If you live in or are visiting Los Angeles, feeling Laurel and Hardy’s presence may seem a bit of a stretch. Thanks to being part of a Stan & Ollie press tour (to celebrate the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release), I discovered these comedic icons were much closer than imagined.
The first stop on the tour was the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which is housed in the Lasky-Demille Barn (built in 1901). The museum, which sits on a Hollywood Bowl Parking lot, is a total treasure for movie buffs, as archival photographs, movie props and memorabilia are housed in the structure. Stan Taffel, president of the Cinecon Classic Film Festival, was kind enough to spend the day discussing Laurel and Hardy and the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Taffel also elaborated on the formation and growth of Sons of the Desert, an organization whose goal is to spread “the love and joy through the films of Stan Laurel (and) Oliver Hardy.”
Though it’s only open on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday, noon till 4 pm), the Hollywood Heritage Museum also holds this event called Evening @ The Barn where films are screened (with what I’m assuming are excellent prints) at the venue.
Next stop was Culver City, aka the “Heart of Screenland” (and current area of massive development and urban growth). I lived in the area for two and a half years back in the late nineties, and I remember when Culver Hotel was more of historical site than an actual destination. Now the hotel is busy as can be (a parking lot is currently being built a few steps away), but thankfully it still retains a certain “Hollywood” magic.
My sister had her wedding at the Culver Hotel and our family spent a memorable Mother’s Day at the hotel several years back. Plus, my old Westwood One office was just a block away, so I’ve spent many a time gazing at this beautiful structure. Now I know, thanks to this tour, a little bit more about its history.
There are several plaques commemorating Laurel and Hardy’s work, and if you end up walking on Main St. break out your phone and snap a picture at The Wallace. Of course, I’m sure you can snap pictures of the food and the actual establishment, but you’ll also want to take a snapshot of this:
Also if you ever eat or have eaten at The Wallace, tell me what you think!
It’s great to see Culver City continue to flourish after all these years of being a relatively one horse town (I do miss the cozy aspect of the city). Back in the late nineties, Culver City was a place you would drive past to get to Hollywood, the beach, or even LAX, and now it’s a highly popular area to live and work. Whether or not it’s on an up or down swing, Culver City will always be known for its connection to Hollywood history thanks to Hal Roach Studios (where the Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang films were shot).
The Laurel and Hardy trip would not be complete without a stop at Silver Lake’s Music Box Steps, the site where Laurel and Hardy’s iconic 1932 short The Music Box was filmed. Climbing up and down the stars (a fellow writer on the tour counted 134 steps) wasn’t as hard as imagined, and it’s amazing to think that a couple of these residences uses these stairs to enter and leave their domicile.
I still get a bit lost amidst the Silver Lake streets, but Vendome, aside from being a must see site for movie buffs, is a beautiful and quiet residential neighborhood. So if you’re anywhere near Silver Lake, give this tucked away corner of goodness a bit of your time (and climb those steps!!)
After the tour wrapped up we all received goodie bags courtesy of the Hollywood Heritage Museum, and the kind folks at MPRM also provided us with a Stan & Ollie Blu-ray. The flick, featuring Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy, centers on the duo’s comedic tour in Britain back in 1953. Both actors are great in their respective roles, and the story, while attempting to capture the essence of these iconic artists, is also an evocative look at the beginnings of a solid friendship. The pair weren’t true friends during the height of their career, as their bond actually developed while on tour.
Stan & Ollie hits Blu-ray and DVD March 26 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.