The Grifters (1990)

The 1990 film “The Grifters,” directed by Stephen Frears, was shot primarily in Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona. Lilly, played by Anjelica Houston, visits her son Roy, played by John Cusack, at his apartment in Los Angeles. Roy’s apartment is actually a composite of two locations. For the wide shots and the scene where Roy is taken away in an ambulance, the Bryson Apartments were used. The same apartment can be seen in the film “Magnolia.” For closer shots, the Asbury Apartments, located at 2505 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, were used.

LOCATION: 2701 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

The apartment where Roy’s girlfriend Myra, played by Annette Bening, lives has since been demolished. It was formerly located at 692 S Mariposa Ave Los Angeles, CA 90005.

Lilly places bets on horses at a race track, supposedly located La Jolla. The real location can actually be found in Phoenix. As she’s leaving, her angry boss Bobo comes to visit her. The location appears again later in the film when Myra spies on Lilly.

LOCATION: 1501 W Bell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85023

A drunken man disturbs Lilly as she tries to eat at this cafe in Santa Clarita. The cafe is only seen from interior views in the film.

LOCATION: 25861 Railroad Ave, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

After Lilly discovers she is in danger, she gets a motel room, supposedly located in Phoenix. Myra follows her there, planning to kill her. Ironically, despite other scenes actually filming in Phoenix, the motel chosen by the production instead shot in Santa Clarita, California. The same motel was featured in the Britney Spears film “Crossroads,” as well as the TV shows “Too Old To Die Young” and “Westworld.”

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LOCATION: 12117 Sierra Hwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91390

Roy is summoned to Phoenix to identify a body and is taken to the Phoenix City Hall. These scenes were filmed at the Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix. The entrance Roy is seen entering can be found on the west side of the building, facing what is now the courtyard area.

LOCATION: 125 W Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85003

Identity (2003)

The motel from the 2003 thriller “Identity,” starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet and John Hawkes, was filmed at the Four Aces Movie Ranch in Palmdale, California.  The set has been seen in countless films, such as “House Of 1000 Corpses,” “Faster,” “Palm Springs”and “Slipstream.”  It has also appeared in such TV shows as “Twin Peaks” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” as well as numerous commercials and music videos.

Please keep in mind the property is private and there are “no trespassing” signs posted.  However, it is easily visible from the road.  The set is a popular filming location, so you may encounter a shoot in progress when you visit.  If it’s a particularly secretive set, sometimes the roads next to it are closed off to the public.

LOCATION: Four Aces Movie Ranch, 14499 E Ave Q, Palmdale, CA 93591

Better Off Dead (1985)

In the 1985 film “Better Off Dead,” Lane Meyer, played by John Cusack, lives at this house with his family in Glendale, California.

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LOCATION: 1636 Virginia Ave, Glendale, CA 91202

Directly across the street is the home of Monique, the foreign exchange student.

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LOCATION: 1633 Virginia Ave, Glendale, CA 91202

The Pig Burgers building now sits vacant in North Hollywood.  This same location was used as Mooby’s restaurant in “Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back.”

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LOCATION: 6223 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606

Con Air (1997)

At Wendover Airfield, located near the border of Nevada and Utah you’ll find one of the planes used in the Nicolas Cage action film “Con Air.”  The plane isn’t the only attraction to be seen, however, as the area was also used as one of the major locations of the film.

First, we’ll cover the plane.  There were actually several planes used during filming.  The plane used during flight scenes has a rather tragic history.  After being sold to a variety of owners, both military and private, in 2010 the plane crashed into Mt Healy, Alaska, killing three flight crew on board.  However, the Jailbird plane used for filming taxi scenes fared much better and now sits on display at Wendover Airfield and it’s completely free to see.  It can be found near the parking lot and while it is surrounded by fencing, during daytime business hours at the nearby museums, the plane is accessible for free to the public.  Here are several different views of the plane.

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LOCATION: 345 Airport Way, Wendover, UT 84083

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Here is a view inside the plane.  The interiors seen in the film were actually a set built at Sunset Las Palmas Studios (1040 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038).  Nevertheless, we’ve included a few shots inside the plane at Wendover.

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Here is a view of the cockpit, facing out towards the airfield.

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Wendover Airfield is still an operational airport, which has a long history dating back to World War II.  Bomber groups trained here during the war, which included three Medal of Honor recipients.  There’s a museum documenting the history of the airfield, which attracts a lot of tourism.  However, our focus is of course on the filming history.

Wendover Airfield has often been used in films, dating back to 1982’s “The Philadelphia Experiment.”  “Independence Day,” “Mullholland Falls,” The Core” and Ang Lee’s 2003 version of “The Hulk” all filmed at the airfield as well.  The scenic vistas have also been filmed as plates and stock footage in untold numbers of productions.  However, arguably the film most widely associated with the airfield is “Con Air.”

The bad news is that all of the filming locations are located away from the main roads, out on the airfield.  The good news is, for a fee, you can arrange a personal escort out to the filming locations.  Simply look up the Historic Wendover Airfield and reach out to management to arrange a tour.  Do not book one of the regular museum tours, as that is a separate attraction and they typically do not venture out to the filming locations.  Instead, contact management and tell them exactly what you’re wanting to see and when.  They are very friendly and accommodating.

Now we’ll take a look at which scenes filmed at the airfield.  Midway through the film, the plane makes a stop at the fictional “Lerner Airfield” for a rendezvous, where the criminals are supposed to change planes and escape the country.  When they arrive however, the other plane does not appear to be there, leaving them waiting at the airfield for an extended portion of the film.

The filming area is surrounded by this barbed-wire fencing.  In the movie, Steve Buscemi plays a Hannibal Lector like killer named Garland Greene.  Garland roams off from the others out past the fencing.  Due to the fact the fence runs the entire perimeter, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact spot of the shot, but here is a general view of the fencing.

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Garland spots a little girl at a nearby trailer park having tea time in this empty pool.  He comes over and joins her.

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This is the airstrip where the plane takes off again, dragging a car in tow.

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This tower was featured prominently in the film, including when Johnny-23, played by Danny Trejo, warns the others they’ve got company.  It’s also where the car crashes into the tower and detaches from the plane.  There is a similar looking tower visible from the road near the entrance of Wendover Airfield.  That is not the one seen in the film.  The filmmakers saw the real tower and had a replica built specifically for the film, which is seen below.  It is not visible from the main road.

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Vince Larkin, played by John Cusack, stands beside the inept Duncan Malloy near these buildings, as they watch Malloy’s car crash back down to the ground.

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Near the end of the film, an action sequence takes place at in a tunnel supposedly located in Las Vegas, as Poe pursues Cyrus The Virus, played by John Malkovich, on a fire truck.  This was actually filmed in the Second Street Tunnel in Downtown Los Angeles.  The tunnel is a popular filming location, appearing in such films as “Kill Bill,” “Blade Runner,” “Independence Day” and many more.

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LOCATION: 620 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

If you’re a filming location fan, we highly encourage a visit to Wendover Airfield.  Just be sure to plan a bit in advance with management to confirm you can get an escort out to the locations.  It’s well worth the time and expense if you can make the trip.

Say Anything… (1989)

Cameron Crowe’s 1989 directorial debut, “Say Anything…” was filmed in Washington, Southern California and Vancouver, Canada. The exterior of the house of Corey, played by Lili Taylor, can be found in Seattle. Interiors were filmed in California at 2545 Ganesha Ave, Altadena, CA 91001.

LOCATION: 3627 NW 65th Ct, Seattle, WA 98117

Lloyd, played by John Cusack, walks with Diane, played by Ione Skye, out of a convenience store and kicks glass out of her way. The store can be found in North Hollywood.

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LOCATION: 11340 W Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

Diane has lunch with her mom at this restaurant in Pasadena, which has changed a lot since filming took place.

LOCATION: 1978 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Lloyd teaches a kickboxing class at this location, which was more famously used as the Cobra Kai dojo in “The Karate Kid.”  It’s located just a few blocks away from the convenience store.

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LOCATION: 5223 Lankershim Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91601

Here’s a look inside the building.

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The most iconic scene in the film is of course when Lloyd Dobler holds a boombox outside of the bedroom of Diane.  The real scene wasn’t filmed at any house at all, rather a park in North Hollywood. It’s actually located right across the street from the convenience store seen earlier in the film, at the North Hollywood Park, on the SW corner of Magnolia Blvd and Tujunga Ave.  The same park was seen in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.”

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LOCATION: North Hollywood Park, 11430 Chandler Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

In one of the film’s deleted scenes, Diane asks Lloyd to take her back to Lloyd’s workplace, mentioned above.  This scene, which can be found on the home video edition, was filmed at the Community Room of the South Pasadena Public Library.  The same building appeared in Rob Zombie’s remake of “Halloween.”

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LOCATION: 1115 El Centro St, South Pasadena, CA 91030