Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you, if you keep a flamethrower in your pool house. Quentin Tarantino's 2019 instant classic, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, takes late '60s Tinseltown and spins a happy ending for one of the saddest stories of the era.
Plenty of Hollywood's streets are featured in the film, with a soundtrack provided by Boss Radio KHJ, pouring forth from car radio speakers. El Cielo Drive serves as a constant point of reference throughout the movie, and as the natural setting for its climax.
There are plenty of cocktail options included in Once Upon a Time..., if you'd like to drink along at home. A Bloody Mary at Musso and Frank, margaritas at El Coyote and Casa Vega and homemade whiskey sours are all fine pairings for your screening.
A wine from the Hollywood Hills would be a natural for this film. Hollywood Classic Vineyard is a tiny plot of Bordeaux grape varieties growing within cork-popping distance of the Hollywood sign. The wines are not plentiful, and they are rather hard to access anyway, lending some all-important SoCal mystique to the juice. Speaking of mystique, the owner has gotten plenty of blowback from nearby residents alleging that his development plans make him a bad neighbor.
In 1950's Sunset Boulevard, William Holden's Joe Gillis - and the pool he always wanted - introduce us to a side of Hollywood often hidden from view. Sheltered and living in delusions of past greatness, Norma Desmond has an employee who keeps her from finding out that her car is more in demand than she. Gillis takes a ride on the gravy train and ends up a floater. One of my favorite sideshows here is Jack Webb as a guy at a social gathering. I'm a longtime admirer of Webb, but it's hard to imagine Joe Friday as a party boy.
Let's get the party started for Sunset Boulevard with a wine from just north of Sunset. Moraga Bel Air occupies some very pricey Los Angeles real estate, which is reflected in the price of the wine. Get ready to shell out a couple or three Benjamins for a bottle of the good stuff. They are ready for their close-up, Mr. DeVille.
And now for something completely Hollywood. Hollywood Boulevard was made in 1976 on a bet that it would be the cheapest New World Pictures Film ever. A lot of stock footage was abetted by live action ladies in various states of undress. Well, that no doubt saved money on wardrobe. The movie was geared for the drive-in crowd, and maybe it will make a comeback now that the pandemic has somewhat resurrected that arcane platform.
Hollywood Boulevard is a breezy exploitation movie that rocks along toward a climactic scene well above the namesake street, at the Hollywood sign. You won't need to hit the ATM to find a wine that suits it.
What we are looking for here is cheap, but fun. Pacific Peak makes a three-dollar Merlot that people swear up and down is just as good as a hundred dollar bottle. Who am I to argue? However, I feel that when a Cab costs the same as a Pinot Grigio, there is a little red flag being hoisted. And lots of stock footage on the way.