Two takes on Hollywood movie tours
We took two guided movie tours while we were there. The first was at the Warner Bros studios; a peppy young guide drove ten of us around in an electric cart and reminded us repeatedly to watch Two and a Half Men, Pretty Little Liars, and Chuck.
But he also showed us the backlots that are dressed up to represent a variety of locations — note New York subway station in foreground and Chicago "L" in background:
And he took us to a prop room that had the (or at least a) Maltese Falcon (which everyone else ignored):
And the coffee shop set from Friends (over which some in our group became visibly verklempt):
It was fun to see what goes on behind the scenes, and how sets are built, but it was also clearly one big ad for Warner's products. I guess I shouldn't have expected otherwise.
And then we did a movie location tour, courtesy of Dearly Departed.
They offer a few different options: you can take the Celebrity Scandal tour (Hugh Grant's embarrassing pick-up! George Michael's restroom!); the Nasty Nellie tour (Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie shares her Hollywood secrets!) and our choice, the Hollywood Movie Tour.
Amazingly, we were the only people booked for this particular day, so we had tour guide Brian to ourselves. He was the antithesis of our by-the-book Warners' guide: irreverent, sardonic, and a wealth of information about Hollywood movie history.
Yeah, we liked him.
The bus had a built-in video screen, and Brian had a DVD of movie clips that put each real-life location in context.
He showed us where scenes from Glen or Glenda, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Ed Wood were shot (and also where Ed Wood worked). He pointed out that Joe Gillis's apartment in Sunset Boulevard looks exactly the same today as it did in the movie.
He drove us past the fabulous John Sowden House, used in The Aviator and possibly where the Black Dahlia's killer lived.
He took us to the last-of-its-kind Gilmore Gasoline service station, which he and a group of Hollywood preservation enthusiasts are trying to save.
And he shared movie star gossip (Mae West! Bette Davis! Angelyne!).
It was great to get a movie tour from someone so passionate about Hollywood, and the realization that so many scenes are shot in real places (I know, duh) has made me more observant of backgrounds and locations when I watch films.
(Is that a real restaurant? Let's check Google Maps. Hey, it is! They're in Venice Beach! Wait, what just happened? I wasn't paying attention ...)