Short Cuts (1993)

The 1993 Robert Altman film “Short Cuts” is based on short stories by author Raymond Carver. Originally set in the Pacific Northwest, for Altman’s film adaptation, he switched the setting to Los Angeles. The film features intersecting stories performed by an ensemble cast.

The house of Ann and Howard Finnegan, played by Andie MacDowell and Bruce Davidson respectively, can be found in North Hollywood.

LOCATION: 4950 Bellaire Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91607

The house next door is where Zoe, played by Lori Singer, lives with her mother Tess, played by Annie Ross. After being injured by a car, the Finnegan’s son Casey returns home. Zoe is playing basketball with some friends in front of the garage and asks Casey why he’s not in school, but he does not answer.

LOCATION: 4946 Bellaire Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91607

The restaurant where Doreen, played by Lily Tomlin, works is the former Johnie’s Broiler in Downey.  She is visited there by her husband Earl, played by Tom Waits. The restaurant has a unique history, having appeared in many other films, such as “Heat,” “The Game,” “License To Drive,” “My Stepmother Is An Alien,” “One Hour Photo” and many more.  In 2007, the building was unfortunately demolished.  However, Bob’s Big Boy purchased the property years later and rebuilt it based on the original blueprints and even some of the same materials.  So what stands now closely resembles what was seen in the film.

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LOCATION: 7447 Firestone Blvd, Downey, CA 90241

War Of The Worlds (2005)

One of the most interesting things to see on the Universal Studios Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood is the plane crash set from the 2005 Steven Spielberg film “War Of The Worlds.”  It is a very intricate set, with lots of full-scale, realistic wreckage.  Cars, ambulances and even an actual, out of use, Boeing 747 were all used for film.  Universal made it an interactive exhibition, with fires and smoke as you pass through.

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LOCATION: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

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One tip for those perhaps not interested in paying the full price for admission into Universal Studios Hollywood, this set can actually be seen free of charge from a hilltop behind the studio.  Just head up to the 3400 block of Blair Dr in Los Angeles for a view of the crash set.  It’s obviously not as good as viewing it up close from ground level, but if you’ve got some time to spare, it’s still an interesting sight.

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LOCATION: 3400 block of Blair Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

One of our favorite movie locations is the prison from “The Shawshank Redemption.”  While the film is set in Maine, tucked away in the fields of Mansfield, Ohio, the Ohio State Reformatory hosted the production of the film in 1993, after it had permanently closed from active prison use three years prior.

Originally built between 1886 to 1910, the facility was built in three architectural styles; Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne.  In the wake of a class action suit by the prisoners, which cited overcrowding and inhumane conditions, the prison was shut down in 1990, with a replacement prison built directly behind it, which is still active today.

After the enduring success of “The Shawshank Redemption,” The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society began work to restore the facility to its original state, as well as recreate many of the film’s sets.  They offer daily tours from April to September and weekend-only tours during the remaining seasons.  The restorations are funded through donations and tour fees.  The building housed a great deal of horrors, which can be felt as you explore the facility.  Over 200 people are said to have died inside the prison walls.  During Halloween season, the Preservation Society offers haunted tours in lieu of the film tours and a number of ghost-themed television shows have filmed at the location.  Yet outside, the place feels quiet and serene.  Other films to have shot at the prison include “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Air Force One” and “Tango & Cash.”

If you find yourself in the area, I highly encourage you to take the tour, as it remains one of our all-time favorite film locations.  We do not wish to overlook the unfortunate history of this facility, however, with all of the atrocities that took place here.

LOCATION: 100 Reformatory Rd, Mansfield, OH 44905

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The front of the prison.  During tour hours, music from the film score plays over loud speakers.

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“Get busy living, or get busy dying.”  The back of the prison is particularly difficult to photograph, as the tours do not cover this area, due to the facility directly facing an active prison.  You are not allowed to turn your camera towards the active prison at any time, under the warning of immediate expulsion from the property, if you are caught doing so.  There are guards from the active prison on constant lookout, to make sure no one is photographing the wrong prison.  However, we can provide a brief glimpse of the “yard” where Red and Andy would meet.

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The parole room, where Red keeps returning for his hearings.  The table and chair props are not the originals, however, if I recall correctly.

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This is where the inmates first line up to face the warden.

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This is the warden’s office, where Andy locks the door and plays the music.  The actor playing the captain really did break the window to the door in the scene, which is still missing today.

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The warden’s office, where his fate is met.

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This is where the production cut a hole in the wall, for the warden’s safe.

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The showers seen in the movie were the prison’s real showers.

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The hole Andy makes in the pipeline.  This is the actual prop from the film.

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This is a wide shot of the pipeline prop that Andy crawls through.  Might ruin a little movie magic for you.

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While similar looking, this is the prop used for the hole in the wall, behind the Rita Hayworth poster.

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Brooks’ apartment.  It was actually another room inside the prison.

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This is unfortunately a replica.  The real ceiling beam was, at one time, located in this room, but it was stolen.  The Preservation Society recreated it.

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Autographs from the film’s actors.

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Autographed poster.

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The cover from the crate prop, holding the library books that Andy had so frequently requested.

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There’s really so much more to see inside the prison tour, such as the world’s tallest prison cell block.  These were not the cell blocks seen in the film, however.  The production opted to rent out a nearby warehouse and build their own set for the cell block, likely due to the unsanitary conditions of the real cell block.  You are warned not to touch anything in this area, for risk of needing a tetanus shot.  Since the rest of the features of the tour do not directly relate to the film, we will leave you with just one image of the many other, highly interesting things the tour has to offer.

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Last, but not least, we leave you with one of Red’s prison shirts, which can be seen on display at Planet Hollywood in Florida.

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LOCATION: 1506 E Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830