Walk (silently) in the footsteps of the 'The Artist'
“The Artist,” a silent film about the silent-film era, has been nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture, best actor and best director, and tells the story of fading silent film star George Valentin (played by Jean Dujardin) and chorus girl Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an unlikely pair whose paths cross repeatedly as their careers take very different turns.
Set in the Los Angeles of the 1920s, the film was shot in the Los Angeles of today, using many familiar and iconic locations, including the former home of America’s silent movie sweetheart, Mary Pickford, as backdrops.
Fans of “The Artist” visiting Los Angeles may want to visit some locales seen in the film, but few of those spots are regular stops on the popular Hollywood bus tours.
That’s why LA INC. The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau put together an annotated list of locations featured in the movie that visitors may use for a free, self-guided tour.
“There are many places in Los Angeles that are filmed all the time for movies,” said LA INC. spokesperson Beth Brett. “This film gives us an opportunity to highlight some special LA locations that are little known.”
For one of the most visually striking and symbolic scenes in the movie, George and Peppy are shown passing each other on an ornate stairway in the fictional Kinograph Studios. The stairway is in the Bradbury Building at 304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles.
Two homes in the Hancock Park neighborhood have roles in “The Artist.” 104 Fremont Place is used as the heyday home of George Valentine, while 56 Fremont Place, the former home of America’s (real) silent movie sweetheart, Mary Pickford, stands in for the mansion Peppy Miller lives in.
An art deco haberdashery that is now the upscale Cicada Restaurant (617 S. Olive Street, Los Angeles) in the historic Oviatt Building plays the role of the restaurant where George and Peppy dine, separately, on the eve of their movie premieres. According to LA INC., this was also used for the restaurant where Julia Roberts dined with Richard Gere in the film “Pretty Woman.”
Other Los Angeles locations on the tour include:
- The Los Angeles Theatre, 615 S. Broadway: Built in 1931 in the baroque-style, this theater played host to the premiere of “City Lights” starring Charlie Chaplin. In “The Artist,” the theater is where George premieres his last silent film “Tears of Love,” which he produced and financed with the last of his money.
- American Film Institute, 2021 N. Western Avenue: The exterior of the AFI campus near Griffith Park is used as the hospital where George is taken after he purposely starts a fire inside his barren apartment. Peppy is seen racing to the front of the hospital to be by George’s side.
- Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. 8th Street: This classic 1927 building is used both as the interior of the hospital where George is treated after being rescued from a house fire and as the place where his belongings are auctioned off to the highest bidder.
- Hancock Park, Oakwood Avenue between Beverly and Melrose avenues; Hudson Avenue from 3rd Street to Beverly Avenue: Hancock Park is the setting for many of the film’s exterior shots. George’s Jack Russell terrier, played by Golden Collar winner Uggie, runs down Oakwood Avenue in an effort to alert a beat police officer that George’s apartment is on fire. In another scene Peppy speeds down Hudson Avenue to see George.
“With this self-guided tour,” said Brett, “visitors can look at some amazing locations in an iconic city through a film that has already become iconic in its own right.”
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