Good tours of film history in LA?
November 23, 2017 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Would really appreciate any recommendations for interesting tours/places to visit/whatever really in the LA area that have strong connections to film history.

I'll probably do a studio tour (I hear Warner Brothers is good?) but my concern is that most touristy things will be geared towards fans of more contemporary cinema. Would really appreciate recommendations for things that focus a bit more on older Hollywood. Thanks!
posted by dmm9999 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
I can suggest places:

Griffith Observatory seems like a winner; it's a major setpiece in "Rebel Without A Cause," and looks today much like it did back then, at least on the outside. It's been in a large number of other movies and TV shows.

Santa Monica Pier is another; I can't count the number of movies I've seen it in. Particularly the hippodrome.

Point Dume State Beach, in Malibu, is where Charleton Heston found the head of the Statue of Liberty and discovered the awful truth about the Planet of the Apes. It's a very photogenic stretch of rocky beach that you've seen in a hundred movies.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:50 AM on November 23, 2017

Westwood Village Memorial Park is the final resting place of lots of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, George C. Scott, Roy Orbison, Jack Lemmon, Eve Arden, Peggy Lee, and many more.

Vasquez Rocks has been a popular place for location shoots (you may know it as "Gorn Rock").
posted by mogget at 11:31 AM on November 23, 2017

About 40 years ago I was a Universal Studios tour guide. We were fairly well trained in the history of the backlot. This was necessary since, due to filming schedules, the itinerary could change at any time and there could be delays at any location. You needed enough history and lore, including recent and historic films and television, to fill the time and entertain while waiting for the tram to move again. And of course we had to study the on-lot schedules to see what celebrities might appear and be able not only to plug their current work but also prior. Not sure if the product is anywhere near the same now but there should be plenty to see...
posted by jim in austin at 11:45 AM on November 23, 2017

Margaret Herrick Library Located in Beverly Hills, this library has lots of original media, posters, scripts et cetera on film history. The Academy Museum may also have an exhibition of interest to you.

Right next door, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has an extensive costume collection.

Also, UCLA has a great archive of rare early films easily searchable on their website.

I hope this is helpful.
posted by effluvia at 12:05 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

My favorite movie, the documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, shows a number of famous Los Angeles film landmarks and discusses what they illustrate about film and its place in our society. It will give you lots of good ideas for places to visit.
posted by chrchr at 12:25 PM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

See if there's an Egyptian Theater tour when you're in town. It was the site of the first ever Hollywood premiere, and is a cool theater in general.

Not a museum or tour, but if you can go to the New Beverly for something. It's a completely old school movie theater that ONLY shows film (I know of no other theaters that only show film). It's a cheap and great place.
posted by tremspeed at 12:29 PM on November 23, 2017

The best tours are by Esotouric
posted by Ideefixe at 1:17 PM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

The best tours are by Esotouric

By MeFi's own Scram
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:05 PM on November 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ah, thanks, Ideefixe--we try! Our only film-focused tour is the very occasional The Birth of Noir, but the quarterly Raymond Chandler tour is about an even mix of stories about his books and film work, and there's a section about Barfly on the Charles Bukowski tour.

For studio tours, see Paramount while you still can: the studio is seeking permission to redevelop the lot and demolish a number of the historic buildings. Preservationists are fighting, but not even the iconic RKO Globe is safe. From Paramount, it's a short walk to Hollywood Forever cemetery, which despite its millennial branding, is actually one of the oldest in town, and lousy with stars. Karie Bible gives a classic Hollywood tour of the grounds, and Philip Mershon's Felix in Hollywood Co. offers an old Hollywood walking tour of a nearby section of Sunset Boulevard.

Larry Edmunds Bookshop is the last store standing on Hollywood's Bookseller's Row, with a film, stage and TV focus. They host great free events in the store, and old Hollywood signings in conjunction with screenings around town.
posted by Scram at 8:22 PM on November 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

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