Putting The “LA” In England

My patient and beloved Susan can attest to the annoying habit I have of barking out “Hey I know where that is!” at the TV when we’re watching a show or a DVD and I recognize wherever in Los Angeles a scene’s been filmed.

Never moreso were the opportunities for Susan to deal with such disruptive behavior than when we watched  The Prestige this weekend (No, not The Illusionist, the other one… the better one).

It’s one thing to see a car commercial that shows a young urbane couple miraculously navigating from downtown to Pink’s hot dog stand on La Brea in a matter of a few turns and a trip through the 2nd Street tunnel under Bunker Hill. It’s another to be watching To Live And Die in L.A. and pretty much be able to chart a turn-by-turn course of that movie’s infamous car chase. And still another to see Cheaper By The Dozen and recognize the supposed suburban Chicago house as actually being located at 4th Street in Hancock Park.

But it’s something else entirely to be watching a period film set almost entirely in England and have Los Angeles location after location pop up before us. There were so many I’m not sure I can remember them all.

If I were really good I’d have snapped
representative stills from the DVD for illustrative
purposes and to help refresh my memory… sorry.

Let’s see… first up was Pico House near Olvera Street whose internal courtyard masquerades as a London prison. After that we’re shown the cavernous lobby and grand staircase of the Park Plaza Hotel next to MacArthur Park all prettied up and pretending to be the Royal Albert Hall (and later on one of that hotel’s ballrooms is used for a scene that takes place in Colorado Springs). From there we’re taken inside the Los Angeles Theater on Broadway downtown and after that several scenes were filmed at the old Doheny estate, Greystone Mansion, in Beverly Hills. I’m pretty sure one of the mausoleums at Hollywood Forever Cemetery was the site of a funeral, too. And there were several outdoor scenes in the Rocky Mountains that I can only guess were filmed either in the Santa Monica or San Gabriel ranges.

Of course, ID’ing these places is made infinitely easier having been in them. Aside from Greystone and that specific space at the cemetery, Susan and I have had the distinctly enjoyable opportunities of exploring together Pico House, The Los Angeles Theater and the Park Plaza Hotel… the latter two with permission, the first one trespassingly without.

As to the movie itself? Not to much to say there. Wonderful cast of Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johannsen (with extra special bonus of David Bowie As Nicky Tesla!) in a nice bit of fantasy filmmaking from Christopher Nolan (maker of Memento) with a couple interesting twists that are almost more of a relief  rather than revelation when they finally arrive at the end of the film whose runtime felt about 20-30 minutes too long.