MOVIE INSPIRATION: A trip to the Hart Ranch and Museum is a worthwhile jaunt for any film fan; after all the ranch's namesake -- and former resident -- was none other than William S. Hart, one of early filmdom's most famous cowboys. (Yep, the Hart Building on the Paramount lot was named after the rootin' tootin star.) But the Newhall-located museum, which is overseen by the Natural History Museum and tar pits people, has a few more feathers in its movie-nice cap, and Oscar season is a perfect time to talk about them. Why? Because two Best Picture nominees -- "Hugo" and "The Artist" -- both have ties to some of the artifacts within.
IMPORTANT LETTER: "Hugo" fans, and thus fans of the great Georges Méliès, will be interested in a letter in which the father of special effects speaks of "bitterly of his plight as an ignored silent filmmaker." If you saw the film, starring Sir Ben Kingsley as the man in question, you know that much of the plot revolves around just this. And say you like "The Artist" as well? It's no secret that the dash (and 'stache) of one Douglas Fairbanks influenced the sweet silent; it just so happens that the Hart Museum owns a few Fairbanks props, like a jeweled dagger from "The Thief of Bagdad." Several other early cinema machines and artifacts will be on display, including magic lanterns and, wait for it, a Praxinoscope. Pull that word out at your Oscar party and impress all your friends. The show, by the way, will run at the Hart through June 1.
ONE MORE ADD: Mr. Fairbanks, it should be noted, was a Natural History Museum donor. So it all ties together, yes? A Hollywood happy ending, of sorts. We love those on Oscar Weekend.