Director's Notes

Hollywood's history has been told many times and in many different ways, but never, it seemed to us, with the idea of jointly portraying the growth of the movie industry with that of the town that is its home. Believing that nowhere on Hollywood Boulevard could its millions of annual visitors find an attraction offering them any background on the very community they were visiting, we set out to remedy this situation in an entertaining way that emphasizes that, no matter how much the town and the industry have changed over the decades, the sense of allure, romance, glamour and unlimited possibility has remained consistent throughout the century, attracting countless people today just as it did in the days of silent pictures.

To tell the story, we approached numerous distinguished film personalities who were drawn to the flame themselves and persevered to forge impressive careers. Whether they came from afar or were native-born, we wanted to hear what impressions our 23 celebrated interviewees had while they were growing up, what lured them into the film business and how they felt about it before and after "making it." Their impressions remain vivid: Gloria Stuart remembering when her native Santa Monica, in the 1910's, extended only as far as 7th Street, with the open space beyond stretching all the way to Hollywood; Robert Redford recalling how the wondrous Los Angeles of his childhood began being spoiled after World War II; Angela Lansbury reminiscing about the great studio era and the town's glittering night life; Clint Eastwood recalling his tough years of unemployment during the 1950's, when all the young aspiring leading men seemed to look just like him; Quentin Tarantino, by contrast, idealizing the 1950's as the best time in the city's history, a moment when the old and the new were both present; Jeff Bridges and Rob Reiner harking back to their teenage days on the Sunset Strip; Kevin Spacey revealing how he used to sneak onto the Universal lot just to watch movies being made; Steven Spielberg recalling his awe-struck first glimpse of a studio soundstage; Salma Hayek conveying her image of a glamorous Hollywood as she grew up a star-struck young girl in Mexico; and Edward Norton evoking how he first arrived in Los Angeles amidst the hoopla of an Oscar night.

FOREVER HOLLYWOOD was expressly designed as a film that would exclusively be shown at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre. Shooting on 35mm, we tried to achieve a look of timeless elegance to suit the stars who appear in the film. The clips from the more that 75 feature films were obtained from the best available 35mm materials, no longer the easiest matter given the fact that most vintage pictures are now more conveniently preserved on video and DVD. Archival footage, of the which we have more than 250 shots documenting various stages of Hollywood history, is now often available only on videotape, so this had to be transferred to film with the utmost care. On the musical side, we are greatly indebted to David Raksin, who generously consented to allowing us to use his great theme from THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, music that has never been matched in its evocation of the romance, melodrama and intrigue of the movie world; it gave us something to aspire to as we endeavored to portray the complex and multi-faceted allure that has always been generated by Hollywood.

--Todd McCarthy


Publicity shot of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks depicting them opening their new studio in the silent picture era.

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck share an off-camera moment on the set of Preston Sturges' THE LADY EVE.

The premiere of THE BIG PARADE (1925) at the Egyptian Theatre. Directed by King Vidor, the film stars John Gilbert and Renee Adoree.

Swedish-born Greta Garbo became an icon of Hollywood glamour and mystique appearing in both dramatic and comedic roles in pictures such as MATA HARI (1931); GRAND HOTEL (1932) and ANNA KARENINA (1935).

Material reprinted from the American Cinematheque press release.