1927 Paramount Map Shows Just How Many Ways You Can Fake It In California
When Thomas Edison first started making movies at his workshop in New Jersey, he kicked off a miniature version of the film industry we know today, with the nearby Palisade Cliffs over the Hudson River frequently standing in for the rocky vistas of the West. Much as Edison may have loved New Jersey, though, the industry knew they needed more locations, and eventually the business shifted out to Southern California, where there were miles and miles of open space to build studios-- and fake a whole lot more places.
We're used to seeing the Californian deserts stand in for the Middle East, and for downtown Los Angeles pretending to be New York, but did you know that California could also sub for the Long Island Sound, Holland, the Nile River and the Swiss Alps? Paramount Pictures sure did, way back in 1927, when they printed a map of California that revealed just how many ways the state could cheat and pretend to be something else. Check it out below:
The map was printed in Tino Balio's book The American Film Industry: A Reader, which you can actually read in its entirety here. Like so many other books about the old studio system, it's full of fascinating details about how movies really are just a product like any other, with an entire industry built up around them to make them as profitable as possible. If it's cheaper to pretend that Venice, California is actually Venice, Italy, well, why would you do it any other way?
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