A movie is filmed in Pomona (doubling for Downers Grove, Ill.), plus various notes from around the valley, all in Sunday’s column.
Tom Jankiewicz, an Upland resident who wrote the screenplay for the 1997 movie “Grosse Pointe Blank,” died Jan. 23, at a mere 49 years of age. I knew him. Sunday’s column is a tribute to him and the circumstances that spawned the hit film. Above, he’s pictured in his home with a copy of the framed movie poster; below, he’s on location on Monrovia’s Myrtle Avenue, which stood in for Grosse Pointe, Mich., the film’s setting.
Sunday’s column is largely about two movies now playing that name-check the Inland Valley: the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in “Parental Guidance” and Chino in “This is 40.” But it’s also about how I got quotes from both while only sitting through one.
At least two old-time movies are rumored to have been filmed behind the Phillips Mansion (pictured), an 1875 home built by Louis Phillips (1830-1900), a rancher and businessman at one time said to be the wealthiest man in Los Angeles County.
One movie is said to have featured Buster Keaton. And now Cal Poly Pomona student DeeAnn Perez comes asking about a Tom Mix movie said to have been filmed there.
The original source for both pieces of information is Mickey Gallivan of the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley, who doesn’t know the titles either but has heard both stories from a past resident of the mansion. Perez asked me because she thought I’d know, but I don’t.
Perez writes that although she inquired because she was doing research for a class assignment, a friend is married to Tom Mix’s grandson, and “they are always looking for historical evidence on his grandfather.”
I’m hoping that by putting this online, hardcore fans of Mix and Keaton might be able to identify any movie that included the property. But this could be difficult because the mansion itself probably isn’t in either movie. Instead, the movies involved a barn behind the property, and the barn, Gallivan says, “fell down” some time ago. She couldn’t locate a photo.
The Keaton movie, or possibly short, was filmed sometime between 1931 and 1942, when the Boyle family, which had Hollywood connections, owned the property. A Boyle relation remembers the movie shoot. There can’t be too many Keaton movies that include a barn.
A Tom Mix western that involves a barn doesn’t sound like a novelty, although the dramatic hill behind the property might be a tipoff. It was filmed sometime before the Boyles’ arrival in 1931.
Here’s some history about the Phillips Mansion. It’s one of the oldest structures in Pomona and among the first in the county to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house is owned by the Historical Society but due to earthquake damage isn’t open to the public other than for special events (see below).
The mansion will be open Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. for the Historical Society’s annual ice cream social. Entrance is free, although food and activities aren’t.
Sunday’s column (read it here) sets out to document mentions of Cucamonga in Looney Tunes cartoons. Hey, if anyone was ever going to do that, I knew it had to be me.
Above is a moment from “Raw! Raw! Rooster” (1956), a Western Onion telegram illustrating the little-known fact that one of the best-known Looney Tunes characters actually resided in Cucamonga. Is there a more famous celebrity with a Cucamonga connection?
Move over, Jack Benny. Maybe the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center needs a statue of Foghorn Leghorn.
My Sunday column is about the two movies that Elizabeth Taylor is known to have filmed in part in the Inland Valley: “The Sandpiper” in San Dimas in 1964 and “Sweet Bird of Youth” in Upland in 1989.
The photo at left of Taylor and Charles Bronson is taken from the Poly Post’s coverage of “The Sandpiper” filming, which took place at the Pomona college’s San Dimas campus.
For posterity’s sake, below you can find thumbnail views of 1964 articles from the Pomona Progress-Bulletin (Oct. 1) and the Poly Post (Oct. 2) about “The Sandpiper” and two 1989 articles (April 30 and May 12) from the Ontario Daily Report about “Sweet Bird of Youth.” Click on the thumbnails for a large, readable view.
And a shout-out to Bruce Guter and Allan Lagumbay of the Pomona Public Library and Gena Sizoo of the Upland Public Library for finding and scanning the articles for me.
At left is the clipping referenced in today’s column about the June 16, 1939 preview of “The Wizard of Oz” at Pomona’s Fox Theater, two months before its premiere.
The writer, “O.H.K.,” seems to be kind of a fuddy-duddy as far as children are concerned. If even the tornado is too scary, we can imagine what he/she must have thought of the flying monkeys!
With the review’s criticism of how the movie, unlike the book, “leaves nothing to the imagination,” I can’t help but wonder, in all seriousness, if the writer was a teacher or children’s librarian who wasn’t keen on movies to begin with.
Note that “songstress” Judy Garland attended the preview screening. Another celebrity sighting for the Fox record books!
Here’s a link to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz website also cited in my column. It’s a lot of fun to poke around on — the FAQ section contains lots of fascinating tidbits, and in a very readable way. This link is to the portion of the FAQs about its premiere, outtakes, flubs and initial reception.
The Internet Movie Database has a good trivia section on the movie too.
A tip of the Tin Man’s metal cap to Fox co-owner Ed Tessier for providing a copy of the clipping. The library’s microfilm collection is missing that portion of 1939 and so are the Daily Bulletin’s archives.
* Curious about the “jitterbug” scene cut from the movie prior to Pomona? Reader Derek Deason found a short video clip giving an idea of what was cut.
The new Disney sequel apparently has a sequence filmed at Pomona’s Fairplex, although you likely won’t recognize it.
One of the Fairplex exhibition halls was used as the site of a science fiction convention — “UFO Space Expo 9″ — visited by Dwayne Johnson’s cab driver character and two teenage fares who are more than they appear. Johnson weaves through attendees dressed in Stormtrooper and alien costumes, booths hawking geeky merchandise and a UFO karaoke machine after the teens wander away from him.
I imagine hijinx ensues. Anyone see the movie?
No, not Mickey Gallivan of the Pomona Historical Society — Mickey Mouse.
John Clifford of Pomona found the cartoon “Mr. Mouse Takes a Trip” on YouTube. The 1940 cartoon begins with Mickey and Pluto attempting to board a train in Burbank (“Elevation 16 3/4 Feet,” says the sign on the depot). At the end of the cartoon, the conductor throws them off the moving train.
“Gosh, Pluto, I wonder how far it is to Pomona?” Mickey asks, dazedly. Then he looks up and sees the sign on the depot: “Pomona, Elevation 6 3/4 Feet.” He squeaks: “Pomona! Hey, we’re here!”
Or as the
German Dutch subtitles in this version render the conversation: “Jeetje, hoe verzou ‘t zijn naar Pomon…Pomona. We zijn er.”