PT. 2: DOING A WALKABOUT in LOS ANGELES and HOLLYWOOD
Thank you kindly for joining me here!
I hit the ground running once the train pulled into Union Station. Well…not running but walking. With my trusty map, compass, gps, sundial and a load of twigs and breadcrumbs, I walk my way to downtown LA. ( Many photos are hot-linked. )
I land in Los Angeles. The last time I was in Los Angeles was hearing the news that Elvis Presley died in 1977. Whew! Over 30 years. What would I even remember. The train pulls in to Union Station. I’ve seen this in the movies, but now I’m seeing it in person. Love its Art Deco look.
The area where the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion is, is beautiful…and then there’s the Disney Music Hall with architecture that looks like wings of curved steel; very beautiful and futuristic. I saw some sights that I’ve seen in movies, snapping pix all along…and dropping breadcrumbs so I could find my way back to the train station where my luggage was stored.
Here’s a video of footage I shot back in 2011 that I recently edited:
I stood staring at these giants sails of steel and chrome, wishing I could run my hands across it.
Back at Union Station, I bought a subway Metro card (TAP) and rode the train to my stop: HOLLYWOOD AND HIGHLAND AVENUE. When I stepped out of the subway system I was on Hollywood Boulevard. Oh my, was it teeming with people. I saw the stars on the Walk of Fame and across the street was the beautiful El Capitan movie theatre. I checked into my hotel ( the Holiday Inn Express ) and thought to take just the briefest of naps before I started exploring. When I woke up it was dark. I had slept for four hours. It was nighttime and I didn’t know my way around Hollywood…but hey, I’m a Noo Yawker. I threw myself out there. The neon lights shine bright on Hollywood Boulevard. Above: the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church ( 6657 Sunset Boulevard ).
With a fresh start in the morning and a list of Hollywood sights to see that I got from the Message Board, I walked, took the Red Line and rode the bus throughout Hollywood.
I saw a great many things I’ve only seen in photographs during my walkabout before and after the TCMFF.
“In the heart of Hollywood, on Hollywood Boulevard, right down the
block from Vine Street, stands the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. It’s
a fitting location: The Pantages has become one of the greatest land-
marks of Hollywood, signifying both the glorious past and adventure-
some future of the world’s entertainment capital.” ~ About the
Hollywood Pantages Theatre.
I went to Musso and Frank for lunch ( the salmon was delicious ) and then I went over to their bar to have a drink. I met two of the bartenders who took me under their wing, one of them giving me a complimentary drink. Manny and Mario were so nice and regaled me with their stories of hobnobbing with the stars. And they treated me very nicely. ( Thanx Gentlemen !! )
Cafe Audrey based on…you guessed it ~ Audrey Hepburn. Cafe is now closed:
6701 Hollywood Boulevard between McFadden Pl. & N. Las Palmas Avenue – Close
I went to El Capitan to see Disney’s “African Cats.” It was suggested that one HAS to see a movie there when one is Hollywood. So I did. ( The film by the way is great…but just know that some animals make it…and others don’t. Ugh! ) I ran into a couple of schools having a class trip. ( I run from kids ) and the ushers said it might be better for me to see the movie upstairs in the balcony. Now all my friends who know me know that I am a first-three-rows-movie-watcher. But I decided to do the balcony. When I walked into the balcony area, tears came to my eyes. This place was like a cathedral ( no disrespect to all you spiritual folks out there ). But I can’t think of any other way to describe it. It was beautiful…majestic. I sat in the very very last row to take it all in. Even the opening of the curtain was a little unexpected show. The first movie shown there was “CITIZEN KANE.”
As per IMDB: “On May 9, 1941 it presented the world premiere of Orson Welle’s ‘Citizen Kane’, with Welles personally taking over the running of the theatre for this presentation, due to it being blocked from being screened in other major theatres by William Randolph Hearst.”
And here I am…little miniscule me, in the same theatre, restored to what it used to be. My tears surprised me…but I guess it shouldn’t have. I get silly emotional about movie stuff. Go on laugh. I’m corny.
To cap off my pre-festival activities, I attended the screening of “BYE BYE BIRDIE.” The crowd was in the spirit of things with this movie. It was such fun…not campy or dated. But let’s face it…it was all about ANN-MARGRET.
“…BIRDIE” is the first movie my parents let me go to without grown-up supervision. A bunch of us kids went to see it as part of a double-feature with “King Kong vs. Godzilla.” We screamed at the monsters and screamed at the rock ‘n roll. This movie, for reasons I can’t explain that will make sense, always holds a special place in my heart. I feel like a kid. The film is perfectly cast and it starts with her bursting on the screen in that yellow sundress. She grabs you and doesn’t let you go for the rest of the movie. Classic film Message Board colleague, Peter, posted a good question to me:
“Would the movie be the same, and held in such high regard, if it wasn’t for that opening and closing shot of Ann-Margret singing the theme song?”
photo NOT by Danny Miller
After the film, she and Bobby Rydell came out for a brief discussion. A long live dream of mine was realized when I actually saw Ann-Margret in person. She is 70 and she is beautiful. She looked so elegant in a lovely black dress with a string of understated diamonds around her neck…her trademark red hair and whispery voice. The host asked her about Elvis compared to the Birdie character in the film. She replied:
“I don’t ever speak about Elvis Presley.”
She is a lady. And this fan…this kid…this me, was very very happy to finally be able to see her. This was truly a thrill.
Part 3: THE FESTIVAL BEGINS
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