Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disneyland Market House

At some point this year, the Main Street Market House, originally sponsored by Swift's Premium Meats, will be converted into a Starbucks Coffee Location. Since the details of the conversion have been sparse, there has been quite a bit of feedback from both sides of the coin. On one side, the coffee currently served at Disneyland is pretty poor (and there doesn't seem to be too much of an argument on this point!) so bringing in Starbucks is a happy "plus" for many. Then there are those who are upset about The Market House losing its quaint charm and becoming too much of a commercial enterprise.

While everyone else is arguing these points, let's take a look at how The Market House used to look and operate. These first two vintage 1960's photos show the Market House "back in the day," when there used to be a Butcher Shop next door.

How about a little FauxD© to get your eyes moving today? This nighttime shot is from June 1966.

On a separate note, the old fashioned trash can on wheels is pretty cool looking; it would be a nice touch for it to return to Main Street.

My collection actually has a few interior shots. This 1955 view shows a guest enjoying eavesdropping on the recorded party line conversation. Don't know what a party line is? "Back in the day," before the early luxury of being able to have your own phone, many customers actually shared what was called a "party line," meaning that if you picked up your phone, you might catch your neighbor having a very private conversation. In simpler terms, just imagine a low-tech (and not necessarily intentional) conference call!

Minus the hand crank on the right, it appears that the same phone is still inside of the Market House today.

This blurry September 1966 photo shows the potbelly stove and chairs that comprised the social circle of the Market House. You might find a Keystone Kop or two sitting here back in the day, or possibly a few guests playing a game of checkers.

This 1970's photo shows that C&H Sugar was a predominant sponsor of the Market House.

How has the interior held up over the years? I'd say pretty well. It still boasts a Victorian-styled interior with a lot of rich wood cabinets, a (faux?) tin ceiling, and vintage style light fixtures.

It appears that the stove was replaced at some point, as the current one looks even more ornate than the one visible in my 1966 photo.

Here's the counter where guests can get their free coffee refills. The potential loss of this service is another point of contention. I guess that in this economy, even a free cup of watered-down Nescafe is better than nothing.

Nice vintage style ceiling fan, and I also love the vintage contraptions and set design pieces sprinkled throughout the store.

This cool looking guy has stood guard over the pot-bellied stove for years.

Anyone for a game of chess?

Here's the cool looking doohickie from the previous photo; it appears that it hails from Philadelphia.

More of those party lines!

Since the Market House is probably not the type of store or "attraction" that would normally get a huge refurbishment budget, I am hoping that this conversion to a Starbucks will allow the Imagineers an opportunity to be creative. As Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe over at DCA has shown, it is possible for The Market House to keep its vintage look while transitioning into a commercially branded coffee house. In fact, with this remodel opportunity, some of the items that don't seem to get much use now (the party lines, the chess set, the stove) could be plussed. Baristas could be trained to point out the party line, which could have messages that change every so often. Cast members in Keystone Kop uniforms could challenge guests to a game of checkers. Perhaps the pot bellied could be animated; open up the door and some kind of animation could be playing inside of it.

What are your thoughts on this?

See more vintage & current Disneyland Main Street, U.S.A. Market House photos on my Market House photo web page.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Streisand is Guilty in Vegas

I have to admit I have an aversion to anything Streisand; I'm not really an admirer of her music or her ego. Yet, when I saw the trailer for "The Guilt Trip," I was intrigued, as it looked like it was ripe with comic potential.

Based on a two week road trip from New Jersey to Las Vegas (aka Adult Disneyland) taken by the film's screenwriter (Dan Fogelman) and his mother, "The Guilt Trip" is a comedy/drama that tackles the dysfunctional relationship that existed between the two.

Joyce Brewster (Streisand) calls her son Andy (Seth Rogen) on the phone multiple times a day, and wants nothing more than to find the right woman for him. Andy is attempting to sell a "green" cleaning product that is safe to drink. Even though Andy's product is amazing, his selling tactics are not. This just gives his meddlesome mother one more thing to make suggestions about.

The movie is fairly slow paced, but for those who can relate to a mother-son relationship such as the one between Joyce & Andy, you will find plenty to laugh about. Streisand and Rogan are perfectly cast, and the moments between them seem as real as possible in what is a fairly predictable (albeit enjoyable) storyline.

Albert Brooks' 1996 movie "Mother" is a much funnier (and more original) film, but I still enjoyed "The Guilt Trip" very much.

The scenes in Las Vegas were filmed at Caesars Palace, shown here in some photos that I took when I last stayed there in 2010.

Here are Streisand and Rogan in the lobby of Caesars Palace:

Over at The Jewish Journal, they interviewed Dan Fogelman about "The Guilt Trip":

Q: So why the title “The Guilt Trip?”

A: I was really close with my mom, but even then your mother has the ability to revert you to the bratty, 13-year-old version of yourself, no matter what your age is. It’s the ultimate, underlying subtext of any Jewish mother-son relationship — which is a son always getting annoyed and wanting to explode prematurely and holding it back, but at some point he loses that battle and says something nasty to her and then feels terrible about it. And then he walks away from that dinner or that visit feeling that he should’ve been nicer to her and it’s too late.

When I watch friends with their mothers, I’m constantly horrified at how short their fuse is with these women who seem, yeah, a little bit comedically a pain in the ass but not that bad in the grand scheme of things; yet with your own mother it’s amazing how quickly you can react to anything that pushes a button.

Q: You and your mom were already very close, but did the road trip transform your relationship in any way?

A: There was a point where I had the experience that Seth has in the film, where you start seeing your parent not just as a parent, but also as a human being for the first time. What the gist of the movie is about is that moment when a kid starts seeing their parent as more than just a creature who exists to parent them, and the moment when a parent starts seeing their son or daughter as a grownup who’s not just this thing that needs to be cared for by them. That’s what the journey of the movie is in a way.

Q: Your next film is “Last Vegas,” starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline.

A: It’s about four buddies from Brooklyn who are now in their 60s. Michael Douglas, who plays the bachelor in the group, calls his buddies to say he’s getting married and they’re going to do one final bachelor party, for him, in Vegas – the last bachelor’s party they’ll ever do.

Great cast - plenty of potential. Might have to check that one out! I wonder how much money the Vegas Casinos get for allowing films to be made there, or if they have to pay the film companies for advertising?

See more Classic Movie & TV photos on my Classic Movie & TV photo web page.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Miniature Golf at Disneyland

Daveland reader Ross was kind enough to share his score card and photos from the beloved Golf Centre/Miniature Golf Course that used to be at the Disneyland Hotel. Here are Ross' memories:

The DL Miniature Golf Course was visible from the monorail station at the DL Hotel. It depicted Disneyland in miniature and was there from the late-'50s/early-'60s to around 1981. It was owned and operated by the Wrather company, which of course also ran the DL Hotel. And that's probably why it had fallen into some disrepair by the mid-'70s when I first visited it.

It was my first experience with miniature golf and is still high on my list of all-time favorite miniature golf courses. It's also among my all-time favorite Disneyland attractions. As far as where it was, throughout the '80s and '90s there was a strawberry field in its place with a parking lot next to it (the original parking lot for the golf course) across the street from Disneyland and separated from the Hotel by a minor street (Cerritos). Thus, certain features of it (particularly the miniature Matterhorn) could be seen from the monorail station as well as by people exiting Disneyland's parking lot on the hotel side.

I remember a lot of the holes, but there are also a lot that I don't remember at all (e.g., the octopus lair, skull rock...). I see that the Mickey Mouse fountain is listed as the last hole. My memory is that it was visible at the beginning.

Other memories: there was music from Disney films played in the different areas. For example, "Alice in Wonderland" music was played at the putt related to that attraction. (The putt itself had obstacles: large cards standing up that you had to maneuver the ball around.)

Main Street, U.S.A. consisted of the train station and I believe store fronts. At Sleeping Beauty Castle, you had to get your ball over the castle drawbridge. I vaguely remember the Moon Rocket (a facsimile of the TWA/McDonnell Douglas rocket, which was absent from Disneyland by the time I started visiting the golf course) and Autopia (where I seem to recall road signs and a cloverleaf). As I mentioned, I don't recall Octopus' Lair; however, I have spoken to another person who went there, Mike Oppenheimer (who would play there while his father, renowned golfer Joe Oppenheimer, practiced on the traditional golf course, which was on the same premises). He recalled the octopus being brownish (like the one on Submarine Voyage), and you had to thread the ball between the arms.

The Painted Desert was an area where I especially noticed signs of disrepair. There were holes in the fiberglass cliffs. The Frontierland hole featured a miniature of the Mark Twain Steamboat. Monstro has always stood out in my memory and was a miniature version of the one at Disneyland. You were supposed to hit your ball into his mouth.

In the 1990s I tried to research the golf course and actually corresponded with a few Disney Imagineers (e.g., David Mumford) who remembered it from their own childhood. I never could find out if Disney was involved in designing it.

Many thanks to Ross for sharing his memories and images!

See more vintage & current Disneyland Hotel photos on my Disneyland Hotel photo web page.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Dapper Dans on Main Street, U.S.A.

The Dapper Dans always bring me delight when they are performing on Main Street, U.S.A. This talented Barbershop Quartet has been performing their vintage melodies for guests since 1959. A lucky photographer from March 1965 got to see them perform inside of the Upjohn Pharmacy AND captured them on a bicycle built for four.

Apparently, the Upjohn Pharmacy was a popular place to listen to the Dans, as another guest also saw them singing there during the 1960's.

Today, the Dapper Dans still bring tuneful joy to those who happen to catch them during their brief stints along Main Street, U.S.A.

When was the last time you stopped to listen to the Dans?

See more vintage & current Disneyland Dapper Dan photos on my Dapper Dan photo web page.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Django Unchained: An Explosive Film

Last night I stepped out of my vintage world and ventured to the theater to see "Django Unchained." Early trailers for the movie did little to motivate me to see what appeared to be a violent Quentin Tarantino western, but once I found out that Dennis Christopher, one of my favorite actors ("Breaking Away") had a part in it, I decided to give it a try.

I wasn't disappointed.

As with most Tarantino movies, this one is full of graphic violence and uncomfortable moments. The violence (showing bodies literally exploding when shot) I could have done without; the uncomfortable moments make it a more interesting film that begs to be discussed once you exit the theater. That's my kind of movie.

In a nutshell, Django (Jamie Foxx) is a shackled slave whose fortunes change when a bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) needs his assistance in identifying three of the men he must kill/capture. As a forward thinking German immigrant, Schultz is against slavery and treats Django as a business partner, granting him his freedom as well as a new wardrobe (one of the many brilliant comic moments in the movie). Django wants to be reunited with his wife, who was sold off to a different plantation in Mississippi, and Schultz agrees to help him. The plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), is a man with few morals and a twisted sense of fun (watching Mandingo slave fights). Schultz realizes that merely proposing the purchase of Django's wife will not accomplish the goal, and the two decide to pose as buyers of Mandingo Fighters and approach Candie that way.

And that's as much as you need to know. Watch the movie to see how it all unfolds.

Jamie Foxx is amazing as Django, but Waltz steals the show with his even-tempered yet fast acting characterization of the brilliant Dr. Schultz. Waltz is able to take a typically unlikeable character of a bounty hunter and make him someone that the audience positively identifies with and supports. The two of them are one of the best on-screen duos to come along in Western film history.

The rest of the cast is top notch as well. Dennis did a great job as Candie's somewhat slimy attorney. Don Johnson had a fun supporting role as a plantation owner with little regard for his slaves. He is also part of a slightly uncomfortable Ku Klux Klan scene, but if you view the overall message (and the ending) of the movie in the larger sense, you will see that this film neither condones slavery nor is looking for a race war, as some who have reviewed the film have claimed.

Where viewers might find themselves getting fueled up over the controversial elements is that this is a period film, but much of the acting, music, and language used is extremely contemporary. This makes it easy to forget that the plot should be examined in the context of the era in which it takes place: pre-Civil War America.

Samuel Jackson is almost unrecognizable as Candie's trusted house slave, Stephen, who does little to help his fellow slaves.

Franco Nero, who starred in "Camelot" and the original "Django," has an amusing cameo in the movie.

Squeamish viewers might have to turn their heads a few times, but it is well worth it. Check out this Oscar nominated flick (Picture, Supporting Actor-Waltz, Screenplay, Sound Editing, Cinematography) while it is still in the theaters.

See more Classic Movie & TV photos on my Classic Movie & TV photo web page.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Rock Hudson in Palm Springs

As a follow-up to yesterday's entry on The Colony Palms Hotel, today's post features 50's matinee idol Rock Hudson during a few visits to Palm Springs. Bob Beerman, staff photgrapher for Modern Screen Magazine, shot these images between 1954 & 1955.

Betty Abbott was a script girl at Universal, working on nine successive Rock Hudson pictures at the beginning of his career. At night, the two would get together socially and gab about what had happened during the day at the studio.

The gossip rags of the day claimed that Betty was on her way to being the "second Mrs. Hudson," which would seem fairly believable when looking at these photos taken at the Palm Springs Racquet Club.

As most are aware of now, Hudson was gay and most of the dating fodder published in the rags was for appearance's sake. Whether Betty knew she was being used for publicity purposes or not is unknown.

From much of what I have read though, most in Hollywood knew about Rock and his sexual preferences.

Here the two enjoy a frosty treat at a local ice cream shop.

Rock butches it up for these two photos, as he looks under the hood of the car of Palm Springs resident and actor Charles Farrell.

Farrell was big in the silent era and had a respectable career that spanned into the talkies as well as TV "My Little Margie." Once retired from the screen, he opened up The Racquet Club along with actor Ralph Bellamy.

See more Rock Hudson photos on my Rock Hudson photo web page.