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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Changeling stories -- Part I


Police Capt. Jones and LAPD officers search the lake in Lincoln Park for the body of Walter Collins, Los Angeles Times, April 6, 1928.

The boy claiming to be Walter Collins poses with Christine Collins, Aug. 18, 1928

Several regular readers have asked to see the original stories that formed the basis of the current movie "Changeling," written by J. Michael Straczynski and directed by Clint Eastwood. The movie's website is here>>>

Alas, The Times published far more stories than I can ever upload to the Daily Mirror. Over the next few days, I'll try to post a few of them just to give a sample of the coverage--and of course the competition also filed stories that would only be available on microfilm at the Los Angeles Public Library.

The Times stories are available from The Times archive or via ProQuest from the Los Angeles Public Library (you will need a library card to sign in). 

Photo of the real Walter Collins

A Glendale service station attendant says he saw the missing boy in the back of a car.
Police suspect kidnapping is retaliation against boy's father, a Folsom inmate.
Missing boy found in DeKalb, Ill., refuses to identify "daddy."
"I do not think that is my boy," Christine Collins says.
Police insist boy is Walter Collins despite statements that he was killed.
Mother returns boy, saying he's not her son.
Handwriting expert says boy is not Walter Collins.

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Comments (42)

This is the best movie I have seen in a long time.Clint Eastwood, you did a terrific Job presenting the real life drama of Christine Collins and all related events occurring at that time,ie.corruption and evil. God bless all victims and their falilies, then and now. Great job Angelina & cast.& crew. I have recommended this movie to many co-workers,family and friends. Definately an Academy Award Winner-for the movie,Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie.

These are some really great articles. Thank you.

I've just seen the movie and wrote the newspapwers notes ... It was a great movie but I can't stop thinking: the evidences said that there were 3-4 crimes, or in the movie it is said about 20!! Did I miss something? What do you, guys, think about?


I thought the movie was wonderful.Very disturbing at times,but left me wondering a lot about the real story.I'll definately have to look in to it!

This story just goes to show us all how there are so many horrific events happen and how unaware we all can be. The media plays a tremendous role in how we get most of our information. Watching this movie just brought chills down my spine, thinking about the re-awakening this old story and how it becomes alive again. Its almost as ms. Collins is speaking from her grave, telling us as a society to wake up and work together for fighting in all justice for any defenseless children. There are so many missing children in this world and its so scary to know that this is
what goes on behind the scenes. There are actually real
live lunatics and the horror films we see are based on
some sick and twisted reality somewhere in this world.
For all those defenseless and innocent childrens souls we hope you are at rest. All those evil and psychotic murders burn in hell if you dont pray for mercy and forgivness. One day we'll see Walter Collins in heaven reunited with his mother.

I saw the movie and thought it was wonderful, wish they had put a little more about the murders in Wineville, But to comment on the views that " Lincoln Heights" was not accurate, well those scenes where filmed in The city of San Dimas, my city! U see shots of downtown Old San Dimas wich is on Bonita ave, Christines house is on 2nd st., its the house next to the church, the trolley scences where filmed on San Dimas ave, and the alley scence was shot on a small street passing 5th st. Thank You Mr. Eastwood for picking our pretty little town and hope u decide to come back and film here again!!!!!

Just saw the DVD "Changeling" - great story, wanted to see if Angellna deservde the oscar nomination. Researching the story, well, the movie is quite different from the actual history - "Its don't think its the same story!" Someone code 12 me please!

Excellent movie. So many twists and turns, even after everything started to die down. Does anybody besides me think it' strange that Christine Collins passed away about 7 years after all this happened? How did this vivacious young woman die so young?

I have to say that this movie was a lot better than I expected. I'm so glad I rented it last night! Angelina Jolie is one of my favorite actresses and now she is my all time favorite actress. It wasn't too Hollywood, but of course it left out a couple of facts, but I understand the whole story now that I read Wikipedia.

I saw the movie last week and although I found it disturbing, it was undoubtedly one of the best movies I've seen. Clint is a extremely talented director. Definitely Oscar material. What I truly don't understand is people on this blog speaking negatively of Angelina. She is obviously a very talented actress. I have seen most of her movies and have yet to see one that she wasn't outstanding in.

i just finished watching the movie, reading some comments and reviews and also looking at some research on the subject. i have to say that i really did not believe that this movie was based on true events. i remember seeing or reading somewhere that "based on true events" doesnt actually mean that the supposed events happened; generally used for ratings and such. i have to admit, as disturbing as the facts were, my eyes stayed glued to my laptop screen....intriguing movie. riviteing performances...angelina jolie was an absolute knockout in this film. im a huge fan so naturally anything she plays in, im wathcing!

i also wanted to piggyback on a comment that someone else wrote on this site about the facts of the movie and its inaccuracies. lets keep in mind that although based on true events people, it is still a movie. understand that some things may need to be changed for anothers' protection, or just to simply save time. it is a lot to put into 2 hours.

Nothing has been written about what happened to the Clark boy who helped Northcott with the murders. Anyone know what happened to him?

I hope that Ms. Collins and her son Walter are together tonight

Can you imagine so large and interested attendance at essentially a police corruption trial today?

I tend to view the inaccuracies as intentions of the movie. Namely that men are the perps of societal and human evil (the police, the killer). A story demonstrative of such evil leaves out the facts that Northcutt's murderous mother got out on parole after 12 years despite her participation. Funny how you don't hear equal rights advocates even today shouting for equality in crime sentences.

By Hollywood standards, the film was very accurate. Sure they took some liberties (killer's mother helped and she's not even in the story, boy's father was in prison, fake boy confessed while she was in the psychiatric hospital -- not after), but the key facts are mostly there. And the main plot lines (corruption, female oppression) are spot on.



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