Movie Locations
March 20, 2003 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Hey! This Is Where They Filmed That Scene Where... It's childish, I know, but I always get a buzz when I come across a place I've seen in a movie. Just as it never feels right when the city I live in turns up in one. Famous Locations is an unpretentious, modestly designed little website which is full of such thrills. For example, I've often stayed at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan - who would have thought it was where Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger hammed it up shamelessly in 9 1/2 Weeks? [More inside.Via LinkFilter.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (35 comments total)
The only film that got Lisbon right,was Fred Schepisi's otherwise unremarkable The Russia House. The light was exactly as it is here. But Alain Tanner's brilliant Dans la ville blanche and Wim Wenders's well-intentioned Lisbon Story look about as authentic as Ray Milland's Lisbon or all the other shlocky pseudo-Casablancas with little guys in funny moustaches, sardine-stained fezes and Venezuelan accents. Go figure...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:52 AM on March 20, 2003

Miguel, The biggest thrill of my life was standing on the very (and very long) staircase where Laurel and Hardy filmed the short, "The Music Box". It's in a now kind of moth eaten area of Los Angeles. If you recall, "The Music Box" is the one where the boys are hauling a piano up to a house at the top of the stairs. The neighborhood has been quite a bit built up since then, and there are houses close in on either side of the staircase. But what a frisson just to stand there. (By the way, The Three Stooges' version of this same piano-moving situation was filmed on a completely different stairway, elsewhere.)
posted by Faze at 10:56 AM on March 20, 2003

Having grown up in Pittsburgh, I love watching The Silence of the Lambs. Particularly fun: the interior of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History standing in for the interior of the Smithsonian. "Hey! I know that dinosaur!"

Oh, and spotting the late Don "Chef" Brockett of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as one of the loonies in the asylum is fun too.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:10 AM on March 20, 2003

Too bad that site doesn't say exactly where in/around these places the movies were filmed...
posted by gottabefunky at 11:17 AM on March 20, 2003

Hey Miguel - my goodness, 9 1/2 Weeks is a mere footnote in the story of the Algonquin. It was home, during the 1920's, to the infamous Algonquin Round Table ... where folks like Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross (founder of The New Yorker), Robert Benchley, Franklin Adams, Heywood Broun, Alexander Woollcott, Harpo Marx, Noel Coward, and a whole host of others writers, playwrights, actors and actresses gathered, almost daily. It was one of the most celebrated artist's communities in recent American history.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:21 AM on March 20, 2003

Well, yes - but Dorothy Parker said there were an awful lot of freeloaders and hangers on.

Is there a way to search by city on this site? I'd like to look at all the entries for say, Toronto.
posted by orange swan at 11:29 AM on March 20, 2003

Well fancy that, the burial scene from The Full Monty was filmed 50 yards from my house and I never realised until now! The coolest movie location I've been to though has to be the top of the Schilthorn in Switzerland, which was Blofeld lived in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

On Preview:
Orange Swan, just type Toronto in the seach box.
posted by chill at 11:33 AM on March 20, 2003

The high school featured in Back to the Future is my old alma mater.
posted by MrBaliHai at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2003

Most of the time I end up being pretty disappointed by the finds.

Sure my fraternity's chapter at RPI is nice, but tell somone, "Sir Anthony Hopkins filmed Age of Innocence in a fraternity house outside of Albany" and they're going to raise an eyebrow. And if you think the pier where they shot the "Zoltar Speaks" scene from Tom Hanks' BIG looks 'picturesque' go to Rye Playland where it was filmed, (or as we call it around here 'ghettoland')
posted by KnitWit at 11:41 AM on March 20, 2003

Mostly baaad movies were filmed in Toronto (i.e., Cocktail, Johnny Mnemonic, something involving Jean Claude Van Damme). Don't think I'll be mentioning those to anyone.

I knew about Cocktail at least - I remember reading an interview with Tom Cruise, and he blamed the movie's failture on the fact that they had set the movie in Toronto. Couldn't be bad acting and a bad script choice Tom, oh nooooo.
posted by orange swan at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2003

Donnie Darko's private highschool was actually my Jesuit highschool in Los Angeles (Loyola High)... serious flashback the first time I saw that, except I would have much rather gone to school with him, due to the presence of women.

I just kept wondering how they convinced those priests to let them not only put that crazy statue in the middle of the quad, but to actually spraypaint the ground...

and then I remembered that money talks, and to a Jesuit, it probably speaks Latin and Greek, too *hehe*
posted by badzen at 11:56 AM on March 20, 2003

Good topic, but that site is kinda vague. You may be able to get more detailed info out of your local film office (if there is one). For example, the Seattle Film & Music Office has available a map [0.9M PDF] showing what films have been shot where. There are also books such as Seattle on Film. (It's non-Seattle related, butManhattan on Film is full of interesting location info.)
posted by gluechunk at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2003

I've eaten at the Athenian Inn, where "Sleepless in Seattle" shot a scene or two.

I lived only a couple of blocks from the Hurley Mountain Inn, used as a set in "Tootsie". I lived even closer to the farmhouse used in the same movie. FWIW, my 8th grade science teacher's baby daughter Amy Lawrence was cast as the infant daughter of Hoffman's love interest.

If you've ever seen "The Stuff" (and you should), it was shot in a neighborhood in Kingston, NY where I lived as a kid (prior to moving to Hurley). One of my friends was hired as an extra.

Does being on a set count? My family spent the summer of '88 a stone's throw from the location set of "Pet Sematary," while they were filming. Yes, I met Denise Crosby. There are pictures of this somewhere in storage.

Those are just the ones I know about. I'm sure there are more; for instance, I lived in downtown Cincinnati once, not far from Dixie Terminal which was used in "Rain Man". I don't want to even try to count all the places in Boston...
posted by Cerebus at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2003

Mostly baaad movies were filmed in Toronto

This is mostly true. There are, however, exceptions, including:

1) Narc - The jarring opening chase sequence, for example, was shot in Regent Park, Canada's first ever public-housing project, which I pass by on the streetcar several times a week. And now, inevitably, think of a panicked Jason Patric . . . or a menacing Ray Liotta.

2) Half-Baked - Includes a scene shot at Dutch Dreams, the city's best, gaudiest ice cream shop. (Vaughan Road just north of St. Clair, for all you T-Dot Mefites out there.) At the time Half-Baked was released, I was living just up the street from Dutch Dreams. It's a strange kind of comfort to think of broad pot comedy every time you walk by a local landmark.
posted by gompa at 12:23 PM on March 20, 2003

It's amazing how many gazillions of movies and commercials have been shot between Moab and Monument Valley. If you want to add your own, contact these guys.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2003

My school, where they filmed Fever Pitch, is NOT in Berkshire...I don't even know where that is...
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2003

I grew up fairly close to Durham, NC -- they filmed parts of A Handmaid's Tale at the gorgeous neo-Gothic Duke University Chapel there. They have prestigious weddings at the chapel, and one bride made quite a fuss when she loudly objected to the gallows erected right outside the chapel entrance.

They also shot Bull Durham there, and it's a kick to watch the movie and feel nostalgic for the old Durham Athletic Park.

(They also shot crappy movies there, including Once Around and Brainstorm.)

In London, I had a copy of The Beatles London (now, alas, out of print) and was tickled to discover that John Lennon filmed a comedy sketch right around the corner from my office.

And of course, can anyone ever go up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and not think of Rocky?
posted by Vidiot at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2003

I remember being astounded at the superpowers of Gwyneth Paltrow as she ran from her flat in Fulham, to the Fat Boy Diner at Liverpool Street in about 2 minutes in Sliding Doors. A mere 6-ish miles in, (and this was important to the plot), those 2 minutes. Do filmmakers simply assume that the indiginents of those cities won't notice, or care?
posted by punilux at 12:37 PM on March 20, 2003

It doesn't list any movies for Santa Fe. Weird. But the NM Economic Development Dept. has the scoop.
posted by hyperizer at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2003

The IMDB location search function is a hell of a lot more comprehensive. Searchable by keyword or browsable by alpha. And of course, all linked up and shit to the great main IMDB stuff.
posted by luser at 1:01 PM on March 20, 2003

Do filmmakers simply assume that the indiginents of those cities won't notice, or care?

Heh. The Prize is not filmed on location in the Stockholm I know.

That said, great link but I agree with luser, IMDB wins.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:12 PM on March 20, 2003

orange swan: some of Johnny Mnemonic was shot in Montreal too, under the Jacques-Cartier bridge, for instance. So there.

Miguel: The only film that got Lisbon right

I have to believe that Manoel de Oliveira got Lisbon right. Please confirm, as I have never been to Lisbon, so I always imagine it's just like in an Oliveira movie.
posted by qbert72 at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2003

Hey Miguel - my goodness, 9 1/2 Weeks is a mere footnote in the story of the Algonquin. It was home, during the 1920's, to the infamous Algonquin Round Table ...

Hee hee, Midas - why do you think I went there in the first place? (But no, none of the wit rubbed off...). Even if you were unaware, all the charming little drawings in the rooms and corridors would never allow one to forget. But...

Pity you can't cross the street to The New Yorker any more. Or even buy it in the wonderful newstand they used to have. And last May, in the Blue Bar (the wonderful one near reception closed too...), they mixed me a dry martini in a plastic glass. Even Robert Benchley would have preferred to stay in his wet raincoat rather than slip into that travesty.

That and finding out that 58/58, the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel doesn't open till after lunch (meaning no martinis beforehand)* are still responsible for much post-traumatic stress.

*But yes, I convinced a willing barman to set up the bar just for me and thus had the first $115 martini of my life...

Luser: Wow for the IMBD!

qbert72: Well, he's Portuguese - doesn't count. But Manoel Oliveira is from Oporto and that's the city he gets exactly right (Aniki Bobó, Vale de Abraão, countless other films). Lisbon, like all Oportans, he sees as a sort of Naples, which it isn't. A Caixa is a slice of Alfama street life seen from a particularly abject and miserable (i.e. snobbish Northern) view.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:24 PM on March 20, 2003

sopranos location guide
posted by goddam at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2003

What does it say about my life that the movie with the most scenes shot at or near areas I frequent is Office Space?!?!
posted by tippiedog at 1:48 PM on March 20, 2003

It was home, during the 1920's, to the infamous Algonquin Round Table ...

Hee hee, Midas - why do you think I went there in the first place?

Really? I thought Miguel "You Can Leave Your Hat On" Cardoso was a big Mickey Rourke fan.
posted by Vidiot at 1:50 PM on March 20, 2003

Hmm - I once had the odd experience of seeing the movie theater in which I was watching the film, in the film itself. Not really surreal, but I'm not sure how I felt just then :)
posted by holycola at 1:56 PM on March 20, 2003

FWIW, they do quite a bit of teen movies around the University of Toronto campus. They did the Skulls 1 & 2 there and I've walked across the filming of The Skulls 3 at Victoria College in UT.

The university has a some really stunning gothic architecture like the Trinity College buildings and Old Vic. There's even a film crew there right now occupying a whole street. Too bad most of the films shot there are straight to video catastrophes.
posted by phyrewerx at 2:20 PM on March 20, 2003

Isn't Toronto the undisclosed location of thousands of movies purporting to be set in other big cities, such as New York? At least David Cronenberg (one of my favourite directors) always gave me that impression. It seems to be the third largest in North America.

On another note, friends of mine filming in Rome told me they have a different price according to what part and angle of each location you film. So that there's an expensive Piazza Navona view, a moderately priced one and, for your independent film-maker, the "ugliest verandah seen from very far away on a foggy day" budget frame.

Film permits and everything that goes with them sure look like being a fascinating little world.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2003

My favorite, hands down, was this Bollywood movie whose name I forget... The main characters, early in the film, leave India to go to "Italy," which is, in fact, Budapest, Hungary. Apparently it's cheaper to film in Budapest than Rome. So here they are, wandering around "Italy," looking angsty on the trolley that I used to use to get to school, everyone around them speaking in Hungarian, going to see the Parliament and the Chain bridge (Budapest's most distinctive landmarks), learning Hungarian folk dancing, etc. Fcuking wonderful.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:30 PM on March 20, 2003

When I was sixteen years old, my family went to Disneyland. Immediately prior to leaving, I watched "Ernest Saves Christmas", and discovered much of the movie takes place in some bank or museum or something in Orlando. I swore I would find it when I went down there, only to return home brokenhearted when I couldn't find any such bank. They probably filmed THAT movie in Toronto too....
posted by hughbot at 6:21 PM on March 20, 2003

Seeing how badly movies mess up the geography of your town is great fun. I grew up outside Washington, DC, and one of my favorite movies in this respect is No Way Out, featuring an exit from the Pentagon's parking garage that goes directly to the Whitehurst freeway, which is across the Potomac and a couple of miles away. There's also a nonexistent Georgetown Metro station.

Now I live in San Francisco, which has been featured in tons of movies. I live right around the corner from Alta Plaza Park, which has one stairway that's still scarred from Barbra Streisand driving down them in What's Up, Doc? and another stairway that was in a creepy scene in The Conversation.

Bullitt Locations in San Francisco features a complete description of the movie's famous car chase (including the magical cross-town jumps) and pictures of the movie locations taken in 2002. And then there's the Dirty Harry tour, a very thorough recap with then-and-now photos and maps.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:39 PM on March 20, 2003

Little plug for Old Tucson.
posted by kablam at 7:04 PM on March 20, 2003

Oh yeah - Toronto appears anonymously in many a movie. The Denny's in Tim Allen's The Santa Clause was one in Scarborough. I've seen Nathan Phillips Square (an outdoor skating rink) pop up in movies a good half dozen times - mostly TV movies though. And Good Will Hunting used U of T as well.
posted by orange swan at 7:16 AM on March 21, 2003

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