Dear Heart and the destruction of Penn Station

July 30, 2019

"Through Pennsylvania Station one entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat." - Vincent Scully

If you've entered New York City in the last 50 years you've likely scuttled in like a rat through Penn Station. There are little remnants of the structure that once stood there -- the granite eagles between 31st and 33rd street, and some brass and iron railings in stairwells -- but it's difficult to fully imagine the grandeur and majesty of the original Pennsylvania Station. Which is why it's such an absolute delight to see it in all its glory in the beginning and ending scenes of the 1964 film Dear Heart.

Production for Dear Heart began on October 2, 1963, just four weeks before demolition started on the building. You can see the light pouring into the terminal, and catch a glimpse of the almost-10 feet tall statue of Pennsylvania Railroad President Alexander Johnston Cassatt, looming over Glenn Ford's shoulder. There's the Coca Cola digital clock, the incoming baggage check, and the souvenir shop. Giant arched windows and beautiful stonework. You can see it all in these scenes.

According to Lorraine B. Diehl, the author of The Late Great Pennsylvania Station, you can spot some broken and covered windowpanes in the ending scenes. Although The Daily News reported in November 1963 that the Penn Station scenes were running behind schedule, Dear Heart ended their on-location filming on October 3rd. And one thing is for certain -- Dear Heart was the last movie to ever be filmed in the original Penn Station. By the time the movie was released in December 1964, the grand and glorious Penn Station was no more.

In Mary Wickes: I Know I've Seen That Face Before, Steve Taravella writes that "Penn Station was razed immediately after filming and replaced with today's soulless station of the same name." After this, most movies would have to film in Grand Central Station if they wanted to capture a New York station with cinematic appeal. In fact, it was the destruction of Pennsylvania Station that saved Grand Central. Less than two years after the demolition, spurred by the loss of such a beautiful historical landmark, New York City enacted the Landmarks Preservation Law.

Movies are like time capsules. When the crew of Dear Heart rolled into Penn Station in October of 1963 they might not have realized that they were preserving a small piece of American architectural and rail history. They may not have realized that their movie would bookend an era of rail travel, a vivid and faithful relic of a way of life that is long gone. But by creating this piece of art, they also preserved a piece of history for us to look back on years later.

We should be thankful for movies like this, filmed on location in locations that no longer exist. We may now scurry in like rat, but by watching Dear Heart we can imagine what the world must have been like when you once entered the city like a God.

This post was written in partnership with Trainiac Productions, as part of a series on train history in film. Please check out their facebook page for more train posts!

You can rent Dear Heart on Amazon Prime right here, or purchase the DVD through Warner Archive here.

Made in Paris {The Apartment}

July 11, 2019

In the 1966 film Made in Paris, Louis Jourdan plays a Parisian fashion designer, Marc Fontaine. When Ann-Margret takes Edie Adams' place as his American buyer, catastrophic misunderstandings and flirtatious escapades ensue. This film is notable to me because it's the first time that I took notice of --and fell down a deep rabbit hole of full-blown obsession with-- Chad Everett, who plays Ann-Margret's boyfriend.

The only thing in this film that might be more aesthetically pleasing than Chad Everett's megawatt smile is Marc Fontaine's flamingo pink studio, designed by set decorators Keogh Gleason and Henry Grace. Situated right above the runway of the fashion house, this colorful abode is a feast for the eyes!

To the left is Fontaine's office desk, facing away from a bay window that -- I can only assume -- is probably overlooking the Champs-Élysées. To the right is a sitting area, complete with two chairs and a matching settee. But the piece de resistance is that spiral staircase hiding in the back left corner. Be still my heart! And the addition of a plush pink carpet only heightens the style that hovers somewhere between decadent and kitschy. My favorite spot to be!

On the right side of the room, Fontaine keeps his latest sketches on display, hanging over a table that appears to house a collection of fashion magazines. I love the balance here of opulence and strict attention to design, but with little messes here and there that reflect the reality of a working fashion designer. My own studio is much less lavish, but I think I strike a similar balance between lived-in creative workspace and pleasing to look at.

In the other corner of the room is Fontaine's easel, complete with a table for paints and palette, a roll of paper lying underneath, and a model form for reference that is bedecked in fabric, ribbons, and flowers. The spiral staircase is my favorite feature of the room but this model is my favorite detail that the set designers added -- it's kind of kooky!

Here is a close up of the staircase, which has a grey railing with golden spokes. And over Ann-Margret's shoulder you can see a peek of the Picasso painting hanging up on the wall. I also love how the walls have intricate wooden carvings in the beveled moulding and they almost seem to be washed in a rose hued stain.

Remember how I  mentioned that this room is situated right above the runway? It's the perfect spot for Fontaine to retreat during a show and keep an eye on the reception his pieces receive during a show. All he has to do is press a button and - Presto! - the bookcase disappears into the wall to reveal a window overlooking the runway. How fantastic is that?!

This is part of an ongoing series of posts dedicated to bachelor apartments in movies. You can view the rest of the series right here.

Saw it in the Movies Tag

July 05, 2019

The rules:

- Pick at least 3 things that you have done from a movie. It can be any movie, anything you did.
- Tell how the event worked out.
- Link back to the tag's creator and the person who tagged you (thank you, Hamlette!)
- Have fun!
- Tag 4 people.

1. I started using Pond's Cold Cream because it always seemed so glamorous when actresses in movies would apply the cream at night, sitting at their vanity, usually whilst arguing with their husband/boyfriend/lover. I have no idea why this particular ritual resonated so strongly with me but I can still think of specific scenes in movies off the top of my head - Bette Davis in All About Eve, Ingrid Bergman in Goodbye, Again, Ruth Chatterton in Dodsworth, Jean Seberg in Bonjour Tristesse.

2. I went through a phase where I was so influenced by the ennui of foreign film characters that I let it seep into my own life. I naturally gravitate towards being a very optimistic, happy person but as I became immersed in a world of restless, unhappy, languishing characters, I absorbed their energy. I felt like it was cooler to be jaded and listless than my normal bubbly self. I still love these movies but once I realized the effect that they were having on me I definitely cut back on my Antonioni intake considerably!

3. When I was about 15 I shaved off my eyebrows so I could draw them on like Jean Harlow or Marlene Dietrich. It's probably the worst decision I've ever made, I looked so silly and I had the hardest time drawing them on evenly! Luckily they grew back, but they're very sparse. It's funny because I was a teenager in the early 2000's and most girls my age over-plucked at the time, but for a totally different reason! lol!

I'm going to tag:
Nicole from Vintage Film Nerd
Nikki from The Way We Watch
Diana from Flickin' Out
Gabriela from Pale Writer