Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Muppet Movie (1979) - Hollywood and CBS Studio Center

This is the second of two posts on The Muppet Movie (1979) film locations. For part one, click here.

In The Muppet Movie, Kermit the Frog leaves the quiet swamps to make it as a successful rich-and-famous frog in Hollywood. During his road trip to Hollywood Kermit acquires many Muppet friends who join him on his trip, including Gonzo, Camilla, and Fozzie Bear. This post highlights some of the locations that appear when Kermit and gang arrive in "Hollywood."

This first location is "World Wide Studios," the film studio where the Muppets show up and Orson Welles, the studio mogul, requests a "standard rich-and-famous contract" be prepared. World Wide Studios is really what is today CBS Studio Center, a film and television studio located at 4024 Radford Avenue, Studio City, California. The World Wide Studios entrance is a fake entrance constructed between a sound stage and another building on the lot. I didn't have a contemporary photo showing this area of the lot, so below is a screenshot from an episode of Bob Vila touring CBS Studio Center showing how the location looks without the fake World Wide Studios entrance.

Click images to see larger.

World Wide Studios is really the CBS Studio Center lot.

Bob Vila walks the CBS Studio Center lot

When the Muppets arrive in Hollywood they pass in front of the iconic Hollywood sign. The Electric Mayhem bus drives down the Mulholland Highway.

The Muppets pass the Hollywood sign.

The Hollywood sign seen from Mulholland Highway.

The Muppets then drive down Hollywood Boulevard heading west and crossing Vine Street. The landmark Capital Records building can be seen in the background as they pass.

The Electric Mayhem bus crosses Hollywood and Vine.

Looking up Vine Street from Hollywood Boulevard.

A second view of Hollywood and Vine showing the Howard Johnson.

Hollywood & Vine. The Howard Johnson building is long gone.

As the Muppets continue down Hollywood Boulevard they pass the Chinese Theatre.

The Muppets pass the Chinese Theatre.

A contemporary view of the Chinese Theatre.

Trivia: According to Imdb.com one of the old Hollywood cameo appearances in The Muppet Movie is Edgar Bergen and his wooden puppet, Charlie McCarthy. Bergen died shortly after his scene was filmed in 1978. Having Bergen and McCarthy appear in the film was important to Henson as Bergen was a major reason why Henson got into puppetry.

Of the many cameos in The Muppet Movie, which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Muppet Movie (1979) - Milton Berle's Mad Man Mooney Used Car Lot

Fozzie, Kermit, Camilla, and Gonzo want to buy a used car.

One of my favorite films as a kid was The Muppet Movie (1979), so I was delighted while watching this movie recently, to see my young daughter already getting into the film. She was especially interested in the music, like the songs Rainbow Connection and Movin' Right Along. As soon as the songs would start she would stand up in front of the TV and do a little dance while watching the Muppets sing.

I have a feeling it was this film along with the Muppet television show that developed my early fascination with old Hollywood. Both the film and TV show featured many cameo appearances by many classic Hollywood stars. In The Muppet Movie alone there are scenes with Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, James Coburn, Bob Hope, Edgar Bergen, Orson Welles and many other stars. I hope this film might be a gateway film to interest my daughter into some older classics.

One thing I spotted while watching the film this time is the location for Mad Man Mooney, the used car lot where Milton Berle tries to sell Kermit and gang a beat up Volkswagen bug. A few years ago I got lost in this location as it is an area I rarely would have reason to go, but the location stayed in my mind. The used car lot is located on the corner of San Fernando Road and Kelowna Street in Pacoima, California. Below are comparisons showing the location in the film with images of the same area today. 

Click the images to see larger.

The Muppets drive past 10265 San Fernando Rd, Pacoima, Ca

Looking towards 10265 San Fernando Rd.

In the first comparison the area has changed quite a bit. The small square body shop building is now gone and has been replaced by a larger body shop building.

Casey's Cycle Repair, San Fernando Rd.

10249 San Fernando Road, Pacoima. Casey's Cycles

In the next comparison we can see that the Casey's Cycle Repair shop located at 10249 San Fernando Road is still standing and still in business!

Looking down Kelowna Street from San Fernando.

Looking down Kelowna St. from San Fernando.

The Muppets make a right from San Fernando Road on to Kelowna Street and then turn into the driveway of Mad Man Mooney Used Cars, presently the site of JR's Used Cars. I think it is amazing that years later the little used car lot building is still painted in the all American colors of red, white and blue.

The Muppets pull in at Mad Man Mooney's Used Cars.

JR's Used Cars is the site of Mad Man Mooney's.

Milton Berle tries to sell the Muppets on a piece of junk.

The Muppets trade in their Studebaker.

Mad Man Mooney's Used Car lot.

Another thing I think is incredible is that the used car lot is still hanging the same red, white and blue triangle banners 34 years later.

Sweetums runs down Kelowna Street after the Muppets.

Looking down Kelowna Street from the used car lot.

The last comparison shows Kelowna Street as seen from San Fernando Road. The entrance to the used car lot is on the right. In the screenshot we see the muppet Sweetums running out of the car lot and down Kelowna after Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and Camilla.

The Muppet Movie (1979) is available on DVD and is currently available for streaming on Netflix. "The nearly 35th Anniversary" edition will be released on August 13, 2013 on Blu-Ray.

To see more The Muppet Movie (1979) film locations click here.


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