What is it about non-Angelenos becoming so obsessed with old filming locations that they spend years tracking down obscure shots and facts — then write books about their discoveries that become chronicles of LA history? When you grow up in Los Angeles, you get used to seeing familiar sights in the background of movies and TV shows. You just stop thinking about it. But we've gotten the excellent books by San Francisco attorney John Bengtson educating us on the where and how of the silent movie locations used by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. And now Philadelphian Jim Pauley has done the same for the shorts of those illustrious Hollywood thespians, the Three Stooges.
In his new book from Santa Monica Press, "The Three Stooges: Hollywood Filming Locations," we learn from Pauley that the Stooges shot a ton of scenes on Larchmont Boulevard near the Columbia Pictures studio — if you see a streetcar in a Stooges film, it's probably on Larchmont. Moe, Larry and Curly (and later Shemp) filmed a large percentage of their scenes in the Valley, on the Columbia ranch in Burbank and on the land beside the Los Angeles River where Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills is now located. Even as a jaded native, I enjoy seeing recognizable buildings and streets. Pauley's photo research is especially good for seeing long-gone places I never saw in person, such as the Gilmore Stadium at Beverly and Fairfax in "Three Little Pigskins," which features a young, blonde Lucille Ball. You can catch a glimpse of the Fairfax Theater over the lip of the stadium.
Film critic Leonard Maltin writes the introduction to the book.
Pauley talked about he got into this field of inquiry today on KCRW with Lisa Napoli. Listen here.
One of my favorite photos in the book is from "False Alarms" in 1936. It's looking south on La Brea Avenue from West 3rd Street. In the distance you can see the Wilson Building, the Art Deco office tower at Wilshire known to many today as the Samsung building (or previously as the Asahi tower.) An explanation for the northbound traffic being pulled over to the right might be that, in the scene, the Stooges' car is on fire and being chased by a fire truck.
Photos © 1936, 1964 Columbia Pictures, Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved