Friday, April 06, 2018

Classics Made Here Preview Tour at Warner Bros. Studio

April 4th was the 95th anniversary of Jack, Harry, Sam, and Albert Warner founding their eponymous studio, Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. celebrated its anniversary by unveiling a new edition of the company's studio tour, titled "Classics Made Here."

I've been fortunate to visit the lot a handful of times over the years, but it's always great to return, and I'm enthused about there now being a tour dedicated specifically toward the interests of classic film and television fans. During Wednesday's media preview I was able to take an abbreviated version of the new tour.

The tour will take place on Fridays and Saturdays beginning May 4th, but attendees in town for the TCM Classic Film Festival may sign up up to take the tour either just before or just after the festival, on April 25th, 26th, or 30th, 2018. There is a special $20 TCM discount off the regular price for these tours, which may be purchased here.

The media event was fun from the start, as I was able to drive right onto the backlot; for someone who loves "River City" of THE MUSIC MAN (1962) and "Stars Hollow" of TV's GILMORE GIRLS, driving down the streets myself was a slightly surreal experience. It's an odd feeling to be driving for the first time on streets one knows well simply from a lifetime of watching so many productions filmed there.

Here's a look at the valet parking and check-in on "Midwest Street" as we arrived...that white building peeking through on the right is the church from THE WALTONS.

Another angle of my car parked where so many wonderful films and TV shows have filmed. One almost expects to see Professor Harold Hill or Lorelai Gilmore walk around the corner!

A wide-angle shot of the town! I spotted the GILMORE GIRLS gazebo, seen on the show in the middle of the park area, stored elsewhere on the lot.

Two of the many houses in this area familiar from THE MUSIC MAN, GILMORE GIRLS and more:

The event kicked off with an enjoyable talk by Leonard Maltin and actress Carole Cook. Maltin recounted some of the lot's history along with interviewing Cook about her experiences working on the lot:

Then it was off to the tour cart with our informative guide, Emily. Emily is a classic film enthusiast who contributed to the creation of the new tour.

The tour was a shortened version of what guests will experience, with the tour itself and the self-guided museum portion of the tour projected to combine for as long as 3 and a half hours.

Photography was a bit tricky, as far as getting clear shots, since our particular group didn't get off the tram. Depending on what's happening on the lot, I'd anticipate that guests on the longer "official" tour might have more time to indulge in taking some more carefully framed snapshots!

Evening Update: Tonight I saw THE HARD WAY (1943) at UCLA; the climactic scene where Joan Leslie and Dennis Morgan part ways with Ida Lupino was filmed right here, outside this theater and alley set:

And Joan Leslie's high school graduation photo in THE HARD WAY was taken right here, back on Midwest Street:

This building was a cafe seen in the flashback sequence in CASABLANCA (1942):

Across from the CASABLANCA building, this was the location of the backlot coffee shop in LA LA LAND (2016):

GILMORE GIRLS fans will recognize Miss Patty's Dance Studio:

The building with the columns at the end of the street was seen in many films, including gangster films of the '30s. I've walked down the "subway" stairs in the foreground on a previous tour; once you get to the bottom there's just a small area where a few people can stand. It's the subway to nowhere!

This plaque honors studio employees, from stars to maintenance men, who served in World War II:

The last part of the tour includes a display of costumes from classic Warner Bros. films, including CASABLANCA:

From left to right, here are gowns worn by Elizabeth Taylor in GIANT (1956), Joan Crawford in THE DAMNED DON'T CRY (1950), Bette Davis in DECEPTION (1946), Lauren Bacall in YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950), and Olivia de Havilland in IT'S LOVE I'M AFTER (1937):

This gown seen early is GIANT is so memorable I recognized it without looking at the sign!

There were roughly a dozen costumes from the "Ascot Gavotte" sequence in MY FAIR LADY (1965):

And costumes worn by Natalie Wood and James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955):

I mentioned THE MUSIC MAN earlier in this post...these items may be seen in the museum.

Classic film fans are sure to enjoy the tour's close-up look at where so many great films were made, and the items in the museum are a nice plus. I had a great afternoon and hope to return in the future.

Thanks to Warner Bros. and Sparkloft Media for providing media access to this event.


Blogger Seth said...

This does look interesting. I’d contemplated touring either Paramount or Warner Bros during my LA trip last August, but decided to do neither since they seemed long, expensive, and very light on classic movie emphasis. If I make a return trip to Hollywood, I’ll strongly consider this tour.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

Thanks for sharing these great photos, Laura! What a great experience.

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura, I really enjoyed reading this article and viewing the wonderful photos. I always liked the Warner Bros. style of movies during the 1930-1966 years. Also, the television years of 1955-1965.

6:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for your comments, I'm delighted you enjoyed the photos!

Seth, I feel the Warner Bros. tour in any format is worth taking at least once for the experience of seeing so many familiar landmarks. It really changes the way you watch movies, as you'll find yourself picking out backlot streets in movies dating back to the '30s!

I hope each of you might have the opportunity to do this some day!

Best wishes,

10:32 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

What a fun experience, to walk through all those familiar places and costumes! Hope to visit this someday, thanks for all the great photos and details.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

After I saw your tweets about going I was very much looking forward to seeing your post. Thanks for reporting back. This looks like a fun tour.

1:45 PM  

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