Seeing Stars: Where the Movies Were Shot (on Location)

  • The Marx Brothers classic 1937 comedy, "A DAY AT THE RACES," was filmed at Santa Anita Race Track (285 W. Huntington Drive) in Arcadia, CA.

    So were several other vintage films with race track themes, including 1936's "Charlie Chan at the Race Track," and 1938's "Hollywood Handicap" and 1936's "The Ex-Mrs. Bradford" (with William PowellJean Arthur), and the 1937 version of "A Star Is Born" (starring Janet Gaynor), plus more recent films like 1995's "Nixon," starring Anthony Hopkins, and 2005's "Seabiscuit".

    More than seventy years later, the Santa Anita track is still going strong, and you can watch the thoroughbreds run there in the Spring.  

    Remember the famous scene where Laurel & Hardy tried to lug a heavy piano up a really long outdoor staircase to "1127 Walnut Street"?

    Well, that scene (from 1932's "THE MUSIC BOX") was shot at a stairway between 923 and 935 Vendome Street (actually, the stairs start on Vendome Street and end on Descanso Drive, at Del Monte Drive), in the Silver Lake district (northwest of downtown, just south of Sunset Boulevard).

    (Click here to see photos of the Music Box Steps.)

    In November of 1994, they put up a plaque there honoring the famous spot. *

    That piano-moving gag may have inspired another classic comic routine nine years later, in the 1941 Three Stooges comedy short "AN ACHE IN EVERY STAKE." In the scene, the Stooges attempt to deliver ice to a lady at the top of the stairs, only to find that by the time they reach the top, the block of ice has melted to the size of an ice cube.

    The 147 "Stooge Steps" are located about two miles northeast of the Laurel & Hardy stairs, between 2257 & 2258 Fair Oak View Terrace (a steep cul-de-sac in the Silver Lake district.)  

  • In 1933's original "KING KONG," the big ape is on stage when he is frightened by photographers' flashbulbs, and breaks loose of his chains.

    That was shot at the Shrine Auditorium (665 W. Jefferson Blvd.), near Exposition Park.

  • Most of the classic horror movies of the 1930's (the original "FRANKENSTEIN" with Boris Karloff, "THE WOLF MAN" with Lon Chaney Jr., "DRACULA" with Bela Lugosi, etc.) were filmed amidst the cobblestone streets and alpine architecture of the "European Street" set on the back lot of Universal Studios Hollywood.

    Your tour tram will drive you through this European Street when you take the Universal Studios tour.

    On the same tour, you'll also see the original "PSYCHO" house, the courthouse from "BACK TO THE FUTURE," and countless other original location sets. 


In the classic 1921 silent film, "The Kid," Charlie Chaplin rescues a suicidal heroine trying to throw herself from a bridge. That bridge is still there.

It's the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, CA. The bridge is located on Colorado Blvd (the street where the annual Rose Parade takes place) just west of Orange Grove Blvd.

  • Everyone familiar with classic silent comedies remembers that famous scene where Harold Lloyd hung from a huge clock, dangling high above the city.

    That scene was from the 1923 movie
    "Safety Last", which was shot in downtown Los Angeles.

  • I was originally told that it was filmed at the Brockman Building, located at 530 W. 7th Street.
However, it has come to my attention that the exact location was in dispute.  Wikipedia insists that it was shot at a (now-demolished) building at 226 N. Spring Street.  But it wasn't.  In reality, that former Spring Street building was only used for distant climbing shots, not for the famous dangling-from-the-clock scene.

The best case has been made (and decisively, in my opinion) by John Bengston, who identifies the correct building, with that famous clock, as the L.L. Burns Western Costume Building, at 908 S. Broadway.  And he offers irrefutable visual evidence - which you can examine here.
(Great job, John!)

The building still stands, as you can see in this Google StreetView, and is just south of 9th Street, on the east side of Broadway, in downtown L.A.

But there never was a real clock there.  While it looked like Lloyd was risking life & limb, in fact the scene was shot from a mock facade placed on the roof of the building, which safely allowed the view of the city in the background while leaving Lloyd only a few feet from the roof.

1920's - 1930's - 1940's - 1950's - 1960's - 1970's - 1980's - 1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996
1997 - 1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007- 2008

2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013


* Locations marked by an asterisk (*) may be located in areas with high crime rates.
Exercise reasonable caution.

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