The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

10 Must-See Movies About Hollywood

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood screens Friday, January 3rd through Thursday, January 9th

Singin In The Rain

Quentin Tarantino’s critically acclaimed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is hitting The Frida Cinema this month! A critical yet longing homage to vintage film and TV, it’s only appropriate that we take a look at other films that feature or deal with Tinseltown.


Hollywood My Hometown poster

Hollywood My Hometown (1965)

In this unique TV film, entertainer Ken Murray shows candid moments of old Hollywood’s most beloved stars. Through his amateur home videos, he lovingly films family, friends, and Hollywood stars at their prime or early in their careers. It has the added appeal of being an honest look at Hollywood culture during a period when major studios heavily processed and tightly controlled the images of their stars.


Ed Wood poster

Ed Wood (1994)

A biopic of the eccentric cult filmmaker, Ed Wood is Tim Burton’s passionate love letter to Wood and his films. As an underdog, Wood’s story is relatable for many others who came to Los Angeles with dreams of making it big in Hollywood but never did. Undeterred by production mishaps and the mediocre talent available to him, the film demonstrates the ludicrous lengths to which Wood would go to finish his projects.


Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy.

Blacklist: Hollywood on Trial (1996)

A television documentary, Blacklist: Hollywood on Trial dives into Senator Joseph McCarthy’s scandalous investigation of Hollywood for Communist Party members, former members or sympathizers. These trials shook up Hollywood leading to the infamous “Blacklist” of 150 names, including the Hollywood Ten, the most famous victims of this era. This dark patch in American history is essential to Hollywood history, due to the devastating long-term impact on and off the screen.


Complicated Women poster

Complicated Women (2003)

Based on the book of the same name by Mick LaSalle, this documentary focuses on the actresses who became faces of women’s liberation in film during the pre-Code era. Before the cultural shift of the 1960s, actresses like Dolores Del Rio, Barbara Stanwyck and Mae West pushed the boundaries placed on women in society through Hollywood films. Taking on topics such as the gender double-standard of power, flawed heroines, and personal sexuality, the film shows how the legacy of these women lives on in spite of the Production Code’s severe restrictions.


Singin In The Rain poster

SinginIn The Rain (1952)

This beloved musical comedy takes a satirical look at the culture of Hollywood’s silent film era and its transition to talkies. Showing the overwhelming structural changes needed to accommodate the public’s demand for sound, the movie touches upon how many actors’ careers were ruined by the advent of sound while others thrived. It also pokes fun at the massive egos that the industry tends to draw.


Easy Riders Raging Bulls poster

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (2003)

The collapse of the traditional Hollywood studio system saw the rise of “New Hollywood” – that is, the movie brat era directors who revolutionized film as we know it. An in-depth documentary, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls analyzes the pioneering works of the era’s greatest filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas and Roger Corman. It also explores the impact their films had on Hollywood and culture in general. 


Hollywood Shuffle poster

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Robert Townsend co-wrote, directed and starred in this satire of Hollywood’s constant reinforcement of stereotypes, with a pronounced focus on ones pertaining to African-Americans. It also shows how many within the Hollywood system are oblivious to the problematic impact of these images, ignoring them as long as it helps their bottom line. While Hollywood is more diverse today than it was at the time of the movie’s release, stereotyping is still an issue and as such its message is still timely.


Louis B Mayer
Louis B. Mayer with his wife Lorena.

Louis B. Mayer, King of Hollywood (1999)

Before television, Mayer changed Hollywood forever by establishing MGM studios as the dominant force of Hollywood’s Golden Age. He’s also credited with creating the star system, the process of studios building up and controlling all aspects of an actor’s image such as Cary Grant. A penetrating look at Mayer, this documentary evaluates the deep impact his power and creations had on Hollywood as well as his turbulent personal life.


What Price Hollywood? poster

What Price Hollywood? (1932)

Before the multiple remakes of A Star is Born with Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and so on, there was the original film, What Price Hollywood? All of these films follow the basic plot of a successful man falling in a downward spiral as the young woman he helps becomes successful. Each heroine faces major tragedy, exposing how fame and fortune doesn’t always equal happiness.  


Sunset Boulevard poster

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Arguably the most honest film about the dark side of Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard reveals how easily people in show business can find themselves trapped in destructive habits and lifestyles. Norma Desmond, a has-been actress Norma Desmond played by Gloria Swanson, symbolizes the perceived disposability of actresses by showing how the industry places “expiration dates” on women when they get “too old” and thus no longer “in vogue”.