WHERE FILMS ARE MADE
WHERE FILMS ARE MADE
LOS ANGELES, the city of the Angels !
Not so very many years ago the bright California sun shone brightly down on a peaceful little Pacific town with attractive little stucco haciendas shining white and cool under the swaying palm-trees and the vivid red-tile roofs. An indolent and attractive Mexican atmosphere invaded the place, and it was here that the pioneers of the film business decided to make their early Western pictures, or Horse Operas as they were tolerantly called. The dawn of the motion picture was thus heralded in this small but attractive town of Los Angeles, some five hundred miles south of the then better-known San Francisco.
In 1910 the business was getting into its stride. Three years later saw the Griffiths and the Cecil B. De Milles making their full-length features, and the rise of such favourites as Dustin Farnum, Wallace Reid, Blanche Sweet, and the Gish sisters. The old Lasky company in 1913 made that grand old epic, The Squaw Man, and people began to look at the West Coast town with increasing wonderment while intrepid producers, with vision and enthusiasm, settled down outside the city of the Angels at a country place eight miles away, called Hollywood. The city of the Angels, Los Angeles, then became the city of the Angles—Camera Angles !
And so to-day we find that Los Angeles is on a par with San Francisco ; two giant cities, the greatest in the West of America—powerful, up-to-date, almost ultra-modern towns with towering buildings and congested streets. And, whereas Los Angeles once smiled benignly at her young sister and suburb, Hollywood—to-day Hollywood exists only for the visitors and the film-struck. To-day the people of Los Angeles have ceased to watch and to wonder ; Hollywood has become a little town of its own and Los Angeles is not really interested in it any more.
Slightly to the north-west of Los Angeles, Hollywood is conveniently situated near the famous Pacific Ocean, the attractive hilly district of Hollywood-land, socially smart Beverly Hills, cosy Burbank at the foot of some picturesque hills and Universal City and the San Fernando Valley to the north of the town. Farther out to the west, nearer the sea, there is Culver City ; and at the sea there are several beaches of lovely }^ellow sand and foaming breakers, the more important being Santa Monica and
“ Hollywood ** is a vague term, embracing all f.lm land and all the stars. Here is a concise description of Hollywood—the place *
* Refer to maps : Plates 57, 5S, 59.
On arriving at the Southern Pacific or Santa Fe stations in Los Angeles the visitor might expect to see the studios in Los Angeles itself, but Hollywood is a good eight miles’ drive from Los Angeles proper. For Los Angeles is useful to the film colony only for large and smart shops, theatres and cinemas, and the famous Biltmore and Ambassador Hotels where the stars sometimes dance. At the Ambassador, for instance, the “ Stars’ Night ” is on Tuesday. The Cocoanut Ball Room, in the world renowned Cocoanut Grove, is a large dance-room in the hotel where the famous film people sup or dance without fuss or bother. There you might meet Constance Bennett, Joan Marsh, Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, or Ricardo Cortez, and many others. On Wednesdays the Grove is filled with a high-spirited crowd of Collegians from the near-by University of Southern California, the “ pet ” Varsity of the movie moguls.
The famous Hollywood Boulevard consists of shops of all kinds and sizes, including many " Five and Tens,” i.e., sixpenny, or five and ten cent stores ! The nearest studio from the Boulevard is the Warner Studio on Sunset Boulevard—some distance away. The Columbia Studio and Radio Studio are on Gower Street. Next door to Radio there is the famous Paramount Studio. The old Fox Studios are quite a walk away.
In the other direction, on the way to the sea, there are the Metropolitan and United Artists and Educational Studios, while farther out, en route to the ocean, there are the new Fox Studios at Fox Hills. Their old studio on Western Avenue houses executives and “ carries ” the extra pictures when there is too much work at the newest studios.
Five miles from Hollywood is Culver City, in which will be found the Pathe, the Hal Roach Studios, and the mighty Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Returning to the Hollywood Boulevard, which is the best place for headquarters, you can go north to the First National Studios tucked away at the hill-side, a lovely valley that can be uncomfortably warm in the summer when the California sun is at its best ! About three miles farther on, that is, say, six miles from Hollywood, Universal City is reached—it is the home of the Laemmle Universal Pictures. Here there is real countryside, and there are wide, open spaces taking the place of the small town atmosphere of Culver City. Pasadena is about fifteen miles away, and is one of the loveliest little towns imaginable. In Pasadena Rose Bowl important football matches are played. All the filmfolk motor over to see the game on New Year’s Day.
Most of the important film people live in the beautiful district of Beverly Hills, where many beautiful homes have been built. Jeanette MacDonald, Frances Dee, Paul Cavanagh, Maurice Chevalier, Rowland V. Lee, and many others live in this picturesque district. Beverly Hills Hotel is a centre of relaxation and pleasure.
The beaches at Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu (pronounced Malyboo) are favourite haunts of film people, especially in the summer. Some even live by the sea all the year round, and motor to their work every day. Others have week-end residences, and among the most famous is Marion Davies’s " week-end cottage ” at Santa Monica—a cottage with forty
bed-rooms ! Nearby is the famous Will Rogers polo field. At Venice, a few hundred yards from Santa Monica (and some distance from Malibu), there are round-abouts, swings, switchbacks, and other diversions.
Back at our headquarters—is it the Roosevelt Hotel opposite the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, or a mere room in an apartment house off the Boulevard ?—we decide to dine, so we choose, perhaps, Musso and Franks and perhaps try a delicious steak. Or perhaps we will go to Henry's, where we may see Chaplin or Stan Laurel; and so on to the Pantages Theatre, or to the Chinese to witness the latest super-hit from the studios.
Afterwards, perhaps, we journey to the Blossom Room at the Roosevelt, or the Montmartre, or to the Brown Derby for a coffee. This, too, is a good place for luncheon. Wallace Beery, Virginia and John Gilbert, Wallace Forde, Jameson Thomas, Pat O’Brien, Constance Cummings, or Frank Fay with wife, Barbara Stanwyck, may be here. Then, if the visitor wants something less pretentious (although one seldom dresses in Hollywood), there is the amusing B.B.B. Cellar with its odd cabaret turns ; or there is A1 Levy’s Tavern across the road from the Derby at Vine Street. At Culver City there is the new Frolics Club where, in summer, one can dance with the stars and where the stars above twinkle merrily down from a ceiling that is the sky !
For the thrill-lover there is a motor-racing track quite near, and, just off the Boulevard, a stadium for boxing on a Friday night. For wrestling and boxing we shall go to the stadium in Los Angeles on a Tuesday.
For the lovers of serious music, there is the celebrated Hollywood Bowl, where to the chirping of a million grasshoppers, symphony orchestras play and enchant the world-renowned star or the dizzy little extra-girl with platinum-dyed hair.
Conveniently situated, a mere sixty miles away (distance is nothing in America !) there is Lake Arrowhead up in the mountains, and from the sunny shores of the Pacific, where bathing-costume-clad beauties splash in the surf, it is possible to dash up to the lake and enjoy winter sports, ski-ing, ice-skating, and snowballing. And down south there is merry Mexico where, just over the border, there are saloon-bars and gambling, and gay, fantastic tangos !
There is, too, the famous Los Angeles Coliseum, which is used for football matches and the like. Then, there is the famous island of Catalina, where fishing, bathing, and dancing can be indulged in.
The smartness of the Ambassador Hotel, the Brown Derby, or the Mona Lisa Restaurant; the friendliness of Henry’s Cafe ; the amusing sandwich-places where you sit in your car and waitresses bring you trays of food ; the football mad crowds ; the quiet and lovely Beverly Hills ; the fascinating houses in Hollywood-land overlooking Hollywood ; the ever-winking lights of Los Angeles ; the fantastic roads leading to the hilly district of Outlook, and the sparkling, vivid blue sea—all these things and more make Hollywood kaleidescopic and interesting.
The world film encyclopedia, 1933
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