They should earn an A for knowing what makes a good story.
Students in Santa Monica College's Media 20 class, a course on history-communications, picked some of the Westside's most provocative pieces of history—from gambling ships that once operated 3 miles off the coast of Santa Monica to the early days of movie-making in Culver City—for a series of mini documentaries they wrote, shot and produced.
Their five short videos were made in the fall 2012 semester and posted recently to the college's YouTube channel
Narrated by Larry Balmagia and set to black and white photos and ragtime music, the most popular video (with 15,900 views), "Gambling Ships of the Santa Monica Bay," focuses on bootlegger and gambling entrepreneur Tony Cornero.
Balmagia says fun-seekers would line up “four abreast” at the end of the Santa Monica Pier to take water taxis to Cornero's floating casinos.
“It was legal gambling. You could get great food out there, there was entertainment, bands and singers,” the narrator says. Cornero “made $300,000 a month just on gambling—that was 1938.”
The other videos are: "Douglas' Angels," about the Rosie the Riveters of Santa Monica; "Venice Beach: Changing Tides," a glimpse at the community's start as a resort town; "MGM & Culver City;" and "Santa Monica Pier & Main."