Saturday, June 24, 2017

Favorites :: Behind the Scenes :: They Sure Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To...

"Movie making has changed quite a lot. Back in what they called the Golden Age Hollywood, most movies were made in places like this. This is MGM's Lot #2. Since 1927 almost six hundred pictures have been shot here. Garbo, Gable and Garland all worked here. Way back then they built whatever they needed on the big movie lot. Now, of course, it's the other way around. It costs a fortune to build and maintain elaborate back lot sets. Modern film equipment is portable, and most films are now shot on location. So, movie-making has changed in that way. But in the seventy odd years movie's have been made, this much hasn't changed. People still make 'em. They haven't automated that yet."

I touched on this a couple posts ago, the sorry state of MGM, as a studio, and it's fabled back lot in the 1970s. These pictures and opening quote were taken from a documentary on the making Douglas Trumbull's Silent Running (1972), a picture for Universal, sure; an outer-space epic that was mostly shot on a converted aircraft carrier, which gets to the point of the doc and this interlude; that they sure don't make 'em like they used to. Not a judgement, mind you, just an observation.

MGM had a total of six back lots. By 1973 Back Lot #3 was gone, dozed over for housing development. Back Lot #2, featured above, known as the musical back lot, where things like Singing in the Rain (1952) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) were filmed, was the next to go. In fact, part of that destruction was caught on film for the made for TV movie The Phantom of Hollywood (1974), a thinly veiled dig on MGM's current management team by way of Gaston Leroux, adding a whole 'nother layer of meta to the ignominious end of so much film history. 

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