Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dragnet, Frivolous Sal, and Wallace?

Tuesday quiz. What does the television show,Dragnet, the 1950's version, Frivolous Sal, and Wallace have in common? Well, fooled you on that one, right? We old timers know that Dante's Peak was not the first movie filmed in Wallace. We know that part of the box office bust, Heaven Gate was filmed here, but how many of you knew that in 1924 a silent movie was filmed in Wallace that featured a young Ben Alexander, known to Dragnet followers as Officer Frank Smith, Sgt Joe Friday's partner before Harry Morgan took over in the 1967 version. The scenes were mostly shot at the site of the old Interstate Mine.

The movie, labeled as a Western, and also known as " Flaming Love, starred Eugene Obrien,Mae Busch as Sal, Ben Alexander, Tom Santschi, Mitchell Lewis, and Mildred Harris. The crew spent about three weeks in Wallace filming the movie, and was a very exciting time for Wallace residents, and no, I was not born yet, (:)

Here is a little synopsis of Flaming Love, AKA, Frivolous Sal


Australian actress Mae Busch was the Frivolous Sal of the title in this melodrama in a western setting. Saloon-owner Sal married a handsome actor (Eugene O'Brien), whose young son (Ben Alexander) mightily disapproved of. So did mine-foreman Tom Santschi, who wanted Sal all to himself and attempted to break up the marriage. There is a sub-plot concerning stolen gold, but true love once again wins out over avarice. Both Eugene O'Brien and Mae Busch were experiencing a career slump when this film was made, he due mainly to his advancing years, she because of a much-publicized affair with producer Mack Sennett

One of the most dramatic scenes of the movie was a fight scene filmed at the Interstate in a tramway ore bucket. Mrs. Geroge Zeller, who lived across the street from me when I was growing up on Cedar Street had this to say about the scene in a piece in the Spokane Chronicle. 


It was barely off the ground when the fight was staged, but when it was shown in the movie, it was a hundred feet in the air.
The director was Victor Schwertziner was who ' Later went on the fame and fortune by writing the scores for many of Grace's More's musicals and by directing such pictures as the Hope/Cosby Road Pictures. 

Yes, it must have been exciting in those early Wallace days. According to Mrs. Zeller, the producer and writer of the movie told the locals that he thought many movies would be filmed in Wallace in the future. His career as a psychic was a bust.

So, Wallace may not have become Hollywood North, but, we did become the 'CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.

Mae Busch-Sal

Ben Alexander

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