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For the Love of Film...

Welcome to my review website. I love movies, and here’s the place I talk about them. You’ll find my ratings, on a scale of zero to five stars, in all of my posts. For each film, I’ve written either a full critique, which is a longer piece; a compact review, which is usually just a paragraph; or a quick take, which is only a sentence or two. I also post articles about the world of cinema on my film blog.

In the Comments section on each page, feel free to share your own thoughts and feelings about the films discussed here.

Lights! Camera! Action!

On Location: Wonderful Wonders

On Location: Wonderful Wonders

THIS PLACE LOOKS FAMILIAR

My wife and I reside in Los Angeles, California, long the capital of film and television production not just in the United States, but in the world. From time to time, Karen and I embark on small adventures in the greater L.A. area, seeking out locations where shooting took place on a particular movie or TV show. Yesterday, Karen and I had a midday appointment in Pasadena, so we decided to take the opportunity on our way back home to visit a few spots about which we’d recently learned.

First up on our brief entertainment tour, we drove to La Cañada Flintridge, a town of about twenty thousand residents in the Crescenta Valley. Nestled among the San Gabriel Mountains on the northeast and the Verdugo Mountains and San Rafael Hills on the southwest, it provides a gateway into the Angeles National Forest to the north. The town may be best known for being home to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

 

In 1946, three decades before the incorporation of the city, it comprised two distinct communities: La Cañada and Flintridge. In a new neighborhood in the latter, director Frank Capra and members of the cast and crew of the now-classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life filmed scenes in which the impoverished Martini family moved into a brand-new house. Karen and I visited the house, which stands in the same location today as it did all those years ago.

The new home in Bailey Park bought by Giuseppe Martini and his family in the 1946 film  It’s a Wonderful Life . © Paramount Pictures

The new home in Bailey Park bought by Giuseppe Martini and his family in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.
© Paramount Pictures

The roof and the bricks look darker, the grass greener, and the foliage more mature, but seventy-one years later, the Martini house still stands.
©2017 David R. George III

Mary and George Bailey (Donna Reed and James Stewart) welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Martini (Bill Edmunds and Argentina Brunetti) and their family to their new house.
© Paramount Pictures

The front door of the same house today. Note the house number mounted to the left of the door.
©2017 David R. George III

After wandering the community commemorated on film as Bailey Park, Karen and I made our way from La Cañada Flintridge to Burbank. Recently, we had decided to watch The Wonder Years, a television series produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Although the show never even specified the state in which it took place, much less the city, the scenery looked familiar to Karen and me. We recognized southern California, and after some research, we discovered the location of the house featured most prominently on the series, the home of young Kevin Arnold and his family.

In front of their house, the Arnold family: Jack (back, portrayed by Dan Lauria), Wayne (middle left, Jason Hervey), Karen (middle center, Olivia d’Abo), Norma (middle right, Alley Mills), and Kevin (front, Fred Savage).
© New World Television

The Arnold family home as it stands today. Though a different shade of green and with a new roof, it looks largely the same. The basketball backboard and hoop where Kevin Arnold played is still mounted on the front of the garage (back left).
©2017 David R. George III

While we were in the neighborhood, Karen and I also saw the home (from the first three seasons of the series) of Kevin Arnold’s childhood friend and sweetheart, Winnie Cooper, played by Danica McKellar. The house sat across the street and a couple of lots up the block.

Winnie Cooper’s first house.
© New World Television

Winnie Cooper’s house at present.
©2017 David R. George III

Karen and I didn’t take a grand tour of numerous Hollywood locations, but we enjoyed seeing the Martini house from It’s a Wonderful Life, and the Arnold and Cooper houses from The Wonder Years. We’ve lived in Los Angeles for a while now, and we’ve been around production quite a bit. Even so, we still find something magical about the process of creating film and television. Visiting the real-life locations of places we’ve seen in movies and TV shows only reinforces that.

Wind River

Wind River

Night Train to Munich

Night Train to Munich