Jesus is flying over Rome, a statue hoisted by a helicopter, in the opening shot of Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." In the opening shot of Steve Martin's "L.A. Story," which debuted 25 years ago this week (on February 8, 1991), instead of Jesus, it's a giant prefab frankfurter.
And that may be all you need to know about how the movie industry portrays its hometown on screen. In the movies, at least, Los Angeles is a city of jarring contrasts -- artifice and practicality, glittering dreams and prosaic reality, sunshine and drought. Though it's a comic fantasy, "L.A. Story" paints as effective a portrait of Los Angeles as any movie, but as the list here makes clear, there are lots of L.A.s, each with its own screen story.