Cinecon Film Festival 2019 just finished and to those that know the festival well, are always enlightened by the rare or never before seen classic films being shown on the “big screen” at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The highlight for us was to see Jack Pickford’s “Burglar by Proxy” which just had its 100th anniversary on August 24.
If you have ever seen Jack Pickford in any of his movies, you’ve been amazed by how natural of an actor he was and have recognized his American boy next door demeanor.
In Burglar by Proxy, Pickford appears as Jack Robin in a story of a boy and girl struck by Spring fever in the air. Jack is a Romeo at heart but ends up being a Jimmy Valentine by circumstance. In reviews from when the movie was first released, the movie was often described as a comedy drama of smiles and thrills. The wonderful plot and story were written by Jack Dillon, who staged and directed the feature, and who incidentally plays the important role of the professional burglar (or yegg as they called it), “Spider”. The cast was specially selected by Jack Pickford through his own production company.
In summary, poor Jack is attacked by the well-known society ailments, spring fever, love, a flat tire on his roadster, and a terrible toothache at the same time.
As I watched the movie, I tried to identify with the location of where the movie was filmed. I thought I noticed a few clues, so when I came home, I watched an unrestored print of the film that is on YouTube by the Eye Film Museum in the Netherlands. The first clue was when the burglars were holding Jack at gunpoint to climb the house into his sweetheart’s room in a scheme they were plotting. In the distance, you can see what appears to be the Beverly Hills Hotel. Knowing that in 1919 there were very few homes in the area of the hotel, it made it simpler to identify the home. In Marc Wanamaker’s book, “Early Beverly Hills” there is a photo of the home that appeared in the movie. The home? The Burton Green Estate.
Burton Green was the founder of Beverly Hills and built his estate behind the Beverly Hills Hotel on Lexington Road between 1912 and 1914.
The address for the Burton Green estate (and where the original gate is located) was initially 1601 Lexington Road, Beverly Hills. But since the home has overgone drastic changes and remodel, the entrance is now on Cove Way.
When we went to visit this location, we were able to identify the initial gate on the corner of Lexington and Oxford Way, however, the gates have been cemented off and several layers of overgrowth trees and plants block all views of the home and the initial driveway is no more.
Beverly Hills Hotel in background with flag on the roof
Marc Wanamaker’s image of Burton Green’s home in “Early Beverly Hills” book and Jack’s roadster parked alongside the estate in “Burglar by Proxy”
How the gates look today.
Gloria Hope’s character running out through the gates
Looking towards where Beverly Hills Hotel is located. Trees have grown and new homes built so you can no longer see the hotel from this point of view.
After moving some of the overgrowth of plants, you can see the gate design
Jack driving down Lexington Road in Beverly Hills not far from his sister’s Pickfair estate