Tours of Hollywood, California show you a legendary place synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the film industry. It was during the silent film era that Hollywood established itself as the epicenter of filmmaking, captivating audiences worldwide with its magical storytelling. In this article, we delve into the iconic locations in Hollywood where famous silent movies were filmed, taking a nostalgic journey through the golden age of cinema.
- The Hollywood Sign; No landmark encapsulates the allure of Hollywood better than the world-renowned Hollywood Sign. Originally erected in 1923 as an advertisement for a real estate development, the sign has become an enduring symbol of the entertainment industry. Many silent films used the sign as a backdrop, showcasing the charm and grandeur of the burgeoning film capital.
- Grauman’s Chinese Theatre: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, now known as TCL Chinese Theatre, has witnessed countless premieres and historic moments in Hollywood’s history. Built in 1927, the theater’s iconic architecture and ornate design made it a preferred venue for many silent movie premieres. Stars of the era, such as Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, graced its red carpet, leaving their handprints and footprints in the forecourt, immortalizing their legacies.
- Sunset Boulevard: Sunset Boulevard, a legendary street stretching from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean, has been featured in numerous silent films. Its scenic route became a symbol of the city’s opulence and a favorite location for filmmakers. Silent classics like “Sunset Boulevard” (1929) and “What Price Hollywood?” (1932) used the boulevard’s landmarks and stunning views to capture the essence of Hollywood’s glamour.
- Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Established in 1899, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place of many silent film luminaries, including Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and Marion Davies. This historic cemetery not only serves as a tribute to these legendary figures but also offers a unique glimpse into the silent film era. Visitors can pay their respects while exploring the beautifully landscaped grounds and attending special screenings of silent films during summer nights.
- The Ambassador Hotel: The Ambassador Hotel, which stood from 1921 to 2005, was a popular filming location during the silent film era. It served as the backdrop for notable movies such as “It” (1927), starring Clara Bow. The hotel’s elegance and grandeur perfectly captured the spirit of Hollywood during that time. Although the original hotel is no longer standing, its former location remains significant, reminding us of the golden era of silent films.
Exploring the locations where famous silent movies were filmed in Hollywood takes us back to the pioneering days of cinema. From the Hollywood Sign to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and Sunset Boulevard, these landmarks symbolize the magic and allure that continues to make Hollywood the heart of the film industry. It is through these locations that the silent film era lives on, forever etched in the annals of cinematic history.
Some Specific Silent Film Locations on Your Hollywood Tour
Numerous silent movies were filmed in Hollywood during the golden era of silent cinema. Here are some notable examples:
- “The Birth of a Nation” (1915): Directed by D.W. Griffith, this groundbreaking epic was one of the earliest silent films to be shot extensively in and around Hollywood. It played a significant role in establishing the film industry in the area.
- “Intolerance” (1916): Also directed by D.W. Griffith, “Intolerance” explored themes of love and prejudice across four different time periods. Many scenes were filmed on elaborate sets constructed in Hollywood.
- “The Kid” (1921): Charlie Chaplin’s classic comedy-drama was partially filmed in Hollywood and showcased various locations in the area. The film tells the heartwarming story of a tramp who befriends an abandoned child.
- “The Gold Rush” (1925): Another iconic film by Charlie Chaplin, “The Gold Rush” was filmed in various locations in California, including Hollywood. It follows the adventures of Chaplin’s character, the Little Tramp, during the Klondike Gold Rush.
- “Metropolis” (1927): Directed by Fritz Lang, this groundbreaking German expressionist film featured futuristic sets and stunning visual effects. Some scenes were filmed in Hollywood, contributing to its status as a silent film masterpiece.
- “The Artist” (2011): While not a silent film from the golden era, “The Artist” pays homage to the silent era. It was filmed in various locations in Los Angeles, including Hollywood, and depicts the story of a silent film star during the transition to talkies.
These are just a few examples of the many silent movies that were filmed in Hollywood. The area served as a hub for film production during that time, attracting filmmakers from around the world and establishing Hollywood’s reputation as the center of the movie industry.
Chaplin’s “The Kid”
“The Kid” (1921) is a beloved silent film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. The movie tells the story of the Tramp, played by Chaplin, who takes care of an abandoned child, portrayed by Jackie Coogan. While the film predominantly used studio sets, there were a few notable filming locations for “The Kid.”
- Los Angeles Orphan Asylum: The exterior shots of the orphanage where the child is initially left were filmed at the Los Angeles Orphan Asylum. Located at 917 S. Boyle Avenue in Los Angeles, this building provided the backdrop for the emotional scenes of separation.
- Glendale Train Station: The scene in which the Tramp and the child hide from the police officers inside a railroad boxcar was filmed at the Glendale Train Station. The station, located in Glendale, California, provided an authentic setting for the comedic and tender moments shared by Chaplin and Coogan.
- Echo Park: The climax of the film takes place in Echo Park, Los Angeles, where the Tramp fights to rescue the child from the clutches of the orphanage workers. Echo Park’s scenic lake and picturesque surroundings added a dramatic touch to the pivotal scenes of the film.
- Studio Sets: The majority of the filming for “The Kid” took place on studio sets, including Chaplin’s own studio, the Chaplin Studios (later known as the Jim Henson Studios). These sets recreated various urban and residential locations, allowing Chaplin to meticulously craft the world of the film.
While the film primarily relied on constructed sets, the use of real locations like the Los Angeles Orphan Asylum, Glendale Train Station, and Echo Park added authenticity and depth to the storytelling, complementing Chaplin’s iconic performances and emotional narrative in “The Kid.”
Any Hollywood Tour worth its salt will give you some insight into the films and filmmakers that had an impact on what Hollywood eventually became. Some locations still exist. Others exist only in memories and on film.