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Friday September 17th 2021

Los Angeles for Film Fans: West Hollywood 2

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Barney's Beanery, Santa Monica Boulevard
Barney's Beanery

Past the Emser is the boisterously raucous Barney’s Beanery, 8447 Santa Monica Boulevard, once an out-of-town truckers' stop-off for chili and beans on the old Route 66 between Hollywood and the coast.

Popular with the movie crowd since it opened in 1920, Barney’s boasts 85 different beers and 45 kinds of chilli. Janis Joplin spent her last evening here, Quentin Tarantino wrote scripts and, if you watch Columbo, you’ll know it’s the dishevelled tec’s local hostelry (though the sedately cosy interior is most definitely not the real Beanery).

Barney's Beanery, Santa Monica Boulevard
Barney's Beanery – fun times!

See Barney’s on the big screen in Brian de Palma’s Body Double, Oliver Stone’s The Doors – with Jim Morrison (Val Kilmer) demonstrating his freewheeling rock’n’roll attitude to restroom convention by taking a pee against the bar – and in Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s tasteful-as-ever Stuck On You (as Greg Kinnear tries to talk conjoined twin Matt Damon into a surgical separation).

Genessee Avenue, West Hollywood
Freddy Krueger on the loose...Genessee Avenue, West Hollywood

Back to West Sunset, where largely palm-free side streets have become an ideal stand-in for small-town America.

Just south of Sunset, the private house at 1428 North Genesee Avenue was the home where Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) was tormented by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in the original 1984 A Nightmare On Elm Street. Across the street, at 1419 North Genesee Avenue, lived boyfriend Glen (the first big-screen appearance of Johnny Depp), before he’s reduced to a gusher of gore.

There’s more old-school horror two blocks west, north of Sunset toward Selma Avenue, where you may recognise Orange Grove Avenue as ‘Haddonfield, Illinois’, circa 1978.

1530 Orange Grove Avenue is the house where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) babysits in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Michael Myers goes on his bloody rampage across the street at 1537 Orange Grove Avenue.

Orange Grove Avenue, West Hollywood
...and now Michael Myers – Orange Grove Avenue, West Hollywood

It’s not long before we’re back to glitz with the stretch of Sunset Boulevard from Harper Avenue to Beverly Hills, which was the famous Sunset Strip – though little of its past glamour remains.

The Garden of Allah, the site of drinking and debauchery impressive even by Hollywood standards, has gone. Nothing to do with the Arabian Nights, the hotel, restaurant and bar complex began life as the Garden Of Alla – punningly named after its owner, silent screen star Alla Nazimova. After being constantly mis-spelled, the exotic, Eastern-sounding version was finally adopted officially.

The Garden stood at 8152 Sunset from 1927 until being demolished 1959. Maybe one day tourists will make pilgrimages to see the Washington Mutual Bank, which now stands on the site. What do you think?

Long gone, too, is the establishment that gave rise to one of Tinseltown’s most persistent myths. Trader Joe’s at 8024 Sunset occupies the site of the old Schwab’s Pharmacy, where legend has it that Lana Turner was discovered, sitting at the soda fountain. Pure invention, of course, but that’s what Hollywood’s all about.

The area gets a moment of on-screen fame when the explosively frustrated D-FENS (Michael Douglas) shoots up the phone booth on this corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard in Joel Schumacher’s zeitgeisty 80s drama Falling Down.

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