Greenbriar Weekend Marquee
Just how did those fabulous Warner Bros. sets come to be? So many visuals come to mind --- Svengali, Captain Blood, Mildred Pierce, others. The designer’s art that created miracles on the sound stage had to begin on a smaller scale, and usually it was models such as these that led to the creation of full-scale backdrops, both in the studio and on location. Here we see an example of the latter, as Errol Flynn inspects the model blueprint for one of the forts that will be constructed at Agoura (Lasky Mesa), west of the San Fernando Valley, for the 1936 Charge Of The Light Brigade. That edifice would be re-used the following year in Warner’s Another Dawn, and would even turn up in a Technicolor Sybil Jason short that was featured by Warners as a DVD extra.
Legendary art director Anton Grot is shown above with director William Dieterle (left) and Max Reinhardt (center) as they inspect a throne room miniature that Grot has assembled for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was Grot who gave so many Warner features that distinctive look we associate with the studio, having spent over twenty years there between the late silent period and the beginning of the fifties. One of his early assignments was one in which Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. put him in charge of the poster campaign for The Thief Of Bagdad in 1924. Those incredible one-sheets, based on original paintings by Anton Grot, are among the most collectable of movie posters. Here’s a rare shot of Grot putting the finishing touches on the twenty-four sheet for Thief.
That’s director Raoul Walsh inspecting a miniature for one of his They Drive By Night sets in 1940. Note foliage and the little swimming pool. This would eventually became the home of Ida Lupino and ill-fated husband Alan Hale in the film, an impressive set to have been built wholly within the confines of a soundstage at Warners. Excellent movie too, and it’s on DVD. What became of these wonderful models after production was finished? Did the artists and/or builders get to take them home? Maybe for their kids? You’d hate to think they were junked, but I’ve never run across any in my travels. Has anyone? They’d sure make nice conversation pieces …