The Hollywood Sign – or rather: its longer predecessor Hollywoodland – was erected in 1923. One hundred years later, here’s a montage of the movies that feature this iconic sign.
It started in December 2013 with a round in a movie quiz I made for a group of fellow movie critics. I showed scenes from twenty movies with the Hollywood Sign in it, the others had to guess the films. ‘Surely there must be more examples?’ I thought. The answer was of course: yes, there were quite a few feature films (that’s what I would focus on) that have the sign in them. It seemed fun to make a supercut of these. One of the things I tried to do (one might argue a restriction I imposed on myself) was to keep the original sound as much as possible, as well as shots before and after the ‘sign shots’.
The first versions
The first version I made in 2014 – named The Hollywood Sign: Bigger, Longer & Cut – had shots from 82 films and was about fifteen minutes long. Shortly after publishing this first version I found some new clips and added these – a bit later followed by a third version. The number of clips had by then grown to 91 and the video was about seventeen minutes long. (You can still find this version here.)
This would, I decided, for now be the last version and would show the Hollywood Sign in cinema in the first 90 years of its existence. IF I would ever create an update (I did keep an eye out for new shots), it would be at the sign’s centennial in 2023. Which seemed like a looong time away back then.
The Centennial Supercut
Apart from an updated version with quite a few extra shots I stumbled upon through the years, I also wanted to convert the edit to 1080p. (For some reason I had made 720p versions – don’t ask me why…). In this version I would also use the original (surround) sound as much as possible, so both image and sound are as close to the original as possible.
So here is – with shots from over 150 films, 43 minutes long and nearly a decade in the works – The Hollywood Sign 1923-2023. A Century of the Sign in Cinema:
On the cutting room floor
In some films the sign is shown more than once; for instance The Wizard of Speed and Sound, The Kissing Both and Under the Silver Lake feature it quite a few times. I’ve taken the liberty to only use the ones that fit the desired flow of the edit.
I also left out a few scenes. Danger Signal from 1945 seems to have the exact same pan from the Hollywoodland Sign to downtown as does Hollywood Canteen from a year earlier, so I only used the latter. A shot from Yes Man I thought was too far away (filmed from the Griffith Observatory). Shots from Nocture and 1927’s Fast and Furious are brief and out of focus (both not helped by a subpar copy), but since those movies show the real Hollywoodland Sign – quite rare – I did put them in the edit.
Sometimes I’d expect the sign in a movie, but it didn’t. Jimmy Hollywood, Hollywoodland, or L.A. Confidential for instance. The sign – or rather, illustrated depictions of it – do appear very briefly in L.A. Confidential and La La Land, but I decided to leave these out.
The sign can be seen prominently on posters for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood but it is not in the film. It is also absent from She Said, even though it can be seen in the trailer. It’s not an uncommon practice for trailers to have shots that ultimately end up on the cutting room floor of the released film.
The Final Version?
So, is this a comprehensive montage? Is this the final version? No doubt it isn’t! New clips will most definitely pop-up; probably when I’ve uploaded what I think is the final version. Trust me: that has happened before…
Do you know a film with the Hollywood Sign in it that isn’t in this montage? Do let me know!