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Brad’s Musings and Meanderings

random acts of quoting

"Don't you think you're bounding over your steps?" - Stan Laurel, "The Music Box"

Less than two weeks before my trip to California, an Our Gang buff named Brian Fisher contacted me through Facebook and advised me that he had been reading this website and seen my love of the Laurel and Hardy film locations; he himself had located a few locations used in some Little Rascals films by searching street views through Google Earth. Although I had an incredibly busy day ahead, I thought that it would most certainly be worthwhile to check these out during my visit. So Jimmy and I got up extra early and made a stop in Culver City before we headed to Burbank for the Hollywood Show on Saturday, October 9, 2010.

Before we left that morning, we grabbed some screen captures from the three Our Gang films in question. It took about 45 minutes to get from San Pedro to Culver City and I was a little worried about having enough time at the autograph show. But once we got there, we easily found all three locations in rapid-fire succession, all very close to each other. And now I proudly present them to you, as far as I know, for the first time…

In the 1931 short Fly My Kite, the gang flies a kit with valuable bonds attached to its tail in this open field on Overland Avenue.

The same area is now a business district, but three of the houses seen in the film are still standing and are occupied by local businesses. This is the house seen at the left of the Fly My Kite image above.

This is the house seen at the right of the image above and the left of the image below

The gang attacks James Mason as he attempts to steal the bonds in Fly My Kite

This is the house seen at the right in image above

This is what that open field looks like today. Crying shame.

While visiting the aforementioned houses was interesting, they did not feature all that prominently in the film. The next spot however is an immediately recognizable intersection as seen in the 1929 Our Gang film Bouncing Babies. It was at the intersection of Motor Avenue and Tabor Street that Wheezer threw light bulbs into the street to stop traffic so that he could cross the busy road. The drivers would stop their car to see if the ‘pop’ that they heard was their tire blowing.

Wheezer is questioned by the cops in front of the Drug & Safeway Store in Bouncing Babies

The busy intersection that Wheezer had to face

The same building and intersection today

Wheezer in front of the drugstore

Another rascal in the same location

The final Our Gang location was perhaps the best of all. Although not prominently seen in the film, this house was the spot that Rascal Dorothy deBorba was picked up by Breezy’s taxi in the 1932 Our Gang short Free Wheeling.

Breezy’s taxi makes its way down Motor Avenue in Free Wheeling

Both this house and the one next door are nearly identical almost 80 years later

This concludes the three Our Gang locations and I must thank Brian for bringing them to my attention. Coincidentally, this house on Motor Avenue is nearly right across the street from an assumed Laurel and Hardy location. Although it has never been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is nearly certain that the seen from L&H’s Should Married Men Go Home where Ollie jumps the fence in front of his house was filmed here.

My friend Bob Satterfield identified this spot by intuitively identifying the building beyond the fence as a school. A shooting ledger for the film indicated on-location filming on Motor Avenue as well, which corroborated this as the location.

Screen capture from Should Married Men Go Home? Not much evidence can be seen in the actual film

However a still  photograph taken during the filming reveals more of the building – a probable school

Most likely the same school building today

Although Ollie’s house is never actually shown in the film, this is where it ‘would have’ been in relation to the school

The clock was ticking away, but I decided to make one more stop before heading into Burbank. My friend Jennifer Paisley Barth had requested that I stop by a residential area in Culver City to get a photo of a house once occupied by Laurel and Hardy co-star Noah Young. Jennifer hosts the Noah Young fan page on Facebook. He had starred with Laurel and Hardy in five films, most notably Do Detectives Think? (as seen at right), Sugar Daddies, and Battle of the Century – in addition to many appearances in Stan’s solo films. He was also a staple foil to Harold Lloyd in many of his shorts and features.

Noah lived in this house on Cardiff Avenue for most of his life – during his film career and up until his death in 1958. We were very fortunate that this house is still standing, as it is among the minority of houses that were not touched by the apartment complexes that had been erected around this area.

Noah’s house, almost the last one on the street that hadn’t been razed

And last but not least, since once again we were right there, was one last Laurel and Hardy location that I had never actually seen. At the end of the 1929 film Berth Marks, Stan and Ollie are dropped in the fictional town of Pottsville. The train depot was actually the Palms depot, located at the intersection of National Boulevard and Vinton Avenue in the Palms residential district. The railroad was shut down in 1953, but the depot itself was relocated in 1976 to Heritage Square in Montecito.

I visited the depot in 1997 and in 2007, but had never seen the spot where the actual filming took place. Obviously, there is nothing left to recognize in the area, but it is assumed that the scene of Stan and Ollie running down the train tracks at the end of the film was shot not far from here. Although the remaining tracks do not ‘bend’ as they do in the film, this would be a little bit further down. There are no train tracks remaining on the spot where the Palms depot was located.

Ollie chases Stan at the end of Berth Marks. In the film, the depot would be behind the boys and to their left.

On a portion of what is left of the original train tracks. The depot would be on the left side quite a ways behind me, but this was the most accessible spot to trespass.

Our work was done in Culver City. It was time to make our way to Burbank and meet and greet some celebrities.

The California trip will conclude in the next posting

14 Responses to “Little Rascals in Culver City”

  1. Awesome Brad! I never expected you to be able to fit this in! Your pictures do better justice to the sites than the Google Earth images, which are somewhat “convexed”. It would have been better if you could have gotten shots of the “Fly My Kite” houses from across the street (to provide a better “then and now” view”) But given traffic and parked cars, that might have been difficult, if not impossible…. The today pics from “Free Wheeling” and “Bouncing Babies” are wonderful. The houses are well preserved, and although the road is much closer now to the “Drug Store”, the building is a last survivor to a magical era that is made real by these location pictures. Thank you again, and I hope you had fun!

    Brian Fisher

  2. Very nice, Brad (even though you missed Lone Pine to do this!). I have all those and talked about the Overland FLY MY KITE locations in the Our Gang DVD, and of course part of the fun of going to lunch every Wed at the Culver Hotel for several years now is driving down Motor past the places you visited! Hallowed ground, as you know. The FREE WHEELING house reminded me of something I should have done but never did. On different occasions I drove all over Culver City with 1. J.R., 2. Spank, 3. Joe, and 4. Ernie; but I missed many opportunities to do it with Dorothy.

    Richard W. Bann

  3. Thanks for the investigative work as well as going out and getting the photos of the houses. I am a big fan of the rascals since the 1970’s. I met “Butch” a few times before he passed. I wish I could have met Spanky. Thanks for your contributions.

    Art Castillo

  4. I named my daughter Darla and her twin brother was almost named Spanky, but that is taking it too far. I love these findings! I love Laurel& Hardy as well and am a big Dick Van Dyke fan and would love his appreciation of the skinny comedian. good job on your findings!

    Jackie Kontoes

  5. Brad, this is some great work!! It has always been a question in my mind why we want to go back and look at areas that have, and will always play a major part in some of our lives, for me especially Our Gang. Thanks for bringing Free Wheelin’ Bouncing Babies, and Fly my Kite’s sites of present right onto my monitor! So cool, Again, great work!!

    Wayne Lalevee

  6. Great stuff here! Re: Wheezer Hutchins, was a book or posthumous newspaper article ever written about him? He just seems to have just disappeared in between leaving Our Gang and his untimely death(sam with Chubby Chaney). Based upon what little Jackie Cooper said about him in his book, there may have been some abuse or something going on there. There are few left alive who knew Wheezer and Chubby. Hopefully someone will find and interview them before it’s too late. Heck, I’D do it!

    Douglas

  7. Now that I think about it, Dickie Moore worked with Wheezer in a few of the shorts. I wonder if he had any interesting recollections…

    Douglas

  8. Great photos, thanks for posting. I’ve got some interesting “Then” and “Now” photos that show the screen capture “Then” location and then dissolves into the “Now” view (one of them is the house from Free Wheeling that you have on this page) from Our Gang films and Laurel and Hardy too. You can see them by joining the Yahoo Group: StudioBacklots and then going to the “Files” section, and then opening the “Hal Roach Studios Locations” folder.

    Chris Bungo

  9. Free Wheeling is my favorite short, and it is great to see that location. I always wondered where the runaway taxi sequence was shot where tge tires roll down the hills. I was driving home from Ellisian park (near Echo Park) and had a Free Wheeling de ja vu. Do you happen to know where the runaway taxi sequence was shot?

    Btw, great article!

    George Richman

  10. third time I have read this …so cool !

    Dan Knoll

  11. Hi Brad,
    So glad I stumbled upon your site. I added 3 links to your page from –
    http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/art/little-rascals-summary.htm

    I will add links to any other locations that you may find.
    Best Regards,
    Vaughn Aubuchon

    Vaughn Aubuchon

  12. All of the locations you visit are actually all in Palms and not in Culver City, although Culver City is just down the street on the other side of Venice Blvd. and then it’s still spotty as parts of Palms intercept parts of Culver City closer to the old MGM Studio, which is now Sony Studios.

    Anna

  13. As time marches on.. sad to let you know that all but one of the “Fly My Kite” houses on Overland Avenue are now gone, as is the house that was next to Dorothy’s on Motor Avenue in “Free Wheeling”.

    Brian Fisher

  14. Very cool stuff, I am coming to do some similar things in few weeks..

    Mark Roulley