Great Scott!

In July the first Back to the Future film marked it’s 30th anniversary— as when released theatrically— and the celebrating continues. Yesterday evening my brother Shawn passed through the Puente Hills Mall, a key filming location for the franchise, and made an interesting discovery. Parked in the southern-most edge of the lot was a recognizable vehicle that was surrounded by standing, orange cones without any yellow tape or rope to specifically cut off an area. It was Doc Brown’s white Step Van just like it was seen in the films. My brother scoped it out for a while from a safe distance, and found that several folks with cameras and lighting were either filming or taking pictures. He later got out and ventured over to see what’s doin’ and sent me a couple of pictures.

I did a quick search online and found that this appeared to be a viral marketing campaign at it’s finest— to spread the word about We’re Going Back. As Shawn was taking his pictures he noticed a couple gentleman setting up some action figures and small toy model of the trademarked DeLorean, which appeared to him that they were going for the whole forced perspective thing. A quick search on Twitter appears to show that this shot and that one are it. Pretty impressive.

Today Shawn and I, while en route to a nice afternoon/very-early evening in Sierra Madre, stopped over at Puente Hills Mall and found that Doc’s truck was still there. I took these shots of which you can click each one to enlarge. If you’d like to use these on your blog, site, Twitter, IG, Facebook, etc… fine by me and just credit @trdonovan as the source. It’s all about spreading the BTTF love my friends…

The front bumper was the dead giveaway of what this was all about.
The front bumper was the dead giveaway of what this was all about.

At first glance it looked like the real McCoy, but I soon discovered it was a replica (not that this was disappointing— because it wasn’t). The initial indication, from a quick search on my phone, was the the fuel door on the left side. In the film it was in front of the left-rear tire, but on the replica it was behind it. There were also differences in the body styles and lengths between the two— leading to show two different models of Step Vans. But none the less… the person(s) who worked really hard in this great replication surely went all-out with details. The dust along the bottom sides, the dirty windows and the lettering on the sides was spot on. Kudos to them, seriously.

We were there for about ten minutes and we didn’t see anyone else come up in that short span. However, it sure drew some double-takes from those who were parking nearby and heading into the mall. As my pictures show there are bumper stickers indicating #docstruck, and one for the We’re Going Back 30th celebration. As of this writing, on Twitter alone, there have been at least 192 posts by 180 users of which have been seen by 180K other users almost 220K times!!!

Time travel… I never would have thought back in 1985 I could go to “Twin/Lone Pine(s) Mall” in 2015 to see Doc’s Step Van!

I’m not sure how long it’ll be out there, but it is on display with the Puente Hills Mall’s approval, encouragement and cooperation, and has been there since Tuesday night the 22nd.  Despite the orange cones it doesn’t appear folks are being kept away from looking into the windows. I assume it’s locked up pretty good and mall security, I’m sure, has one of their PTZ cameras trained on it 24/7. I should add that security does a fine job making periodic passes on by ensuring all is kosher.

If you’re not able to make it out there— famed YouTube blogger Adam The Woo ventured out there yesterday morning and did an excellent vlog on location. In case you’re curious about the letter “P”… it was back up there today!

P.S.— I am a huge BTTF fan…

Five year old me with Claudia Wells, aka Jennifer, May 1985— BEFORE Back to the Future debuted
Five year old me with Claudia Wells, aka Jennifer, May 1985— BEFORE Back to the Future debuted!

Stooge History Break

I’ve been a steady fan of The Three Stooges since July 1992— twenty three years ago around this very day. I occasionally stumbled upon them in passing back in the 1980s while flipping channels, but I never caught on and became a fan-for-life until just before turning thirteen.

I have handfuls of favorite shorts, but my all-time number-one is Disorder in the Court. Released in May of 1936, it was just like the title says and is full of nothing but trademark Stooge slapstick and bedlam. Disorder is one of the very few  stooge shorts that accidentally fell into the public domain back in the 1960s— when it’s copyright renewal was somehow overlooked. However it is possible that the digitally-colored version may be copyrighted by Sony. Then again, maybe not, if not just licensed.

In Disorder you’ll see a character pivotal to the short, Gail Tempest. She was played by dancer/actress, Suzanne Kaaren. She was twenty-four years old when she filmed her part with the stooges. In an interview she remarked on working with Howard, Fine & Howard:

What fun! ‘Disorder in the Court’ is the biggest moneymaker of all the Stooge comedies. I only did it as a lark—I had a little time when Jules White saw me dancing and said, ‘With those legs, you’ve gotta do it.’ My favorite is ‘What’s The Matador?’ I played a Spanish girl—with a very jealous husband. I had a Stooge under my bed, in the closet. It was a lot of fun. I went to the Stooge Convention in ‘91.

Back in the late 90s/early 2000s I used to be part of an online hub for Stooge fans and one day a comment thread was in full effect about favorite shorts, and I of course piped in about Disorder. A well respected member of this hub, who was tightly in with some of the surviving folks involved with the stooge shorts, sent me a message. He mentioned that Suzanne Kaaren lived in New York City and slipped me her phone number.

“Give her a call… she loves hearing from fans.”

I was shocked and surprised on many fronts, including the notion that someone of adult-age from a mid-30s short was still around at that time. When you’re barely in your early twenties— you still have a lot to learn about numbers and so forth. I was hesitant, but I dialed her up the following morning and after several rings when I was just about to hang up— a voice picked up on the other end. I asked for Ms. Kaaren.

“I’m Suzanne Kaaren-Blackmer…”

“The actress?”— I asked?

It was her. She explained that during her career she had married actor Sidney Blackmer who died sometime in the early 1970s. We talked for a few minutes about her career and Disorder in the Court and she had nothing but fond memories— much like she expressed in the interview link above.

Suddenly she appeared a little pensive, and then shared with me that she was sitting in her apartment without power. She didn’t want to turn the call sour as she was excited to hear from “such a young fan,” as she put it. Sometime overnight the power went out and she began lighting candles and was afraid to sleep with them still lit. She didn’t know what to do.

We talked for a few more minutes more and then I felt like I should do something, and while on the line with her a quick internet search showed me that her power company was Con Ed. I told her I would make a call for her and since it was daylight she felt she would take a nap. I called Con Ed, and they said they were going to send a man out. I called Mrs. Blackmer back a few hours later and all was fine. Towards the end of that call she gave me her address and said for me to write to her and she’d send me an autograph in return.

I ended up moving unexpectedly in the months just after, and lost in the shuffle was stuff in various boxes that I didn’t go through until a year or two later. I came across my notepad I jotted in during our phone calls and I was prepping to write to her, but wanted to give her a call as well. No answer. Tried a few more times over a considerable period and got the same.

Not long after her name appeared in the papers. At some point she had relocated to a care home over the river into New Jersey and she passed away at the age of 92. It wasn’t until her obituary that I learned she took on a rather large corporate giant— and given how this man acts even today… kudos to her.

Here’s our featured presentation

The Yankee Doodler

Nine years before he became the Ricardo’s landlord— William Frawley appeared in this 1942 propaganda film just months after WWII began. It really shows the type of fervor that was behind the support of the war— especially to win— which isn’t something our country has seen on a large scale in over fifty years.

I first saw this around 2006 or so, and I will say there are some un-PC references made in this… but after all it was a different era.