Venice, California and the Movies

The Classic Interactive Venice Beach Walking Tour with an Emphasis on the Boardwalk

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?

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.