Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tour: A Historic Afternoon in Culver City

Culver City (founded by Harry Culver and incorporated in 1917) was once looked at as the perfect halfway point to stop and rest when coming from Southern California's beautiful beaches to a wild night out in Hollywood. It is still a great layover stop, but now has so many fun things to do that it's also a great destination all on its own! Here are four Old Hollywood/New Glitz-y places to check out when you've got a few hours or a whole weekend to spare.

1. The Culver Hotel

Affectionately known as "The Pie Slice" because of its shape, this boutique hotel (which once housed stars like Clark Gable and The Munchkins while they filmed at nearby MGM) has the charm of the Golden Age of Hollywood and lots of modern amenities. Plan an overnight stay, or pop in for live music in the evening or Sunday brunch.

You can also sneak up the stairs off the lobby to the Mezzanine Lounge and kick back on a comfy couch and zebra print rug. This intimate, luxurious area would be perfect for hosting an event!

2. MGM (Now Sony Pictures Studios and Home of Columbia Pictures )

Here's a picture of the Irving Thalberg Building, which houses all of the Oscars that Columbia Pictures has won for Best Film. You'll get to see the actual statues in the lobby of this building when you take the studio tour, which is reasonably priced and about two hours long. You'll also see things like the soundstage where Judy Garland recorded "Over the Rainbow" and the sets of game shows like Wheel of Fortune, along with getting to shop in the studio store (where we bought a shirt for a toddler that said "Sony Pictures Director").

If you're an Art Deco fan, keep an eye out for lots of Deco details on the tour, like vertical features, symmetrical windows, rounded corners, and speed lines on buildings, along with metalwork that's reminiscent of flowers, plants, and waves.

3. Helms Bakery District

The Helms Bakery (opened in 1931) was the official bakery that supplied bread for the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. The bakery closed in 1969, but the complex has found new life as a shopping and dining destination. Don't miss Arcana: Books on the Arts and HD Buttercup, which had me (Lara) wanting to redo my whole house with furniture from this gorgeous store. To give you energy to spend the whole day here, grab a latte at La Dijonaise!

Wouldn't you love to see this stylish Streamline Moderne truck/van roll up to your house with freshly baked goodies?

4. Kirk Douglas Theatre (formerly the Culver Theatre)

The Culver Theatre opened right next to MGM in 1947, and was built in the Streamline Moderne style. Originally a movie palace, it's now known as the Kirk Douglas Theatre and is a great place to see a play! A recent renovation has freshened things up but kept some of those wonderful Art Deco details, like the the tower and the box office. Try to drive by at night so you can see it lit up in all its glory!

If you've been to Culver City, what's your favorite place? Email us or leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Release Date: September 1, 1928
Starring: Joan Crawford, Anita Page, Dorothy Sebastian, and John Mack Brown.
Director: Harry Beaumont
Produer: Hunt Stromberg
Studio: MGM
Running Time: 85 Minutes

It is hard to go wrong with a movie that begins with a close-up of Joan Crawford’s legs and feet, fringe from her dress flying, as she does the Charleston, followed by her putting on a fabulous, graphic-print, fur-trimmed coat. Our Dancing Daughters is worth seeing for the first three minutes alone! But we hope you will take the whole thing in, because visually this silent film is an Art Deco feast, and the movie that brought Deco to the masses in 1928. Plus, it is the vehicle that made Joan Crawford a star (she remained one for the next 50 years), and it is a treat to see her about jumping off the screen and bursting with youthful energy. 

Joan plays “Dangerous” Diana Medford, a gal who hides her heart of gold behind a party girl persona and says things to her mom (who seems a lot cooler with the whole flapper thing than, oh, about 99% of the other parents out there) like, “I’m going to the yacht club—see you at dawn!”
Our Dancing Daughters was the first in a trilogy of films that included Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides that celebrated the modern, empowered woman. The film was released a year before the stock market crash, so the Jazz Age was at the height of prosperity and exuberance, with people dancing on top of tables, swilling gin, and stripping down to their teddies. Watching a movie as vibrant as Our Dancing Daughters really gives you a sense of what it was like as a whole generation of lovely young things was finding its identity, and it might even inspire you to deck yourself out in dresses with sequins, beading, and fringe. Long necklaces and fur wraps adorn the stars of the movie as they head out to party, and then during the day they sport menswear-inspired attire, looking perfectly chic every moment, thanks to costumes by David Cox and Adrian.   

MGM Art Director Cedric Gibbons gave the sets of Our Dancing Daughters an opulent look with lots of black and white, ginormous staircases, geometric accents, and random dancing figurines. The public saw the movie and said, “Yes, please—we want to live in this style, too,” and the Art Deco craze was launched. Even though many trends have come and gone since Our Dancing Daughters was released, there is a timeless wonderfulness to the film that will most likely motivate you to explore what it meant to be a flapper, and to perhaps experiment with what a well-placed dancing figurine can do for a room. You will also never think of Joan Crawford only as Mommy Dearest ever again.