Midway leads to Filmways-1972

The corner of Midway and Montana- a lamppost designates these two streets…
It’s normally very quiet on this corner, usually it’s me and my friends vs MGM security. This is a strategic entrance. No one’s around and we gather intel by peeking in tiny Holes in the Fence…
This is that same corner, the film is titled Melinda…
Midway-Montana intersect. Midway used to continue on to Wyoming, the street featured in my last post. This is a follow up on this intersection in the early 70’s. Ironically, a few years later, a tractor crashed through this fence from the inside out. Darn kids!
This is Montana avenue; it no longer exists. Notice the lit-up MGM sign- top center. Leo the Lion is in the Gold circle above Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Is this the Bronco? MGM patrols these outskirts…
Could this be me?…I’ve had my share of situations at this spot. The Midway Streetlight. Read- Lemons with a Twist, in Hole in the Fence
Midway street light...
This corner would fill deep with water after rain. No drainage. In 1976, if you were a guest for King Kong, you lined up here for processing into the lot.
Notice trespassing sign on fence, white square sign.
The light above Calvin’s head is the green light at the top of the telephone pole on the lot. Those are the style of backlot stationary lighting. You can see it in my picture. It had a screen over it to protect it from BBs.
Teenagers often carry knives, I had a Bayonet, Buck knife, Switchblade, and a Swiss Army knife. The Swiss knife had a saw included which allowed me to cut strategically placed peepholes in walls like in my Boystown fort, to keep an eye on our surroundings.
Well, well, a car crashed through the fence. This actually happened more often than you can believe, real citizens, real accidents…you can never have too many Holes in the Fence!
Overland entrance
Overland and Montana-corner…
MGM cartoon building- pre Filmways. The corner the car chase begins and the distant corner where the rumble begins…
Tom and Jerry were created here…
Good old days!
Great cartoon, my Saturday mornings started with Jonny Quest, it put me in the trespassing mood. It’s how I gather inspiration. My dad called me Donnie Quest...
Typical Saturday at MGM…I wouldn’t wear white shoes is the only difference.
A very tall artist taking a break on the roof of the Filmways building.The scenic art building can be seen across the street. That building creates matte paintings.
This white stairway-background- takes you upstairs, backlot side of Filmways. Up those stairs are the offices of the artists. The Rolls Royce has Jerry Lewis and Sebastian Cabot inside-Family Jewels-1967, right before big fire.
A look-right out of a cartoon..
I love cartoons and comic books- my stories would make great comic books.
Best cartoons, MGM. Best TV shows-MGM. Best war movies-MGM. Best backlot-MGM. My Disneyland, complete with weapons to play with.
Chase is on- “Get Donnie before he gets to his house”
This is a Filmways presentation darling…the famous sound bite with Zsa Zsa Gabor.
This was located on the window just inside the front door…it’s aged worse than myself.
Filmways corner as it appears today…
Montana avenue- Filmways is the white building…it is also prior to Filmways the famous MGM cartoon building…A plush theater sits bottom floor, center of building.
Montana and Midway connect behind the watermill house set. Tarzan’s jungle can’t be contained by this old wood and metal fence.
Stocker street, Baldwin Hills, between La Cienega and La Brea. Same film-Melinda.
Check out that license, it’s stolen!
Stolen from this MGM Bronco, FJPP – that’s my Bronco’s plates.
Normally fake plates get thrown on, for whatever reason, the security Ford Bronco shared its 4 letters. I have practically been run over by this front license, several times!
Here it is in a CHiPs episode after MGM sold out on the backlot. CHiPs thrashed it, starting with -they cut off the roof, so this guy could fly out. I loved this jeep, I’ve been chased, shot at, almost ran over, but also, given real nice tours depending on what guard is behind the wheel.
Jimmy created this comic book image of a situation that never happened, security only wishes it did!
This home on Overland is still there, across from the main gate at Sony.Ships restaurant sign is visible in the background. It catered to MGM -24/7 never closes…
Same home today, behind it was the MGM parking lot and the Filmways building
1972- Everyone remembers the Surprise Store from my generation.
Same view today, 50 years later. You still must- Right Turn Only!
My buddy and pal-Al Black. I still have a scar on my left palm from a chase at Grand Central Station. He was hiding in a train as Jimmy and I entered the lot. It was night and well, pitch black. He waited until we got close and jumped out of the tail end of a Pullman train. Jimmy and I never climbed a fence faster, but Al reached up, and pulled on my hand as I was jumping to safety. That created a deep cut by the sharp top of the fence. Stitches would be required. He and I would joke often the next day after a good chase, of which we had several. He did his job extremely well.

Prior to directing Melinda, Hugh A. Robertson was a highly acclaimed Editor. Robertson was the first African American to be nominated for an Oscar in editing for his work on Midnight Cowboy. He also edited MGM’s Shaft, which would be his last credit as Editor. He would then turn to directing. Melinda was produced by ex-Rams football star Pervis Atkins.

We Begin;

Ok, yes, I did just do a post using Montana and all the connecting streets, but this show popped up later that evening. Exactly 50 years later. The street corners involved in this film hit home. Every day and night you could find me pass by here. Whether it be going to school at St. Augustine’s or just casing the joint, known as MGM. I have my own pictures of all these corners, but this show deserves honorable mention.

I was told by my friend Al Black, the most athletic security guard at MGM, about this show. He said the Bronco is in it. This was 50 years ago, finally this show appeared for me, 5 decades later. I was looking for the Red Bronco and never saw it- until my jaw dropped. The Bronco is not in it, but the license on the Corvette is-FJPP. This was a legal California plate, not a film placard fake.

But what’s better is all the film footage on these streets/corners. A switchblade knife fight begins after the car crashes through the fence. Fact is stranger than fiction, stuff like that kinda happened.

Around 1974, a tractor that was parked inside the studio fence one day, was found crashed through the fence the next. It was left next to the Hole in the Fence it created!

In 1973, Jimmy and I nailed security guard George Barner with lemons from a tree that still lives on Midway. He was hiding on the roof of the watermill house, we were outside the lot, at this very corner. We remained stealth until ready to launch, then we pelted him with lemons. He almost fell down the stairs escaping our onslaught!

Jimmy and I have very good arms, lets just say “we hit the oversized target! “

Montana is the same street the 1967 fire was fought from on New York Street.

I was at this with my dad, a former Tacoma Washington firefighter. I never got to see him as a firefighter in action, but on this day, he was chompin at the bit! We were at Culver Center as the fire took off so dad grabbed me and took me towards the flames. We stood right at this spot. I later had that same burning passion- but for studios. Lord knows I’ve seen my share of fires at various backlots…
MGM employee parking lot behind lot 2.
Fire damaged sets that remained and were used in filming.

Lots of stuff happened on this secluded little side street that framed the North side of MGM’s best backlot…

Written and lived by Donnie Norden…

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