Film Noir Meets Dahlia Noir- Fiction and Fact Collide in 1940s Hollywood Twilight Zone: New George Hodel “Thoughtprints” Courtesy of DownUnder Film Documentarian Frans Vandenburg
March 9, 2020
Los Angeles, California
This morning I received the below email from a friend, Australian filmmaker, Frans Vandenburg.
I met Frans several years ago when he and his partner-producer, Claude Gonzalez were in Los Angeles and had just begun making their upcoming documentary, on the life of Australian film director, John Farrow. (See article, “New Documentary To Reveal the Forgotten Life of Australian Filmmaker John Farrow” in the Sydney Morning Herald from 2017.
Frans and Claude met me at my residence apartment back in September 2018 and conducted an interview related to the John Farrow/Lillian Lenorak “connections” as revealed in my books, Black Dahlia Avenger I and II.
Here is Frans email from this morning:
I’m in process of getting those Rowland Brown* films together as well as a bunch of others including your own Lawrence Tierney Film Festival.
Also, another film I’m sending you is a copy of this film – The Accused. William Dieterle, I think another terrific director and I see his nickname was The Iron Stove!
I think a really interesting film, sort of noir but more thriller but you decide? It ticks many boxes.
Really interesting Writing credits, check them out plus a heap of uncredited ones including our oft Farrow collaborator Jonathan Latimer and another one Barre Lyndon.
Loretta Young, I forget often what a beauty she was and too easily dismissed because of it…and the men are good too, the always reliable Robert Cummings and Wendell Corey and a brief but as usual good showing from Sam Jaffe.**
Steve, I’ve hopefully attached a very small section of the film that features a BD mention! AND before Sunset Blvd.
I filmed it off my SONY monitor on the wall in my studio which explains the somewhat “roomy” etc appearance. ok? But hopefully, it will give you some idea.
It’s actually even better BD wise, as though the official release date was 1949, The Accused was actually shot in a few weeks in 1948 but for some reason not released till 1949…..!
Anyway, hope all well with you and I’ll let you know when the discs are ready to go and in the meantime Very Very Bests…
SKH notes on email: * Film Director Rowland Brown as mentioned in BDA was having a long term affair with my mother, and when our father was arrested and the Incest scandal broke in Oct 1949 would assist our mother in moving her and we three boys to a rental near his own residence in Rancho Mirage, then just a tumbleweed town near Palm Springs where we lived for a year or so. (As also mentioned in BDA, Rowland Brown was my personal hero during those “Gypsy Years” and actually saved my life by rushing me to the hospital after I fell through a glass window and cut an artery in my left wrist. (He wrapped it and rushed me to a hospital some twenty miles away in Palm Springs.)
** Frans mention of Sam Jaffe having a role in the film “The Accused” is interesting as Jaffe had a long ongoing “crush” on my mother, Dorothy Huston Hodel, going back to her marriage to John Huston. And, in addition to his Hollywood acting role in “The Accused” Sam, at the same time, had a major role in John Huston’s 1950 THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (See trailer click here) In fact, Jaffe won “Best Actor” in his role at the Venice Film Festival. Huston was producing the film at exactly the same time his good friend, George Hodel was being arrested and tried for Incest (Oct-Dec 1949) and then released the film at the same time George Hodel fled the U.S. in the summer of 1950. And, who can forget Marilyn Monroe’s early role in the film as “Angela Phinlay” (pronounced FineLay?) the young mistress/girlfriend of the rich aging banker, Alonzo d. Emmerich (pronounced I’mRich?)
And, here is Frans clip from “The Accused” with the “Black Dahlia” mention from the 1948 filming of that movie. Click the below link.
THE ACCUSED BLACK DAHLIA MENTION 1948 (1 minute)
OK, Now let’s once again prepare to reenter the 1940s Twilight Zone that is the Black Dahlia investigation. Cue to music below:
THE ACCUSED – THE MOVIE (1949)
I took Frans advice to “check it out” and here’s what I found. The film was in fact made at Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, California between 12 April and 28 May 1948. As seen in the map below this is 2.6 miles from the actual murder location, the Sowden/Hodel/Franklin House as 5121 Franklin Avenue.
Above we see that the film was released in the U.S. on January 14, 1949, coincidentally this was two years to the day that Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short was murdered inside the walls of the Hodel Franklin House, a Mayan Temple in the heart of Hollywood.
The next door that opened in our Twilight Zone hallway was the one behind which we discover that actor Robert Cummings, had a starring role in The Accused. Remarkable in itself in that we know from our earlier investigation, as documented in BDA, Robert Cummings was personally interviewed by LAPD Homicide Detectives, in connection with the 1949 murder of actress Jean Spangler. (Spangler, who had a bit part (as a night club patron) in the movie The Pretty Girl, starring Robert Cummings, was also slain by Dr. George Hill Hodel while he was still residing at the Sowden/Franklin House in October 1949). The Pretty Girl was in production from Sept 6-Oct 15 1949 and Spangler was slain on Oct 7, 1949, the day after George Hodel’s arrest and release on bail after being charged with Incest and child molestation with his 14-year-old daughter and my half-sister, Tamar Hodel. In regards to the Spangler murder investigation, actor Cummings informed detectives that “He had spoken with Jean in the previous weeks and she was “all excited about dating and meeting a new boyfriend, but never told me his name.” (See full details in BDA.)
Beyond BIZARRO-I saved the most bizarre “thoughtprint” for the last-
In the above list of cast members in “The Accused” see that the beautiful French actress, Suzanne Dalbert starred in a supporting role as “Susan Duval”.
Unknown to me prior to Frans Vandenburg’s “heads up” today was the fact that Ms. Dalbert acted in this film. What I did know and had previously documented in BDA II was that Suzanne Dalbert was an actress and in 1948 was a tenant/roomer at our home in Hollywood at 5121 Franklin Ave.
Incredibly, at the very time, Suzanne was acting in the film THE ACCUSED which referenced the sadistic and recently committed Black Dahlia Murder, the actress was at the same time renting a room and living at the actual crime scene with the Black Dahlia Avenger, the victim’s killer.
Here are previously published photographs showing Ms. Dalbert inside our home with fellow roomers as described in Black Dahlia Avenger II. I am also attaching that section as published back in 2014:
Huge thanks to my good friend, Frans Vandenburg for sending me this amazing “thoughtprint” today. Also, really looking forward to the release of Fran’s John Farrow Documentary which should be a fascinating and well-told look and one of Hollywood’s great film directors.
Filmmaker Frans Vandenburg’s upcoming documentary is entitled:
John Farrow-Hollywood’s Man In The Shadows
See John Farrow’s incredible filmography HERE.
These connections can be mind boggling. GHH didn’t arrange this connection, but it is still one of those interesting things. It’s just the thought that she was acting in that movie and at that same time renting a room at the scene of the crime & the landlord is the killer. It is like with Lillian Gish starring in “Dual in the Sun” which was shot partially at the Spahn Ranch. Meanwhile she was renting the house at 10050 Cielo Dr. This was back in the 40’s, more than 20 years before Manson sent his follows from the Spahn Ranch to kill everyone then renting the house at 10050 Cielo Dr.
Holy freaking moly!!!!
Hi Dan. Yep, you can’t make this stuff up. Lillian and then Tim Holt coming to the house to date Carol Forman and then GHH’s references to both of them as Zodiac and “Red Mask and Spider Lady”.
His twisted mind just bounced from one to the other to the other. Then in The Early Years, we find the connection to the San Diego/Mexico murder to “the blue-eyed brownett that said no to me in high school.” Holy freaking moly is right.
I don’t know if anyone has ever mentioned this, but the neighborhood that Georgette Bauerdorff’s car was abandoned in is referred to by Googlemaps as Clement Junction. You mentioned in one of your books that there was a man on drugs asking for Bauerdorff at the Hollywood Canteen shortly before she was killed. When asked for his name he said it was “Clement.” Another coincidence?
Whitman W: Never heard of the reference “Clement Junction” but as you say, it does show on the Google Map. I think in this case it was just coincidence, especially since we are not sure that the “Clement” mentioned in BDA was in fact GHH. Thanks again, Steve
Hi Steve, Who is the little boy in the “Tree of Life” photo?
Angel: The young boy in the photo in “Tony Walker” the son of Fuji Walker seen in the photo. I have no info on either of them, but as I indicated in BDA II, “I’m sure there is a story waiting to be told there too.”
As Dan alluded to above, the connections in all of this are mind-boggling. I just added a number of these circa 1950 movies to my list, just to get a feel for the culture and human behavior during this time period. I will say that “The Pretty Girl” is the one that I can find. It is apparently a very rare film to get ahold of.
The fact that these characters are connected in this way has me wondering about life and human behavior/culture during that time period, beyond what we’ve seen in film and in print. For example, in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, you see that the character played by Audrey Hepburn was being taken at a very young age (underage) by a man much older than her, and that selling youthful looks and companionship to older folks with money was not uncommon. Another example is Marilyn Monroe herself, who was molested at a young age, and then later being used by men as a sex object, when she was obviously over her heels from her past and then the rush of stardom (not that she had no agency at all, but still).
To consider that folks of this ilk were having debauch and hedonist sex parties seems a pretty scandalous culture, and maybe it’s just me, but much more darker and wilder than the common image of that time-period. I’m trying to wrap my head around it all, and perhaps folks of that time were more adventurous as they weren’t sitting at home like we are today behind television and computer screens. As I think about it tho, you watch some of these films and it seems at a glance to be such a vanilla and pure existence, where “being fresh” was a man flirting with a woman.
To watch a clip of Robert Cummings on film, where he seems Mister Rogers-ish, and then to consider he was possibly into and aware of the sadistic murders, or at the very least aware and participating in the debauch sex parties is a real mind fck.
Rarely if ever are things really seen “as they appear.” Below the surface all kinds of motives and intentions are simmering. Some good some bad. In GHH’s case, they were EVIL in the extreme. Most of us are much less intense in our human desires and pursuits and remain for the most part, in control of our dark sides. George was out of control beginning as a teenager and never stopped, or was stopped. He died by taking his life at the advanced age of 91 and was only stopped by HIMSELF at his own choice. (Suicide by pills (Seconal).
I get that, and I think of myself as pretty “eyes wide open”. I don’t cling to conspiracy theories just for drama, but there are many that I have researched and believe are true or a strong possibility. But in this case, I always had this view (and dare I say that I think most people do as well) that folks of this earlier time period were much more vanilla and timid. I mean this is when Elvis shaking a leg while dancing was considered dirty, for example. So to consider that folks were actually WAY more deeper than this is a real eye opener. But hey, maybe I’m slow and naive – I know I certainly can be that way at times, even tho I like to consider myself as pretty intellectual and sharp.
So even beyond the drama of the scandalous exploits, for me I think this provides a huge insight as to how people were back then, how culture was, and from there some huge insights as to how our society and culture evolved. Maybe this can be found in other areas and sources, but for me this seems like a pretty rare view. Like I’ve said before, your books and writing has captivated me unlike any other. And there are plenty of other evil and dastardly stories that have been told. I think that the circumstances here are a mountain of evidence that would never have been unearthed if not for your work. It’s like the ancient civilizations hidden under the Amazon Rainforest that we are now scratching the surface of, with new radar technology, or Gobekli Tepe changing world history due to the works of Graham Hancock.
As an aside, I’ve only just started on the second book, but now I’m pretty eager to get going on that and the rest. It was maybe my insecurity that told me in the past that I was only so interested in all of this because of shock and drama. But now, with maturity and wisdom I realize the reasons this material you’ve brought has been such a draw.
Just want to say thanks again. I’m truly blown away (and that doesn’t occur easily).