6.12.2007

Déjà Vulie

I have a feeling that I’ve been here before—Hollywood, I mean—and things didn’t go so well. Maybe I was a failed starlet who hurled herself off the Hollywood sign. I could have been a hat check girl at the Trocadero who knew too much and got disappeared by the mob. Then again, it mightn’t have been so dramatic, my grand Hollywood entrance, my disappointing Hollywood exit. Perhaps I just had enough of wanting too much and not getting it, wiping the stars from my eyes and hopping a bus back home. Even after marrying my childhood sweetheart and settling into a life of championship hog calling, Hollywood haunted me for the rest of my days. I died a broken woman, clutching one of the gossips rags I’d secretly bought with my egg money and stashed in the root cellar.

Details aside, there's got to be some explanation for my undying fascination with Hollywood of yesteryear. I told Jerry J., that I only want to see properties built between 1920 and 1949. Oh, how this amused my big Hollywood realtor, my eliminating the rest of the century from the pencil slim pickings in my price range. I love looking at vintage pictures and old maps, I patiently explained, dating back to the days when Charlie Chaplin had the only studio in town and there wasn’t anything else on that stretch of LaBrea except a vintage Texaco station and Pink’s Hot Dogs. I know those streets. I don’t know why.

The good old-fashioned glamour of it all is so much harder to stumble upon than these familiar landmarks, even in my neighborhood, where a "star sighting" is little more than a cruel joke. What the hell do I care that Paris Hilton dissed Tara Reid just down the street at Hyde? Or that some fat rich kid named Brandon Davis thinks little Lindsay Lohan has too many freckles on her hoo-hoo? Who are these people, anyway? They’re not stars—they’re even actors, not in any verifiable sense of the word—with nary a memorable piece of filmmaking among the bunch. They can’t even come up with any good scandals nowadays, since a fender bender, a stint at Promises or a mean letter from a producer just don’t cut it in this girl’s book. Think Johnny Stompanato, dead. In Lana Turner’s bedroom. With her unstable teenage daughter allegedly holding the knife. You can still feel the drama unfolding sitting in their red vinyl corner booth at Formosa Café, another place that felt oddly familiar to me the first time I drove by.

Yesterday, I stole away alone to a matinee at the Arclight, and stepped into a past that I’m finally a part of, even in this particular life. I saw previews for Hollywoodland, produced by a guy I recently met with on my spec; and The Black Dahlia, whose writer, fellow blogger Josh Friedman, pokes his head in here from time to time. Oh, never mind that the former movie was shot in the streets of Toronto and the latter on a soundstage in Sofia, Bulgaria. They both felt like personal memories, like escorted tours back inside the real Hollywood, the one that seduced me so many lifetimes ago, the one I never managed to shake. Best of all, the feature I saw was a big sweeping bodice ripper, the kind they just don't make any more, starring my current boss. I’m finally working with a real live movie star and all I can think of is the dead ones I never met. Then again, maybe I did.

12 comments:

  1. I loves ne the Formosa so much. You're right about old Hollywood. It was all about where Cary Grant drank, where William Powell hung out. Who walked the Hollywood streets before those dirty looking Spider-Man/Batman creeps took over in fronet of Grauman's Chinese. The new crop ofactors and celebarsites can stay at the Viper Room.
    JDC

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  2. Now that is the real Hollywood, the way it should always be! The glamour, the passion, the excitment... not the crap they have now. It sounds wonderful to buy a house of that era, I wish you luck!

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  3. JDC-I thought you were going to reference the "dirty-looking" actors who actually played Spider and Batman. Tobey Maguire is no Clark Gable. I guess Kirsten Dunst is cute enough, when she washes her hair, but standing beside Grace Kelly she'd look like a Dickensian street urchin begging for spare change.

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  4. Oh, Julie - a girl after my own heart. I want ALL the old glamour girls back, and get the Rat Pack in there with them... Can we toss the 80's retro now and bring back the roaring 20's? That's the only time in history that my chest was in fashion.

    I'm so looking forward to The Black Dahlia - what a story!

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  5. I love old Hollywood too. I'm a huge Marilyn fan. And actesses these days just don't do it for me. Where's Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Theda Bara, Sofia Loren, Rita Hayworth, etc. Now those women had glamour, had beauty.

    ps. And where oh where are the Cary Grant's. I love him so.

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  6. I've wanted, since I was a little girl, to have a sandwich at the counter of Schwab's on Sunset. Guess now, I'll have to eat a Happy Meal on curb.

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  7. "I guess Kirsten Dunst is cute enough, when she washes her hair, but standing beside Grace Kelly she'd look like a Dickensian street urchin begging for spare change."

    I think that is true with clean hair or not.

    JDC

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  8. Hmmm, I know that feeling in Hollywood. A few years ago, I was on Sunset to see a friend play at the House of Blues, and then drove around all night watching a couple of crews shoot scenes for two separate films. I knew where to find all the right streets, knew the buildings, and parked in hidden alleys, just like a native. I was dying for cherry coke at the counter in Schwab's, while wondering where all my friends had gone...

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  9. I had the weirdest sense of deja vu for months. I had watched so much tv (mostly 70s detective shows) and just recognized so many places. One of the strange things I love about LA.

    JDC

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  10. Oh dear, you've come up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for the inexplicable. Yes I, too, watched Colombo.

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  11. Yes, Old Hollywood... Los Angeles these days feels like an old christmas tree left out to fade on the sidewalk, tinsel fluttering in the wind...

    I would do evil, dark things to be able to go back in time and get within a mile of Marlon Brando. He is my Old Hollywood King of Kings. Sigh. They don't make 'em like that any more...

    Is your new boss by any chance Ed Norton? Is that the bodice ripper you're referring to...? If so, I am insanely jealous... in a good way.

    I really like your blog, have lurked many times. Can't wait to hear about your new house...

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  12. Dang, Julie, where were you when I was looking for a wife? You could be describing me when you talk about your passion for old Hollywood. I'm sure it was all a facade, but it looked pretty sweet from the outside.

    BTW, a starlet did kill herself by jumping off the Hollywood sign. Buck nekked. She landed in a thicket of briars at the base of the sign and died a slow, terrible death from a thousand cuts. Not sure, but it may have been Peg Entwhistle (likely misspelled).

    Keep blogging, you're wonderful.

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