A Brief History Of Hollywood Before It Was Hollywood

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).

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My Favorite Silent Film-Related Travel Memories! (So Far)

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.

Hollywood Tours: Exploring Some Of LA's Biggest Attractions By Bike

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

The SFSFF Is Coming!

…That is, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which starts May 30. And yes, I’M COMING BACK, BABY!!

Image Credit: Pamela Gentile for silentfilm.org

Last year, as some readers may remember, I had to skip the event due to a family vacation abroad claiming most of my travel funds. But this year, I’m making up for it–I’ll be returning to the Castro theater for the entire beautiful festival, and am planning on attending every showing if I possibly can. I might add that the festival spans five days this year, so this is not a challenge I accept lightly. I AM READY. Continue reading

The Return To Hollywoodland

In my last post I told y’all about the wonderful experience of going to the SFSFF. Today we’re covering the second leg of the trip to the fun, historic, crazy place called Hollywood. Since I had visited there for the very first time last year, let’s just call this year’s trip “Pilgrimage II to the Holy Land.”

Day 1

So! The morning of June 6 I said goodbye to San Francisco and took a plane to LAX. Here’s one detail you should know: while at the film festival my body had decided, despite having been bizarrely lucky and only getting sick once the entire previous year, that now, verily, ’twas the time for me to catch a cold. And not just any cold–oh, no! This would be a mighty beast of a cold that would make me lose my voice almost completely while being emerged in a sea of fellow silent film fanatics to talk to. Thanks, BODY. 

But, this managed not to spoil my enjoyment of the festival (after all, you get to just sit all day!) and while I was left with a yucky-sounding cough, the journey to Hollywood was happily uneventful. After taking the FlyAway bus to the famous Union Station and riding the very convenient Metro, I was back on Hollywood Boulevard, eager to pick up where I’d left off last year.  Continue reading

Currently In The Holy La–Er, Hollywood!

As you read this I am walking around Hollywood like the starry-eyed tourist I am (or am about to wake up and then walk around like the starry-eyed tourist I am–what’s the time difference again?).

Fond memories are in the making! And I’m getting geared up for my first-ever visit to the Margaret-Herrick library tomorrow morning…this is big, folks!

If you’re new to Silent-ology, here’s my post that covered all the sights I took in during my Tinseltown visit last year: My Very First Visit to Hollywoodland.

And here’s a list of Handy Tips I also put together for anyone planning a first-time visit of their own (we’ll see if more tips are in order when I get home): Silent-ology’s Handy Tips For Visiting (Silent) Hollywood.

More to come!

My Very First Visit to Hollywoodland

Hollywoodland and cameramen

So about two weeks ago I was on my post-San Francisco, solitary trip to a magical realm I’d always been dying to visit: Hollywood! After years of dreaming of going and wondering when that would happen, I decided: hey, it was only a short flight from Frisco, why the heck not?!

In my globetrotting experience (remind me to tell you about Liechtenstein), that’s really all it takes–deciding “yes, I will go.” Because the second you say “ooohhh, I don’t think I can,” well…you won’t. But enough soapboxing–here’s what I did and what I saw during my very first Hollywoodland experience! (Oh how those excited stomach flutters are starting up again!!) Continue reading

I’m California Bound!

So I’ve been busy as Eric von Stroheim editing Greed lately, and here’s why (and, funnily enough, Greed is a tiny bit related!). I’m getting ready for a trip this weekend, a trip that happens to be checking off some very important items on my bucket list. And I am excited. Very excited. In fact, I’m this excited:

excited-fifties-woman Continue reading