Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Gone Hollywood

On a recent trip to Los Angeles (Hollywood no less), I took the opportunity to do some film-related stuff and visit places connected to Shocks To The System.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery entrance on Santa Monica Boulevard

Hall of David: resting place of Edgar G. Ulmer

Fay Wray's grave

First on the list was a trip to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to see the final resting places of some horror movie luminaries. Hollywood Forever is a pleasant green sanctuary off Santa Monica Boulevard and situated behind Paramount Studios. Amongst those laid to rest in the cemetery are Maila Nurmi (AKA ‘Vampira’), Darren ‘Kolchak’ McGavin, Peter Lorre, composer of ‘Bride of Frankenstein’, Franz Waxman, ‘Ruby’ director Curtis Harrington, director of the 1941 ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, Victor Fleming, ‘Black Cat’ director Edgar G. Ulmer and star of ‘Mystery of the Wax Museum’ and ‘King Kong’, the original scream-queen, Fay Wray.

4565 Dundee Drive: James Whale's home in the 1930s

On my way to visit Pasadena, I stopped off in the Los Feliz district to visit the home of James Whale. Situated at 4565 Dundee Drive, the ‘Villa Sophia’ is a magnificent Mediterranean house that was Whale’s residence in the 1930s while making ‘Frankenstein’ and ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’. This photograph taken from Dundee Drive does not do justice to the size and scale of the place, but you can see more photographs that show the sheer scope of it by following this link.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard

When James Whale first arrived in Hollywood, he stayed here at the Roosevelt Hotel. The Roosevelt also housed the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. The hotel is famously said to be haunted by the ghosts of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift, and was the inspiration for the film '1408'.
Cecil DeMille's Barn : the first Hollywood Studio

Door to DeMille's Office

Cecil B. DeMille's office in the Barn

Although not horror-related, I just had to visit this old barn situated on North Highland Avenue. It was the first film studio in Hollywood, built by Jesse Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille for the filming of the first-ever feature length film, The Squaw Man (1913). Now the Hollywood Heritage Museum, the barn still houses a recreation of DeMille’s Production Office, as well as other film memorabilia including a shrine to Rudolph Valentino.
Musso and Frank's: legendary Hollywood restaurant

Inside Musso and Frank's

Back on Hollywood Boulevard, for lunch in The Musso and Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. It is also famous as being the drinking den of choice for veteran scriptwriters such as Raymond Chandler and William Faulkner. It is the place where Paul Schrader and Brian De Palma first dreamed up the idea for Obsession (1976). Well worth a visit, it retains the genteel charm of Old Hollywood and the waiting staff all seem to be well into geriatric-age with plenty of tales to tell of days gone by.
Exterior of Larry Edmunds Bookstore

Inside Larry Edmunds.

Practically opposite Musso and Frank’s is another Hollywood institution, Larry Edmunds’ Bookshop, an absolute treasure trove of rare and second hand movie books and Hollywood memorabilia, lobby cards, movie posters and scripts. This is the place to go if you need something out of print and Larry has now got a website going which you can visit here.

Samuel French on Sunset Boulevard

The film section inside French's Bookshop

Another famous movie bookshop is Samuel French located on Sunset Boulevard. The shop is divided into two main rooms: Theatre and Film. The film section has pretty much everything you could ask for including an extensive horror and cult film section. I bought a copy of Jason Zinoman’s account of 1970s horror, Shock Value (review to follow).
The American Cinematheque on Hollywood Boulevard

The Cinematheque is house inside Grauman's Egyptian Theatre

Showing a Ken Russell tribute

On Hollywood Boulevard again, I was very impressed by the American Cinematheque. Housed at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque is a non-profit cultural organisation devoted to the presentation of film in all its forms, from the classics to fringe cinema. I was disappointed to miss a screening of Vertigo in 70mm but delighted to see a Ken Russell retrospective this month that includes a screening of The Devils – although I’m not sure which version. Check out their website here.
1537 Orange Grove Avenue

Across the street: 1530 Orange Grove Avenue

Of course Los Angeles is itself a museum in terms of movie locations, many of which are instantly recognisable. But I was surprised and delighted to discover that John Carpenter filmed some of the most famous scenes in Halloween only two roads away from my sister-in-law’s house, here on Orange Grove Avenue, just off Sunset Boulevard.

Anyone interested in finding out more about movie locations in Los Angeles should check out Robby Cress’s excellent blog Dear Old Hollywood.


Wes M said...

A wonderful post Jon, and I am completely jealous - I was in Los Angeles a few years ago but didn't do any movie stuff to my eternal regret. I remember visting Larry Edmunds’ Bookshop and being quite overwhelmed by the wealth of film books - I'm trying to recall what I picked up in there - maybe a Fassbinder book, but I rememeber being impressed by the amount of Faber director-on-director books they had. LA was a tough town to get around - I had planned a pilgrimage to Benedict Canyon, scene of the Manson murders (I have a bit of a Manson obsession) but got lost along the way, and my wife lost patience. I'll never forget my first introduction to LA - we hired a car in San Francisco and drove to the city. Nearing our hotel, we got stuck in traffic and suddenly a guy spills out onto the street with a gun followed by a few cops leaping over some cars... we were instantly nervous, but of course it turned out to be a film shoot (for TV I think it was). What did you make of the whole LA experience ?

Jon T said...

My sister-in-law lives in West Hollywood so when we go over it's like stepping into another world. It's just great seeing places like Malibu, Venice Beach, Santa Monica - all the places you read about as a kid connected to the movies. We went up to San Francisco last year - drove up on the pacific coast highway stopping of in Carmel. We couldn't get into see Alcatraz but managed to find some of the locations from Vertigo, and had a good look round Haight-Ashbury - which was fascinating. I was planning to go up to Cielo drive to the Polanski house, but I understand it's been demolished. Next time I'd quite like to have a tour of USC and see the film school that Carpenter and George Lucas went to. Last year we were having a drink in Barney's Beanery. There was a guy sitting alone at a table, typing into a palm-top; I looked again and realised it was Quentin Tarantino!
I know what you mean about that paranoid feeling, though, especially Downtown. A few days after we came back we heard that an arsonist had been setting light to cars at random around Hollywood. But, as far as I can tell, people are more in danger of earthquakes than riots.

Wes M said...

Yep, I agree, LA really has a mythical status, but I really loved San Francisco the best for its relaxed bohemian atmosphere, and of course it's the home of The Grateful Dead. We did the Alcatraz tour (our second prison visit after Robin Island in Cape Town!) and it's highly recommended. I sat in Al Capone's cell (tiny) and was locked in solitary confinement for 2mins (a strangely unnerving experience). I picked up some books at City Lights as well (I'm a Beat fan) but was very disappointed with the Castro - I was hoping to see some raving queens parading up and down on the main strip, but it was totally empty on the Sunday morning we went up there (maybe it was a bad time). Rather appropriately the Cinema on the Castro was showing Godfather 1... So did you say hi to Tarantino or did you play it kool and the gang ? I would have been waaay too starstruck and tongue-tied to go up to him...

James Gracey said...

Cool photos! I got particularly excited when I saw your pics of Hall of David (just rewatched Edgar G. Ulmer's The Black Cat) and the streets where Carpenter shot Halloween. Beautiful stuff. I've never been to America, though I do hope to go there one day. I can only imagine how cool it must be to be able to so readily access all these places immortalised in film.

Thanks so much for sharing these! :)

Jon T said...

@Wes, I literally did a double-take when I saw him, but it is not considered the done thing to hassle the celebs! The funny thing is though, that he came back into the place later on because he had lost his parking ticket and started looking around for it on the floor! We all felt compelled to help him find it (which we did in the end) but it was highly bizarre!

I took some photos of the Grateful Dead house, also Janis Joplin's house (and the house across the road from them that was the Hells Angel's HQ) so will post them up sometime!

@James, next to the Hall of David is another mausoleum which houses the remains of Rudolph Valentino! - with a shrine left by his adoring fans! Yes, it was amazing when I discovered that Carpenter shot most of the last sequence of Halloween only TWO STREETS AWAY from my sister-in-law's house. I literally went straight round there, saw the houses and thought OMG!