Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I was immediately taken by this February 1958 image of Fowler's Harbor. Sure, it's not the best angle to see the main structure, but it contains a number of rarely seen details elsewhere in its frame. I am guessing that the wooden slide/supports are in preparation of the Columbia arriving for construction, as it would still be four months before its debut when this photo was taken.
Zooming in to the left, you can see the sign for the Indian Village War Canoes. Anybody care to take a spin? You can also see the tunnel for the Frontierland Depot stop of the Disneyland Railroad.
Amazingly enough, the same tunnel is still around today.
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more vintage & current Fowler's Harbor photos on my Fowler's Harbor web page.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
It is with great sadness that I note the passing yesterday of Eleanor Parker, who portrayed one of the most delicious villains in screen history, The Baroness from "The Sound of Music." If you only read the script, you would have simply written Parker's character off as a money-grubbing heartless shrew.
Thanks to her acting chops though, she infused humor and even sympathy to what could have been a one-dimensional supporting role. Because of Parker, the movie is given a bit of balance, keeping it from being too sickeningly sweet. She delivers some of the film's funniest and most memorable lines with understated relish:
"Darling, haven't you ever heard of a delightful little thing called boarding school?"
Can't you hear the audience hissing?
After hearing Maria and the gang sing, she quickly neutralizes the saccharine with this quip:
The Baroness: Why didn't you tell me?
The Baroness: To bring along my harmonica.
Only Parker could have made jealousy so much fun:
The Baroness: My dear, is there anything you can't do?
Maria: Well, I'm not sure I'll make a very good nun.
The Baroness: If you have any problems, I'll be happy to help you.
I mean really...how could a Baroness even begin to compete with a nun for an audience's affection? And yet, when she gives a tearful and knowing goodbye to her almost-husband Captain Von Trapp, you can't help but feel sorry for the woman who almost had it all.
"Somewhere out there is a lady who I think will never be a nun. Auf Wiedersehen, darling."
And while we're saying goodbye...Micechat recently posted that Disney has announced the impending demolition of the Fantasyland Skyway Station, featured here in this publicity art from March 1956, just three months before the Skyway opened to the public.
An August 1958 view of the finished structure:
The Fantasyland Station has been allowed to rot away, just like Fort Wilderness before it. Having seen firsthand what Historic Preservationists can do with dilapidated buildings, I find it hard to believe that nothing could be done to restore this adorably detailed little Chalet.
On the flipside though, while it is very sad to lose another part of the park's early history, there really is no point in keeping this building unused on a valuable piece of real estate hidden behind a canopy of trees that made it almost invisible to the public.
One thing I do feel strongly about though...they better put something damn good in its place.
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more vintage Disneyland Skyway photos on my Skyway web page.
Monday, December 09, 2013
Even though the actual date isn't until August 2014, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of "Mary Poppins" has already begun, due largely in part to the upcoming release of "Saving Mr. Banks," a new Disney movie starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson that chronicles the difficulties of bringing the P.L. Travers book to the screen.
It is hard to believe when watching it today that such a movie could have had so much turmoil going on behind the scenes; just a testament to Walt's tenacity and ability to make things happen. I was able to get a sneak preview of the Blu-ray 50th Anniversary Edition (being released tomorrow), and it really was a magical experience.
The clarity and the detail are mindblowing. Not that everyone needs to see the pores on Dick Van Dyke's face, but from the very beginning of the film, they are right there on your television set for you to count. Once Julie Andrews floats onto Cherry Tree Lane though, the picture is definitely hers.
Andrews is absolute perfection as the straitlaced-acting Nanny who is able to "save Mr. Banks" from missing his children's childhoods. Andrews' face gives just enough of a smirk to let the audience know that she is anything but straitlaced, and is just as much of a softy as the rest of us.
The chemistry between Andrews and Van Dyke is sublime. Without overdoing the romance angle, Walt was able to let his stars display an affection for each other through the "Jolly Holiday" musical number.
On the new Blu-ray release, the only time that the clarity of the picture suffers at all would be during the animated sequences and any other footage that utilized the sodium vapor process. Since both of these types of effects required a re-shooting of the original footage in order to combine them, it is understandable that a small loss of detail would occur. Based on some of the extras on the Blu-ray though, it would appear that the Disney Corporation still has much (if not all) of the original live-action footage; this would lead me to believe that through the magic of digital, the film quality could be improved by re-combining the pieces together. Still, a lot of time and expense that isn't really required for a practically-perfect film!
The extras on the Blu-ray also include rehearsal footage and some of the special effects shots for the incredibly complicated (but wonderful to watch!) "Step In Time" musical number.
A number of props and artifacts from the film have hit the auction block, including this background matte for the "Jolly Holiday" sequence:
Mary's bottomless carpetbag:
If you're in Chicago between now and May 4, 2014, be sure to visit the Museum of Science and Industry, as it features a special Mary Poppins display within the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives Exhibit.
Some of the artifacts from the film that you can see include:
• Mary Poppins’ snow globe, traveling costume and carpet bag
• Sketches of various costumes worn in Mary Poppins
• Sheet music from the film and other Disney classics
• Film clips and interviews with the movie’s creators
• Two interactive Disney jukeboxes that allow you to select popular musical hits
Exactly one month ago today, Dick Van Dyke (Bert), Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks), and Richard Sherman (music & lyrics) attended the red carpet event at the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman's) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Commemoration Screening of "Mary Poppins," which was part of the AFI (American Film Institute) Fest.
Dick Van Dyke and Richard Sherman:
Arlene Silver and her husband Dick Van Dyke pose with Richard Sherman and his wife Elizabeth Gluck:
Kathryn Beaumont, the voice and live-action reference for Disney's "Alice in Wonderland":
Mallory Lewis, and Lamb Chop. Mallory took over duties for her mother, the legendary Shari Lewis, after she passed away in 1998.
I've always felt that a Mary Poppins attraction at Disneyland would be fantastic. Imagine getting strapped onto a carousel horse that took you through the magical scenery of the film. Until that happens, I'll settle for running into Mary. A cherished photo from my 40th Birthday (which was more years ago than I care to acknowledge!):
This little specialty number could be seen at the park back in 2009:
See, Mary really does know how to kick up her feet and have a good time!
I hope you get a chance to see the film on Blu-ray; it is just as charming as I remembered it, and with the advancement of age, it has actually become a lot more touching, as some of the themes I didn't "get" as a kid are more meaningful now. You'll definitely want to "feed the birds" once you've watched it.
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more "Mary Poppins" photos on my Disney movie web page.
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Last Thursday, December 5, marked what would have been the 112th birthday of creative genius Walt Disney. Today's belated tribute celebrates that momentous day with a recently acquired assortment of photos featuring Walt himself. The first one from August 1954 shows him with a model train, inside of what I believe to be the machine shop at the Disney Studios in Burbank. It is easy to attempt to interpret Walt's thoughts, especially since he isn't around anymore, but this particular quote on Disneyland is about as clear as it gets:
“I just want it to look like nothing else in the world. And it should be surrounded by a train.”
Face it...the main loved trains. If you do, too, you might enjoy this clip of Walt's backyard train setup. It's a wonderful glimpse of him having a ball and enjoying life:
The Lilly Belle, Walt's beloved miniature train that is featured in the video, can now be seen at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francsicso:
Moving forward to 1961, this onset photo from the film "The Parent Trap" shows Walt with director David Swift and stunning leading lady Maureen O'Hara. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: one for Sound by Robert O. Cook, and the other for Film Editing by Philip W. Anderson.
O'Hara was a knockout as Maggie, the spunky ex-wife of her soon-to-be-remarried ex-hubby, Mitch (Brian Keith). Here they are during a dinner cleverly arranged by their twin daughters (played by Hayley Mills) who would like nothing more than to have their parents reunited. The black eye on Keith's character was courtesy of his feisty ex, who had no interest in being told what to do.
I defy anyone with a pulse to have a dry eye during this little romantic reunion scene from the finale of the film. The chemistry between Keith and O'Hara is supreme.
OK, this is about Walt, not Maureen O'Hara. Pardon me for the interuption.
For the Pepsi-Cola small world exhibit entrance at the 1964 World's Fair in New York, Walt wanted a "wow." He spent $200,000 on 100 ton Wally Crump creation that was 120'/12 stories high and 46' wide at the base. This creative medley of mobiles was called The Tower of the Four Winds and required a 60' deep foundation to keep it from blowing over. Opening Day for the fair was April 22, 1964; the Disney press release for the occasion described the Tower in this way:
"Attached to three primary columns and four slender buttresses will be more than 100 spinning, swiveling, oscillating elements of as many colors and shapes. Propellers of every description and size, a miniature, purely decorative carousel with animals from several countries (a giraffe, camel, reindeer, llama, horse, elephant and donkey), a stylized representation of the sun; figures of birds, flying fish, winged dragon, butterflies, bees and other creatures—all will be in perpetual motion."
Although it was well received and "Meet me at the Tower of the Four Winds" became a catch-phrase for the fair, the Tower was basically dismantled and dumped. I am not sure if the model on display in the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World is the same one from the photo with Walt, but for sentimental reasons, I'd like to think so.
However, zooming in to the descriptive display material, it would appear that this is most likely a modern-day recreation.
Last one for today is a Bob Taylor cartoon this was the most fitting of tributes to Walt when he passed away.
The quote sums it up perfectly:
"Laughter and Happiness for children of all ages."
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more "Mary Poppins" photos on my Disney movie web page.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
I would never expect to mention the Chateau Marmont and Kmart in the same conversation. Yet, here I am.
At lunch one day early this week, the TVs in the dining hall were showing a commercial with Adam Levine, jumping out of bed in a hotel room.
I immediately recognized it as the Chateau Marmont, and once I saw the room's door number (64), I knew it was the 1500 square foot Howard Hughes Penthouse Suite.
The Adam Levine Kmart commercial was shot at the Chateau Marmont by director Jonas Akerlund, underscored by the Maroon 5 track "Love Somebody." According to an article at dailymail.co.uk, the reason was to advertise his new line of clothing...which is being sold at Kmart. Who would have guessed?
In an interview in People magazine, Levine was quoted: "In a way I'm not into fashion. What I'm trying to do is something that in a lot of ways is the anti-fashion line, and not necessarily based on momentary trends." He described the collection as "basic, simple and timeless...clothes I would definitely have in my closet....I love the way the leather jacket turned out. It was really simple and cool. I have definitely lined my closets with my stuff." Whether he actually designed the line himself or just how much input he had is unclear.
I have only been in Room 64, once (so far...), on Christmas Eve 2002, when one of the Managers invited me over for drinks with a few of his friends.
Thanks to a few crappy shots I took with my film camera that night, I was able to do some comparison shots. The living room, where Adam's clothes (which just happen to match his new menswear line) are strewn about:
The Chateau has very distinct vintage bathroom tiles.
I love 'em!
Adam buttons up his chambray shirt (yours for only $24.99) on the terrace; what a view!
A shot I took in 2002 of the view from the terrace at night, overlooking Sunset Boulevard:
This is the same terrace I saw Natalie Portman and husband Benjamin Millepied on a few years back, watching a friend getting married.
Adam rushes out the suite and into the hallway, sporting his very affordable $69.99 Distressed Faux-Leather Jacket.
Hard to miss that gorgeous carpet and the sturdy banisters/railings.
Forgetting his keys, he must return to the scene of the crime, as his girl from the night before slinks down the hallway to answer the door of the suite.
I very much remember that checkered hallway.
Then it's off to the garage to pick up his car.
I've been down that drive many a time myself.
You can view the commercial for yourself:
As well as this behind-the-scenes video:
I'm still not sure how I feel about the Chateau being used for a Kmart commercial. Had it been Kenneth Cole or Dolce & Gabbana, it would have seemed a better fit. I would say that Kmart definitely got the better end of the deal, since being associated with one of Hollywood's most famously secluded hot-spots could only improve the retailer's reputation. I did take a look at the clothes, and some of them look pretty decent. I'll let you know how they're made when they arrive. Yes, I ordered a few for myself.
What can I say? The Chateau sold me.
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more Daveland Chateau Marmont photos on my Chateau Marmont web pages.