Seeing Stars: Where the Movies Were Shot (on Location)
|The 1985 movie,
"To Live & Die in LA."
is one of the quintessential Los Angeles films, shot almost
in the L.A. area, with dozens of different filming locations around the
southland, from the L.A. River to the San Pedro harbor.
However, one of the problems
with doing a locations report on a 1985 movie is that many of the filming
locations have disappeared in the intervening decades.
But fortunately, quite a few
of them still remain.
|Warning: Due to the gritty nature of this movie, many
of the filming locations are located in potentially dangerous parts of L.A. Exercise reasonable
0:00:52: The movie opens
with a shot of the Presidential motorcade,
as it heads towards the hotel where the President will stay in Los
In the screencap above, the motorcade
is seen driving west / southwest on Santa Monica Blvd;
as they pass Century Park East
and the towers of Century City (on
the left side).
001:37: They wind up
at the hotel where
the President is staying, and where our hero, Secret Service agent 'Richard Chance'
does his job of protecting the Chief Executive.
This hotel is actually the Beverly Hilton
Hotel, located at the corner of Wilshire
Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd, at 9876 Wilshire Blvd,
in Beverly Hills.
The motorcade turns down (what is now) Merv Griffin
Way and winds up at the hotel's circular
entrance driveway (which has changed a bit over the years).
Here is a Matching StreetView of that driveway.
003:56: Chance discovers a terrorist assassin in the hotel and corners him
on the roof, where the terrorist
blows himself up.
That scene was
actually shot on the roof of
(the main building of) the Beverly Hilton hotel
(the southeast side of that roof, to be exact).
( If you look
closely at the background, you can see the steeple of the
Mormon Temple on Santa Monica Blvd, in the distance. )
0:07:55: At Rick Masters
home, we see Masters set
afire and watch it burn.
The house in this scene is located near the border of Santa Monica,
Pacific Palisades & Brentwood, at 757 Kingman Ave,
in Santa Monica.
[ Warning: This
is a private home. Do not trespass on their property,
knock on their door, or do anything else that might disturb the residents.
Here is a StreetView of the house.
It turns out this particular house has a real-life Hollywood history of its own:
It was built in 1930 as a home for early screen legend Dolores Del Rio and
her husband, Cedric Gibbons (who won 11 Oscars for art direction at MGM).
009:10: The green bridge
that Chance bungee jumps from is actually
Vincent Thomas Bridge
in San Pedro, arching above the Port of Los Angeles.
The bridge links
the mainland of the Los Angeles Harbor with Terminal Island.
( Quite a few
of the scenes in "To Live & Die in L.A." were shot down near
the L.A. harbor docks, in this general Wilmington / San Pedro area.)
Here is a matching StreetView of the bridge.
Chance bungee jumps, you can see behind him the S.S.
Built in Canada as a
passenger ship, the Princess Louise was retired in 1964 and was transformed
into a popular floating restaurant, docked in the L.A. Harbor, across the
channel from Ports O'Call Village. Unfortunately, it sunk around 1990.
0:10:00: The Longshoreman
bar, where Chance gives his partner a
fishing rod as a retirement present, was actually Utro's Crest Cafe,
which opened in the 1950's on the corner of W. 22nd Street and Mesa, in San Pedro.
That is about two miles southwest of the Vincent Thomas bridge, and just a block northwest of the Cabrillo Marina..
When this movie was made, in 1985, it was still there. But the original
location was torn down in 1989, and the Cafe eventually
relocated to its new location at Berth 73, in the parking lot of
Ports O'Call Village, in San Pedro, less than a mile to the northwest..
the interior of the restaurant at its new location looks more or less the same, its walls
still cluttered with the same vintage, seafaring memorabilia.
Here is a Google StreetView of the intersection where the café used to be located, back when this movie was filmed.
And here is a StreetView of the new location of the same café..
0:18:24 / 22:00: Next, we see the desert
warehouse, where Chance's partner, Jim
Hart, goes snooping around and is murdered by Masters' men (after he discovers
counterfeit money thrown away in the trash bin behind the warehouse).
It is located
at 40038 170th Street E,
in the desert community of Palmdale, in Lake Los Angeles. That's about 80
miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
It appears to
be (or have been) a feed store called “Hitching Post Feed & Pet Supplies”.
( Don't be fooled by the fanciful name "Lake Los Angeles". There is no lake there – it's out in the middle of the desert. )
170th Street E is where the cars head away at the end of the scene.
But the best
view is seen looking west from 171st Street, just south of Glenfall Ave.
is a good Google StreetView of the building, and the familiar rock formations
behind it, seen from that spot.
The area, which
looked completely undeveloped back when the movie was filmed in 1985, has
filled in a lot in the intervening decades. There are homes now on
the other side of 170th. But as of 2015, the barn-like building itself
is still very recognizable (although it is now painted red, and they appear to have added a porch
to its north side).
( Major congratulations
to Chas Demster
for tracking down
this particularly obscure location. Thanks, Chas!
0:22:53: We then get
to see Chance and his new partner at his house
on the beach, talking about how Masters
killed his original partner and how Chance is out for revenge.
The condo is located right on the beach, at 22664 Pacific
Coast Highway, in Malibu,
about 760 yards east of the Malibu
( The only problem is that an L.A. cop couldn't possibly afford to live
here, where the monthly rent would be more than the entire salary of a
Los Angeles police detective. )
This is a private home. Do not trespass on their property,
knock on their door, or do anything else that might disturb the residents.
0:22:53: The airport
scenes (where Chance spots a counterfeiter
passing bad bills at the counter, chases him down, and corners him in a
restroom) were shot at LAX (Los
Angeles International Airport), west of Inglewood, California.
0:39:56: The church
where the cops stake-out Waxman's law office across the street (for surveillance
purposes) is, in real-life, the First Congregational Church of Pasadena,
at 464 E. Walnut Street,
The door seen in the screencap above is located on the west side of the church,
and faces N. Los Robles Avenue, not Walnut..
The movie itself gives is the correct location, when chances partner states that:partner states that it's at "the corner of Walnut & Los Robles".
Here is a matching StreetView of that west side of the church.
office, which used to be across the street, is gone now, replaced by the Westin Pasadena
Hotel, part of the larger Plaza las Fuentes, which was built
in 1989 (four years after the movie was filmed. )
( The ARCO service station,
seen in the scene, to the left (north) of the church, is still there.)
0:42:20: On the way to
Ruth's house, we see Chance driving along a curving road at dusk. On his
right side are two places with large signs reading "BAIT" and "BAIL".
On the left side is the harbor.
This driving scene was shot on the Wilmington/San
Pedro border, down by the docks of the L.A.
The bend in the street is where John S. Gibson
Blvd is renamed N. Pacific Avenue.
They are driving south/southeast as they take that turn on Pacific, and are headed towards
the Vincent Thomas Bridge.
Most of the bait places that lined that stretch of road are gone =now,
but the one seen in the screencap above, with the biggest "BAIT" sign
(with the smaller "BAIL" sign right beneath it), is still there. It's called Sylvia's Bail Bonds, and you'll find it at 981 N. Pacific Ave, in San Pedro.
Here is a matching StreetView of that stretch of Pacific Ave.
0:43:27: Ruth's (Darlanne
Fluegel) hilltop house, overlooking the L.A. harbor, was located atop
the small but steep Knoll Hill,
in San Pedro,
just west of the Vincent Thomas Bridge (you can see the bridge in the background
as Chance walks to the door).
most of the small homes that used to stand atop this little hill are
gone now, including the one where they filmed these scenes. They have
been replaced by a new hilltop park, with a number of baseball diamonds.
To reach the house, Chance turns up Knoll Hill Street,
then turns left on Center Street at the top of the hill, and appears
to end up at the east dead-end of Viewland Place.
But the view of
the bridge and harbor below remains the same.
( My best guess is that the home was the duplex that used to stand at 255 Viewland Place,
in San Pedro, which is now the right field of a new baseball diamond
on the south side of what was that Viewland dead end - the middle of three
such diamonds up there. The dead end no longer exists. With the addition
of the new park, Viewland east has been the renamed Center St. )
This is what the spot looks like now (as you'll notice, it still has
that view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge).
And this is what the same spot looked like in 2007, before they built
that park, but after they had torn down Ruth's little house.
- 1930's - 1940's
- 1950's - 1960's
- 1970's - 1980's
- 1990 - 1991
- 1992 - 1993
1995 - 1996
- 1997 - 1998
- 1999 - 2000
- 2006 - 2007
* Locations marked by an asterisk
(*) may be located in areas with high crime rates.
Exercise reasonable caution.
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