The Fairy Diary Day 284 #TFDbyRWOz2

Meribabell writes:

The great burrow of the Dromadil pixies of yore is magnificent- even though abandoned for eons. Dunfallon explored everywhere with our two Dromadil guides long past the time he should have been resting.  

We shall be leaving behind these guides as we press deeper into the earth. They will report back to their king about its suitability for habitation again. 

I find I can admire the workmanship of these structures, but confess the depression that comes with a life in the shadows and at times outright darkness. 

We had little to light our way besides my pendants until a surprise gift through Noralei from Merlin  – the cage that lights up because it contains our “old friend” the Will’o’the Wisp. 

He shines brighter than I remember in this place and is more sullen. 

He has said nary a word.

The Fairy Diary Day 45 #TFDbyRWOz2

Meribabell writes:

Holding steady to our heading led us to a vast depression in the plain. We all thought it very odd. And were each uneasy in a way we could not express. That is until Dunfallon remarked that he sensed something magical in the very air around us. 

That was just moments before we passed through something like a veil, and what was nothing before – cleared up and we could then see heaps of stones at the center of the depression. 

We passed the balance of the day examining the structures. For indeed the stones – huge and heavy – were arranged into complex geometric patterns. 

Before the sun went down we made sure to put some distance between ourselves and the mysterious buildings.

The Set Up – By the Numbers #1939TheMiracleYear

1939 The Miracle Year The Set Up By theNumbers

When it comes down to it, the film business is exactly that. It is a business.

And it is also an art form, and more specifically in the studios of Hollywood, a collaboration of artists.

The two come together in a marriage of sorts. But by no means is it a marriage of equals. The business side, by dint of the numbers it collects (i.e. the monies come their way first), is the dog that wags the tail.

So a look at some numbers:

On the production side for the prior year of 1938, a total of 769 films were released, 362 from major companies and 407 from the independents (with a mix of US produced and foreign imports for both). This marked a slow climb from the 595 films in 1930 when the squeeze of the depression that hit in 1929 could be visualized. (1928 had reached a high of 834, and stumbled in 1929 to 707). Things were looking up on the production side.

In 1938 there were 18,182 motion picture theaters in the US.  They saw roughly 85,000,000 paying customers pass through their doors that year, yielding a total gross of 1,016,600,000.

Attendance for 1938 showed a drop off from the 88 million of 1937. This disparity showed up in the weak numbers for the spring and early summer of 1938. A panic set in at the studios, so they came up with a campaign to ballyhoo the box office – calling it the ‘Motion Pictures Greatest Year” campaign.

This hype came true – not for 1938, but for the year 1939.

Day One Thousand Seventy #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah called for a halt today. On the face of it, there was no compelling reason due to any overt threats, but we obeyed without question.

Perhaps it was because of our current surroundings. Except for the absence of water, we were in a depression that shielded us from the constant wind, descending from the mountains at our back.

Or maybe Elijah just saw our need. One which was so close under our noses that we were blinded to its impact.

So, it was with gratitude that we each were able to take time to draw apart. To intercede for those behind in the hiding place, and then for those whom we yet seek, the focus for our united mission.

The 1977 California Trip: Hello Anxiety, the Fox Tour

The 1977 California Trip Fox Hello Anxiety2

The day after our exciting day on the Paramount lot, we were looking forward to our next studio – 20th Century Fox.

We went through Westwood on the way to Century City and saw the Avco Center Cinemas owned by my first employer, GCC. They were playing Star Wars to blockbuster business. (The film was then in its third or fourth week, piling up record grosses all across the country). We were tempted to brave the crowds later, but held off. (We had seen it already).

The entrance to the studio back then was off Pico Blvd on a long side street that lead to the visitors’ parking area.  Lining that street was a three story standing exterior set that was immediately recognizable. We could not help but rubberneck to take in the location where a song and dance number was performed and shot for Hello Dolly.  [The facade must be gone now, as it is not visible on any of the satellite map sites I checked].

I do not recall where it was exactly that we reported to begin our tour, nor do I remember who it was that took us around. I have the distinct impression that we were on our own exploring the lot. But then again some one had to have been with us to tell us what we were looking at.

We made our way through the rest of the New York set that branched off of the street we came in on. Past that we came out on one of the studio streets that ran by a series of four stages on our left, and a rather odd looking building on our right. Some big rig trucks were parked parallel to it, sitting idle. The building looked like an exterior mock up of a train station, including a raised platform in front of it. (In fact it had been used as such, see the following article). It is probably the oldest building on the lot (and may have been moved from its original position). Tom Mix, the cowboy star who appeared in Fox westerns, kept his horses in this “barn.” He was the original owner of the ranch it sat upon. Fox purchased this property when their older studio lots in Hollywood proved too small. (You can find a series of pictures of the site over time in this article).

With the exception of one film, not much was going on in the studio that day. We took a right and walked by some more stages, up to the area of the Tennessee Avenue gate. The bungalows kept for stars working on the lot were situated there. It looked for all the world like a neighborhood street from the thirties. That’s probably because they date from that period. A larger one on the corner was then the medical clinic for the studio, but had been the bungalow for the pint-sized savior of Fox during the Depression – the singing and dancing, cute as a button dynamo, Shirley Temple. (Another article)

At this point of the tour, the lunch hour had crept up on us, for the next stop was the commissary (aka Cafe de Paris). I ran across a picture recently that was taken after a remodel in 1976, the year before our visit. It’s exactly as I remember it right down to those two big planters.  The studio heads Dennis Stanfill and Alan Ladd Jr. were nowhere in sight, so they must have been in the executive dining room.

As I mentioned above there was one film in production – Mel Books’ High Anxiety.  It just so happened that at the end of April they had been doing exterior work up in San Francisco and in the Hyatt Regency in particular, the very place we had visited just a few days prior. Now Brooks was set up in Stage 14 for interior work, which was on the other side of those NY standing sets.

I had located a history that put the lounge song number from the film on that stage (the scene in which Brooks sings the title tune to Madeline Kahn). That was not the setup we saw that day. It was very quiet as we walked down the alley to the open studio door. A quietness that whispered everyone was taking a siesta. As we looked through the door a simple setting of furniture was arranged against white walls – a glass topped coffee table in front of a sofa. Though there was probably no one within, I could not shake off the feeling that people were there in the shadows holding their collective breaths waiting for us to go away.

Come December when High Anxiety was released I finally understood what we had seen on Stage 14. It was the comic scene played out between Cloris Leachman (Nurse Diesel) and Harvey Korman (Dr. Charles Montague), in which the camera shooting up from under the coffee table attempts to follow the two as they converse, only to have its view blocked by their movement of the cups, saucers and plates across its glass top.

A little bit of film history. Alright, minuscule. But we didn’t need to see “stars.” Just being there was a thrill. (We did have a brief encounter when we returned to the lot in 1985, but that’s a blog post for another day).

So stay tuned and Watch This Space.

Day Three Hundred Eight #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Almost too much has happened today for me to write about.

And the sights I was witness to crowd out all else.

The storm clouds have moved on, leaving behind them a new reality.

The great city is no more. Its structures razed down to ground level – and below. The deepest depression appears to be in the area of the administration building. And there is no movement, of man or beast across the landscape. No fires burn and no smoke fills the air above. Silence only spreads its wings, flushing out the sighing of the wind.

Elijah and I returned aft to our cabin in the superstructure of the vessel, as the ship’s engines rumbled the deck beneath our feet.

Day Two Hundred Fifteen Late Morning #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Enough writes:

Energetic. Arrived early and pushed deep into the oasis. Found water and date palms. Left my pebbles there and sipped.

Followed a depression and found another pool. A stream flowed from it to another.

No lack of water.

This place reminds me of my walled courtyard.

Day One Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Pressure is mounting on two fronts.

Moglen is the undisputed leader now in the second district. It is even whispered that he may rise to rule the entire west end. We expect an ultimatum soon.

And Lyle faces opposition from two of his leaders. They were denied access to a west end market unless they bear the mark. They proposed that they take it on to represent the east end in these matters. I advised Lyle to counter their notion with the suggestion that they maintain their market here. Let the west end come to us, we set no restrictions.

Grazie worked diligently in our fields today. I worry about the return of her depression once the harvest is finished.