This is not a review of a movie you haven’t seen or won’t see or don't care about. These are attempts to glean something from the offhand moments, the inadvertent glimpses into the past, the moments of accidental documentary. The movie is “Clay Pigeon.”
The things we can learn from old movies! Guns are useful, widows are pliable, Naval security is porous when it comes to traitors who’ve been in comas for two years - which, by the way, have the added benefit of making a guy stronger. You lay in bed for two years, you’re going to be rarin’ to go when you wake up.
“Clay Pigeon” concerns a guy who comes out of a coma and discovers he’s been set up for treason. Squealed on a guy in a Jap camp. Once he tumbles to the facts he’s facing, he busts out to clear his name. Nice tidy 40s noir set-up.
Once he’s out, he heads for the apartment where his war-buddy lives, unaware he’s accused of killing him. This eventually results in wife-binding:
Yes, it’s another Barbara Hale movie. She was married to the hero of the movie in real life; their son, William Katt, played in that "Great American Hero" TV show. Anyway, the Authorities are alerted to his escape. They’re in this building:
And here my troubles began, as they say. I love buildings like thatI googled and googled and couldn’t find it. I was certain it was still around - old downtown LA is still there, often abandoned and waiting for rehab. They moved the downtown after the war.
Towards the end Barbara Hale - the wife of the guy the protagonist supposedly killed, who was taken as a hostage but Stockholmed her way to trusting our hero - picks up an envelope. Just for amusement, I checked the address.
Nope. But just on a whim, wanting to stretch my legs and take the air, I wandered down the street . . .
And there it is! That's the big classic American skyscraper I was looking for. Podium two wings, recessed court.Google the address: comes back with a pdf about a bid to declare the building historic. The owners want it declared historic. This makes no sense; those designations complicate life immensely. Unless there's lots of public money available if you get the designation, perhaps.
I read the application. It was the Foreman and Clark building. They were a nationwide clothing retailer, noted for putting stores on the second floor, where the rents were cheaper. The Los Angeles structure expressed every possible cultural trend of the era - progress, modernity, history, technology, money, and the confidence of the new long boom.
That's from the landmark application. If I may quote liberally from it, I'd like to take you to the roof. This is the penthouse. Imagine the Captain of Industry sitting up here, the city spreading out below.
(Photo Credit: Chattel Associates. )
Moderne Gothic: you don't see a lot of it.
I was so caught up in the details of the building I missed the part where I should have seen it wasn't the same building at all. I was fooled by the size and the false balcony placement on the fourth floor and the fact that it was one in the morning. It's a doppelganger.
And I'll be switched if I can find the other one.
The architect was Claud(e) Beelman, with assistance from Alexander Curlett. He also did the Eastern Building, which my daughter knows as the place where “iCarly” was set. One of the last structures he did was the Superior Oil Company, in 1956. I can’t think of a better example of how post-war architecture lost the plot. First, though: here's the hospital that opens the movie.
It's a blunt piece of work, with a dry top note of Fascism, but the American versions of those buildings managed to connote Power and Authority without Cruelty; there's a gravity the European Fascist architecture never could pull off. They get the details wrong.
Now, here's Beeman's 1956 structure.
In one way, it has the elements of his previous work. The thin vertical lines, the blocky massing. But it’s a blunt and dull. Which side looks better - the one where the horizontal lines assert themselves, or the ones where they’re not visible?
Anyway, the movie's okay. The director, less than 18 years later, would make "Fantastic Voyage," which seems to come from another culture entirely. And I suppose it did.
As for the buildling? I never did find it. Closeups reveal the name CALIFORNIA BANK over the door. I'll be damned if I know where it is. I love a mystery, but this is ridiculous.
This? you say. This is the redesign? Apart from minor cosmetic variations, what’s different?
The type’s bigger. The text box is wider - and therein hangs a tale. The initial revision had the text box at 700 pixels, which was 60 pixels wider than the entire screen resolution I assumed when I first started the Bleat fifteen years ago. (!) I scaled all the pictures to match, and the end result: too much. Everything got bollixed up and cluttered at the bottom of the page.
Who cares? you say. Well, you’ll note that there aren’t any navigation buttons up on the banner. No ABOUT, no TWITTER. No series of tabs to take you elsewhere. I base my own site on how I approach the web; I never pay any attention to the stuff people pack up above, because the minute I start reading a site I go down, down, down, and leave it all behind. That’s why the update / menu info is at the bottom.
There’s no calendar! True. I don’t think anyone uses it. It looks cluttered. I will be adding the calendar to the archive pages, when I get around to redoing that, but for now, no. And it’s a pain to code. If you want to go back, there’s the “previous” button. If you want to go ahead, there’s the “next” button.
Why the continued rigamarole with the redirection page? Because. It’s easier to have the simple URL redirect to the archive page than upload the index page AND the archive page, and it preserves comments on the archive page.
It all looks ordinary, but a lot of tweaking and agita went into it, right down to five different styles of frames for the pictures. (Settled on the most basic.) Clean and simple. This is just the first of the updates. The Institute has been redone with new updates coming - Art Frahm redone; the Orphanage of Cast-Off Mascots, the Archives, and several new sites - as well as Miscellany, which gets a new name and a new mission.
The size and scope of this site makes me blanch some times.