I came across this wonderful 1953 3 1/2 litre Derby Bentley Tourer at a children’s fete in Burpham nr Guildford, Surrey last summer. It is owned by Rodger Salter but was formerly owned by Gavin Maxwell author of the otter story ‘Ring of Bright Water’ Its been on the road in its present form since 1966 following a rebuild by Rodger. Even the local church curate Jasmine Runnacles wanted a test drive.
Although I primarily post my new work / projects I will occasionally share some of the more interesting photography experiences that I have been blessed with over the years. As the Oscars are tonight I thought I share this.
I’ll never forget staying at the infamous Chateau Marmont hotel nestled in the Hollywood hills overlooking Sunset Boulevard,Los Angeles. Rarely am I particularly interested in hotels but this was an unusual experience.
-it was originally built in the 1920s as Los Angeles’s first earthquake-proof apartment building (and would eventually become Los Angeles’s first Lindsay Lohan-proof building!. Architect Arnold A. Weitzman modeled it after the Chateau D’Amboise in the Loire Valley, which is believed to be Leonardo Da Vinci’s final resting place! The hotel’s reputation as the place to go to misbehave dates back to the days of the Motion Picture Code of the 1930s and the purity seal of 1934. The code specified not only what could and could not be shown on screen, but also its expectations of a star’s behavior off camera. Studios rented apartments and rooms for the express purpose of having someplace safe for their stars to engage in whatever ‘ habits’ they had. The famous example being Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, telling two of his young stars, William Holden and Glenn Ford, “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont.”When it wants to, Hollywood can be exceptionally good at keeping its own secrets. The Chateau, with its own eccentric and highly personal history, was the perfect coconspirator. With its external appearance of a castle or Gothic fort, combined with its residential past, incredibly thick walls, discreet entry via an underground carpark and highly protective staff who treated guests like members of the family, the Chateau Marmont became the ideal hideout.
Every major Hollywood Actor/ actress / director have either stayed or lived there with an abundance of stories and ‘incidents’ . John Belushi died from a speedball injection in Bungalow 3. In 2004 Helmet Newton who lived at the hotel lost control of his cadillac and crashed into the driveway. He was killed.
So how on earth did the likes of me get to stay there! Well, I was commissioned by Ammirati Puris Lintas in New York for a Barcardi ad and my producer Tom Hayes of http://www.spottydog.com booked myself and my trusty camera assistant/production co-ordinator and wife! Maura, into an art deco suite which had barely changed since the 1930’s. We probably played it too ‘cool’ or maybe we were a touch too shy as we sat at the next table to the celebrity photographer Mario Testino. Passed by with a friendly nod to Billy Horgan of the ‘Smashing Pumpkins’. But later in the day we got into a tiny elevator with Christopher Walken who was living in one of the bungalows. I think he recognised us 😉 Ah well, no more name dropping for now. The job went well at a beautiful location shooting a staged pool party up in the hills.
Footnote: A few days before boarding the plane to LAX I happened to be in a small village in Co Wicklow – Hollywood! which had its own sign on top of a small hill surrounded by sheep. A bit of fun whilst showing our crew a photo of the ‘original Hollywood’ !. After all, films such as Dancing at Lughnasa,The wind thats shakes the Barley,Braveheart,Michael Collins and Conor Horgans film ‘One Hundred mornings’ were shot in or around there. Appologies to Hollywood Co Down and any others!
Footnote 2: Its 3 yrs ago that Irelands Michael Creagh’s directorial debut ‘The Crush’ was nominated for an Oscar in the ‘live action short film’ category. I’m working with him later this week so I’ll have quiz him on those treasured memories.