Thursday, July 29, 2010

Universal Studios Smorgasbord

I had a bunch of random, nothin' special slides from Universal Studios (from various years). Since the quality isn't that great, I decided to go with quantity to make up for it!

Before the shark from "Jaws" terrorized the glamour trams, before "King Kong" went bananas (get it?), guests were able to experience the miraculous "parting of the Red Sea" from "The Ten Commandments". This is a fun effect, though a bit too obviously mechanical to be amazing. It was brand-new in 1973, but was removed in 2006. I like the bit of backlot visible here, convincingly resembling a Civil War-era town (or at least it does to me).

I think this might be roughly the same area, only from 6 years earlier, so no Red Sea. The waterfront buildings are slightly different in style (perhaps a bit more "western"); perhaps this area represented a town on a river - there was a Steamboat near here at one time.

As part of the "New York Street" area, we get a look at the snowy steps (in July!) of the Mott Street Mission. Once again, the attention to detail is very convincing. Was this scene in any specific movie?

Foam-rubber boulders gave ordinary men the chance to feel like superheros! This is the first time I've seen lightweight logs added to the mix. I remember the rubber boulders from when I was a kid; at that time they were on a dirt area, and if you got one of those things thrown at your head, you got filthy - and yes, it hurt! Not that I would know from personal experience.

Here's another chariot, presumably from Ben Hur. It is not as fancy as Messala's chariot, so it might be the one that Charleton Heston drove in that legendary race.

I decided to include this photo in spite of the blur. You can still see how this tableau could make for a realistic farm in any TV show or movie.


Disney Nametags and More said...

The chariot is, without a doubt, the one that Yul Brynner rode as Rameses in "The Ten Commandments".

Maryanne said...

Mott Street Mission was a methodist mission in Five Points, New York I heard about on a documentary. I can't find a source that it was in a movie, but it would help make 19th century New York Street very authentic.

TokyoMagic! said...

Log-man is giving us somewhat of an Alfred Hitchcock pose (sans the log, of course.)

Connie Moreno said...

Oh my gosh! Boy, that brought back memories!!! How fun!

Jim Moore said...

The Mott St. set dressing is from the 1971 Night Gallery episode, "The Messiah on Mott Street" starring Edward G. Robinson. Except for occasional location shots, Night Gallery was filmed on the Universal lot. You can see this set in the opening credits of the episode at:

Major Pepperidge said...

Disney Nametags, I am impressed with your knowledge of ancient chariots!

Meleanna and Jim, thanks for the info about the Mott St. Mission, and Jim, thanks for the Hulu link... I'll have to check it out. I think I actually remember that episode!

Jim Moore said...

THANK-YOU Major for your fantastic, impressive blog!

Katella Gate said...

I've never been to Universal, so this is all new to me. The detailing on those backlot buildings is impressive. Picture No.2 is interesting because it looks like they intended actors to have access to the roofs.

The green building on the right has an enclosed staircase, the white building on the left seems to have a window next to the chimney. The gap between the building clusters adds the right note of peril.

I think that if they weren't needed for the script, the window and stair tower would be omitted on the basis of economy.

Major Pepperidge said...

Holy moly, Katella, you are much more observant than I will ever be!

Chuck said...

The first photo gives us an angle of the Five Points, Texas, area that I don't recall from my trips to Universal in the 70s or the 90s nor in the literally hours I spent as a child staring at the photos in our souvenir book. You can clearly see beyond the church the side of a mint green and cream structure visible in hundreds of TV shows and movies, usually dressed as a bank. If I'm remembering correctly, that building was also the centerpiece of a huge Kodak-sponsored photo mural of a film crew shooting a Western that was on display in NYC's Grand Central Station at one time (and may still be).

Five Points, Texas (not to be confused with the Five Points area of NY referenced earlier in the discussion on New York Street) was a complex of five separate Western streets that met at a central point. It was built during the silent era so that five separate crews could be shooting Westerns at the same time. I know there have been several fires in the Universal backlot over the years, so I'm not sure if that area is still there today in any form that resembles what it was in the 70s.

The souvenir book is long gone (along with a dozen pamphlets about Knott's, the Hollywood Wax Museum, Lion Country Safari, the Japanese Garden, Busch Gardens, and about 5 of those Disneyland guide booklets you'd get on the way in the Park), lost in a family move, so this has been a great memory jogger. It reminds me that I need to dig out the slides of two-year-old Chuck at universal, standing in front of some oversize books (all lettered for then-recent Universal films) and holding a giant foam rock.

As always, thanks for sharing!