Los Angeles for Film Fans: Hollywood 4
Fans of John Landis’ first feature, The Kentucky Fried Movie will immediately recognise Yamashiro as the ‘mountain hideaway’ of evil mastermind Dr Klahn (Bong Soo Han) in the film’s A Fistful of Yen martial arts parody.
Yamashiro’s position on a single track road in the Hollywood Hills gives it spectacular views over Hollywood itself – taking inthe Hollywood Sign and the Grifith Observatory – so, thankfully, after falling into disrepair for many years, the restaurant has been beautifully restored and reopened.
To learn about the old – and I mean old – Hollywood, head north up Highland Avenue to the Hollywood Heritage Museum, 2100 North Highland Avenue.
The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B DeMille in 1913, was the first feature film to be made in Hollywood. To house the production, the Jesse L Lasky Feature Play Company rented an old barn on the southeast corner of Selma Avenue and Vine Street, a block south of the now famous Hollywood and Vine intersection.
In 1925, the DeMille-Lasky Barn was moved to Universal Studios, when Universal occupied the Melrose Avenue site where the Paramount lot now stands. It saw duty here as offices, film set and even a gymnasium. In 1983 it was relocated to its current location on Highland Avenue, opposite the Hollywood Bowl.
The wooden building now houses Hollywood Heritage Museum, open Saturday and Sunday, from noon until 4.00 pm.
The Hollywood Bowl itself was built in 1919 in a natural amphitheater, quaintly named Daisy Dell. Its permanent band shell, a distinctive set of concentric arches, was built in 1929, finally being replaced with a larger one in 2004. The Bowl has appeared in several films including the 1937 version of A Star is Born, the 1945 musical Anchors Aweigh and Garry Marshall’s 1988 tearjerker Beaches, with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. Even if you're not enjoying a concert here, its grounds remain open and you can pop in during the day for a glimpse of the famous landmark.
Though the DeMille-Lasky Barn has migrated, bits of the old Hollywood remain (for the time being), amid all the shiny newness. Tim Burton (or his unsung location crew) found the stretch of Cherokee Avenue south of Hollywood Boulevard fitted the bill perfectly for his 50s-set biopic Ed Wood, with Johnny Depp as the enthusiastically wayward director. This is where you’ll find the shop window in which Wood first spots faded legend Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau) trying out coffins for comfort.
Alongside the ‘funeral director’s’ stands Boardner’s Bar, 1652 North Cherokee Avenue, where Wood and his team read the reviews for his wartime stage drama, The Casual Company.
The bar’s signature cocktails reflect its eventful history – try a Black Dahlia (murder victim Elizabeth Short used to drink here), a Crooked Cop or a Bloody Bugsy (with bacon-infused vodka).
Relaxed and unpretentious, Boardner's has enough history to be cool without trying and remains my favourite watering hole in Hollywood. Not that I drink water there.
On the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, directly opposite Cherokee, stands the even more venerable Musso and Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Boulevard. This is genuine old school Tinseltown: the oldest restaurant in Hollywood (it opened in 1919), it was a favoured hangout for writers – F Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler (he supposedly wrote The Big Sleep here) and Dashiell Hammett were regulars.
Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart drank here and it’s still a hangout for Hollywood royalty. Try to get seated in the luxurious older section of the restaurant, and sample the legendary dry martinis – three ounces of gin or vodka with an olive, and the rest on the side in a porcelain decanter.
In the movies, it’s where a befrocked Ed Wood enjoys a director-to-director chat with his hero, Orson Welles (Vincent d’Onofrio), in the Tim Burton film, and it’s also where Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty (Brad Pitt) plot the heist in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven.
More recently, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets up with Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood in the restaurant’s bar, a 1955 addition still referred to as the New Room.