Did a full day walking tour of LA. Our tour guide Damien was very knowledgeable & passionate about giving us all the information in a clear & concise way. The tour was very well planned & organised & was not tiring.
We did The Real Hollywood tour & loved it! The tour was at a great pace & the guide (Vicky) was very knowledgeable & made the tour fun. Thank you!
Stuart was so knowledgeable & was worth the day with him. I had been to LA multiple times before but this is the first time I had taken a tour – so thrilled to have this experience with my mom & sister. I would recommend this tour again & again.
We had an amazing DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Damien & Dante… thank you very much from the Italian girls… very interesting & funny… absolutely recommended!
This tour was awesome! Stuart is very knowledgeable, likeable & fun. The stops on the tour were very interesting & I learned a lot. I’ve been on quite a few tours of this nature & this was one of my favorites – highly recommend!
Did a walking tour of LA (LA in a Day). Vicky started us off with the Hollywood tour & Damien (who is also the owner) was our guide for the rest of the day. The entire day was awesome, I suggest this tour. There isn’t that much walking, to be honest. It’s very fun!
My boyfriend & I took the DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Stuart as our guide & had the most amazing time! We had experiences we will never forget! We were able to see parts & people of Los Angeles that we never would have without Stuart. I give this 10/10. If we visit again, this will be at the top of our to do list!
Absolutely amazing! Highly recommend taking both The Real Hollywood Tour & the Central Downtown LA tour! Our time in LA wouldn’t have been the same. Great way to learn about the city, see it from a different angle, explore the local life & learn about its history & filming industry. Damien our guide was fantastic!
Sylvie was our host & was fantastic. She had a lot of local knowledge & gave her unique perspective as someone who had moved to the area many years ago, so she had an outsider’s as well as an insider’s perspective. The tour gave us a great overview of Santa Monica & Venice & set us up for a great rest of the day.
We took 2 tours, the Santa Monica & Venice Bike tour (with Sylvie) & the Real Hollywood tour (with Damien). Both were great & highly recommended. Sylvie & Damien were informative, knowledgeable & easy to talk to. They were like you were with friends. We were traveling as a family of 4 with 2 boys (15 & 12). We all enjoyed the tours.
12 Movies Set in Hollywood
For this list we’ve focused only on movies set in Hollywood – both the neighborhood and the entertainment industry. It’s often said that Hollywood (the industry) loves to make movies about itself and, although that may not be entirely true, it is an important genre that’s proven consistently interesting to both audiences and filmmakers (Hollywood, the recent Ryan Murphy show, being a good example of that).
If you’re visiting Hollywood (the neighborhood) consider watching these movies either before or after your trip, they’re all classics and you can probably stream some of them on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Youtube. It’s fun to spot places that you’ve been when they’re being used as locations in movies, and what could be more meta than visiting a Hollywood location that’s in a Hollywood movie?
We pass many of these locations are on our daily Real Hollywood Tour.
Films That Used Hollywood as a Location
TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE (1914)
The first ever Hollywood feature comedy (coming in at a then lengthy 82 minutes) this early Charlie Chaplin movie (also starring Mable Normand and Marie Dressler), was mostly filmed on and around Hollywood Boulevard itself. The film is a great showcase for the comic genius of Chaplin and it was one of many he made during this period (including over thirty movies just in 1914) that turned him into the first ever global super-star.
Of course at the time Hollywood was unknown to the vast majority of people on the planet and this was one of the films that really put the Boulevard on the map - quite literally, since it had only recently had the name bestowed on it (in 1910). You can watch it here.
If you're interested in Charlie Chaplin's Los Angeles, read this article, which lists eight key locations in the city that are particularly associated with him.
WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? (1932)
The first version of A Star is Born (which was, once again, remade in 2018), starring Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman, it’s one of the earliest movies to portray the film industry (which was still fairly new then), as well as being a classic amongst movies set in Hollywood.
By the early 1930’s Hollywood had recovered from the Wall Street Crash and was entering what was to become known as its Golden Age, dominated by the big studios in the area, like Paramount, Warner Brothers, RKO, Universal Pictures, MGM, United Artists and Twentieth Century Fox. Watch What Price Hollywood? to see how fame-obsessed culture had become even in the 1930’s – and to see what Hollywood looked like back then.
SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
Another film in which Hollywood is a state of mind as much as an industry or area, this is a stone-cold classic that never gets old. William Holden visits several famous Hollywood landmarks, including the legendary Schwab’s Drug Store, which was on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Laurel Avenue (it was torn down in the 1980’s), Paramount Studios and his apartment building, on N Ivar Street. The mansion in which Norma Desmond lives isn’t actually on Sunset Boulevard in reality, but in Hancock Park, and its swimming pool was built just for this movie.
Sunset Boulevard is the ultimate Hollywood cautionary tale, the idea of the faded movie star, living a life now completely isolated from the world by their money and fame, has passed into our cultural lexicon.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) – TOP PHOTO
The last movie James Dean made, before his untimely death later that year, Rebel Without a Cause (also starring Sal Mineo and Nathalie Wood) used a host of locations in Hollywood and Los Feliz. The abandoned mansion Dean and his friends break into is actually the one in which Norma Desmond lives in Sunset Boulevard (see above) and they play around in the empty pool that Joe Gillis falls into in that movie (a couple of years later the mansion was actually demolished).
One of the most famous sequences in the movie was shot at the Griffith Observatory, which has a bust of James Dean from which you can get a great photo of the Hollywood Sign.
LETHAL WEAPON (1987)
The quintessential 1980’s buddy-buddy, loose-cannon cop action movie, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover chase criminals and create mayhem all over the city, but where would the villain’s lair be? A nightclub on Hollywood Boulevard of course! Lethal Weapon is also emblematic of many movies set in Los Angeles, in the sense that the city is presented as a place where bad things happen – violent crime, natural disasters, alien invasions etc.
PRETTY WOMAN (1990)
One of the most popular romantic comedies of all time, Julia Roberts’ apartment is on Las Palmas, right off the Walk of Fame. You can see how Hollywood Boulevard has really cleaned up since the 1980’s (prostitutes don't line the street now, but then neither do movie stars, like Richard Gere, meet their dates there). Who can forget the opening lines: “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood”.
You knew Pretty Woman would be high on the list of movies set in Hollywood, right?
A love letter to the early pioneering days of the film industry, when Los Angeles, and Hollywood, was first becoming the movie capital of America (and the world). Chaplin uses several locations in Hollywood that still exist, including Chaplin’s own studio complex (on Sunset and La Brea, although its unfortunately closed to the public) and other historic spots like the Musso and Frank Grill, near Hollywood and Highland. Still Robert Downey Jr.’s finest hour? He was Oscar nominated for his performance, which seems unlikely to happen for his role as Iron Man.
This is a sub-section of movies set in Hollywood, that is about movies being made in Hollywood.
THE PLAYER (1992)
A darkly comic tale set amongst the Studio backlots, industry watering-holes and million-dollar mansions of Hollywood – and Los Angeles never comes out of these films looking good (at least morally, on a surface level it’s beautiful). Hollywood Center Studios, Sunset Boulevard and Hollywood Boulevard itself, all make appearances in this satire about a Studio producer (Tim Robbins) who just can’t seem to concentrate on covering up a crime he committed.
The Player is also famous for the dozens of cameos from famous actors and Hollywood “players”, mostly appearing as themselves, in this late Robert Altman classic.
Another popular action movie set in Los Angeles, this time from the 1990’s, Speed was Keanu Reeves’ most successful movie until the Matrix Trilogy. The movie filmed all over the city, including in downtown, but the famous denouement, when the subway train shoots out of the tunnel and into the street, was filmed at Hollywood and Highland, where construction was taking place at the time on the Metro Red Line subway.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997)
Beautifully shot movie that’s set in 1950’s Los Angeles, starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger, L.A. Confidential uses a wealth of Hollywood locations including the Frolic Room at the Pantages Theater (which we visit for a cocktail on our Hollywood Speakeasy Bar Tour), Café Formosa and Boardners.
Also look out for the historic Crossroads of the World, on Sunset Boulevard, which was the location of the office of Sid Hudgen’s scandal rag, Hush Hush. The Crossroads of the World was also the location of the Screenwriter’s agent’s office in Argo.
THE AVIATOR (2004)
Martin Scorsese’s biopic about the billionaire Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) uses several Hollywood locations that date from the 1930’s, including the Pantages Theater, Graumann’s Chinese Theater (as it was then) and the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Sowden House, in Los Feliz.
Although Howard Hughes was many things, and the title of the movie refers to his work as an airplane designer and pilot, The Aviator mostly focuses on his career as a Hollywood mogul.
LA LA LAND (2016) - PHOTO ABOVE
Fun, bright and breezy throwback to the musicals that the Hollywood Studios used to make in the 1950’s and 60’s. Lead characters Mia and Sebastian dance and sing their way around the neighborhood (watch out for the Knickerbocker, the Roosevelt and the You are the Star mural) and it looks beautiful. Don’t be disappointed if you visit Hollywood and it doesn’t look quite as good as it does in La La Land. Always remember – it’s a Hollywood movie, it’s not about reality.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (2019) - BONUS
We had to include Quentin Tarantino's entertaining take on late-late Golden-Age Hollywood. While the movie might not be that historically accurate in some respects (erm, an aging Hollywood stuntman didn't foil the Manson Murders), where it does score highly is in its recreation of 1960's Hollywood.
Leo's Rick Dalton meets his agent at Musso and Frank Grill, right on Hollywood Boulevard - the kind of meeting you still often see there. And the place looks exactly the same (it has since 1919!) The two leads spend large parts of the film driving around the neighborhood and whole stretches of Sunset Boulevard were retro-fitted for filming, in 2018,
FILM NOIR AND LOS ANGELES
If you enjoy the genre read Film Noir: a Dark Side of the City of Angels, which describes how this new style of movie (which includes several films on this list) was born in LA in the 1940's.
If you have any feedback on where to 12 Movies Set in Hollywood, or if you have some recommendations of your own, please email us and let us know. We’ll be sure to take it into account.
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