The Del Rio - Gibbons House: Made for black and white?

In Hollywood, if what you're doing is not in front of the camera, what's the point?

No one knew better how to design for the screen than MGM Art Director Cedric Gibbons and the house he built for himself and movie star wife Dolores Del Rio was custom-made for a cinematic life. (Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for real life as they divorced in 1941.)

This 1930s masterpiece of Deco has all the high style flourishes we would hope for: mirrors everywhere, shiny surfaces gratis of a polished black rubber floor, and mysterious zig-zag walls and staircases that hint at glamorous intrigues. I firmly believe that this house was made to be seen in black and white - which was how everything was photographed in the 1930s. (Click here and here for a fascinating post from Mrs. Blandings about seeing rooms in b&w vs. color.)

Compare these period photographs when CG and DDR lived here to the house in the 1980s when owned by Adelle and Ira Yellin to now as decorated by Michael Smith for movie producer Joe Roth. What do you think?

In 1980.... photographed by the genius Derry Moore for the book The Dream Come True: Great Houses of Los Angeles (which I just rushed out and bought after reading Nick Harvill's book list for The Peak of Chic)

Derry also captured some of the rooms in b&w:

In the hands of Michael Smith, courtesy of Scott Frances for Architectural Digest....

Some may think Smith an unlikely choice for this Deco time capsule, but I think he acquitted himself well. However, I might have not as put as much furniture in the room above....