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Sporting Youth Race scenes in San Luis Obispo
1 June 2007
From what I've read, "Sporting Youth" was an excellent film. The popular poster for this 1924 silent film starring Reginald Denny and Laura LaPlant is among the auto racing poster collection at Indianapolis Speedway. However, "Sporting Youth" race scenes were not filmed at Indy, but instead at a track just two and a half hour drive down the coast from its Monterey Del Monte Forest (Pebble Beach) local in neighboring San Luis Obispo County. (Google "Sporting Youth poster" under "images" to see a copy.)

This central coast city's 1-mile dirt track was advertised in the SLO Telegram-Tribune as the fastest in the country back in 1923. Even Italian born Indy 500 winner Ralph DePalma of Los Angeles set a speed record at San Luis Obispo's Exposition Park Raceway. The track is gone. It was done it by "cheapskate hill" patrons who could watch the races from the backside of the straight-away, opposite the covered grandstands portrayed on "Sporting Youth" movie poster.

The Expo Park site was later used in the 30's, 40's and 50's as a site for Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey, and Clyde Beatty circuses and Side Shows. But today you can still see part of the banked race track in the lawn at "Meadow Park" off of South Street in San Luis Obispo.

The local SLO County Historic society is looking for a copy of "Sporting Youth" to go along with their 1920's black & white photographs and movie film of races at Expostition Park Raceway. Would the UCLA film archives make one available?
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A little known O'Hara film
1 June 2007
I searched this movie, because I have a photo of this 1947 film title on the marque of the almost new Fremont Theater in San Luis Obispo. (Built in 1942). The Fremont still stands alone, uncut up and shows first run movies in the heart of this Central California coastal college town. (Cal Poly). The Fremont is also the main theater for the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

I stood in line three years ago to shake Howard Keel's hand on opening night. Yes, they were showing Kismet and Keel stood out front by the box office to greet everyone who was coming for the SLO Film Festival's opening night. Then when I mentioned that I was a stage manager for a college production of "Oklahoma!" guest starring John Raitt, Keel wanted to talk longer, as he said he and Raitt played golf almost every day in southern California.

Cornell Wilde's "Naked Prey" was the last good movie he starred in. Two favorite Maureen O'Hara movies of mine are the original "Miracle on 34th Street" with John Payne and Natalie Wood, and the every popular "Quiet Man" with John Wayne. If you visit the Irish village of Cong, you'll discover that this was the local for the John Ford film. They still point out the building that was the pub in the movie, and throughout this unchanged village you'll find stills from "The Quiet Man" framed on the walls of various restaurants. Ashford Castle faces the town of Cong and can be seen in the film. You can also stay at Ashford Castle and play 9 holes of golf out front, accompanied by a youthful Irish caddy.

I'd like to see more readers comment on films on this site, otherwise it will get filled up by people like me making comments about the cast.
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Capture the old Avila Beach
31 March 2006
I've been looking for the title of this movie since San Luis Obispo County made Unocal clean up funky little Avila Beach. It seems a pipeline under the street from their oil terminal was leaking oil under the stand. This led to Unocal buying up most of the downtown and then selling or trading properties.

Back to how I found it. It played last year on one of the premium channels, but I couldn't recall the title. Then last week I saw Seymour Cassel co-starring in TV's new "HEIST" show on one of the networks. I recognized his face, but not his silver hair. It was blonde in California Dreaming, so I checked his bio and found the film.

I agree, I thought it was an early seventies film, not 1979. But then the old central coast town of Avila was timeless. Small beach, volleyball court sloped to the ocean, unpainted building on the corner where he lived was an abandoned property owned by an eccentric who held on to everything he owned.

All of the old Avila Beach is torn down now. Even the only historic building in town--the Custom House. The name now exists as a new restaurant down the street at the foot of the pier.

For those who want to see what a small California beach town once looked like, rent or buy "California Dreaming". It's all that's left of the once funky town of Avila, where no one has ever drowned playing in the local surf. Reason? There is very little undertow. The waves crash and take you back to the beach. Board surfing is non-existent.
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Young Fury (1964)
Cameos steal thunder from stars
17 February 2006
I believe this was William Bendex's (TV's "The Life of Riley") last film role. He had lost weight as he was dying of cancer. Virginia Mayo and Rory Calhoun were the parents of a son (Preston Pierce in his first film role) who is estranged from his dad, and the leader of a teenage bunch of want-a-be "Manificent Seven" characters.

Like the Manificent Seven, each has a skill. Knife thrower, etc. Ryan O'Neill's younger brother is one of the gang members. By today's standards, these kids really aren't all that wild. The script might be more to blame than the cast. (All those guest stars that pop up are a distraction.)

I've taped parts of "Young Fury" off of broadcast TV, but haven't been able to find a decent copy by searching the internet. The movie poster is available in different sizes, and a friend was able to buy a 35mm version of the "Young Fury" trailer. This is almost as exciting as the movie, except the sound was poor.

I'd be interested in buying a DVD, just for "Young Fury's" diverse cast.
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