Location #11:

The View
  (A Lovely Night ).

Q.  Where is it supposed to be?

"We've stumbled on a view
that's tailor-made for two...
What a shame those two
Are you and me
. "

31:56 – 36:42:  After the '80s party, Mia & Sebastian go looking for her car, and wind up stumbling across a wonderful sunset view of Los Angeles, from a hilltop vantage point.

In the song "A Lovely Night", Sebastian laments that such a romantic spot is wasted on the two of them, since (he claims) they clearly have no chance of romance.

The song evolves into
a competitive dance number, shots of which (such as the one at the top of this page) have become the iconic poster image of the movie.

Because they are shown leaving the Hollywood party and walking down the street to this area, we are supposed to believe that this "lovely" view point is somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, just a short walk from the '80s party house. 

It isn't.

Q.  Where was it really shot?

The spot where they actually shot the "Lovely Night" dance number is nowhere near the '80s party house. It's actually ten miles away, to the east, near the top of a 1,640-foot mountain in L.A.'s Griffith Park.

The "Lovely Night" scene was shot in a single unbroken shot, meaning that the camera was always trained on the dancing couple, and there were no cuts. Needing to get it perfect, from beginning to end in a single shot, made it more of a challenge for the lead actors, who aren't professional dancers (but who did their own dancing for this scene).

Here is a YouTube video of the dance scene:

And because the producers wanted to film the scene during the actual sunset/twilight moment, they had very little time in which to shoot each day before the sunset faded and they lost the light.

They finally got it right on the very last take of the third day of trying.

So where is it?

The good news is that I can tell you exactly where it is.

bad news is that you're probably not going to like it.

The spot, which is popular with film makers because of its view, is known as "Cathy's Corner", and it's located off a north/northwest hairpin turn on Mount Hollywood Drive, one of the paved streets that winds through Griffith Park.

( The
GPS coordinates are approximately 34.139241, -118.308324 )

Here is a Google 360° Panorama of Cathy's Corner:

And that road they're walking on before the dance starts is supposed to be the same street that runs past the '80s party house (Dorilee Lane), but it's not.

It's actually just a stretch of Mount Hollywood Drive,
a few yards southeast of the dance spot.

Here's a matching photo from Tony Hoffarth. ( Thanks, Tony!  )

Here is a link to a Google Earth 3-D view of Cathy's Corner.

And now, the bad news.

I would love to be able to tell you that you could just drive up Mount Hollywood Drive and park at this lookout point, but unfortunately, you can't.

The City of Los Angeles, in its great wisdom, has made this portion of Mount Hollywood
Drive off-limits to cars (the street is blocked off to traffic), and access is limited to only hikers and cyclists.  No cars allowed.

So you can't just drive to Cathy's Corner.  You have to walk

(Another photo of Cathy's Corner from Tony)

But the news gets worse.

 In order to reach Cathy's Corner, you have to park far away (near the Griffith Observatory) and hike uphill for about 2 1/2 miles, traversing the serpentine twists and turns as the paved road makes its way up Mount Hollywood.

It's a shame that the most iconic location in the movie is also the most difficult to reach, and perhaps the most disappointing of the lot. But that's the way it is

It's important that you understand what
 you're dealing with when it comes to Griffith Park.

Those who don't live here in Southern California might hear the name
"Griffith Park", and envision a typical residential park.  They'd be very wrong.

Griffith Park is to the average city park what Godzilla is to the average lizard.

It is the largest urban park in America, covering
4,310 acres of mostly natural, undeveloped, mountainous land.  (To put it in ways New Yorkers might understand, you could fit five Central Parks in Griffith Park, and still have a little room left over.)

In many ways, it resembles a national park more than it does a typical city park.  We are talking about a place where mountain lions roam (I'm serious about that - you might encounter one), not to mention snakes.

On its
lower, developed and more accessible levels, the park contains a number of notable attractions, including the Griffith Park Zoo, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, a classic merry-go-round (where Walt Disney was sitting when he got the inspiration for Disneyland), the Greek Theatre, TravelTown (an outdoor railroad museum), an Equestrian Center, the lush greenery of Fern Dell...

And sitting above all of that  is the
Griffith Park Observatory (which is another location from this movie, that we will see later).

Of course, it is a park.  So there are also the requisite lawns, sporting fields, and picnic spots.   But the majority of Griffith Park is still rugged, natural land, crossed with hiking trails, and much of it is inaccessible except on foot.

And unfortunately, this classic hilltop scene was shot in one of those car-inaccessible spots.  If you're not up for
a two and a half mile uphill  hike to get there, you're out of luck.

And even if you are up for the hike, visiting the spot at the seemingly-ideal moment ( as seen in the movie - at sunset time ), is not a safe idea in the real world. 

This is a public park, with some very desolate spots, even more so after dark.  And it would be dark by the time you started back from a sunset viewing at this spot. 

Being in a huge, desolate city park after dark is never a safe idea. 

Most of the time, you'd probably get away with it, but you never know when you're going to encounter some hostile homeless person living in the huge park, or worse, some violent group of punks who have figured out that the romantic couples visiting this movie spot at night, with their expensive cell phones. would make easy victims.  (And that's not to mention those mountain lions...)

In other words, a sunset/after-dark visit here is potentially dangerous, and I'd advise against risking it.  Maybe I'm being overly cautious.  But there are far easier and safer “La La Land” locations to visit, including the
Griffith Observatory and Fern Dell, both, right here in the same park.

To make matters worse, when you
do get to the spot,
it won't look the same as it did in the movie

(Another shot from Tony)

The bench where Mia & Sebastian sat, for instance, isn't really there.  (There are no benches at all near the spot.)  It was a prop.

And that classic
blue lamp post?  Sorry.  Also just a prop brought in by the producers, and removed after the shoot.

( Those same blue lamp posts show up throughout the movie as a recurring theme. You'll spot them on the pier when Seb sings "City of Stars", and they also line the Google StreetView they walk down here, as well as in the fantasy scape at the end... )

will see the same thick wooden posts near the edge of the cliff, they're real.
And so is the big tree seen to the right of their prop bench.

And, of course, there is the
view itself.  It's certainly real.

But even there, there's a catch.
it isn't really a view of Hollywood, or even downtown L.A. 

It's actually a view looking the
other direction, into the San Fernando Valley
And you know the song's lyrics mention "a silver shine that stretches to the sea ". )
That's not going to happen either.

For most of the scene, the camera is facing north to take in that view, and the ocean (which is to the west) is nowhere in sight from that direction - just Valley.

Instead of seeing a great view of downtown L.A. (which you can get from the nearby Griffith Observatory), you will instead find yourself looking inland towards the rather non-romantic Burbank and Forest Lawn.

( But that being said, it's still a nice view. )

If you're the type that relishes hikes, then enjoy seeing the obscure location. 
But if you're like most sedentary Americans, save yourself the long, tiring walk and settle for visiting one (or more) of the many other "La La Land" locations scattered across Greater Los Angeles.

( Whatever you do, ignore the ridiculous directions to Cathy's Corner that are currently given by Google Maps.  They essentially tell you to start at Forest Lawn Hollywood and then more or less 'fly' up a steep embankment to the Cathy's Corner.  Can't be done. )

But if you've decided to ignore my advice
and go there anyway, here's how to do it:

First, take a good look at the map below, to see what you're getting yourself into.  Click on this small map below to see a much larger version.

I marked the trail to Cathy's Corner in red:

Or click here to see an even bigger version, showing the trail, and all of Griffith Park.
Or click here to see the original, un-marked version of the park map.

Basically, the idea is to drive into the park via Vermont Ave (marked blue on the map) and follow it up to the Griffith Observatory,  then park near the Observatory (either in their parking lot, or on the side of W. Observatory Road), and then walk north, up Observatory Road, to where you'll find Mount Hollywood Drive (on your left/west), which will be blocked off to traffic. Then (on foot) you'll follow Mount Hollywood Drive (a mostly-paved road) up that long & winding red trail that you see on the map, just over two miles, to Cathy's Corner.

( If this is your first time driving to the Observatory, note that once on Vermont, you will drive through a short tunnel This is the same tunnel seen in "Back to the Future II" and seen as the entrance to Toontown in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". 
Enjoy the Hollywood history. )

When you come out of the tunnel, the name of the street changes from Vermont to W. Observatory Drive (if you turn left), or Mount Hollywood Drive (if you could go straight ahead - which you can't, because cars aren't allowed there).  This is where you'll start your hike, so park as close as possible to this point.

In the StreetView above of the split in the road, the gated entrance to the start of
Mount Hollywood Drive is to the right, while Observatory Drive is to the left.

 If you continue left (south) on
Observatory Drive, it will take you to the Griffith Observatory parking lot, which is an obvious option for parking, and then you can just walk back (north) to the start of Mount Hollywood Drive. 

But you can cut about a third of a mile off your hike by parking
on the side of Observatory Road (if you can find a spot to park, that is).  Pay attention to the parking signs there, so you don't get a ticket for parking at the wrong place or time.

Some general advice for the hike:

Bear in mind that while I've visited Griffith Park many times, including the Observatory, I mostly stick to the popular attractions on the park's lower levels.  I haven't spent any time hiking its mountainous trails. So don't expect expert advice from me on that aspect of your visit.  But here are a few common sense suggestions that you would be wise to follow:
  • Bring drinking water and sunblock.  It can get very hot, especially in the summer.  If possible, go early in the day, when it's still cool.

  • Don't go alone, stick with a group.  There's safety in numbers.

  • Remember that cell phones won't work in some areas of the park.

  • Watch out for snakes, mountain lions (and potential human predators).  The chance of such an encounter is low, but if you see one, remember that mountain lions are usually frightened of adult humans.  Simply back away slowly and the animal will most likely leave peacefully.  (Although you might want to think twice about bringing a pet or a young child along on the hike.)

  • Don't get too close to the edges of cliffs or steep slopes, including the one at Cathy's Corner. At lookout points such as this, a surprising number of people end up falling while simply trying to get a better view.  Don't be one of them.

  • Unless you're experienced at hiking Griffith Park, stick to the main road, do not go wandering off on the side trails, or you'll risk getting lost in a very big park. (And remember, if you get lost, your cell phone may not work to call for help.

Now, let's move on to a location that is close to this one,
but is much easier to visit...


Move on to the next movie location seen in "La La Land".


"La La Land" and its images are copyright Summit Entertainment
The rest of this page is Copyright © 2020-Gary Wayne - All Rights Reserved

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