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New Book Celebrates Location Filming in Los Angeles

Once upon a time, the Hollywood film industry term “runaway” referred only to the character of a street urchin in a narrative. Not the idea that our city’s once prosperous production activities are being hijacked to Vancouver, Melbourne, Bucharest and beyond.

This week, as part of its “Images of America” series, Arcadia Publishing has released a wonderful pictorial trip down memory lane to that time when the great majority of studio movies were shot locally. Each chapter of Location Filming in Los Angeles focuses on a different corner of LA, using sepia tone photos provided by Marc Wanamaker, a founding member of the Hollywood Heritage Museum and owner of Bison Archives.

Assisting Wanamaker with text and liner notes for each photo were FilmRadar.com‘s Karie Bible, also the official tour guide of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and Harry Medved, author and long-time industry PR guru, currently for Fandango.com. From the get-go, the trio of authors sets the record straight as to just exactly when and how our local feature film industry got started.

In 1907, director Francis Boggs came to California for the Chicago-based Selig Polyscope Company to film a few beach scenes for Monte Cristo. Later, in March 1909, Boggs and the Selig company returned to California and set up temporary operations in the drying yard of the Sing Kee Laundry on Olive Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets in downtown LA. It was at the Chinese laundry drying yards that Boggs shot the first narrative films made entirely in Los Angeles.

Stars showcased include Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis at the Hollywood Bowl, Rosalind Russell at Occidental College and Natalie Wood on the Santa Monica Pier. Great stuff.

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