Continue

The Oviatt Building

They called it “the castle of our dreams”, and to this day, visitors and passing onlookers gaze up at the Romanesque Art Deco marvel at 617 South Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles with wonder. The history of the James Oviatt Building spans a century, beginning when it’s creator arrived in Los Angeles as a window dresser, with an eccentric taste for male fashion and glamour. Virtually a second home to Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and other male stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, the Oviatt Building housed L.A.’s finest haberdashery and catered to filmdom’s titans. In this feature length documentary, director Seth M. Shulman and writer/producer Marc Chevalier unearth misinformation that has been recorded and interview the many people that helped shaped the building’s past and future.

The Oviatt Building is Puzzled Picture’s first feature. It took almost a year to produce, not long by documentary standards but gave way to bringing the secrets of the building and it’s owner to lovers of Los Angeles history, Art Deco & architecture. Before it’s premiere screening, The Cicada Club housed an 80th Anniversary celebration high atop the opulent penthouse of the Oviatt Building on April 27th, 2008. There developer Wayne Ratkovich & architect Brenda Levin were honored for their restoration of the structure. It was also the first glimpse of the documentary, screened in the rooms of the penthouse as the celebration occurred. Later that year, the film had it’s premiere at the historic Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to an audience of over 200. The event, sponsored by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, was a tremendous success. The film left the public eye in 2010, and has not seen an wide audience since. Presently, the film is being restored to it’s original widescreen format, so that it may show a larger scope of the building’s history.

Visit the READ section for articles on the documentary and the building.

 

Directed by
Seth Shulman

Executive Producer
Marc Chevalier

Camera operators
James Armstead
N. Chaz Bowie II

Narrated by
Lena Purtu

Camera Assistants
Pharaoh Armstead
Sumit Bhagi
Robert Mackey

B-Roll and Additional Footage
Seth Shulman

Sound
Pharaoh Armstead
Seth Shulman

Motion Graphics
Roldan Galvez
Christopher Duguay

Music performed by
Mora’s Modern Rhythmists
Additional Music
Seth Shulman

Research and Documentation
Marc Chevalier

Cast

Victor Arzate
Jennifer Balzer
Sharon Oviatt Cook
Suzanne Tarbell Cooper
Marilyn Oviatt Cowley
Gayle L. Oviatt Crisnon
Rory Cunningham
Maxwell DeMille
Amy Ronnebeck Hall
Brenda Levin
Virgil Mirano
Wayne Ratkovich
Marilyn Rosov
Marc Chevalier

We would like to thank the following people for their invaluable contributions to this documentary:

Victor Arzate
Jennifer Balzer
Sharon Oviatt Cook
Suzanne Tarbell Cooper
Marilyn Oviatt Cowley
Gayle L. Oviatt Crisnon
Rory Cunningham
Maxwell DeMille
John Firmin, aka ‘Johnny Nocturne’, tenor saxophonist
Amy Ronnebeck Hall
Robert Hanasab
Robin Hanasab
Virginia Hardy
Anne Laskey
Brenda Levin
Joe Lopez
Nathan Marsak
Jean Clyde Mason
Benjamin McGinty
Virgil Mirano
Dean Mora
Wayne Ratkovich
Marilyn Rosov
Catherine Vincent-Dolor
Mark Wanamaker
Adelmo Zarif
Jeff & Rivi Shulman
David Massey
Joey Travolta

We would like to thank the following institutions and businesses for their invaluable contributions to this documentary:

The Art Deco Society of Los Angeles
Blue Bucket Records
The Brooklyn Museum Library
The California Historical Society
The California State Library
Cicada Restaurant
Corbis Corporation
The Johnny Nocturne Band
Lalique S.A.
Levin & Associates Architects
Los Angeles Central Library
The Los Angeles Conservancy
Los Angeles County Law Library
The Los Angeles Times
M &Y Management
Mora’s Modern Rhythmists
Mora’s Modern Swingtet
Mr. Ace Records
The Ratkovich Company (TRC)

  • November Touch

  • Haunting 307

  • The Cicada Club