Venice, California and the Movies
Venice Beach stars in hundreds of films featuring famous Hollywood celebrities
In 1910, the first movie "short shot" was filmed in Venice. "Never Again", starred Mary Pickford and Billy Quirk. By 1915 so many movie production companies were filming in Venice, local businesses threatened to ban movie making all together because of all the daily interference. Thankfully this never occurred and silent films continued to use whimsical Venice backdrops; it's miles of picturesque canals, amusement piers, unique architecture and romantic beaches.
Later on, the beach was used to shoot such films as Buster Keaton's "The Camera Man" and several "Our Gang" comedies. Some of the Keystone Kops movies were filmed here, along with Harold Lloyd jumping from a canal bridge.
Movie stars and Hollywood celebrities loved Venice so much that many purchased homes and summer cottages here. They revved up the local night life which was exuberant with parties happening everywhere. Carol Lombard hosted one in Venice Piers' Fun House. Cary Grant and Dennis O'Keefe were among the guests. The Ships Cafe, next to the pier, brought out the celebrities. Many parties occurred on the roof top garden of the King George Hotel, where, in the 1920's the founder of the Foursquare Church, Aimee Semple McPherson disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She turned up weeks later, insisting she had been kidnapped. In the 1970's, Faye Dunaway starred in a TV movie about Aimees "disappearance." The King George Hotel is now an apartment building located at #5 Rose Avenue.
After World War II, Venice lost its glitter, but not its use as a backdrop for great movie-making. In 1958, downtown Venice became a Mexican border town for Orson Wells' "Touch of Evil" starring Charlton Heston. A "border crossing" was even installed on Ocean Front Walk. Roger Corman used Venice for many of his horror movies.
Venice sites have been incorporated as film locations for hundreds of movies. How many of these movies have you seen?
Hollywood Story (Universal) starring Julie Andrews and Richard Conti
Man in the Dark - the first 3-D movie by a major studio (Columbia) starring Edmond O'Brien and Audrey Totter
Touch of Evil (Universal) starring Charlton Heston
Inside Daisy Clover (Warner) starring Robert Redford and Natalie Wood
I Love You Alice B. Toklas (Warner) starring Peter Sellers and Jo Van Fleet
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Palomar) starring Jane Fonda and Gig Young
Dracula vs. Frankenstein (Independent International Pictures) starring Lon Chaney, Jr., Anthony Eisley and Regina Carrol
Cisco Pike (Columbia) starring Gene Hackman, Karen Black and Kris Kristofferson
Harry and Tonto (Fox) starring Art Carney and Ellen Burstyn
Mother, Jugs and Speed (Fox) starring Bill Cosby, Raquel Welsh and Larry Hagman
Grease (Paramount) starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
Roller Boogie (United Artists) starring Linda Blair
The Champ (MGM) starring John Voight, Faye Dunaway and Ricky Schroder
Chine Syndrome (Columbia) starring Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas
American Gigolo (Paramount) starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton
The Jazz Singer (EMI) starring Neil Diamond and Lucy Arnez
Xanadu (Universal) starring Olivia Newton John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck
Down and Out in Beverly Hills (Touchstone) starring Nick Nolte, Bette Midler and Richard Dryfuss
Dragnet (Universal) starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks
The Doors (Carolco) starring Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan
L.A. Story (Rastar) starring Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant
Switch (Columbia) starring Ellen Barkin and Jimmy Smits
White Men Can't Jump (Fox) starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson
Point of No Return (Warner) starring Bridget Fonda and Gabriel Byrne
Speed (Fox) starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock
Mixed Nuts (Tristar) starring Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Julliette Lewis and Adam Sandler
Heat (Warner) starring Al Pacino, Ashley Judd, Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer
American History X (New Line) starring Edward Norton and Edward Furlong
Dogtown and Z-Boys (Sony) starring Stacey Peralta
Lords of Dogtown (Sony/Columbia) starring Emile Hirsch, John Robinson and Rebecca De Mornay
You can hear more about the history of Venice and the movies (and maybe even see some filming being done!) when you take a Venice Beach Walking Tour.