A version of this post was originally written for my Classic Movie Hub column Silents are Golden. Hope you find it an interesting weekend read!
Today Hollywood, California is one of the most famous places in the world. The thriving axis of moviemaking, for decades it’s drawn countless dreamers hoping to make it in “the industry.” Real estate up in its hills is bought and sold for millions. And, of course, it attracts perpetual hordes of tourists strolling its Walk of Fame or hoping for glimpses of celebrities in Beverly Hills.
But there was a time when this same bustling neighborhood of Los Angeles was a sleepy little stretch of hilly farmland ten miles east from the city, accessible only by a gravel road and populated by a few hundred people. Little did the residents of this quiet community know what vast changes were in store–especially once those “movies” came to town (as they would nickname early filmmakers, not knowing “movies” referred to films).
So if this was a normal spring, I’d be attending the San Francisco Silent Film Festival right now, sitting in my usual spot in the darkened Castro Theater. But just in case you haven’t heard, it’s not a normal spring, and my lovely festival has been postponed until November (fingers crossed me and my pals will all be there!). This is doubly sad since I usually head to Hollywood for a few day afterwards. Indeed, my soul cries out for those palm trees, that smell of blooming jasmine, those Walk of Fame stars, even that weird jumble of street performers and tourists on Hollywood Boulevard getting bottlenecked by dumb sidewalk vendors selling cheap toys no one ever, ever needs.
You can’t see me because a vendor took up half the sidewalk to sell foam plastic emojis and I got trampled.
So in lieu of film festival revelries, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my fondest silent film-related travel memories (so far)! I love, love, love to travel, and some of my favorite trips have involved visiting sites related to the silent era. If there’s even a slight chance to stand on a street corner where Harold Lloyd once filmed or take in a rare exhibit of German Expressionist memorabilia, I’m there! So here are my reminisces. And please, when you’re done reading feel free to share some of your silent-themed travel experiences too! Continue reading