Three doors in Los Angeles

In Paramount Pictures’ urbs in urbe on Melrose Avenue, there’s a section called New York City. Its facades, sidewalks and alleys serve as perfect props for scenes of American city life. The two doors on the right, once equipped with a proper frame and knobs, can also pass for London entrances – to nowhere, as there is nothing behind the facade.

The smaller of the two portals is called, at least by tour guides at Paramount, the Tom Cruise door; the larger, predictably, the Nicole Kidman door. (More links: 1, 2, 3.) Short and tall people appear normal when set against small and large door frames. One of the simplest tricks in the book.

(In Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter series, Hagrid makes his entrance by barely squeezing though the door, deliberately made small enough for a man of Robbie Coltrane’s size. Although the actor is burly and 6’1″ tall, Hagrid is supposed to be not merely big but a giant.)

Less than ten miles from the Paramount quarter in Hollywood and from Warner Brothers’ home base in Burbank, one can see this striking painting by Fernand Khnopff. Among other things it does, the windowed door emphasizes the girl’s smallness. As the Getty’s curators explain in a note,

[t]o further evoke a child’s perception of a world scaled for grown-ups, he framed Jeanne Kéfer’s tiny body against the adult-sized door and tilted the floor ever so slightly.

The Khnopff was a complete discovery to me, but not the only one at the Getty.

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