Seeing Stars: Where the Movies Were Shot (on Location)
Weapon" will be remembered as the
original cop buddy movie, which spawned several sequels and a dozen copycat
In 1987, the on-screen pairing
of a black actor and a white actor on equal terms was still novel, an element
of the film that was also copied by its imitators.
However, where most of its
imitators opted for the obvious clichéd roles (a traditional white
cop trying to cope with a "street savvy" black cop), in Lethal Weapon,
Danny Glover was the conservative family man, while Mel Gibson
was the crazy new guy.
Lethal Weapon was filmed
almost exclusively here in Southern California, with locations ranging
from Palos Verdes to Hollywood Boulevard, and it contains quite a
few memorable scenes.
thanks to Chas Demster, a fan who tracked down many of these Lethal
The movie opens
with a girl, Amanda Hunsaker, waking up in bed, taking drugs, and then
jumping out of the window to her death.
The building she jumps out of is a distinct, round
tower, somewhat reminiscent of the Capitol
Records building. But it’s not in Hollywood. It’s actually in Long
It’s a condominium called the International
Tower; the actual address is 700 E. Ocean
Blvd., in Long
Beach (near the intersection of Shoreline
Drive and Ocean Blvd.)
When she lands, she smashes into a car parked in front of the tower, on
the north (Ocean
Avenue) side of the building.
(The same tower was later seen in the 2004 Will Ferrell comedy, “Anchorman”.)
[ A bit of trivia:
the topless girl who jumps out the window was Jackie
Swanson, the same actress who played Woody Harrelson’s
rich, naïve girlfriend on the sitcom “Cheers”. The IMDb claims that
she performed her own stunt in “Lethal Weapon”, jumping 35 feet into
an air bag. ]
Next, we see
Sgt. Roger Murtaugh’s
on a nice residential street.
Alas, that circular street and that nice residential home isn't real. It's
hidden away inside Warner Ranch studio
(That's not the regular Warner
Bros Studio, which you can tour,
but a separate, smaller parcel located a mile north of the larger
The same "house" was seen as Sally Field's home in the TV sitcom
"Gidget" and as the Baxter family home in the TV sitcom
"Hazel". The house you see to the right (in the photo above)
was the Stevens' home in "Bewitched".
The home is part of a permanent residential set where they have filmed
countless TV shows and movies, including “The Partridge Family”, "I
Dream of Jeannie", "Father Knows Best" and "Dennis
the Menace". The fountain in the park in the center of this traffic
oval was seen in the opening credits of “Friends”.
Unfortunately, the public can't get into Warner Ranch. But you'll find
the gates in Burbank,
on the west side of Hollywood Way,
between Oak Street (on the south) and Verdugo Avenue (on the north).
Danny's proper family home, we next cut to Sgt.
Martin Riggs’ (Mel Gibson)
a somewhat dilapidated trailer on the beach where Mel lives alone with
his dog. It’s here that Mel puts a gun in his mouth and considers pulling
That beach is part of Dockweiler State
Beach, just north of where Grand Avenue
ends at Vista del Mar,
in El Segundo.
(That's south of the airport (LAX) and north of Manhattan Beach.)
Next, we go
back to the scene of the crime, outside the International Tower in Long
Beach, where Danny Glover learns that the dead girl was actually the daughter
of his good friend, Michael Hunsaker (Tom
Atkins). He meets an eyewitness to the
jump, a hooker named 'Dixie'. He also learns that the drugs Amanda took were
poisoned, and becomes determined to catch the men responsible.
In the background of this scene, you can see (in the photo above ) the
a familiar Long Beach landmark at 800 E. Ocean
Blvd., in Long Beach.
(Both buildings are about 1,000 yards northeast of Shoreline Village and
the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.)
After a scene
in which Danny first meets Mel at the police station, we get to see crazy
Mel in action, when he arrives to make a drug bust
at a Christmas tree lot.
Pretending to be a buyer, he offers the three stupid pushers $100 cash
for $100,000 worth of drugs; then he does his infamous "Three Stooges"
routine to get the drop on them.
This scene was shot at what is now a used car lot
(“Able Auto Pawn”) just west of the Hollywood (170) Freeway in the San Fernando
Valley, at 12425 Victory Blvd.,
which is at the southeast corner of Victory Blvd
& Whitsitt Ave,
in North Hollywood.
In the next
scene, we see Danny Glover talking to the father of the dead girl in the
lobby of an office building,
while Mel Gibson waits at a distance. The father tells Glover to find and
kill the heroin pushers responsible for his daughter’s death.
This scene was shot in the lobby at the base of a 22-floor building located
at the SW corner of Wilshire Blvd
& Western Ave (across the
street from the well-known Wiltern Theatre).
The address is 3800 Wilshire Blvd,
in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles.
(That's about 3 1/2
miles east/SE of Farmers Market & The
building is now called “The Wilshire at Western"
building, and has been converted into 260 expensive condo apartments (with
Walter Henry Hackett, who used to work there, tells me that it was commonly known as the Union Bank building,
at least through 1986, and that the blue neon Union Bank logo was the
building's defining mark at the time the movie was filmed. The scene
was shot inside the bank's lobby.
(That Union Bank branch was later transferred to the 5th and Figueroa
building, in downtown.) The building also housed the
offices of the Getty Oil Company.
In the photo above, we are looking northeast, out to the intersection of
Wilshire & Western. (The Thrifty store you see across the
street in the photo was torn down to make way for a subway station.)
Next, we see
Mel & Danny talking outside at a hot
dog cart. Danny tells Mel that the girl's
father saved his life in the war, so he owes him.
That hot dog cart was set up right outside (east of) the former Getty Oil
Company building at 3800 Wilshire
(mentioned as a location above), on the sidewalk along west side of Western
Avenue, at the southwest corner of
Wilshire & Western.
Right across the street (east),
in the photo above, you can see the well-known Wiltern
Theatre (the theatre's name is a combination
of the words Wilshire & Western).
When they get
in their car to
leave (with Mel still munching his hot dog), the car is parked just a few
steps around the corner, at the curb on the south
side of Wilshire Blvd, just west of Western.