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You know that is strange, MGM's main website only supports a newsletter.




The only discussion forum is the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/las-vegas/736664-mgm.html


Maybe its more important nowadays. Go figure.




Welcome to the forum, you can feel free to discuss MGM's classic movies here.

Here is a nice DVD set called "MGM Best Picture Gift Set"



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The hotels are more important than the "studio" because they make money, and MGM's movies don't.


From the late 1960s, billionaire financier wheeler-dealer Kirk Kerkorian gutted the original, once-proud Lion of Hollywood to build his hotel empire, buying and selling its assets to often that it's a wonder the various elements of the studio don't still have mark-down price-tags hanging from their figurative sleeves.


If you want to know why the MGM that gave the world so many imperishable films, made on its hundreds of magical acres of studio lots and backlots, is now the laughingstock of the film industry, its entire empire reduced to a few floors of office space in a nondescript high-rise in West Los Angeles, you need look no farther than that website and its "newsletter."

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I maintain a blog, *Stars In Heaven*, where I'm reviewing each old MGM movie I see. The last movie reviewed: *Divorce In the Family*, with Jackie Cooper.


I've watched nearly every MGM movie available from 1924 through 1932, jumping back to watch older ones as they're made available. *TCM* has been an invaluable resource for this project!



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*I had chance to visit whats sadly left in 05-(44 acres from over 200) *Thalberg bldg. is still-standing 4-now!?*




The Thalberg building is still there. A bad economy is great for historical preservation because there's no money to tear down old buildings and put up new ones. Besides, Sony has other financial things to worry about more than updating the lot.

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The Thalberg Building's east fa?ade used to look out over a small mortuary that was nestled into a niche jutting into the MGM lot off Madison Avenue (the studio repeatedly tried to buy the building, but the small family-owned business always refused to sell). A number of the MGM executives on that side of the building used to enjoy looking out the windows and watching the stiffs being brought in and taken out, resulting (at least in part) in their christening the Thalberg Building, with its whitewashed, ungainly architecture, "The Iron Lung."

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> MGMStudio1930


We're looking southwest across MGM Lot 1.


That's West Washington Blvd. along the studio's bottom fa?ade; Culver Blvd. at the top; Madison Avenue is beyond the left edge of the photo frame; and Overland Ave. on the right.


The Thalberg Building, at the studio's apex on the left (also beyond the edge of the photo), would not be built for another fourteen years (Thalberg was obviously very much alive when this photo was taken), and Lots 2 and 3 had not yet been built up with standing backlot sets; what sets the studio did have were at the west end of Lot 1. When outdoor filming was transferred to Lots 2-5 later in the decade, that area of Lot 1 became "scene docks," where sheds housed re-usable components of indoor sets. A parking structure, parking lot and producers' building occupy that space now.


A decade earlier, the center of Lot 1 was just as grassy quadrangle, much like those you find on college campuses. The lot was, by comparison, quite under-used during the silent era, as the demands of silent production didn't need the big, bulky soundstages and extensive post-production facilties for such things as dialogue "looping," music-scoring, and sound effects.


What's striking is how undeveloped the neighborhoods around the the studio were, with relatively few commercial or residential structures. Land was still dirt-cheap back then, which allowed the various studios to acquire extensive tracts of land that often lay fallow for protracted periods of time. That was, in its way, the studios' undoing from the 1950s on, as the pressures to develop the land for steadier income forced some companies to sell off their acreage, and others to sell themselves to conglomerates -- and then sell off the land.

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I LOVE that photo. I love seeing the old studios and trying to imagine what it was like to work there back then.


I especially like the odd orientation of some of the "exteriors." As a past location scout I know the importance of knowing which way a building faces to know when exteriors can be shot for the correct light. And that building with the high "bump"...my imagination sees Dorothy's tornado created in there.


Reminds me of seeing Disneyland for the first time, after numerous trips to ever-expanding cancerous Disney World. The original "land" is crammed within city blocks of Anaheim, surrounded by a tall chain link fence. When they set off evening fireworks, the whole area sees them.


Graceland, Belmont Horse Racing Park & to a certain extent Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby) are all surrounded by dense development now too. It makes them seem like oasis.


Have the old studios sold off property and downsized? I always thought they went the TV route; the big soundstages & outdoor street scapes were still being utilized.


Please update me!

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*Have the old studios sold off property and downsized?*


Fox and MGM are the two who sold off their backlots. Fox's backlot is today Century City and the famed MGM backlot is now mainly housing with some streets named after MGM movies.


Warners in Burbank, Universal and Paramount all escaped having to do that though most of the studios divested themselves of their separate ranch properties where many, many westerns were filmed.


I think the new upcoming documentary on Moguls and Movies that TCM is producing for airing in 2010 will focus on all the studios.

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This question refers to the MGM Studios ca. 1930 photo Kyle first submitted.


The 2 buildings near the center, what is the purpose and the reason for the "barrel vaulted" design?

I've only have seen this roof design on some film studio buildings. I hate to be the roofer to plug any leaks on it.

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Kyle's wrong; The Thalberg Building, completed 1944, is at the bottom of the frame, so the photo was taken no earlier than that. I would guess the picture dates to the late 1940s.

> MGMStudio



Universal Studios has just about all the acreage it always had, though a lot of it has been developed for tourist attreactions, with the specter of its vast and storied backlot also falling to the developer's bulldozers in the not-too-distant future.



Warner Bros. is the same size it always was, though its backlot sets aren't as extensive as they were in the 1940s and '50s (and that's not taking into account the sale of its 3000+-acre studio ranch in Calabasas in the 1960s).



Paramount Studios is the only studio that's actually larger than it was in the Golden Age, by virtue of its having purchased the property of the adjacent former RKO lot from Desilu in the mid-1960s (of course, the most valuable property Paramount bought from Desilu was the rights to the Star Trek franchise). Paramount also had a 4000+-acre studio ranch in Agoura Hills that was sold off in in the 1950s.



MGM and 20th Century-Fox each used to be about 200 acres; the respective timetables as to when their property was sold off varies, but each is about a fifth the size it used to be. MGM used to have five backlots; all are now condominiums and/or housing developments and shopping centers. Fox's far more valuable property became the Century City complex in West Los Angeles, a mixed-use development of tony hight-rises, hotels, shopping centers, apartment buildings and condos.


> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote}

> The 2 buildings near the center, what is the purpose and the reason for the "barrel vaulted" design?

> I've only have seen this roof design on some film studio buildings. I hate to be the roofer to plug any leaks on it.


The lower of the three long, dark buildings set at an angle to most of the other structures on the lot is the Property Building, where everything from hand-props to antique furniture to every manner of set decoration was inventoried and stored. The middle structure is the Scenic Backdrop Department, where cycloramas and other backings were painted. The upper building, mostly glass-encosed had, in silent days, been a shooting stage; when soundstages went up in the late 1920s, it was converted into the studio "Mill," where sets, miniatures and furniture were constructed.


The soundstages of many studios, most recognizably Warner Bros., have vaulted roofs because it's the most efficient design for enclosing a very large space without any columns to take the load. The vault allows the load to be transferred into the walls without the heavy, hanging trusses below flat roofs that bear all the weight. Besides the weight the trusses, themselves, add, they also cut down on the amount of available vertical space available inside the structure (critical when you have catwalks for the gaffers to rig their lights). To compensate, the building must be taller, putting more strain on the walls, which must then be further reinforced. As you can see, the vaulted design is best, as the Romans discovered more than two-thousand years ago.

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> {quote:title=Hudson_Hawk wrote:}{quote}

> The old town isn't what it once was; in fact, the old town isn't here at all any more.


Sad, but true.


Who needs extensive backlots and ranches, when everything can be done in front of a blue screen in a modest-sized soundstage, with CGI added later to give the illusion of something bigger.


Norma was right. It's the pictures that got smaller. They just try to make 'em look big.

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WOW Thank you for such interest in my post along with the great information on the history of backlots in Hollywood. I knew coming to this forum there would a lot of rich information here. I'll share with friends at Universal. My connection to MGM was that my grandmother on my mother's side of the family married a man who was concertmaster of the MGM Studio orchestra in late 1940s His name was Louis Sarli. His brother Tony Sarli who opend the Hollywood Bowl with the grand pop concert i think about in 1920. Recently my father did tell me that George Sidney the director married into the Sarli family many years ago, so in a small way he is my second connection to MGM.


I did grow up in Culver City and do remember the great fire that MGM had on lot 2 in 1967. LA Times has some information but I have not been able to locate any other information of photos. Also MGM had lot #3 but I have not been able to locate any photos of it. Lot #3 is where many Showboat scenes were filmed. In one photo that i have reviewed show that lot#3 was west of lot #2. Any thoughts on that?

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Lot 3 was bordered by Jefferson Boulevard on the north, and Overland Avenue on the west. It's now a fairly upper-scale housing tract, in which all the street names are taken from MGM productions ("Maytime" and "Raintree," etc.).


Message was edited by: Hudson_Hawk

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I obviously was in error with the lable on the earlier photo. I probably mis-named it when saving it.


Here are some different views to ponder -


MGM Studios, Dated 1949



MGM Studios, Composite Image

Labelled, ca. 1950s



MGM Studios, undated



All images courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library Photo Archives


Kyle In Hollywood

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