Falling Down (1993)

In Joel Schumacher’s 1993 film “Falling Down,” Michael Douglas plays the central character, referred to only as “D-Fens,” which is his license plate number.  The film follows D-Fens as he makes his was from Los Angeles to Venice Beach.  For the most part, the locations actually do follow this path, with a few exceptions.

The opening traffic jam is set at the 101 interchange of the 110 freeway.  The traffic pileup is in the southbound lane to the left, while D-Fens abandons his car and takes the northbound lane to the right on foot.

fallingdown1

LOCATION: Interchange of I-110 / I-101, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Beth, the estranged wife of D-Fens, played by Barbara Hershey, lives just off the Venice boardwalk.  This view next to her house, facing towards the beach, is seen multiple times in the film.

fallingdown2

LOCATION: 201 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291

Beth’s house was unfortunately completely remodeled and looks nothing like it did in the film.

fallingdown3

LOCATION: 18 Ozone Ave, Venice, CA 90291

The police station where Detective Prendergast, played by Robert Duvall, works was a set built at Warner Bros. Studios (4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91522).

D-Fens makes his was to the market of Mr. Lee, where the first outburst of violence occurs over an overpriced can of soda.  This location is right next to the 101 freeway, making it a logical stop along the path of D-Fens.  The market has since been demolished and a park (Madison West Park) now exists in it’s place.

fallingdown4

LOCATION: 458 N Madison Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Later in the film, Prendergast makes his way to the market and climbs this embankment.  After spotting a billboard, he correctly places the proximity to the abandoned car and identifies D-Fens as his suspect.  A note to those interested in visiting, this dead end next to the park is not a very safe area, serving as a makeshift homeless community.

fallingdown5

As D-Fens makes his way through East L.A., he sits to rest and is approached by two gang members demanding his briefcase.  D-Fens refuses and things quickly turn violent.  The hilltop where the scene was shot has been converted in to a park, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, but the skyline of downtown Los Angeles still matches up.

fallingdown6

LOCATION: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Looking for retribution, the gang members spot D-Fens in front of a theater, where they attempt to ambush him with a drive-by shooting.  The theater has since been demolished, but the surrounding buildings where the car rolls up still match.

fallingdown7

LOCATION: 2524 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (looking down from N Fickett St)

After hitting everyone in sight except D-Fens, their car turns off East Ceasar E Chavez Ave onto N Ficket St and crashes in front of this building.  D-Fens walks up and takes their bag of weapons.

fallingdown8

LOCATION: 2600 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (at N Fickett St)

D-Fens is standing next to a children’s playground in MacArthur Park, when a beggar starts asking him for a handout.  The playground has since been moved to another section of the park, but the structure to the left, seen in the film, still stands at the original spot.

fallingdown9

LOCATION: 2230 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

The beggar follows D-Fens through this tunnel, making up a sob story, which is quickly exposed as a lie.  MacArthur Park is not the safest of areas in general.  We wouldn’t recommend tourism here. This pedestrian walkway is one of several locations rumored to be the bridge that served as the inspiration for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Under the Bridge,” but singer Anthony Kiedis has never confirmed the true location.

fallingdown10

On the other side of the tunnel, the D-Fens gives the beggar his briefcase.  The lake in the background is also seen in the movie “Drive,” where Ryan Gosling’s character makes a deal with some criminals.

fallingdown11

After discovering the briefcase only contains some lunch food, the disappointed beggar throws the apple at D-Fens, who kicks the apple and continues up the stairs to the left.

fallingdown12

The “Whammyburger” in the film is the biggest departure from the true path of Los Angeles to Venice Beach.  The restaurant, Angelo’s Burgers, is located much further south in Lynwood, California.  It still bears a strong resemblance to how it appeared in the film, aside from the fictitious Whammyburger set dressing.  Angelo’s was in fact the same restaurant at the time of filming.  It has not changed ownership.  The burgers there are quite good as well.

fallingdown13

LOCATION: 10990 Atlantic Ave, Lynwood, CA 90262

A view inside the Whammyburger.

fallingdown14

fallingdown15

A poster for the film can be found inside, noting that filming took place on May 12, 1992.

fallingdown16

Celebrating his last day, Prendergast eats lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

fallingdown17

LOCATION: 4067 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

In one of the more poignant scenes in the film, D-Fens sees a man protesting, because he has been denied a loan and was determined to be “not economically viable.”  The building is now a post office.

fallingdown18

LOCATION: 5350 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

The scene where D-Fens shoots up a phone booth was shot over on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, right along the iconic Sunset Strip.  The El Pollo Loco restaurant to the left was seen in the film, although most of the other businesses in the plaza have since changed.

fallingdown19

LOCATION: 8148 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

The army surplus store where D-Fens meets a Nazi store owner can be found back towards East L.A.  The building really is a surplus store and still operates today.  The real owners are nothing like the eccentric man in the film and are very welcoming to visitors.

fallingdown20

LOCATION: 3828 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

A view of the front counter, which is brimming with quite a bit more merchandise than seen in the film.

fallingdown21

Some of the rocket mortar props seen in the film are still found in the store, albeit a bit tucked away.

fallingdown22

The back of the surplus store, where more violence occurs, was actually a set construced at Warner Bros. Studios (4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91522).

The construction scene, where D-Fens fires a bazooka, faces towards the 110 and 105 freeway interchange.  The same interchange can be seen in the films “Speed” and “La La Land,” the latter of which also opens with a traffic jam, albeit to much different results.

fallingdown23

LOCATION: Intersection of S Broadway / W 112th St, Los Angeles, CA 90061

This church can be seen in the background of a few shots during the construction scene.

fallingdown24

Near the end of the film, D-Fens finally finds his family at the Venice Fishing Pier.  The pier had long been closed at the time of filming and was once set for demolition, but after community backlash, was ultimately saved and restored.  The building at the end of the pier is no longer there, but otherwise the area looks the same for the most part.

fallingdown25

LOCATION: Venice Fishing Pier, Los Angeles, CA 90292

Prendergast approaches and finally meets D-Fens.

fallingdown26

Prendergast and D-Fens have a standoff in the film’s climactic scene.

fallingdown27

There are quite a few locations to this film, some demolished or remodeled, others still standing.  Other than a few slightly unsafe areas, if you’re a fan of visiting filming locations, most of them are worth a visit.  “Falling Down” has grown in stature in the years since the film’s release and it has rightly taken it’s place among the the most iconic Los Angeles-based films.

Paramount Ranch

In 1927, Paramount Pictures purchased land in Agoura Hills, California in the Santa Monica Mountains, where they constructed the original movie sets of Paramount Ranch, which were known for representing everything from colonial Massachusetts to ancient China, becoming widely used in a number of classic films, such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Gunfight at the OK Corral.”  The legendary TV series “Gunsmoke” also filmed at the ranch.

In the 1950s, William Hertz purchased the ranch from Paramount (although their name stuck) and brought in sets from RKO Pictures’ former Encino Ranch, which would become the basis of the “Western Town” at Paramount Ranch.  This opened up the property to a new generation of Westerns and the ranch flourished.

With Hertz’s health in decline, he would sell the ranch to an auto racing company.  However, after two fatal crashed in 1957, the racing company folded.

In 1980, the ranch was adopted as Paramount Ranch Park, part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  Due to this change, the ranch became open to the public and free of charge, which is a very unique quality for movie ranches in Southern California, as most those remaining are privately owned and closed to the public.

While many of the buildings did change over the years, the National Parks Service restored the “Western Town” to it’s former glory and resumed using it as a filming location, including notable appearances on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “The X-Files,” “Carnivàle” and “Westworld.”  Countless films also shot at the ranch, including “Reds,” “The Flintsones in Viva Rock Vegas,” “Bone Tomahawk,” “The Great Outdoors,” “American Sniper” and many more.  Even when filming was taking place at the ranch, it still remained open for public visitation.

Unfortunately in November 2018, the ranch fell victim to wildfires and nearly every building was burnt to the ground.  The same fires damaged some of the “M*A*S*H*” set at Malibu Creek State Park.  This has actually happened to several sets around Southern California over the years, with many often being rebuilt.  Paramount Ranch is no exception.  Plans have been announced to rebuild the sets, with a target to re-open around late 2020.

We had the good fortune of visiting the ranch on multiple occasions before the fire, so here we’ll take a look at pretty much everything that could be seen around the Western Town set.

LOCATION: 2903 Cornell Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 (now demolished)

Here is entrance the entrance to the ranch.

paramountranch1

paramountranch2

A map of the grounds.

paramountranch3

paramountranch32

The “Chins” building, seen on the TV series “Carnivàle.”

paramountranch4

paramountranch5

paramountranch6

The church, seen on the TV series “Westworld.”  It was the sole building to survive the wildfire.

westworld1

westworld2

A look inside the church.

westworld3

The general store.

paramountranch11

The Trapper.

paramountranch12

A house at the ranch, which was actually used as a residence by staff.

paramountranch13

The saloon and gazebo, where the climax of Season 1 of “Westworld” takes place, with Dr. Robert Ford, played by Anthony Hopkins and Dolores, played by Evan Rachel Wood, causing a dramatic scene.

westworld4

westworld5

westworld6

westworld7

westworld8

The hotel, seen on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”

paramountranch18

paramountranch19

A glimpse inside.

paramountranch36

paramountranch34

The barber shop.

paramountranch33

paramountranch20

paramountranch21

The bank.

paramountranch22

paramountranch23

Another general store.

paramountranch24

The jail.

paramountranch28

The stable.

paramountranch25.jpg

paramountranch26

paramountranch27

paramountranch31

paramountranch35

The train depot, seen on “The X-Files.”

paramountranch29

A covered cafeteria area with picnic tables, where film crews could eat their meals.

paramountranch30

We are hopeful that the sets will be reconstructed in time, but until then, we hope this article serves as a document of what was.

(500) Days Of Summer (2009)

Marc Webb’s 2009 romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer” was filmed all around Southern California.  Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel, lives at this apartment, known as The Barclay.  The same building was featured in another Zooey Deschanel film, “Yes Man,” co-starring Jim Carrey, who is seen talking a suicidal jumper off a ledge around the corner from this entrance.

500daysofsummer9

LOCATION: 706 Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005

Tom, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is seen walking along Normandie Ave in front of Summer’s apartment.  The filmmakers actually composited a skyline view of downtown L.A. into the horizon, which is not actually visible from the street.

500daysofsummer10

Tom and Summer break up at the former Quality Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles.  The diner was a one-time staple of films, appearing in “Seven,” “Training Day,” “Ghost World,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Million Dollar Baby” and dozens more.  However, it was not an actual restaurant open to the public.  Instead it was used solely for filming.  Sadly, it ceased to function as a filming location and was completely renovated in 2014.  The property no longer bears any resemblance to how it appeared in so many films.

seven5

LOCATION: 1238 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017 (now closed and heavily remodeled)

Tom and Summer rent an adult movie from this building in Downtown Los Angeles.  The same building was used as the bank in “Killing Zoe.”

killingzoe1

LOCATION: 401 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

The fountain where Tom begins to dance is the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain in Grand Park in Downtown L.A.  The same fountain was seen in “Pretty Woman.”

500daysofsummer3

LOCATION: Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The bench where the couple sits and looks over the city is another sad story of a film location soon to be lost.  The bench was located in a small park area once known as Angels Knoll in Los Angeles, California, now called Angels Landing.  Located directly beside Angels Flight from “La La Land,” the bench attracted many visitors after the release of the film, who enjoyed recreating the famous shot.

Sadly in 2013, the City of Los Angeles permanently closed the park, blocking it off with fencing and no trespassing signs.  Many years passed while the area sat unused and inaccessible to the public.  During this time, the Angels Flight was thankfully restored at put back into operation, so film lovers can at least rejoice that fact.  The fate of the “500 Days” bench and the Angels Knoll park in general was less optimistic, however.  While the area can still be seen, either through the fencing, or from the restaurant area overlooking the park, it is no longer possible to get an up close shot like seen in the film.

Plans have since been announced for a high rise to be built in place of the park, but for now, the area still remains vacant and fenced off.  Here we take a look back to when the park and bench were still open and accessible.

500days1

There was even a plaque on the bench commemorating the film, which read “Tom’s favorite place becomes one of Summer’s too.”  While the bench is still there (for now), the plaque has been removed.

500days2

LOCATION: 356 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (permanently closed, soon to be demolished)

Tom’s apartment can be found in Downtown Los Angeles.

500daysofsummer11

LOCATION: 432 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Rachel, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, lives at this house in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, seen briefly in the film.  It sits directly next door to the house of Dave Chappelle’s character in “A Star Is Born.”

500daysofsummer3

LOCATION: 5231 Shearin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90041

Tom attends Millie’s wedding at the Point Fermin Lighthouse in San Pedro.  This is located very near the Korean Bell of Friendship from “The Usual Suspects.”

500daysofsummer7

LOCATION: 807 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731

Near the end of the film, Tom has an interview at the Bradbury Building in Downtown L.A., famous of course for it’s use in “Blade Runner.”

bladerunner4

LOCATION: 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Despite being famously set in Boston, Massachusetts, much of the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting” actually filmed in Toronto, Canada.  The film brought home Oscar gold for screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, as well as Robin Williams.  Despite heavily filming in Toronto, some scenes were indeed filmed in Boston, including several of the film’s most well-known locations.

Will, played by Matt Damon, and Chuckie, played by Ben Affleck, hang out at the L Street Tavern in South Boston.

goodwillhunting1

LOCATION: 658 E 8th St, Boston, MA 02127

goodwillhunting2

They even keep a sign on the side of the building, calling it the “Home of Good Will Hunting.”

goodwillhunting3

Over at Harvard Square in Cambridge, north of Boston, you’ll find a couple memorable locations from the film, located right across the street from Harvard University.  The Bow and Arrow Pub is where Will meets Skylar.  It’s also where he has the confrontation with an arrogant, pony-tailed grad student.  The bar is now known as the Grafton Street Pub & Grill.

goodwillhunting5

LOCATION: 1230 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Literally directly to the left of the Grafton Street Pub, you’ll find what used to be a Dunkin’ Donuts.  The building currently serves as a ramen restaurant.  After obtaining Skyler’s phone number and spotting the pony-tailed grad student once again, this is the window front Will walks up to and delivers his famous “How do you like them apples?” line.

goodwillhunting4

LOCATION: 1 Bow St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The famous bench where Will sits with Sean, played by Robin Williams, can be found at the Boston Public Garden.  Surprisingly, the bench is not marked in any way as being the spot from the film.  If you’re unfamiliar with the garden park, it may take you a bit to find it, but it’s a popular spot and sometimes you can spot it simply by watching for others taking photos there.  To get to the bench, follow the lakeside path north from the west end of the bridge.  If you’re at the bridge, you would go down the small set of stairs to reach it.  Behind the bench, you’ll see an intersection of paths and a tree with a branch forming a “v” shape.  In front of the bench, you’ll see the below view, with the curving edge along the water and the tree in the distance.  Referring to this map of the park, the bench is number 5.

goodwillhunting6

LOCATION: Boston Public Garden, Boston, MA 02116