The Actual Southern
California Locations where
1976's "Marathon Man" was filmed.
The classic 1976 thriller "Marathon
Man" (starring Dustin Hoffman,
Laurence Olivier & Roy Scheider)
takes place in New York and was mostly shot on location there (with a few
early scenes in Paris), so one wouldn't expect to find any of
its scenes filmed here in Southern California.
But guess again.
Remember the scene where Roy Scheider's character
(Dustin's brother, in the movie) meets the villain (played by Laurence
Olivier) for the first time, and pays with his life? You may recall the
unusual, stair-like red fountain/sculpture in the background. It's supposed
to be somewhere in New York. It isn't.
That red sculpture in the background is named Double
Ascension, by artist Herbert Bayer, and you'll find it at the Arco Plaza
(now known as City National Plaza) at 555 S. Flower Street, in
downtown L.A. That's in the plaza between the two towers, off the west side
of Flower Street (between 5th & 6th streets).
Here is an edited video of that scene from "Marathon
Man", highlighting the sculpture:
That tip was sent to me by
director David Winning
(who earlier sent me the original Halloween
He included this photo of himself standing by the sculpture:
The sculpture has been seen in a number
of other films & TV shows, including 1990's "Pretty Woman",
2007's "Rush Hour 3", 2005's "Fun with Dick & Jane",
and in several episodes of the TV show "Heroes", where it was
once again passed off as a New York location (this time, called "Kirby
Plaza"). It's even briefly glimpsed during an aerial shot in a 2008
episode of "Smallville" ("Prey"), where it's supposed
to be Metropolis.
And the Los Angeles filming didn't stop with the
Remember the library scenes where Dustin's character
first meets Elsa? That was supposed to be New York's Columbia University.
And while they did use some exterior shots from that campus, all of the
interior library shots were filmed inside Doheny
Library, on the USC campus,
right here in L.A.
(Dustin also filmed scenes at this same library for his breakthrough role in 1967's "The Graduate".)
But wait, there's more.
Early in the movie, we glimpse the Uruguay jungle,
and the hideout of our Nazi villain (Olivier), as he changes his appearance
and readies to venture of hiding, for a trip to America.
Did they shoot that in Uruguay? Sorry. Southern
This time, it was the Los
Angeles County Arboretum, at 301 N.
Baldwin Ave., in Arcadia (right
across the street from the Santa Anita Racetrack).
The white watchtower we glimpse (where the guard
spots a small boat arriving and rings the bell) is none other than the
"Fantasy Island" house, where little Tattoo rang the same bell
at the start of every episode, while delivering his trademark line: "Da
plane, boss! Da plane!"
In real life, it's the Queen Anne home of Lucky Baldwin,
located next to a lake/lagoon at the Arboretum (which used to be the Baldwin
Estate). The lake, with its tropical foliage, has often been used for jungle
scenes in movies such as "Tarzan" and "The African Queen".
(And it's open to the public, if you'd like to visit.)
Finally, the water works,
the location of the big finale, where Dustin finally gets the drop on Olivier...
New York? Nope. According to David,
that was a huge set built on the back lot
of Paramount Studios, in Hollywood.
More Movie Locations! (Just click the arrow)
Some of the photos on this
page are stills from the DVD of "Marathon Man"
(which you can buy by clicking
here) and are copyright Paramount Pictures.