venture into the hills & escape the circus. There, California’s desert heart emerges: golden soil covers hiking trails that wind among sage scrub, oak trees, succulents & more. Atop Mount Hollywood, I visited the iconic Griffith Observatory, a Beaux-Arts architectural wonder. From its rooftop, I could see just how extensive the city & its wilderness is. In 1896 Griffith donated 3,000 acres of land for the building & a park, which has now grown to more than 4,000 acres. While pondering a bronze bust of Jimmy Dean commemorating scenes shot there for “Rebel Without a Cause” (‘55), I espied a handsome coyote trotting down one of the trails.
We’ve all seen scads of photos of the iconic Hollywood sign but I knew I could only truly appreciate the triumphs & tragedies it represents if I saw in person. I’ve been outlining a screenplay about a young woman trying to make it in the movies in the 20s, & since it’s a true story, seeing the sign was essential. Her name was Peg Entwistle, and she met her end when she jumped off the “H”.
There’s the sign just over Jimmy’s shoulder (or a stone’s throw from his hair).
Mulholland Drive, aside from being the title of Lynch’s cinematic wonder, is dotted with stars’ mansions. But these places are dwarfed by the magnificent rolling hills that the road winds through. It was great to glimpse Ida Lapino’s former house since I admire her pioneering work as the only woman director working in the studio system in the 50s. Lupino dared to focus on controversial, socially relevant topics, & was also the first woman to direct a film noir – “The Hitch-Hiker” (‘53).
Then came the boat trip to Santa Catalina, which is a subtropical island where deer walk right up to you like big gentle dogs, their lovely brown eyes inquiring if you have any food for them. And there are bison roaming the hills! In the 20s, some filmmaker had a herd brought over for a movie he was making then just left them there when he was done. But the Catalina experience is for the next instalment…
- Solar Eclipse Goddess
- Santa Catalina