Friday, April 3, 2015

TCM & Starline Movie Locations Tour - Hollywood

Cue the Gilligan’s Island theme song! We’re going on... a three hour tour... a three hour tour.

On the morning before the TCM festival, members of the media hopped on board the TCM & Starline bus for a three hour tour of Hollywood and Los Angeles. We saw roughly 50 movie locations and 100 movie clips and made two stops: the Bradley Building and Union Station.

Ben Mankiewicz on the TCM Movie Locations Tour
 To kick off the tour TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz made a brief appearance on the bus and talked to us about the merits of the tour and the bus including its stadium seating and panoramic views. There were also pre-recorded talks from Mankiewicz shown on the monitor throughout the tour which introduced each of the four areas we visited: Hollywood, 2 parts of Downtown LA and LA neighborhoods.

Michael our tour guide

This tour is curated by both TCM and Starline. Note that this is not called a classic movie locations tour. There are contemporary movies featured and I would say there was a 50/50 split between older movies and newer movies. It’s good to know this beforehand because if you expect only old movies to be discussed then you will be disappointed. I think it was necessary for them to show the newer movies especially because locations change over time and it’s easier to compare the location in person to the location in a more recent film. Would I have liked for it to be a classic movie locations tour with a strict date cut-off? Sure. However, I think the mix of old and new is the new normal for TCM and it’s something we’ll have to start getting used to.

The bus tour runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 12:30 PM and meets at the Starline pick-up area next to the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. There is also a New York City tour as well.

Formosa Cafe

Paramount Studios 
The entrance where they shot a scene from Sunset Blvd.

Driving through the 2nd Street Tunnel while watching a clip of someone driving through the 2nd Street Tunnel. Very meta!

The Biltmore Hotel

Other locations included:
Roosevelt Hotel
Hollywood High School
old location for Chaplin’s Studio (Sunset Blvd)
The Lot
Gilmore Gas Station
Red Studios Hollywood
Ravenswood Apartment Building
Raleigh Studios
Wilshire Boulevard Temple
old location for the Cocoanut Grove
The Talmadge
Bullocks Wilshire
Park Plaza Hotel
Asbury Apartments
old location for the Warner Bros. Theatre
Mayan Theatre
Orpheum Theatre
Tower Theatre
State Theatre
The Palace
The Los Angeles Theatre
City Hall
Angeleno Heights
Music box steps (from afar)
Silver Lake
Vista Theatre
Hollywood sign & Griffith observatory (from afar)
Newman’s Drugstore
Mayer Building
Pantages Theatre
Capitol Theatre Building

Films featured include:
Intolerance (1916)
Safety Last (1923)
Battling Butler (1926)
Blotto (1930)
The Miracle Woman (1931)
The Music Box (1932)
She Done Him Wrong (1933)
Topper (1937)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Road to Utopia (1945)
He Walked By Night (1948)
D.O.A. (1950)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Union Station (1950)
Cry Danger (1951)
A Star is Born (1954)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
The Graduate (1967)
Chinatown (1974)
Ghostbusters (1984)
La Bamba (1987)
The Grifters (1990)
Pretty Woman (1990)
Barton Fink (1991)
Bugsy (1991)
Chaplin (1992)
Ed Wood (1994)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
The Aviator (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Stops on the tour include:
The Bradbury Building
Union Station

Bradbury Building

Posing with the Charlie Chaplin statue

The famous Bradbury staircases

Angela of Hollywood Revue

Palm trees outside Union Station

Union Station sign

Inside Union Station

Information desk at Union Station

Union Station

My thoughts:

I had a lot of fun on this tour and would definitely do it at least one more time. The experience also made me want to go on the New York City tour. My favorite location we saw was the Art Deco apartment building on the corner of Orange Drive and Romaine Street used in the film Cry Danger (1951). This might seem totally random but I had just walked past that building the previous evening, oblivious to its importance in film history and I just plain love anything Art Deco.

From what I understand, the guide will playfully pick on one person calling them out several times throughout the tour. On this trip it was me and I had fun with it. He also kept calling out Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood who was sitting next to me. Some folks wouldn’t like this sort of attention so I hope the tour guides pick their targets wisely.

lots of history and facts provided for context
plenty of movie clips shown simultaneously as we drove by their related locations
an inexpensive way to see a lot of Hollywood and Los Angeles
Michael was for the most part a funny tour guide, he was a fan of TCM and knew his stuff
Not an open air bus, enclosed and air-conditioned
Newer films are mostly historical pieces
L.A.’s gorgeous weather made sightseeing very easy

A few sexist jokes by tour guide
You don’t get a view of sites on the opposite side of the bus
Aisle seats are not as good as window seats
Some clips were incredibly loud, especially the ones from action films
One minor projection error
Tour guide made a location error (this was pointed out by someone else)
Bus size does not allow to drive by famous Music Box steps

Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood and I on the bus tour
Overall I thought this was a great tour and I had a lot of fun. On the flip side, I did speak to another person who was on the same tour and he said he hated it. It’s not for everyone but seeing as there are so many crappy Hollywood bus tours I figure this one is probably the best of the best. And the fact that TCM is involved means the quality level goes up exponentially. I hope I’ve provided you enough information to pique your interest in this excellent bus tour.

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