Day 1,506 of Traveling the World | Los Angeles, CA | March 18, 2022

Lights! Cameras! Action! Yes, today it is the world of movies…or, more accurately, the world of motion pictures, visiting Hollywood’s first museum celebrating film history, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It almost sounds anachronistic, doesn’t it? We never say we are going to see a motion picture, just a movie or a film.

The museum opened in September after being in the planning and construction phases for many years. Our primary reaction after visiting all the floors and wandering through each and every exhibit is – the museum is much, much too small and too limited for such a vast subject. The history of the awards, and films in general, needs several large warehouses to do it justice. (Debbie Reynolds, who had one of the largest collections of movie memorabilia and costumes, stored it all in several huge warehouses. She had even offered the collection to the Academy of Motion Pictures, but they declined. So off to auction the items went, dispersing around the world.) This museum, then, is the merest of peeks. It does take on film’s early history, with some footage from the Lumiere brothers films of 1895 (in fabulous condition and clear as a bell!), and even showed early zoetropes, which were the beginning of animation. Where props, costumes, and innovative idea boards were displayed, they tended to be from the same nine or ten movies featured, a far cry from displaying more than 125 years of history. The museum does do a great job of providing film clips throughout, with numerous places to sit and watch. One of the most interesting was a 26-minute film put that was a compilation of sci-fi films, shown on a curved 180-degree screen.

We are horror and sci-fi fans, so we found that exhibit especially good. The clips were organized to show how different movies handled the same subject matter, such as space travel and the first communication between aliens and humans. In general, they became more sophisticated over time, but some earlier films, such as Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The War of the Worlds, were way ahead of their time. Metropolis, by the way, influenced many other films, such as Star Wars and one of our favorites, Blade Runner. That display reminded us of our visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where they focused on who influenced who in musical genres. We felt the Academy Museum didn’t show enough of those lines of development.

There are fabulous costumes on display, with some shown below, and an entire room was devoted to the films of Pedro Almodovar, with multiple screens showing his films. So many big stars, past and present, were never mentioned! One room was showing the best of Academy Awards speeches, and while a few were really noteworthy, others were just okay. You have to stand to watch these acceptance speeches (or non-acceptance, as in the case of Sacheen Littlefeather, rejecting the award for Marlon Brando), but oddly, in the next room there are numerous sofas to sit on to look at static, small wall niches containing some older Oscars.

The admission price is $26 for adults, $19 for seniors. Adjacent parking was $18 for the day. Was it worth it? – is a question always asked. We would say yes, but only because we have seen, by our conservative estimate, about 20,000 movies over the past 20 years. This museum visit felt like a quick dip of our toes in the ocean. What was there was good, but not nearly enough. The other factor was the enormous amount of time to drive there, the only option in a mostly public transportation-free region of the world. The museum is located 38 miles from our hotel in Orange County, but took us more than 90 minutes. Where are all the millions of folks working from home??? NOT in California!

While we are not fans of the director John Waters, we loved this quote about Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. We embrace the idea of going to unfamiliar places to learn more about yourself and more about the world. Don’t keep going to the safe, familiar places every time you travel!
This promotional booklet, called a Campaign Booklet, of all things, was to give theater owners ideas about how to advertise The Wizard of Oz. We draw your attention to the right side – “How to exploit Oz!” “How to advertise Oz!” “How to publicize Oz for the record business!” Big profits? – you bet!
This is a zoetrope, and was quite delightful. We tried to take a photo, and video, as it was spinning fast and you saw the lasso looping and Woody galloping, but all we got was a blur. As you can see, each figure is a little more advanced/different, so they appear to move (be “animated”) as the whole display spins.
This is the ominous Bruce, the villain of the movie JAWS!
If you can read the word above the flower, you instantly know the movie. It says, “Rosebud.” No? Well, this is the famous sled from Citizen Kane. Three were constructed for the movie, where it gets thrown into a furnace at the end. Orson Welles didn’t like the first take, but loved the second, so this third sled was never used.
As you can read below it, this is just one Orc mask created for Lord of the Rings. We loved it for its gruesomeness, and so had to include it, but it is an illustration of why awards in makeup are won – lots of imagination!
Cobblepot Manor, a one-eighth size model of the mansion used in Batman Returns, was built on its side so that the cameras could film from inside. It is the size of a large dollhouse. See the next photo for its use in the movie.
As seen in the movie, Cobblepot Manor looks very ominous, large, and Gothic!
This is Johnny Depp’s costume from the 1990 movie, Edward Scissorhands. The hand claws were much larger and longer than we had remembered…but that is always true when you see something up close.
This costume was very shiny! It was, of course, worn by Anthony Daniels as C-3PO in Star Wars, and is made of fiberglass, plastic, metal, and rubber. We all know the character, but not the actor!
There were very striking scenes and images in the sci-fi clips that we watched. Interestingly, this is the robot in Fritz Lang’s 1927 film, Metropolis. Her metallic shell was a big influence for creating C-3PO (in the photo above).
A famous still from Metropolis. This is Maria, who transforms into the robot of the previous photo.
As we entered this exhibit, Jan asked Mike, “Do you think we’ll be disturbed?” His answer? – “Only if it’s boring!”
The 2019 movie, Midsommar, featured this glorious “May Queen” dress of 10,000 silk flowers, which weighed 30 pounds.
This striking and unusual gown was designed for the character “Mascara” in the 1945 film, The Dolly Sisters. It looks very modern, right?
Here is actress Elaine Langan wearing it in the movie.
Fabulous! This is one of the outrageous costumes from the biopic about Elton John, Rocketman, which we loved. Costume designer Julian Day named it the “Winged Devil.”
Check it out! The actress – Claudette Colbert. The movie – Cleopatra. The year – 1934. You can actually see, in fabric, the influence of Art Deco buildings on the costume designer, Travis Banton.
Fun in green. This fishy metallic gown, influenced by Esther Williams, was worn by Scarlett Johansson in the synchronized swimming sequence of the movie Hail, Caesar! in 2016.
An appropriate ending! This has nothing to do with movies, and we don’t know what it is. She almost looks like a melting upside-down ice cream. It is outside the LACMA museum as we walked back to the parking garage.