Easter at the Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl has held historic performances from Olivia de Havilland and Mickey Rooney in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1934 to the Beatles in 1964 and 1965.

It also holds an Easter sunrise service every year.

The tradition started in 1919 when silent film stars held a sunrise service near the area of the Hollywood Bowl. The service was then moved to the site in 1921, when the Bowl was basically a rocky, weedy hillside that had excellent natural acoustics, according to the Hollywood Bowl’s website.

Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1921.

Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1921.

At the 1921 service, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed and over 800 people attended.

In 1922, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed for 50,000 at the Easter Service and the Hollywood Bowl officially opened four months later on July 11, 1922.

Easter Service in 1922 with 50,000 people in attendance.

Easter Service in 1922 with 50,000 people in attendance.

The shell on the stage at the Hollywood Bowl was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, in 1928 but seems to have been removed for the service.

Hollywood Bowl Easter service in 1928

Hollywood Bowl Easter service in 1928

The Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service is held every year but has been canceled at least three times in recent years: in the mid-1990s for renovations, 2010 due to lack of funding and 2012 for maintenance on the Hollywood Bowl, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Ariel view of the 1929 Easter service

Ariel view of the 1929 Easter service

Mary Pickford attends the Hollywood Bowl Easter Service in 1953 on her 61 birthday. She is recites the "Salutation to the Dawn."

Mary Pickford recites “Salutation to the Dawn” in 1953 on her 61 birthday.

17,000 attend the service in 1956

17,000 attend the service in 1956

Easter service in 1962

Easter service in 1962

Happy Easter everyone!

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It is finished: Happy Easter with religious movies

WordPress offers several awesome features for it’s users.  My favorite is “Site Stats” where you can see how many views you got that day, where they are coming from, links clicked and keywords searched that brought people to my blog.

Today when I looked at the site stats and keyword searches, I just shook my head.  One of the searches was “Is Easter biblical?” Why yes, yes it is. It’s the most important holiday in the Christian faith. Here are some of my favorite religious movies (as promised yesterday) that show this.

Barbara Stanwyck and David Manners in “Miracle Woman”

The Miracle Woman (1931): Barbara Stanwyck is the daughter of a minister whose fatal heart attack is caused by his ungrateful congregation.  Stanwyck loses her faith and takes up with a con man who hires her to heal the blind and crippled in his evangelical road shows.  A blind man (played by attractive David Manners) is about to commit suicide but stops when he hears The Miracle Woman on the radio.  Manners seeks her out and they fall in love, helping each other to restore their faith in God and humanity. This is actually one of my favorite Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Capra movies.  It has a really good story and several intense moments.

•One Foot in Heaven (1941): This movie takes place in America during the turn of the century until the 1940s. It isn’t set in Biblical times, but it shows the sacrifices a minister and his family makes for their parish and faith. From having to put up with roofs with 16 leaks, hand me downs from the women in the church and rumors about your children, Fredric March’s character and his wife Martha Scott never yield to the temptation of giving up the parish. “One Foot in Heaven” is a really heartwarming story and is actually one of my favorites. March’s character is human and does feel downtrodden by a greedy congregation, but he never completely loses sight of what is important.

The Song of Bernadette (1943): This movie isn’t based in Biblical times, but has to do with the sacrifices a French peasant girl sees a vision of the Virgin Mary. Officials think she is crazy, she gains followers in the town and the church denounces her. However, Bernadette (played by the beautiful Jennifer Jones) overcomes it all and becomes a nun. This isn’t directly related to Easter but is inspiring none the less.  Miss Jones won her Oscar for this movie and she did a wonderful job.

Ben-Hur, his mother and sister watch as Jesus carries the cross.

Ben-Hur (1959): This is an all around beautiful movie. Not just because of the elaborate sets, outstanding Technicolor and Charlton Heston’s good looks, but because of the over all message. The movie mainly focuses on the journey that begins when Juda Ben-Hur has the misfortune of being wrongly accused for murder. However,  Jesus has a large role in Ben-Hur’s journey. Jesus gives Ben-Hur water while he is on a chain with other prisoners and dying of thirst.  Later Ben-Hur has gained his high status again and sees Jesus being sentenced by Pontius Pilate. He watched as Jesus carries the cross and when Jesus stumbles, Ben-Hur tries to help him (which of course gets him in a bit of trouble). After Jesus dyes, there is a terrible storm (which symbolizes God’s anger). Ben-Hur’s mother and sister who were lepers, have their skin washed clean. The film is very moving and I don’t really see how either “Titanic” or “The Lord of the Rings” measures up Oscar wise (they both seem a bit frivolous in comparison).

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Jack Carson is the Easter bunny this year…

Since Easter is tomorrow, I wanted to do a post today and tomorrow. Today’s will be contemporary Easter in films complete with dying eggs, Easter bunnies and large bonnets. Tomorrow’s post will focus on the religious and Biblical aspect of the holiday.

Judy Garland and Fred Astaire posing for the photographers in “Easter Parade”

Easter Parade (1948): Who saw that coming?  This is probably the only feature film that isn’t set in Biblical times that prominately features Easter throughout the movie.  Though the movie really isn’t about Easter and its importance, it begins and ends with the holiday and the prominance of being featured in the newspaper while walking in the “Easter parade” in one’s Sunday best.  The actual film is about show business and how back stabbing dance partners can be when you are trying to hit it big with the Ziegfeld Follies.
This is a great favorite at my house. It has a wonderful cast, several funny scenes and one of the best musical soundtracks you can find. Below is a clip from the beginning of the movie featuring the songs “Happy Easter” and “Drum Crazy.” Unfortunately, Youtube didn’t have the famous “Easter Parade” scene at the end.

My Dream Is Yours  (1949): You may think: What? Isn’t this a Lee Bowman-Jack Carson-Doris Day remake of “Twenty Million Sweethearts”? Why yes, yes it is, but there is a VERY humorous scene where Doris Day’s son, Freddie has a dream the night before Easter. Doris and her soon to be boyfriend Jack Carson are dressed up like Easter bunnies and singing and dancing with Bugs Bunny. I really like this movie, Doris looks beautiful and the plot is a bit more serious than “Twenty Million Sweethearts.”  However,  singing like Easter rabbits is a bit silly. Before the dream, Freddie and Doris also dye Easter eggs, and that’s about all there is to the Easter references.

Other than those two films, there aren’t many films that focus a significant amount of time on Easter in contemporary time. I searched Easter as a keyword on IMDB, other films that feature the holiday are:
What Price Hollywood (1932): In this “A Star Is Born” take off, I think Constance Bennett’s husband either tries to commit suicide or dies on Easter, but I don’t remember clearly.
Holiday Inn (1942): This should come as no surprise. Bing sings Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” song in the film that features every other holiday under the sun.
Peyton Place (1957): I think Allison goes to pick up Selena for Easter service, and Selena’s step-father was trying to make a move on her.

It’s disheartening that Easter is in so few films. I know Lent isn’t as exciting a holiday season as Advent, but Easter is a much more important holiday than Christmas. We will explore this more tomorrow in the Biblical representation of Easter in films.

Stay tuned for tomorrow!

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