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Sunday, 27 June 2010

In Shatner's Footsteps

I finally made it to the Batcave. My third attempt.

The Satnav was still insisting on directing me up closed roads through Griffith Park. This time, I made a hand-drawn map from Google instead. On the Canyon Road approach there was no signage and in the park itself no trail maps or any information at all.

So I set off up the main track. It climbed steeply for about a mile and a half until I was up level with the Hollywood sign, which is in the park not far away. At that point the track went two ways so I asked the next person if they knew which way the caves were.

He pointed back down the way I'd come... there was another trail from the parking lot, and I hadn't seen it. So I went all the way back down, and in the end all turned out for the best... the caves are no more than a ten-minute walk from the parking so as a hike, that would have been a bit of a squib.

The 'caves' are actually a short tunnel through an outcrop of rock in of a dead-ended canyon that's reckoned to be one of the most-used locations in Hollywood history... zillions of Westerns, The Lone Ranger, the old Kirk Alyn Superman serial, The Searchers, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, B-movie horrors like Robot Monster, the Douglas Fairbanks Robin Hood... as well as various alien planets in Star Trek.

The tunnel's outermost entrance was dressed to become the Batcave's exit in the '60s TV show. Each week, in the same recycled sequence, the Batmobile would emerge from the cave and head for 'Gotham City, 14 Miles'. The sequence was undercranked to speed up the action; the entrance is so narrow that Barris's Batmobile must have backed in with only a few inches' clearance.

(You can find my birthday Batmobile-stalking post here)

Standing in the canyon and looking back, you get the best-ever view of the Hollywood sign. The area is part of the 'Hollywoodland' development-that-never-was, which the sign was originally created to promote.

I suppose I could go and seek out 'stately Wayne manor' - there were reports that the building used for the exterior establishing shots burned down in 2005, but they were apparently mistaken. A lookalike building burned, but SWM was a few doors down the street.

Otherwise, I seem to have run out of Batstuff to look for.

2 comments:

Nate said...

Yes the cave has LOTS of hollywood history. at www.1966batmobile.com you can find out all you want to about the car and it's history. Maybe it's time to cross the line and start searching for your own batmobile? I can tell you there is no car in the world more fun to drive! www.starcarcentral.com is my group of pals I have collected after I burned out on the batman...
Thanks for your contribution on Dr. Who, the new series is amazing! I work on "Entertainment Tonight" in the USA and our host Mark Stines looks like the star of Torchwood, "Capt Jack" Barrowman goggle image search them and see if you agree. Wierd.

Stephen Gallagher said...

Great replica! I, alas, have the appreciation but not the dedication required for running such a fun car. But in my part of Britain there are a couple of museums where I can scratch the itch - there's Cars of the Stars in Keswick and the related James Bond museum on the outskirts of the town, opened by the same local collector last year. Cars of the Stars has a '66 Batmobile but they don't give a clear history of the vehicle.