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Extracurriculars in Addition to Movies Day or Two Before Festival


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Was wondering if there was interest in any of this? For example, last year, TCM had a classic movie themed tour of Warner Bros, and provided transport from The Hollywood Roosevelt which was great. However, the tour itself was a little light on classic stuff. In fact, I had taken it the previous year outside of any TCM affiliation and it was virtually the same tour.


One thought would be to tour Whitley Heights - starting at the THR, and running along Hollywood Blvd then straight up the cliff (or so it seems - a very steep road!) that leads to the 1st enclave of star homes, where many silent film stars resided. It would be amazing if someone with knowledge of or connections to the community could do a tour of the key streets. Even better would be to tour a home or two... or perhaps other homes of classic stars in Hollywood if that were at all possible. Something to recreate what it felt like to live during the times if possible.


Generally speaking, it would be great if there was a walking tour or two near THR of major sites to whip us into shape for doing nothing but sittying during the festival itself. I believe there was a walking tour during the 1st festival. Not sure if there was one last year.


Also was wondering if anything worth visiting exists at the old MGM lot. I think Sony has some tours, but it would be interesting to get a sense of where the action took place during MGM's heyday.


If there's any interest or ideas, I might see if I could make some contacts.

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Hi 'RGlenn' -


I hope you're well and that 2012 has been good to you so far.


I think every year there are more and more attendees arriving in Hollywood early in the week. A few activities or get-togethers for Tuesday or Wednesday could draw some interest. It might be useful to start taking a "head count" of who is arriving early this year.


Here's one of the better websites about the Whitley Heights neighborhood -


(Check out the "About" section which reprints a few magazine articles on the area. The Photos of the homes are great too.)

I think Festival friend 'mavfan4life' from Seattle did a walk through Whitley Heights during his first visit. Maybe he can add some suggestions. He usually arrives early too.


And here's a different idea to consider for early arrivals -


On the evening of Wednesday, April 11th, it appears that TCM is premiering the "Conversation with Peter O'Toole" Original Production that was recorded at the 2011 Classic Film Festival. Perhaps a "viewing party" in one of the hotel's bars or restaurants for those already in town might be a fun event. Watching and reliving one of the highlights of last year's Festival could be a perfect "Festival Eve" experience.


The 2012 Festival is less than 12 weeks away!


Kyle In Hollywood

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Thanks Kyle! Appreciate the link also.


All is well and hope it is with you too.


A few other thoughts I had in attempt to relive the past and have some unique experiences...

- A classic themed tour on a major lot with an actor or crew member that actually worked on the lot during its heyday

- A tour of a couple of local homes with film assocation (thinking large, for example, an architecturally significant home like the Samuel-Novarro House on 5609 Valley Oak Drive)

- A walking tour of the area where the group goes into buildings that might otherwise have difficult access


Seems to me the Hollywood location is ripe for exploring, but wandering off on one's own (or even taking ones of those tacky sounding tours offered everywhere on Hollywood Blvd) can underwhelm.



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Still at it, eh? I found a great book a couple of years ago that I want to recommend to you. "Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide (The Ultimate Insider Tour of Movie L.A." by Richard Alleman, has a number of walking/driving tours laid out.


It divides into 14 "tours", starting with "Hollywood: Birth of a Boulevard" and expanding out from there. There are two other chapters focusing on Hollywood itself - The Factory Town and Beyond the Boulevard.


I'm going to be digging into "Downtown Los Angeles: The First L.A." this year. That chapter hits the theater district along Broadway, moves on to the Music Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall, heads out to Chinatown, and ends up dipping down to USC and the area surrounding it.


In my research, I came on the LA Conservancy (laconservancy.org), which offers up several walking tours. Unfortunately, several of their tours are scheduled only on Saturday at 10am. However, they do offer group tours for groups of 8 or more for their regular Saturday tours, and tours on Sundays or weekdays for groups of 15 or more. There is a four week lead time required, so it would be advisable for us (assuming you and others are interested) to get moving on this.


Let me know!!


David in Seattle

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How about a curator-led tour of this year's exhibit "20th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising's Museum? Includes the 2011 Oscar winner for Costume Design along with 99 other costumes from 2011 films AND a number of costumes that might include Liz Taylor's costume from *Cleopatra* and Austin Power's groovy costumes.


Minimum fee is $200 for 10 or less and $20 per person for anything over 10.


Any interest?


David in Seattle

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Hi Dave,


Definitely interested in any and all of these... really like the idea of getting out and walking / hiking around, so count me in and likely Brian... so two more!


Will be in LA April 9th... so 3 and a half days before the festival begins.


Thanks! Glenn

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I am not sure if you have been to the exhibit before, but it only takes about 15 minutes to see them all, and you really don't need a curator. It's free to the public.


It should also be mentioned that the FIDM is in downtown Los Angeles, and it is a 20-minute subway ride from Hollywood.

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The *California Design 1930s-1960s* exhibit at the LA County Art Museum is terrific. It includes furniture, jewelry, leisure wear (with pieces designed by Adrian and other Hollywood designers on display), Dick Van Dyke's Avanti and much more.


Definitely worth checking out.

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There's a Facebook page for those planning on attending started by HulaSkater (I believe that's Kathy's screen name) for the first one. I've met a number of folks there including my roommates for this year's festival (rented house two blocks off Hollywood Blvd).


Here's a link:




Good place to find others attending, and developing a plan of attack.


David in Seattle

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Does anyone know if TCM will be offering discounts for a studio tour as part of the FF package again this year ? In the past, they provided a discount for the Warner Brothers studio tour, but I'm thinking with the 100th anniversary of Paramount being tied into the festival in 2012 that that studio would be the place to be. Anyone heard anything ?


Cinecrazy DC

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Here is some info from AOL today about silent film places. At the link, if you go to the bottom, you will see a series of photos of locations:





LOS ANGELES -- From around 1910 to the late 1920s, the silent film industry dominated Los Angeles. The movies were filmed everywhere, from Hollywood to bustling downtown to what was then a nearly barren valley area, on the other side of the Hollywood Hills. Without permits, unions or worries about sound, filmmakers could just grab a camera and shoot scenes on the spot, transforming various L.A. locales into any place the script called for. Hollywood was truly the Wild West, infinitely more accessible than now.



"The Artist," a Golden Globe winner and Oscar contender that hearkens back to the lost art of telling a story in black and white, without talking, has renewed interest in that early genre. Fortunately, many of the locations where exteriors were filmed during the silent film era still exist today, and you can find them hidden around the city like historic gems.



"Southern California was perfectly situated" as a backdrop for all types of movie settings, said film historian John Bengtson, author of the books "Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin," "Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton" and "Silent Visions: Discovering Early Hollywood and New York Through the Films of Harold Lloyd."



"There was a diversity of geological features, the beach, desert," Bengtson said. "There were rough terrains for the Westerns. There were mountains. There were lakes. Downtown Los Angeles was a thriving city, so you got your urban shots. It was just ideal."



Bengtson started researching then-and-now locations from scenes in the films of silent comedy stars Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd more than 15 years ago, without the help of the Internet. He's since identified dozens of locations, and has conducted various silent film walking tours.



One famous image from that era that lives on shows Lloyd clumsily climbing up the side of a building in downtown Los Angeles to escape a police officer in the 1923 romantic comedy "Safety Last!" Lloyd, in his signature straw hat and round horn-rimmed glasses, then grasps onto a large clock on the building. He hangs on for dear life with traffic rushing far below. The long, nail-biting scene has been referenced in multiple movies, from "Back to the Future" to one of this year's Oscar best picture nominees, Martin Scorsese's kid adventure "Hugo."



And the tall building in downtown L.A. where Lloyd shot that famed clock scene still stands, at 908 S. Broadway. The clock, constructed specifically for the movie, doesn't. The beautiful Orpheum Theatre, which didn't open until three years after the movie was shot, in 1926, is next door.



A building facade was actually built on the 908 S. Broadway building's roof, along with a camera tower to film the set, in order to create the illusion of steep height, keeping the building's roof out of frame, but with actual views of the street below, said Bengtson. There's a palpable sense of anxiety in viewing the movie, with Lloyd avoiding dogs and wayward wooden planks plunging out of windows as he scrambles up. Lloyd filmed many projects downtown, said Bengtson.



"They didn't have CGI (computer generated imagery) then. They did have glass paintings," said Randy Haberkamp, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' director of educational programming. "They would paint out part of the city. You would see a famous hill in the Los Angeles area, and you would say, `Where was that house there?' They could create a sense of depth and danger. The artists of that era were so clever."





Kansas-born actor and director Keaton, with his melancholy good looks, sad eyes, dark hair and deadpan expression, is best known for silent films from the late 1920s like "Steamboat Bill Jr." and "The General," set in the American Civil War. Keaton filmed many short and full-length comedies in Hollywood, downtown, west of downtown and in the beachside Venice and Santa Monica areas near the Pacific Ocean.



In his 1921 short film "Hard Luck," a suicidal and broke Keaton gets into all sorts of shenanigans, including being chased by a bear and unsuccessfully trying to hang himself. At one point, eluding police, he poses as a statue next to an imposing bronze statue of General Harrison Gray Otis, longtime owner and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, in MacArthur Park, 2230 W. Sixth St., by Wilshire and Park View Street, west of downtown.



The statue still stands today, pointing in the direction of Otis' old house. At that time, there wasn't a great deal of public art in L.A., said Bengtson, so Keaton creatively used the sculpture as a backdrop. Physical comedy worked seamlessly with soundless cinema.



Comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, who started off in silent film, also utilized broad swaths of L.A., including the now-hipster enclave of Silver Lake on the eastern side of town.



In one of their best-known talkie films, "The Music Box" (1932), the pair attempts to push a piano up a multi-tiered outdoor staircase, only to have it fly down the stairs after them. The staircase, named the "Music Box Steps" in the `90s, is next to 923-935 Vendome St., near the intersection of Del Monte, in a quiet, residential Silver Lake area lined with shrubs, flanked on either side by houses and marked by a black commemorative plaque on one of the stairs.



It turns out the staircase was first used by Laurel and Hardy in their then-popular but now lost 1927 silent film "Hats Off" in a scene involving the two hauling up a huge, round washing machine. According to stills from the movie, only overgrown fields surrounded the stairs at the time.



Actor, writer and director Chaplin, iconic as a vagrant, big-hearted character known as the Tramp in many of his silent films, complete with bushy short mustache and black bowler hat, filmed all around L.A. before settling into his Charlie Chaplin Studios, 1416 N. La Brea Ave., in the heart of Hollywood. The structure is now the Jim Henson Company Lot, with a statue of Henson creation Kermit the Frog dressed as Chaplin in his recognizable hat and jacket above the main gate. Concrete footprints of Chaplin are also there.



Chaplin's studio opened in 1918, and most of his known films were mainly shot on the premises, including feature-length hit 1921 silent dramedy "The Kid" and the 1925 romantic comedy "The Gold Rush." Chaplin's 1919 silent short film "A Day's Pleasure" starts off with Chaplin and his fictional wife and kids trying to take off in their clunky car outside the back corner of Chaplin's studio.



Several outdoor scenes for "The Kid" were shot at packed downtown L.A. Mexican marketplace Olvera Street, years before the alley was converted into a tourist attraction, across from the current L.A. train hub Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St. A particularly poignant, emotional scene in "The Kid," when Chaplin reunites with his scrappy adopted son, played by Jackie Coogan, takes place outside an old brick building structure, still in place at Olvera Street.



The synchronicity of emotion, environment, celebrity and public access in L.A. made silent films powerful for their era, before talking pictures added layers of complication, both technically and professionally, for actors and filmmakers. Silent movies had a worldwide, universal appeal, even if only filmed within what was then the small town scope of Hollywood.



"Because you didn't hear the stars speak, their faces, their pantomime, was important. There was an automatic romance to that too. You imagined what your leading lady or man sounded like," said Haberkamp. "Sometimes, when it comes to talking, sometimes less is more. I think people who love silent films really appreciate body language and other things that are communicated. There's a deeper human understanding that you can get."



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