Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Batman '66 and the Hollywood Museum

Earlier this month, some old college buddies and I visited the Hollywood Museum. I'd never visited before, though upon first hearing about it, I assumed it was a "tourist trap" given its location in the heart of Hollywood—so "heart" in fact that it's located at Hollywood and Highland, the location of the Dolby Theatre where the Academy Awards are held and just a half block from the old Grauman's Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Theatre).

The specific occasion for this field trip was to see a "Batman '66" exhibition devoted to the 1960's Batman television show.

The museum is located in the historic Max Factor building, making the structure itself an icon of art deco architecture. (Factor, of course, was a famed Hollywood make-up artist who helped mainstream the acceptance of cosmetics and make-up.) Some of the original make-up rooms and equipment are re-created and restored in the building.

The museum is otherwise a shrine to Hollywood memorabilia. While classic Hollywood, of course, is well represented, films throughout the decades are featured, with temporary exhibits, like "Batman '66" intertwined among what I assume is the permanent collection. The museum is densely packed with artifacts, but nevertheless artfully displayed.

The "Batman '66" exhibition features costumes and props from the show, as well as collectibles, film clips, etc. For my friends and I, who were children when the show hit the air (or at least in re-runs immediately following its run), it was a great time to reminisce. A horror film exhibit was also on display on the bottom level, as well as exhibitions devoted to Marilyn Monroe, costume designers, etc. On top of that, the museum is surprisingly very affordably priced ($15 for an adult ticket).

By sheer coincidence, we visited the museum the day before this year's Academy Awards, when much of the area was already closed off to traffic. We saw parts of the red carpet, but otherwise foot and tourist traffic seemed fairly normal. Though my friends and I came from two different directions, we also decided to all take the L.A. Metro train to the area to avoid the hassle of traffic and parking. It helped that there is actually a Hollywood/Highland station on the line, so we were let off at close proximity to the museum. Other than that, the only real indication we were in Oscar season was the fact that when we decided to go to the famed Hollywood eatery, Musso and Frank's, we found a wait for a table to be inordinately long due to the fact that one room in the restaurant had been reserved for an Academy Awards film editors party that was underway when we arrived. We ended up going to another old Hollywood haunt, Michei's,  founded in 1949, and billed as "Hollywood's oldest Italian restaurant." It turned out to be a great choice, the food was terrific.

Anyway, whether your visiting or a local, if you're a fan of the movies (and who isn't?), a visit to Hollywood should be on your itinerary and a stop at the Hollywood Museum recommended if you have the time.

To see the full photogallery, click here. Some photos from the gallery are embedded below.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Back to Back to the Future

The film Back to the Future is one of my son's favorite films—I have great memories for them too and still have memories of how blown away I was when I first saw the film at its opening release.

I've long known that the location of the fictional Twin Pines Mall in the film was Puente Hills Mall in the City of Industry/Rowland Heights area of the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. I have family who live only an exit away and when I was attending UCLA n the 1980s, I would occasionally visit them and sometimes visit the mall, sometimes taking my younger cousins as company.

My son recently learned from one of his favorite vloggers that the mall actually has a Twin Pines Mall sign on display. My family still lives in the area so I promised that next time we were passing by, we'd stop by.  (In October 2015, there apparently was a celebration there to mark the day Marty McFly showed up there in the "future.")

That opportunity came up near the end of February for a family party (in fact, it was coincidentally my birthday as well). I wanted to be sure, however, that the display was still there, and after finding no mention of it online or at the mall's website, I called the mall directly. Fortunately, the person at the information desk there was not only able to confirm the display was still there but also its location.

I also had the presence of mind to find out where the exterior scenes—featuring the Libyan terrorists—were filmed. In the film (see the screencap accompanying this post), you could clearly see a JC Penney in the background. It turns out that JC Penney closed years ago and was replaced by a 24-Hour Fitness Center.

We parked next to the fitness center and before going into the mall, took a walk to get a good vantage shot of where the exterior shots were filmed. You'll see we were right there, though we took our photos a little bit to one side of the film shot. In the photos, you can see the service road both in the screencap and our photos—it actually was a fairly busy thoroughfare, such that it was impossible to safely take a photo standing in the middle of the street. At one point, a car full of young people stopped and asked if we were taking photos because of the film—when I confirmed we were, they laughed and said, "We were just talking about it!" They thanked me when I told them about the sign inside the mall.

The sign itself is clearly displayed though I saw no explicit reference to Back the Future.

Inside the mall, there is also a general memorabilia store for autographed items and such, and in the window display was a Back to the Future poster, signed by the cast (presumably). (I have that poster as well, signed by the artist, Drew Struzan.)

Anyway, it was a fun detour on this trip!