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CannonRide - Anatomy of a Murder Tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Cannonshot, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I recently took a ride through part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan chasing after some history related to a movie that was made there.

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    A local attorney, John Voelker, wrote a book in 1958 about a case he was involved in back in 1952. He defended an Army officer that shot a bar keeper after the officer's wife reported she was raped by the man. The officer was found to have acted as a result of an irresistible impulse and in the end went free.
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    Here is John Voelker in the court room with the movie cast.
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    My path took me to to various places related to the film and the actual case it is based on.
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    To get you oriented to the film, here are a few trailers.





    #1
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  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Voelker wrote the book in longhand over a period of three months (he used a pen name). The book spent 66 weeks at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. Otto Preminger grabbed the rights for a movie that he shot over 8 weeks in 1959 in the Upper Peninsula.
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    The movie has been highly ranked as one of the best courtroom dramas.



    Even the poster for the movie was ranked #1 of the best 25 movie posters ever. Saul Bass did the poster work. He also did the poster work for Vertigo. There is some similarity with those posters.
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    Duke Ellington was in the UP and worked on the score for the movie while he was there with the movie crew. He won a Grammy for the score. The score is only heard in the context of the scene being portrayed.



    Voelker with Duke
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    The production crew was on scene in the UP for about 8 weeks and they left about $300,000 behind in the local area (about $2.7M today).

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    The movie received 7 nominations for Academy Awards. They lost Best Picture to Ben Hur.
    Best Actor - Jimmy Stewart
    Best Supporting - Arthur O'Connell
    Best Supporting - George C. Scott
    Best Black and White Cinematography
    Best Editing
    Best Picture
    Best Writing

    The movie was quite controversial for its time since it included terms like panties, semen, sexual climax, contraceptive, and others. Jimmy Stewart's father saw the film and then took out a full page ad in the paper urging people NOT to go see this "dirty movie". The film was banned in Chicago for a while after Mayor Daley saw it.
    #2
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Marquette

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    The Marquette County Court House was where the real trial took place and where the courtroom scenes were shot for the film.
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    Another famous trial took place here where Teddy Roosevelt sued a newspaper for libel.

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    I tried to get into the courthouse to photograph the 2d story court room but was kept out because of COVID. During normal times, you can visit the court room when it is not in use.

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    During the filming of the court room scenes, the noise generated by loading ore ships in the nearby harbor would sometimes interfere with the production. While shooting, the ore companies agreed to coordinate their loading operations so as to not interrupt the movie shoot. Locals wanted the movie to be a success.

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    Wondering about that ore dock noise? Check out the last few minutes of this video.



    The person chosen to be the actor as the judge was also the highest paid player in the movie. He was not an actor. Joseph Welch previously served as Chief Counsel for the US Army when they were battling Senator Joe McCarthy. Welch is known for his asking McCarthy "Have you no decency, sir?" They first offered the role to Burl Ives and Spencer Tracy. Welch agreed to take the job as long as they cast his wife as a jury member.





    One local person that was cast to be a member of the jury said he wore the same clothes for 23 days straight during the filming of the court room scenes. He said the garments were laundered after each days shooting. One day he added a tie clasp to his wardrobe. The cameraman noticed right away and had him remove it.

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    The Marquette County Clerk and two of his assistants landed roles in the film.
    #3
  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    During the filming of the court room scenes in Marquette, the cast stayed at the Landmark Inn.

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    Many famous people have stayed here. In fact, they name some of their rooms after celebrity guests they have had. Some include Amelia Earhart, Abbot and Costello, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Maya Angelou, Bill Cosby, and others.

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    The Rolling Stones gathered in the bar here when they came to mourn the loss of their friend and road manager back in 2002.

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    The Landmark Inn is also reported to be haunted.

    "Just like most old buildings all over the world, The Landmark Inn has its share of ghost stories and apparitions. This is one of the many reasons that make it a favorite for ghost hunters. The Librarian is arguably the hotel’s most popular ghost. It is said that during the 1930s, when the hotel was still named the Northland Hotel, a spinster librarian and a crewman fell in love and have made Marquette their home. The crewman was planning to marry his great love after his final cruise; however, the ship was swept away carrying the entire crew down with the ship. The librarian never recovered and died shortly after of a broken heart. It is reported, she looks out from the Lilac room on the 6th floor, waiting for her lover to return.

    Since the hotel’s renovation and reopening in 1997, the Lilac room has remained the hotel’s most haunted room. The room’s first guest was a man who complained of the sheets having screws in it. The front desk apologized and housekeeping was told to change the sheets. Upon returning from dinner, he found that the sheets still had screws and asked to be moved to another room. The front desk has also reported getting calls from the Lilac room, even when there is no one staying there."


    Marquette did the impressions in cement thing with the starts of the movie when they were in town. Because of some of the words used in the film, there was some opposition to displaying the impressions on public land in the city. Eventually the cement panels were displayed but they have since been stored for safekeeping.
    #4
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  5. out rider

    out rider You Go First

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    Interesting piece here. Now I need to go up to Marquette again, not like I needed an excuse.
    Stayed at the Landmark twice and you have given me information that I didn't know before.
    #5
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  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Heading up to Big Bay where the murder took place.

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    The Thunder Bay Inn. Henry Ford built the place to accommodate his people that came to the area. Ford had a lot of operations in the UP. He is known for paying a good wage, having good working conditions for his lumber camps and mills, and following proper forestry practices including handling the slash leftover from timber harvests. Ford pissed off other area lumber companies by paying so much and offering such good conditions to his workers.

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    Many people mistakenly believe that the Thunder Bay Inn was the scene of the murder. It wasn't. It really had nothing to do with the incident. I think a little bit of filming was done there but it was essentially merged into the filming that was done at the actual scene of the murder which I'll get to in a bit.

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    Thunder Bay Inn today.

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    As I mentioned, Ford had some operations up this way. Across the street from the Thunder Bay Inn is an old forest products plant that Ford had to supply automobile parts. It used to be a bowling pin factory.
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    This is the old town hall in Big Bay. It had municipal offices, a jail, and the fire department. An outfitter operates out of the building now. You can still see the jail cells where Lt. Coleman was taken after the shooting.

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    Part of the story involves a tourist park where the lieutenant and his wife had a trailer while on temporary duty in the area.

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    Peterson trailer.

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    The Big Bay Point Lighthouse was automated in 1941, and like so many other Great Lakes lights, it was rented out to the U.S. Army and National Guard for training purposes. During the 1950s, soldiers camped out in the meadow and woods to the west of the lighthouse while undergoing anti-aircraft artillery training. On the cliff, east of the lighthouse, they installed large guns used for target shooting over Lake Superior.

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    By the way, if you want to stay in Big Bay, a nice choice is a lighthouse there that is now a B&B. Some say the lighthouse is haunted. The keeper went missing and was found about a year later hanging in the woods. Some say it was suicide, some say it was murder.

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    On to the scene of the crime . . .
    #6
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Big Bay continued . . .

    Lumberjack Tavern - the scene of the crime.

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    A number of scenes for the movie were shot here. This was probably the first time that a movie was made using the actual crime scene.,

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    Like others involved with all this, the owner promotes the interesting history of the place.

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    The movie logo is painted on the floor of the place.

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    I think this is a 1946 or 1948 juke box. It is visible in the movie when Jimmy Stewart comes through the door of the tavern.

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    Pretty cool device.

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    This is the bar owner that Coleman shot.

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    Historic crime scene photo. Coleman came through the door with a 9mm and started shooting. The first shot hit some booze bottles but another six went into the victim - killing him.

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    #7
  8. Bultaco206

    Bultaco206 Back-to-back motos suck Supporter

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    My all-time favorite movie. I was exposed to it during civics class in high school in the mid ‘70s. And even my daughter studied the film during a portion of her studies in law school.

    In 2015 I rode a portion of one of your tracks and found myself in Big Bay. Been through there a few times since then also.

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    #8
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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Big Bay and the Lumberjack Inn continued . . .

    The victim kept a gun handy behind the bar but was unable to get it.

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    The guy that was cast to play the victim said that he was hired even though he had no part in the movie. A photographer took him to various settings (hunting, fishing, gym, etc) and took about 200 still photos of him some of which may have been used in the movie. Since the premise of the movie was that he was already dead he had no acting role in the film. They put some make-up bullet holes on him and did some autopsy shots as well. I saw one of the images with the bullet wounds during the movie trial sequence.

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    Like many places related to this incident and movie, the Lumberjack has some clippings on display and a binder full of interesting information.

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    The shooter.

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    There is a story in the movie about Peterson's wife and her flashlight carrying dog. Apparently it was true.

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    The owner is a great guy and is full of interesting information about events there including scenes from the movie. It is nice that he can point out where Jimmy Stewart walked around in the bar and how the shots were made there. We took off our COVID masks briefly to pose for this picture.

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    It is well worth the trip to Big Bay to stop here and chat with this fellow. Grab and a drink and a sandwich while you are there and take some time to relax and explore a little.

    The actor Jeff Daniels stops in here every now and then so you never know who you will meet there.
    #9
  10. Juan Loboe

    Juan Loboe Long timer

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    Great report!

    A perfect accompaniment to a great, great movie I first caught on the late show as a teenager.
    #10
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  11. MotoChron

    MotoChron Got Dirt?!

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    Great stuff! The movie is awesome, and the Lumberjack has great burgers. Not sure I would have ever found it if not for your UPAT thread. Thanks for introducing me to some of the great history of my home state.
    #11
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  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    #12
  13. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Amazing research and now to see the movie itself. I've only heard of it but now I've got to see it. Good stuff :thumb
    #13
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  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A little intermission . . . so to speak. :D

    The shooter and his wife were divorced right after the trial. Two years later he was found to be sane and released into the world.

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    Three hundred locals were used as extras in the film. They were paid $10/day. Minimum wage was a dollar a day back then and a 1959 dollar is worth close to nine bucks today. In Hollywood extras got paid $22.50 a day back then (about $200/day today) and $90 per day if they had a speaking part (about $800/day today).

    Lee Remick got the part when she was 8 months pregnant. Lana Turner was supposed to get it but she got in some argument about wardrobe. I think Jayne Mansfield was the first choice. They offered Remick the lesser part of Mary Pilant but she turned it down. One day Remick got a call that she got the part of the shooter's wife and she thought it was a joke. She had to make another call before she believed it. She brought her three month old "Baby Kate" along to Michigan and the kid was the darling of the media. Remick got attention because Preminger saw her in A Face in the Crowd and knew she could fit the young sultry role well.

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    Arthur O'Connell had to be treated at the local hospital for a virus while he was in MI. He sent the nurses some nice gift baskets as appreciation for how well they took care of him.

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    Duke Ellington did a lot of piano work while hanging out in MI. He also accepted an invitation to a spring dance at Northern Michigan University where he played "Take the A Train".

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    Some caption credits.
    #14
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Ishpeming, Part 1

    In March 1959 the passenger train carrying many of the stars and crew pulled into the local station. About half the town came out to see the stars. After a brief pause Jimmy Stewart stepped off the train followed by a large entourage.

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    The movie people moved into the Mather Inn where they spent much of their two months in the UP. Newspapers ran two articles per day on the topic. There were no taxis in Ishpeming. All of a sudden they had about thirty to take care of the needs of all these people connected with the movie.

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    Duke Ellington used to compose on the piano in the bar of the hotel. Jimmy Stewart would come down about midnight to join him.

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    After their arrival, the stars were treated to a cocktail luncheon with the Governor and others. Otto Preminger was pretty smart about promoting the movie. He had the arrival filmed and shown on the Ed Sullivan show along with some scenes from the initial shooting.

    Jimmy Stewart went trout fishing with Voelker and they got back late with their catch. Jimmy insisted that the Mather call in their cook to prepare the trout they caught for a late dinner. She did so but later pointed out that Jimmy never tipped her for making a special trip to come in and cook for him late at night.

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    Within a day or two they took the cast over to Suicide Hill for a little entertainment watching ski fliers.

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    A lot of mine rock piled up in the area.

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    In the movie Jimmy and Art O'Connell are filmed in a law library doing research. The library scenes were shot here at the library right next to the Mather in Ishpeming. It is also a block from Voelker's house and he was a lifetime patron there.

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    The movie shows the judge opening a door to peer into the library. He was actually opening the door to a rest room in the Marquette Courthouse.

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    Law books had to be shipped into the Ishpeming library from the university to use as props in the scene.

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    The library was in lock down due to COVID. Otherwise you can go inside and take a look at the scene.

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    Voelker used to hang out here. There is memorabilia on the walls. Some of the stars hung here as well. All things in town are pretty close to the Mather.

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    Some of the stars hung out at Jack's TeePee Bar as well. There was another favorite club that I'll cover in another post. At the time this was named Nault's Bar. The scene where Jimmy Stewart finds out about the murder case was filmed in this bar.

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    In the opening highway scene, you can see some of the local mine towers in the picture. These range from about 100-175 feet high.

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    There are 65 miles of shafts under Ishpeming down to a depth of 1,358'. This was one of Michigan's largest iron mines. There is a museum here and you can take some tours.
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    The movie premiered locally at this theater.

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    What is remarkable about this movie is that it was soundtracked and edited and ready to show less than a month after the shooting was over here in MI.

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    The world premiere was in Detroit on Jul 1st 1959. Keep in mind that the cast and crew arrived here in Ishpeming in March of 1959.
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    More on Ishpeming in a bit . . .
    #15
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  16. DaveJ_U.P.Rider

    DaveJ_U.P.Rider Adventurer

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    Very good stuff and great report !! It was nice to meet also on your way through Marquette. We take for granted some of the cool things here in the U.P. just because we live here and this is one of them. Here is cool fact, I know the local man that played the murder victim. His name is Robert (Bob) Brebner, he is a local businessman and I've worked with him over years on projects at his office and his home. He's a great guy, a friend, and a pleasure to work with and be around. I have not seen Bob in a couple years or so now, I believe he's 92 or 93 years young. Here is a clip / quote from Bob out of the Detroit News from some years back.

    Ishpeming businessman Robert B. Brebner played the victim. “As a matter of fact,” he laughed in a 1959 interview, “I’m dead before the film starts!

    I was at the Lumberjack with a group snowmobile ride last winter, the owner opened early for lunch when he saw us all pull in. Very nice guy and good food! Both the Thunder Bay Inn & the Lumberjack were closed this spring when I was up there on my bike because of C-19. I've spent a lot of time in Big Bay over the years, it's a great destination and a lot of history. Lots of time spent at the Landmark Inn as well, we had my oldest Daughters wedding reception there.

    Here is a link to watch Jeff Daniels do the Big Bay Shuffle. :-)

    #16
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  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Ishpeming continued . . .

    Voelker's house. A block from the library and the Mather Inn.

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    Voelker offered the use of his house for the home law office of the defense attorney (Jimmy Stewart).

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    Voelker was a supreme court justice in MI.

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    A scene from inside the house.

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    #17
  18. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Super Ordinary

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    I'd forgotten how much I liked the film...came across it one evening randomly and watched it through. Thanks for writing this up!
    #18
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  19. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer Supporter

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    Fun stuff. Thanks for putting that together.
    #19
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  20. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Ishpeming, continued . . .

    This used to be the Roosevelt Night Club. Now it is a printing business. The Roosevelt was a pretty nice place. Apparently the cast felt the same way when they were in town. Duke Ellington celebrated his 60th birthday here.

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    The place was open by appointment only due to COVID. When I entered the business I saw these signatures on the wall. They are reproductions.

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    There used to be an exclusive room to entertain down in the basement of the business. Since it was private, the cast sometimes gathered there.

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    Behind some dark curtains covering the wall, there is a collection of signatures from the cast.

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    Bloody Frankie was the paymaster for the troupe. He told the cast that if they didn't sign the wall they wouldn't get paid when the filming was over.

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    That is Duke Ellington's signature up in the corner.

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    Hope Bryce handled the wardrobe for the film. She was regarded as the most beautiful woman present on the project. Shortly after the film, the Director (Otto Preminger) married her.

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    Continued . . .
    #20
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