It goes without saying -- Warner Brothers has made some of the greatest classic films ever, from Casablanca to Citizen Kane. Recently I attended an event at the lot -- whilst others thrilled at the free hot pretzels, and the house music blared from Gilmore Girls' gazebo (the party was hosted in the "Stars Hollow" set, one could literally enjoy a coffee in Luke's Diner), I was in starstruck wonderment of a different sort.
I wandered through the facades that once served as the setting for films such as Bonnie & Clyde, or Sinatra's Oceans 11; as you can imagine, I was in heaven.
I had the opportunity to take the tram tour a couple of times. I had done this several years ago, but WB has changed a lot. They have added a classic films section, which made me insanely happy. Seeing the costumes Bogie and Bergman wore during the iconic "Here's lookin' at you" scene from Casablanca gave me goosebumps. Call me a silver screen dork!
I loved that the tram drivers threw in a couple of classic film stories, and I wanted to share them here.
While we were on the Big Bang Theory set, she shared that occasionally they will see a cat taking a little snooze on the couches. It turns out that these cats are the progeny of cats let loose by James Cagney -- who wanted to help control the pest problem on the lot. Does that make these cats Hollywood royalty? Alas, I didn't sight one during our visit.
As we drove past Stage 29, she pointed out the egregiously large roof -- it is the largest stage not just on the lot, but in all of North America. Why? Because Marion Davies wanted a tall stage. WB said no, they wouldn't go to the trouble, or spare the expense. So what did she do? Talk to her rich boyfriend, William Randolph Hearst. The entire building was LIFTED off the ground, you can see the original level begins just above those pillars on the bottom half.
One might think this was a little frivolous of Marion Davies, but remember, she returned the favor to good 'ole Hearst two-fold later on, as I have recounted in this article about the ghosts of Hearst Castle.
Warner Bros. continues adding to the tour -- with thousands of guests visiting every day, it has become quite a popular thing to do in Los Angeles. It is getting more and more commercial, but I love that it is still primarily a functioning studio -- the tours are secondary, and you never get the same tour twice. In fact, the guide mentioned that sometimes the stages are so overbooked that they simply take that day's tour group on a parking lot tour! Even the guides don't know what they are going to be doing that day, they get the route each morning.
In other words, while we may not encounter a mechanical Godzilla, maybe one of these days I will encounter one of James Cagney's cats...