As classic film fans, we spend our time watching films which are often many decades older than ourselves. We may read vintage fan magazines, scholarly books, or biographies to learn more about the films and stars we love… we may watch every film from a certain actor’s filmography… but there are two unbeatable ways to truly feel close to classic Hollywood, and those are through seeing films on the big screen (as they were intended to be seen), and through playing tourist. Today on TMP, a list of ten classic film-related sites I’d love to visit!
10. Fairmount, Indiana
I’ve liked James Dean’s films for many years but gained a new appreciation for his work after my grandmother passed away. He was one of her favorite actors, which I didn’t learn until late last year. I bought a box set of the three films he starred in and re-watched/reviewed each of them in memory of Grammy, reviving my own interest in Dean as an actor/cultural icon. Fairmount, Indiana is his hometown and is very proud of its son. There are several museums and sights in the town of interest to James Dean fans, including the James Dean Gallery and Fairmount Museum, his gravesite, and the shop where he bought his first motorcycle.
9. Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Hollywood, California
I feel like this is kind of a must-visit for any film fan, regardless of one’s favorite era. In any other city it may seem odd to visit a cemetery for any reason other than to visit the grave of a relative, but having watched so many films from our favorite stars, they begin to feel like family — or at least hold a special place in our hearts. There are many actors I’d like to pay my respects to here.
8. Bodega Bay, CA
The Birds isn’t my top-favorite Hitchcock film, but it is a film that I love, and most of it was shot in Bodega or Bodega Bay, California. Several buildings used in the film are no longer standing, but it would still be fun to visit the town to see the bay and the schoolhouse, and to walk in the footsteps of the very talented folks involved in making the film.
7. Witch’s Dungeon Classic Movie Museum – Bristol, Connecticut
Aside from a few films shown to me by my grandparents, classic horror was my first introduction to old Hollywood, and Vincent Price my first favorite classic star. This museum features wax figures and movie props ranging from Chaney to Vincent to Chaney, Jr. to The Exorcist!
6. Hollywood Heritage Museum – Hollywood, California
I learned of this museum quite recently after seeing a few people tweet about it during TCMFF. It looks like they have a lot of cool stuff — movie memorabilia, photographs, objects owned by classic stars, and even a recreation of Cecil B. DeMille’s office. The fact that it is housed within one of Hollywood’s earliest studio buildings, the Lasky-DeMille barn, only adds to the appeal!
5. Bocca della Verita – Rome, Italy
In one of the most iconic scenes from a classic film, Gregory Peck plays a trick on Audrey Hepburn at this portico sculpture — a very charming moment from a very charming film. Roman Holiday is perhaps my all-time favorite romantic comedy, if I were forced to make a list of ’em. And every time I re-watch it, it leaves me with the urge to visit Rome!
4. Music Box Theater – Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is but a four-hour train ride away from me, and I’m always looking for an excuse to buy a ticket! The next time I find myself in the city, I hope to catch a silent film screening at this historic movie house. They mostly show independent and international pictures nowadays, but the occasional silent screening gets snuck into the schedule, and what better place to watch a silent film than in a theater built in 1929?
3. Pont au Double – Paris, France
Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn stroll along the Seine near this bridge in one of my all-time favorite films, Charade. Enjoying an ice cream cone here is definitely on my bucket list!
2. The McCrea Ranch – Thousand Oaks, California
Joel McCrea and Frances Dee owned this Santa Rosa Valley ranch beginning in the 1930s. It was a working ranch, where the McCreas lived and raised their three children when they weren’t making movies. Today, the ranch’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and while the main house is closed to the public most of the time, visitors can attend special events at the ranch, including film screenings! Joel McCrea is one of my favorite actors, so I’m dying to visit this place. This July, coincidentally my birthday month, they’re doing an under-the-stars showing of The Great Man’s Lady starring Mr. McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck, which has me very tempted to book a trip to California.
1. The Lon Chaney Cabin – Inyo National Forest
A visit to this cabin in the John Muir Wilderness would combine two of my loves: the great outdoors and the man of a thousand faces. Lon Chaney, Sr. is a legendary talent and lands high on my list of favorite actors. It requires a hike to get to the doors are tightly locked, but I’d love to see this remote, stone-built home that Lon Chaney had constructed for an escape from Hollywood.
My full list of must-visit places is, of course, much larger than 10. These are just the places that I’ve really been itching to visit lately. Feel free to share your own travel wish list, or the best classic film sites you’ve already visited, in the comments!