Anton Grot

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I had been interested in art director Anton Grot’s work for a while. He worked on many films with Curtiz, and is credited on numerous other Warner features in the thirties and forties. It’s been really hard to find information on Grot, but I did come across a blog which features several of his drawings. As far as I can tell, most of them were done for Captain Blood, but it looks like at least one was for Mildred Pierce, and the last one is probably for Elizabeth and Essex or The Sea Hawk (the two films share a number of sets). One of my first job’s was with Anton Grot’s it was on the film set of Mildred Pierce, as a set stills photographer,

He was the only Warner’s Art Director repeatedly nominated for Academy Awards, for Svengali (1931), Anthony Adverse (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), and The Sea Hawk (1940), but he won only once, an honorary award for inventing a ripple machine used in The Sea Hawk. Through the forties, Grot worked less often, but no less brilliantly, on films such as Mildred Pierce (1945) and Possessed (1947).

I would take still shots of the film set construction as it went up, built on the film set at the old Warner Bros. Studio backlot on Sunset Boulevard. I still had a job working as a darkroom accent on Sunset Boulevard for, Consolidated Film Industries, where I worked for the next four years. After the four years working for Consolidated Film Industries, I was hired by Byron Haskin, ASC, and head of the Warner Bros. Special Effects Department on Stage 5 in Burbank. Since this was the largest such department in the movie business, I was able to work with some of the top cinematographers in the effects field, such as ASC fellows Edwin DuPar, Hans Koenekamp and Warren Lynch.

I first made the acquaintance of Ann Blyth on the film set of Mildred Pierce, (1945). Warner Bros had borrowed Ann for this film. It was Anton Grot’s that called Ann over and introduces me to her. What was so special about Ann? Well, she was just a nice person who always had a warm smile and a pleasant word for she exuded maternal compassion and was ever willing to listen to anyone’s tales of woe (including mine). Also you must remember as members of the film crew, you do not fratnise with the acting fraternity that was the golden rule for the film crew.

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Charlie Marie Gordon

Charlie looked at me and wrinkled her pretty nose and grinned. I noticed that wrinkle in her nose and forthwith suspected she was “up to something.” I likewise knew that Curtiz was getting more than just a trifle bored with being here so he left. In front of me was  a very, very serious-minded young woman a very sophis ticated girl who was more than just a bit fed up on so called intellectual chatter. All things considered (particularly that twinkle in the eye); I knew it was but a matter of moments before I was going to get a brand new angle and a new friend in my life. We stared out going down Hollywood Boulevard to 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard, The Formosa Cafe doesn’t look like much from the outside. An unimpressive, brick-red building with white & black striped awnings, it sits in a particularly faded section of Hollywood, near the corner of Santa Monica& La Brea Boulevards – a corner where hookers have been known to peddle their services even in broad daylight.

But the key to the Cafe’s good fortune can be seen just to the west of the place, right across Formosa Avenue (from which the Cafe takes its name): that walled, beige complex next door is none other than Warner Hollywood Studio. After work I would always end up there and Charlie would always what to see the prints and I had processed that day and get the stories and what went on through my day on the film-set. We entered the darkly lit building we noticed a small crowd dispersed throughout the dining car and bar. One of the servers quickly greeted us and offered up any available seat in the house. We chose the leather-lined booths along the wall.

Old – Fashioned was made by the book with a fresh orange peel and we really enjoyed it, hour food menu was hand-written with daily specials that shared an Asian theme: chicken satay, spring rolls, sesame wasabi fries and sweet and sour rib tips. We decided on the chicken satay and spring rolls. The satay came out with 2 grilled skewers; tender, yet simple on a sparsely dressed plate. Our vegetable spring rolls were fried and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

The Journals of Charlie Gordon: An Autobiography, Charlie grew up in the early magic of Hollywood’s movie and television industries. She graduated from Hollywood High School and entered Los Angeles City College. As secretary to a movie producer, the company produced a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Charlie’s first writing sale was a story published in “True Confessions” magazine. Her television sales included “Return to Peyton Place”NBC, “Mulligan’s Stew”, Paramount, “Faith for Today”, Transda, “Gift of Life”, Lutheran League. She sold her screenplay “Nellie Cashman” to Metromedia in New York; Luther Davis hired Charlie to write the book for a musical, “War Widow”. She wrote the book for another musical, “My Hong Kong” produced in Hong Kong. Charlie was a story analyst for CBS-TV and staff producer at PBS. She was a reader for Group One Films in Hollywood and for Private Screenings in New York Charlie sang in the Santa Monica Opera Company, performing Musetta in “La Boheme” and Hansel in “Hansel and Greta” She joined the Los Angeles Opera Co, singing Suzuki in “Madam Butterfly”. Charlie is a member of Writers Guild, west, a reviewer for the National Humanities Awards in Washington D.C. and had private lessons in French and Italian.

 

“Mildred Pierce”

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Joan Crawford in “Mildred Pierce” is without doubt, a classic example of 40’s film noir. Warner’s rolled the dice and gambled on Joan to give them a hit, and she thanked them by giving them a five million dollar return in profits. In turn, she put her name back in the hat as one of the hottest movie stars around, taking home a Best Actress Oscar and showing MGM (the studio that let her go), that she was far from washed up.  But did you know that it could have been   Bette Davis and Charlie Marie Gordon.  It was Michael Curtiz, that introduce me to Charlie I later learned that she had been offered a leading role in which she starred with Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce this would have been Ann Blyth part as Veda Pierce? She also told me that it was Bette Davis not Joan Crawford for the part.

On loan to Warner Brothers Blyth was cast “against type” as Veda Pierce, the scheming, ungrateful daughter of Joan Crawford in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce. Her dramatic portrayal won her outstanding reviews and she received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. (Crawford won the Best Actress award for that film.)

Annie Blyth and I became friends part of her recovery required her to swim. It was Joan Crawford that let Annie swim in her pool. Annie and I would go there all the time swimming, exercising. She said Crawford was always gracious, generous, a supportive actress who understood that this was a big change for Ann Blyth, a big opportunity for her, and she wanted the film to work and she wanted Ann to do well. I would push her around in that wheelchair day after day I would take Annie over in my car.

Joan Crawford’s Home was located at 426 N. Bristol Avenue, Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA. it was in a quiet residential area. All the homes in this area are very beautiful, with well-kept lawns and gardens, and cost a fortune.  It was also at that time I made the acquaintance of Charlie Marie Gordon we also have been friends for a very long time. She is absolutely perfect. She’s smart, funny, cool, BEUTIFUL, and she is one of my closest friend.

We stared out going down Hollywood Boulevard to 7156 Santa Monica Boulevard, The Formosa Cafe doesn’t look like much from the outside. An unimpressive, brick-red building with white & black striped awnings, it sits in a particularly faded section of Hollywood, near the corner of Santa Monica& La Brea Boulevards – a corner where hookers have been known to peddle their services even in broad daylight.

But the key to the Cafe’s good fortune can be seen just to the west of the place, right across Formosa Avenue (from which the Cafe takes its name): that walled, beige complex next door is none other than Warner Hollywood Studio. After work I would always end up there and Charlie would always what to see the prints and I had processed that day and get the stories and what went on through my day on the film-set. We entered the darkly lit building we noticed a small crowd dispersed throughout the dining car and bar. One of the servers quickly greeted us and offered up any available seat in the house. We chose the leather-lined booths along the wall.

Old – Fashioned was made by the book with a fresh orange peel and we really enjoyed it, hour food menu was hand-written with daily specials that shared an Asian theme: chicken satay, spring rolls, sesame wasabi fries and sweet and sour rib tips. We decided on the chicken satay and spring rolls. The satay came out with 2 grilled skewers; tender, yet simple on a sparsely dressed plate. Our vegetable spring rolls were fried and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.