Just Above Sunset
April 9, 2006 - The Movie Industry in One Block - Melrose at Bronson

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Raleigh Studios

On the right, light and shadow on the new façade of Raleigh Studios, at the corner of Melrose Avenue and Bronson in Hollywood, in the scruffy flats below Hollywood Boulevard, below Sunset Boulevard too, a long block south of even Santa Monica Boulevard. In a mixed industrial and residential area, Raleigh Studios isn't open to the public. There's work to do here, and this is the longest continuously operating studio in the country, having stared operations in 1915 with a Mary Pickford production. With the talkies Raleigh Studios had one of the world's first soundstages - with a glass top so light could enter without disrupting sound recording. It's changed ownership many times, and lots of people called it home at one time or another - Douglas Fairbanks, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Walt Disney and Bette Davis (the interiors for her creepy, second-rate Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? were filmed here).

These days it's mostly television, commercials and independent films at Raleigh Studios. This is the home of the old television series - Superman, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. But here you see some famous films were once made here - "In the Heat of the Night" (1967 Best Picture), "The Best Year of Our Lives" (1946 Best Picture), and "A Start is Born" (the first one, 1937, with Janet Gaynor).

It's a curious place, and, behind the streamlined new glass building in front, the old bungalows are still there, from the early days, with regular folks just going to work in a strange industry.


Raleigh Studios

Across the street is the more famous Paramount Studios that started back in 1913 in a rented horse barn up the hill near Sunset and Vine. Paramount moved down here in 1926, into an existing studio built in 1917 - then just got bigger and bigger. They absorbed the old RKO studios next door and now the studio and lots cover many acres, and five thousand people work here. And they offer a two-hour walking tour, if you're into such things - "The Sheik" with Rudolph Valentino (1921) was filmed here, and the two major versions of "The Ten Commandments," and all the Star Trek shows and movies. You might find some of that interesting. Their website is here, and here you'll find a complete history of the studio and a list of the hundreds of famous films made here.

This, below, is the Bronson Gate, just across the street from the older Raleigh Studios, with regular folks just going to work. This is the gate they had to reinforce after a mob of overly enthusiastic female fans of Rudolph Valentino overwhelmed security and climbed over the original unfortified gate (nearby statues honoring that fellow here). Trivia? Many years ago a young actor, one Charles Buchinski, decided to take his stage name from this gate, and became the more marketable Charles Bronson. Amusing.

Paramount Studios, Bronson Gate

A young star, in his fancy car, just about to make a turn into the Bronson Gate…  No idea who he is.

Ford GT40 turing into Paramount Studios

Further up the block is the more frequently photographed Melrose gate.  Yeah, yeah.  A stock shot.

Paramount  Studios, Melrose Gate

Raleigh Studios, old and new…

Raleigh Studios
Raleigh Studios

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.  

There is a copyright notice at the bottom of this page, of course.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 – lens AF-5 Nikor 18-70mm 1:35-4.5G ED

They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik

The inclusion of any text from others is quotation for the purpose of illustration and commentary, as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law.  See the Legal Notice Regarding Fair Use for the relevant citation.
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