Los Angeles: Beverly Hills | 1

Beverly Hills City Hall, North Crescent Drive, beverly Hills

The gleaming tower of Beverly Hills City Hall

Unlike Hollywood, the city of Beverly Hills very much lives up to its image of money and glamour. Santa Monica Boulevard tears recklessly through the city, daring you to stop and park.

To the south, upscale housing and even more upscale shopping. To the north – lawns and bungalows. Period.

Fittingly, the gleaming gilt of the 1932 Spanish-Baroque Beverly Hills City Hall, North Crescent Drive at Santa Monica Boulevard, familiar from the Beverly Hills Cop movies looks a dream against a deep blue sky.

Rodeo Drive

Retail heaven – Rodeo Drive

Posh shopping heaven Rodeo Drive runs – well, parades elegantly – south from Santa Monica Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard.

Cue montage of strutting fashionistas and shopfronts. Closing down this high end shopping street is not taken lightly, so the Drive is usually seen in a flurry of snatched, on-the-hoof shots.

Appearance is everything and the Drive is constantly undergoing minor nip’n’tuck surgery to keep it that one vital step ahead of potential competitors, so the names and the look of the stores change regularly. The location for Terminator 3 – one of the films which actually set a scene on Rodeo Drive – has already changed almost beyond recognition.

Prada Epicenter, Rodeo Drive

Cutting edge design – the open-fronted Prada Epicenter on – where else? – Rodeo Drive

The current style is white-on-white classic minimalism, with the occasional touch of designer eccentricity (the Prada Epicenter at 343 has lost its front completely and its ovoid shopwindows are set underfoot in the sidewalk). And as its publicity claims: “The dressing rooms throughout the store are equipped with 'magic mirrors': a plasma screen built into the large mirror allowing customers to see themselves both from the front and the back at the same time. A time delay captures and replays movements.”

But of course, by the time you read this, the concept will be as dated as the video cassette.

Via Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills – Dolce Vita style

If you don’t have the clout to call ahead and get that fancy boutique to open up specially for you, then you’ll have to settle for window gawping. The Drive affects a sophisticated European air and, at its southern end, even sprouts a little offshoot that thinks it’s La Dolce Vita-era Rome, complete with steps and fountain.

By the way, if you’re a Beverly Hills Cop fan, don’t waste time searching for the ‘Beverly Palms Hotel’ in which Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) stays – that was the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown.

Rodeo Drive ends at the Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, which I remember fondly as the home for Cornelius in Zira in Escape From the Planet of the Apes, but I guess is a bit more famous as the Pretty Woman hotel. You can (if you’re not on a tight budget) stay here, but don’t reveal your naivety by asking for the Pretty Woman suite, which was no more than a set built at the Disney studios.

Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Forever to be known as the Pretty Woman hotel – the Beverly Wilshire at the foot of Rodeo Drive

If you’re intent on the whole Pretty Woman experience, you’ll want to do at least a bit of window shopping at the store in which Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) gets one over on the snotty assistants. It’s not technically on Rodeo Drive. It was Boulmiche Boutique, 9501 Santa Monica Boulevard, on the corner of the famous Drive, but the last time I checked, was under bandages following another touch of corrective surgery.

A little way to the east, Italian restaurant Il Cielo, 9018 Burton Way, prides itself on being one of the most romantic restaurants in LA, though that’s not the way it turns out for poor Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) when she gets dumped here by Matthew Davis in Legally Blonde.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Beverly Hills

“Our Lady of the Cadillacs” – the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills

Churches are probably not what you think of immediately when Beverly Hills is mentioned, but here they are and – well, OK, the first one is known as ‘Our Lady of the Cadillacs’. Officially, it’s the Church of the Good Shepherd, 505 North Bedford Drive, the site of countless star-studded goodbyes to deceased Hollywoodsters. It’s  where hysterical fans rip the veil from grieving Vicki Lester (Judy Garland) at the memorial service for Norman Maine in George Cukor’s classic 1954 version of A Star Is Born.

Not quite in the same league (but what could be?), the second church is All Saints Episcopal Church, 504 Camden Drive at Santa Monica Boulevard, where George Webber (Dudley Moore) is distracted from spiritual concerns by the worldly form of Jenny Hanley (Bo Derek) in Blake Edwards10.

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