Things to do in LA with a 6 year old movie buff?
February 10, 2019 9:51 AM   Subscribe

So we're taking 6.5 year old Schwingg! Jr. to LA next week and looking for movie industry things to do! He's very interested in the history of movie production, silent movies, and black & white comedies. Pretty much uninterested in going to Disney. To give you an idea, here are the stars he wants to see on the Walk of Fame: Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Erol Flynn, Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Groucho Marx, and Donald Trump. I understand that most of the movie set tours don't allow kids under 8, so that puts us in a bind. Ideas for movie activities (and any other non-Disney activities?)
posted by schwinggg! to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (21 answers total)
Maybe the Hollywood Wax Museum?

At that age I would have loved a trip to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but your kid might not be quite that weird.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:12 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, Knott's Berry Farm is a cheaper and more low-key alternative to Disneyland, with a lot of history behind it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:17 AM on February 10, 2019

For sure go check out the plaza in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, he can see Groucho's cigar print and stick his hands on the handprints. The website I linked has alot of tidbits you might be able to scratch up an itinerary from.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Make your own tour by visiting silent film locations:

"Three of the greatest comedies of all time, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Buster Keaton’s Cops (1922), and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! (1923), were each filmed at a small Hollywood alley you can still visit today."

(and if you search his blog, you can see that many other silents also had scenes filmed at this location.)
posted by billm at 10:30 AM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park is small, but packed with celebrity graves, including Marilyn Monroe's.

Depending on when you're in town, you may be able to see some movies/shorts at the UCLA Film & Television Archive - they're having a Festival of Preservation Feb. 15-17.

The American Cinematheque shows current and classic movies at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. The Egyptian was built in 1922 and was built by Sid Graumann. Tours are available on Saturday mornings.

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is holding their annual Art of Motion PIcture Costume & Design exhibition; these are all current movies, but it's still really cool to see the actual costumes and see how tall (or short) the stars are.
posted by mogget at 10:48 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

The set of stairs Laurel and Hardy carry a piano up in The Music Box are in Silver Lake, right across the street from Laurel and Hardy Park.
posted by plastic_animals at 11:00 AM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

You could visit the Bradbury Building, most famous for appearing in Blade Runner.
posted by O9scar at 12:06 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Academy of Motion Picture Sciences This organization is going through a transition, so check with the curator for events. Under this organization is the Margaret Herrick Library at a separate location, an entire library dedicated to film history with scripts, posters, set design and such.

Also, just across the street from the new building at Fairfax is the Petersen Automotive Museum. There entire second floor is a HotWheels installation that is awesome.

Cinefamily article Fairfax location, also dedicated to silent movie screenings.
posted by effluvia at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Never been, so no recs, but you may have the coolest 6-1/2 year old ever!
posted by kate4914 at 10:39 AM on February 10 [mark as best answer] [5 favorites +] [!]

I think so, and I can't even take parenting credit for his taste. In fact, *he* introduced *me* to silent films by requesting to watch The Cameraman one day when he was home sick. Also I am personally sad not to get to go to Disney! Clearly mom is the uncool one in this equation.
posted by schwinggg! at 12:34 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you're here on February 18th, you can see a Laurel & Hardy movie at the New Beverly Cinema (now owned & operated by Quentin Tarantino).
posted by mogget at 12:39 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: If you're here on February 18th, you can see a Laurel & Hardy movie at the New Beverly Cinema (now owned & operated by Quentin Tarantino).
posted by mogget at 12:39 PM on February 10 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

That would be amazing if we can keep him awake for it! Despite his sophisticated taste in movies, he still has an 8pm bedtime.
posted by schwinggg! at 12:46 PM on February 10, 2019

Old Town Music hall is in El Segundo , a long drive if you're staying in downtown LA or points eastward, but they have an organ w/ live organist and play old (1900-1950) movies.

Broadway street in downtown was where the old movie palaces were located. Most are closed or converted into live theatres, so you cannot go inside, but the outdoor marquees are intact and pretty cool. That part of downtown can be quite full of homeless people; it's not dangerous IMHO but you should consider your own tolerance/interest in explaining to your kid. The Nuart in Santa Monica and the Vista in Los Feliz are old grand-era theaters that are still operational (playing current movies) and quite pretty inside.
posted by holyrood at 12:59 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's one grand downtown motion picture palace that is accessible during the day: the Pantages / Warner Brothers, which is now a jewelry shop.

When on Hollywood Boulevard, take your cool kid to Chaplin's beloved Musso & Frank before 3pm, sit at the counter and eat flannel cakes. (After 3pm, they cook meat on the grill.) Satisfy your Disney itch by stopping in at the Snow White Cafe there on the Boulevard. Then swing up Highland to the Hollywood Heritage barn, the city's only museum of early cinema history. The Felix in Hollywood walking tour of Sunset Boulevard is right up his alley, and tour guide Philip Mershon would get a kick out of meeting a young enthusiast. And of course no cinema buff can visit Hollywood and not stop at the Larry Edmunds Bookshop! In addition to books, they carry film stills, posters and ephemera.
posted by Scram at 9:58 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Omg...I can't recommend the Hollywood Museum enough. It's on Highland, just off Hollywood blvd (ie rt by the walk of fame) in the old Max Factor (who got his start doing movie makeup, and yes they have old movie makeup kits on display) building, which is very old Hollywood art deco. They have mostly costumes on display, but also tons of props and memorabilia. It would be perfect for a 6yo film buff, and the horror basement is age-appropriately spooky (they have Elvira's costumes, among a bunch of others). It's big but not crazy big, so you can definitely see everything in an hour or two.
Oh, and Mel's drive-in right next door (also drenched in movie memorabilia) is a great place for lunch.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:00 PM on February 10, 2019

the new Beverly has kids' matinees with prize drawings for them (hold on to their stub) on weekends. El Coyote and Milk ice cream are a few blocks away.

disney restored the El Capitan on Hollywood Bl and there's a branch of Ghirardelli onsite.
posted by brujita at 10:05 PM on February 10, 2019

Oh...and if you're bummed about missing Disneyland, there is the Disney theater (across the street from the Chinese theater), where they do a whole show before the movie. I forget which classic Hollywood theater it used to be but they've restored it completely, including the pipe organ. I'm not sure if they do the whole show for every movie or just premieres (I'm pretty sure they do, but check) but it involves a pipe organ performance and all the costumed characters doing a big song and dance number.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:08 PM on February 10, 2019

Jinx...yes it's the el Capitan.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:16 PM on February 10, 2019

Seconding the Vista. It's a great place to see a (modern) movie that hearkens back to the old days.

I also was surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing a movie at the Chinese Theater, in addition to checking out all the old handprints outside (dodge the costumed characters loitering around hoping to get money in exchange for photo ops, though, unless maybe there *is* a Chaplin character?). Inside the Chinese is not only architecturally gorgeous, but there is usually classic movie memorabilia on display inside. I think you can also take tours, though I have no idea how much attention span your particular kid would have for a tour of an old movie theater, or whether there's an age limit. Like the Vista, the Chinese mainly screens films in current release. Be sure to get a ticket for what's screening in the main theater: there's also an attached megaplex that isn't particularly exciting.

The El Capitan is near the Chinese, has a similar old school vibe to the Chinese and Vista, but is owned by Disney and mainly screens Disney and Disney-affiliated stuff (for example the Captain Marvel premiere is going to be there next month).They're currently screening classic Disney movies (Lady and the Tramp this week, Cinderella next week, etc), and even if that's not his thing, depending on what is on offer at the Chinese, might be more kid appropriate. Especially because, yeah, the Chinese only screens one title at a time in the historical theater, and if it's R rated you're kind of boned. The El Capitan is also very geared towards kids and families in general. Per their website, they, too, have tours!
posted by the milkman, the paper boy at 9:44 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all these suggestions!!
posted by schwinggg! at 9:49 AM on February 11, 2019

If on the Hollywood Blvd Walk of Fame and looking for a place to eat, try Musso & Frank, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. If your waiter is elderly, maybe have your kid name same actors for him and see if any of them were customers. I've had waiters tell me stories about Steve McQueen, Charles Bukowski, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra, and others, and have sat near Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Scarlet Johansen, and others.
posted by dobbs at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2019

Last year with our mixed group of adults and kids we had fun going to Bronson Canyon / Caves, set of a million TV shows & movies.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:45 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

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