L.A. Confidential (1997)
Director Curtis Hansen and writer, Brian Hegeland’s, L.A. Confidential (one of my all-time favorite films about Los Angeles) was released just two-years before my father’s death in 1999. At that time I was blissfully unaware that I was about to be pulled into my own 1940s L.A. Rabbit Hole, which would become- The Black Dahlia Investigation.
I recall one of my initial reactions in seeing the film was how very impressed I was with the actor, David Strathairn, who played the character, Pierce Morehouse Patchett. This came primarily from the fact that Strathairn’s performance as Patchett was a spot-on impersonation of my own father, Dr. George Hill Hodel. Strathairn/Patchett’s sophisticated dapper appearance, his voice, his ability to control any situation, all fit perfectly into my father’s real life persona.
On top of that was the irony that some of the scene locations representing Patchett’s luxurious home were filmed inside our real-life 1940s Hollywood “Franklin House.”
But, the full impact and irony of the film would not be fully realized by me for another six-years. Only after the publication of Black Dahlia Avenger in 2003, was I able to hear just how loudly the gods were laughing from their Los Féliz mountaintop, which is the backyard and just up the hill from the Franklin House. (These same gods are known to inhabit and regularly walk the halls of the Griffith Park Planetarium after midnight.)
SKH Note- It is not my position that there exists any causation or linkage connected to the following observations- ONLY ABSOLUTE IRONY.
ART IMITATING LIFE
(top) Pierce Morehouse Patchett (David Strathairn) hosting a party inside his fictional Hollywood home “The Franklin House” circa 1953. (bottom) George Hill Hodel in living-room of his real-life Hollywood home “The Franklin House” circa 1950.
FLEUR-DE-LIS- ‘WHATEVER YOU DESIRE”
In the below scene from L.A. Confidential, LAPD Detective JackVincennes (Kevin Spacey) is examining Pierce Patchett’s business card “Fleur de Lis” in preparation for his vice-investigation which pointed to Patchett running a stable of high-class prostitutes who had received cosmetic surgery so that they resembled popular actresses, such as Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.
In the photo below it, we see George Hodel’s private photo-album, which contained several pictures which were part of the initial catalysts that started me on my Black Dahlia investigation in 1999. Note the 12 Fleur de lis on the cover. I was informed by my stepmother, June Hodel that dad’s album was quite old, circa 1890s and had been given to him as a gift from his mother, (Esther Leov Hodel) who according to family lore was born from French royalty. (Supposedly, my grandmother’s parents fled France during the Revolution so that they might keep a head of the crowd, so to speak.)
Below we see a montage of clips from the 1997 film, L.A. Confidential all taken inside George Hodel’s, previously owned, “Franklin House.” (Incidentally, this filming occurred prior to the Franklin House’s renovation in 2002, in which a swimming-pool was added to the center courtyard and all of the rooms were remodeled, including a complete retrofit of the outdated kitchen.)
Here again, Art Imitates Life. Between 1945 and 1950 George Hodel threw many such parties at the Franklin House which included top film stars and politicos of that day. Included as “entertainment” were many “professional girls”, thoroughbreds all, who were most likely supplied from Hollywood Madame Brenda Allen’s stable. This catering of her fillies would obviously have been quid pro quo for medical services rendered by Dr. George Hill Hodel at his First Street V.D. Clinic.
Clip montage from inside Franklin House L.A. Confidential 1997
FRANKLIN HOUSE KITCHEN
What most viewers of the Scorsese film don’t know, (and I didn’t until my 2001 meeting with the Franklin House owner, “Bill Buck,”) is that this scene below was also shot at the Franklin House. It takes place in the surprisingly small kitchen which was painted a bright red at the time my family lived there, but was obviously repainted since the 1940s.
In this scene from L.A. Confidential, Sgt. Jack Vincennes is having a late night meeting with LAPD Captain Dudley Smith at Dudley’s purported home. Those of you familiar with the film recall the action.
Franklin House kitchen 1997 (pre 2002 remodel)
THE AVIATOR (2004)
Montage of clips from the Howard Hughes/Ava Gardner scene filmed in 2004 inside and at the front steps of Dr. George Hill Hodel’s “Franklin House.”
In Scorsese’s 2004 film, The Aviator, a bio-pic of the life of Howard Hughes the irony of art imitating life again unknowingly repeats.
In the above scene Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is arguing with his girlfriend, Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). The action revolves around the fact that Howard has had his security men secretly install microphones inside Ava’s residence, (The Franklin House), so he can electronically monitor her love life. Ava after discovering this, becomes enraged over his spying and the action spills out onto the curb-side in front of the house.
The irony comes from the fact that this is exactly what occurred at the Franklin House with George Hodel in Feb/March 1950.The DA’s office and LAPD secretly installed multiple microphones inside this very same residence and tape-recorded George Hodel’s conversations and admissions as to performing abortions, making payoffs to multiple law enforcement agencies and to killing both; Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia, and his personal clinic secretary, Ruth Spaulding. (LAPD admits investigating that suspected murder in 1945, but was unable to gather sufficient evidence for prosecution as George Hodel left the country for China for one-year.)
However, none of these true facts were learned until after gaining access to the locked secret DA Hodel-Black Dahlia Files in 2004 and due to the timing would not and could not have been known by the filmmakers.
VERBATIM EXCERPT FROM THE AVIATOR SCREENPLAY (2004)
Below are dialogue excerpts from screenplay which occur inside the Franklin House between Ava Gardner and Howard Hughes.
Under my bed! You put a goddamn microphone under my bed!
Listen to me. I am concerned about you. I just wanna make sure you’re okay
And who is in that car?
That car is for your protection!
The only one I need protection from is you, you sick bastard! You don’t own me, Howard. I’m not one of your teenage whores or some damn airplane
I’ll have them take all the bugs out. I need to know where you are
Because I worry about you that’s why.
Bullshit! What do you mean “all the bugs”?
I don’t know.. Twelve, maybe and on the telephones
Oh, Christ, Howard, on the telephone? You listen to my phone calls?
No, no, honey. I would never do that. I’d never do that. I just read the transcripts, that’s all.
What do you wanna know, Howard? Was I screwing Artie Shaw last night? Was I screwing Sinatra the night before? You bet. Everyone said you were a lunatic, I didn’t listen. It’s no wonder Kate Hepburn dumped your demented ass!
Shut your goddamn mouth.
Get out, you pathetic freak. Get out!
Is everything alright sir?
Take out all the bugs. (whispers to him) Except for the one on the bedroom phone.
NEXT THERE’S CHINATOWN, BUT LETS LEAVE THAT FOR ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER BLOG!