March 30, 2017

Every time we visit Hollywood, we’re amazed we’re able to tear ourselves away. It’s sad how happy we are there. Time for a quick recap of our latest jaunt.

Stop #1: a pilgrimage to Edith Head’s star on the Walk of Fame. We came bearing gifts, namely the gorgeous bookmarks promoting Dangerous to Know. We did the same thing with Design for Dying, so it’s obviously a ritual now.

Then, to work. We colonized the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library, setting up camp once again at Edith’s former dining room table while we researched her next adventure with Lillian.

The true purpose of the trip was Noir City Hollywood, held at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre. Our friend, mentor, and TCM host Eddie Muller invited us to help introduce This Gun for Hire. The fact that we stood at the front of a ninety-five year old movie theater in the heart of Hollywood, introducing a film marking its 75th anniversary featuring costumes by our heroine Edith Head, still hasn’t sunk in yet. It was and will always be a huge honor, one that we won’t soon forget. As if that wasn’t enough, we signed copies of the new paperback edition of Design for Dying—including one to actor Clu Gulager!—and had an opportunity to chat with Leonard Maltin and his lovely wife Alice. A truly memorable evening.

This Gun for Hire played beautifully on the Egyptian’s big screen, particularly the potent chemistry between Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake that made them Paramount’s top draw in the 1940s—and Edith’s gasp-inducing costumes for Veronica. Never has fishing looked so good. The next night featured another Graham Greene-based thriller with wardrobe by Edith, Ministry of Fear (1944). But as always with Noir City, the lesser-known second features proved the real discoveries. Quiet Please, Murder (1942) stars everyone’s favorite cad George Sanders as a devious book forger attempting an elaborate library heist during wartime. The revelation was Address Unknown (1944), about a successful German expatriate (Paul Lukas) who returns to his homeland from America and gets caught up in the Nazis’ rise to power. Director William Cameron Menzies and cinematographer Rudolph Maté tell this harrowing story in extraordinary fashion, often with shots so stark they seem like a series of woodcuts. It’s the kind of film—nearly forgotten but so deserving of rediscovery—that you can only see at Noir City.

We spent our sole free day with the best possible tour guide, the one and only Christa Faust, whose daily Noir City wrap-ups are a must-read. It began, as all successful days do, with shoe shopping. Golden Age Hollywood’s stock of vintage-inspired footwear could provoke catfights under the wrong conditions. Next we headed into downtown Los Angeles to visit landmarks like the Bradbury Building and Angels Flight, as well as take in the costume design exhibits at the FIDM Museum. Everything from Rudolph Valentino’s Blood and Sand suit of lights to Scarlett Johansson’s mermaid get-up in Hail, Caesar! was on display. A great ending to a great trip—and a timely reminder to get back to work.

Want photos? We’ve got an album up on Faceboook.

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