'The Artist': How a Black-and-White Silent Movie Defied the Odds and Became an Oscar Contender

2:08 PM PST 11/26/2011 by Scott Timberg
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Peter Iovino/The Weinstein Co.

Overcoming years of production hurdles, Michel Hazanavicius' talked-about film captivated festival audiences, earning a major boost from Harvey Weinstein. Now, the film is open to U.S. audiences in New York and Los Angeles.

ON LOCATION IN LOS ANGELES: Several historic buildings make cameos in the film.

  • Ebell Theatre | 743 S. Lucerne Blvd.
    The hall where Judy Garland was discovered in 1934 became the film's Kinograph office.
  • Orpheum Theatre | 842 S. Broadway
    The premiere was shot in the 1926 venue.
  • Los Angeles Theatre | 615 S. Broadway
    Peppy's film plays where Chaplin's City Lights premiered in 1931.
  • Bradbury Building | 304 S. Broadway
    Peppy meets George on a Blade Runner stairway.
  • Mary Pickford Residence | 56 Fremont Place
    Peppy lives in star's Hancock Park house.

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INSPIRATION FROM THE '20s: The actors drew upon some of the silent era's biggest players for their characters

  • Berenice Bejo read actress Gloria Swanson's biography while researching her role. "To me, she represents the American way of life," she says.
  • John Goodman plays a cigar-chomping studio boss resembling Cecil B. DeMille.
  • "He is like Douglas Fairbanks, with a Gene Kelly smile," says Jean Dujardin of the model for the character Valentin. "And me -- I wasn't born in the '20s, so this was a fantasy of myself as a star."
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