As long as I've been watching films noir, I've been aware of a series of short movies (they run about 60 minutes) made in the 1940's featuring a character named "the Whistler." I've avoided these until now because I've had bigger fish to fry. But last night I watched the first installment. A review is here; it was pretty good. Very high on style and mystery. The Whistler is an interesting character. He lurks primarily as a shadow on dark city streets wearing a fedora and appears at critical junctures in the story; he also provides opening and closing narration. As his name suggests, his presence is felt when he whistles an odd, mournful tune.
Is he a supernatural being of some kind? A watcher? The narrative heart of film noir? I should mention that he was originally a radio character - which explains the whistling. I bet those old shows were pretty evocative.
I ran an old photo on my Burbankia page yesterday, an overhead view of the Wanamaker Rents lot with Burbank Ford seen at the left edge of the image. My family bought two cars at that Ford dealership, a 1966 Mustang and a 1972 LTD Brougham. I blogged about the LTD on my birthday this year - it was a fondly remembered car.
The Mustang we had was a butter colored car (just like the one shown above) with an inline six cylinder engine. For some reason, probably cost, my parents didn't opt to get one with the famous 289 CID V-8. But the six was pretty strong. I recall my Dad tromping the accelerator one day on the freeway. We got from 50 to 90 pretty quickly.
Ours had a black interior, and most of the time I sat in the back, which was fine when we first bought the car (I was ten). However, by the time I turned thirteen or so and my legs started growing it became seriously cramped in that back seat! I recall a 1967 trip to Las Vegas in that car... we noticed a family broken down along the side of the road, and offered to drive them to the nearest gas station. There was a very tall father and his tall wife, and a little kid. To this day I don't know how we managed to get four adults and two kids in that Mustang... but it was a pretty close and sweaty experience. They owned a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Encino. When we got to the gas station the dad said, "I won't insult you by offering you money ("What insult?," I thought), but here's my business card. Come in and get a bucket of chicken," which is what we later did.
It was cool to have a Mustang in 1966 - the car was still enough of a novelty that we'd see people driving other Mustangs and we would wave to one another, like we were a part of a big, hip, with-it segment of the American car-buying population. My parents. Hip. That would never happen again!
From the wikipedia entry for Gulf Oil: "Gulf No-Nox gasoline was promoted with a bucking horse leaving an imprint of two horseshoes. Several promotions centered around the two horseshoes. In 1966 bright orange 3-D plastic self-adhesive horseshoes for your bumper were given away." We put these on the rear of our car, as did many other Southern California Mustang drivers... I thought it was cool, horseshoes for the Mustang. Get it? Now I look at them and think, "Ugh. Tacky." A lot of the time we also had a foam Union 76 ball atop our antenna. I discovered that if you inserted a firecracker into one of these it could be lobbed satisfyingly like a hand grenade, producing a nice fragmentation burst of white foam.
For some odd reason I also recall the name of the Burbank Ford salesman who sold us the Mustang, Al Zoltz. Al Zoltz Lightning Bolts I called him (but not to his face).
I first learned to drive in the Mustang, and used it for my driving test. However I did a "California Stop" (a roll through) at one intersection with a stop sign, and failed the test. When I retook it a week or so later in our new LTD I passed with flying colors.
I ran some amusing old Los Angeles Times columns about Burbank's Fawkes Folly monorail to my Burbank site (scroll to bottom).
I'm pretty much done with J.W. Fawkes for now.
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