The Beverlywood section of Los Angeles is a friendly, suburban, hilly and pleasingly landscaped pocket of real estate developed in the post-war era of the 1940s. It runs (roughly) from Robertson Blvd. on the east south of Pico Blvd. and almost reaches Venice Blvd. on the south (thus making it Culver City adjacent). The western end is more mysterious as it's geography is pleasantly meandering and tends to wend its way in and around Motor Avenue (which is directly across from 20th Century Fox studios to the north) and other points due west. I'm only a mile or so from the neighborhood as I write this and somehow never came upon the fact that before it became Beverlywood it was the 'ranch' for the Hal Roach Studios, which were located in nearby Culver City. So, all of the rural and semi-rural locations that you see in Our Gang comedies (and a few in Laurel and Hardy who were more often cast in urban situations) were shot on the then entirely undeveloped land that you see in the clip reel above. A very enterprising Youtuber who calls himself ChrisBungoStudios has taken on the admirable task of painstakingly sorting through old Hal Roach comedies, identifying the locations where they were shot, shooting 'after' footage of the location in the present day, and mashing them up so that the old two-reeler comedy pauses in mid-stream, freeze-frames the old location and dissolves briefly into how it looks today. Pretty hip, in my painfully un-hip point of view. Enjoy...

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Here's a lovely look at Charlie Chaplin and his wife Oona (nee O'Neil as in Eugene O'Neil's daughter who her dad disowned for marrying Chaplin one month after her eighteenth birthday) at their luscious home in Vevey, Switzerland in 1975. Chaplin is 86, two years away from his passing and a man clearly very much in love with and beholden to his lovely wife. (I believe they had eight children together by the way. And what of it?)  Chaplin's predilection for much younger--indeed not of legal age--women would, of course, be a total career-ender now and might likely have driven him from the country, Polanski-like, as opposed to his affiliation with the Communist party (which did the job successfully in 1952). But what would the Chaplin's life in Beverly Hills have looked like in the 1970s had they stayed? Chaplin's house on Summit Drive was called 'Breakaway House' due to its having been built from spare parts of movie sets. It most likely would have been a ruin by then (it was torn down in the 60s I believe) and the Chaplin's most likely would have wound up in Trousdale, around the corner from Groucho and Danny Thomas. How depressing would that have been?

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Perhaps it's because I'm emptying out my late parents home of fifty years (mine too, I guess) but I've become acutely aware of how much of my childhood was spent not playing outdoors in the California sunshine but instead huddling indoors staring at the Zenith Television (rabbit ears, black and white etc.). I was already an old movie/TV rerun buff by the age of seven or eight and had my preferences as to what to watch and when. Just as I was a Warner Brothers cartoon fan and disdained all things Disney, I was a proud watcher of KTTV (channel 11) which had the best movies (mostly MGM library) cartoons (WB), series reruns (Jack Benny, Partridge Family etc.) and the slickest logo. Second place went to KTLA Channel 5, which had the Universal/Paramount library (and which I would most likely prefer these days). It was a bit of a drop to KHJ channel 9, but they did have the 'Million Dollar Movie', though I can't remember whose library they featured. And then the steepest drop of all came when you wandered into the land of KCOP channel 13. The movies were Universal products of the 40s-60s and the series were of the Paul Henning variety which I already had called bullshit on. 'Petticoat Junction' irritated the crap out of me for some reason (in those admittedly pre-sexual years) and I could never abide the 'Beverly Hillbillies' or 'Green Acres'. The best part about them were their laugh tracks, which were so ridiculously fake that I preferred closing my eyes and zoning out on them rather than watching the shows.

So if you asked me to reminisce fondly about the long-gone LA local channel KCOP, I'd have probably shrugged the request off and referred you to some genuinely weird TV nerds of the era and not armchair observers such as myself. And yet, after stumbling upon the above compilation of commercials aired exclusively on KCOP, I found that I remembered almost all of them with way too much clarity. So perhaps I really did watch all that crap I claimed to despise. If nothing else, it proves that my youthful taste was 'Catholic' (I've never truly understood that word used to explain a wide variety of tastes or interests). Or perhaps I was as hypnotized by the TV as kids are now by iPads, phones and whatnot and didn't really care much about what I was watching, so long as something was emanating from that beat up Zenith. KCOP also aired 'The Bill Cosby Show' and 'Room 222' in the early afternoons and I recall finding both awfully depressing since they were school-centric and I was no doubt watching them at that hour because I was hiding from school that day...

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Here's a nice little (seven minutes and change) reel of 1974 national commercials. A big part of the pleasure of watching this compendium (at least for me) is observing the gentle yet omnipresent video roll--apparently this was transferred from somebody's VHS (or Beta?) tape. We see Steve Allen shilling for some send-a-needy-kid-to-camp charity, various pathetic early 70s car commercials (featuring various pathetic early 70s cars), a Hawaiian Punch commercial (now whatever happened to that sugar-bomb of a drink...and did anyone ever really drink one without adding a generous splash of Vodka?). But the most important reason to delve into this time capsule of ads for mostly forgotten products is to witness a commercial in which Salvador Dali demonstrates how Alka-Seltzer works. It's at...no, I'm not going to say where it is in the line-up. Suffer through the rest of the ads in order to get there, just like I did.

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I was wrong about Ernest Borgnine's age while driving his RV in the previously posted clip. He wasn't 95 when this footage was shot. He was eighty. Well, that makes me feel a hell of a lot better.

Not really. I'm still rather stunned that Borgnine piloted this behemoth (while towing a Ford Explorer to boot) in his ninth decade and I have to say I had an uncomfortable time making it through the above ten minute clip, which is from a 1997 documentary called 'Ernest Borgnine On The Bus'. Every time Borgnine launches into an anecdote I felt like urging him to pay exclusive attention to the road and that we'd rehash old Hollywood stories later, over a crappy diner dinner (Meat loaf, or Turkey with Gravy, or Steak and Eggs...you get the idea). He tells a story of a hair-rasing ride he had heading down a mountain in Colorado and how surprised he was that he made it. Which made me understandably and correctly nauseous. And when he got to the tollbooth I briefly panicked that the bus wouldn't make it through the overhead plaza thingy, possibly causing it to tip over into extinction. Finally, Borgnine spies some sort of dorky amusement park on the right and turns his head (while driving) to get a better look, without slowing down of course. Excuse me while I wash a Valium down with some Stoli...

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