Top Gun (1986)

In the town of Oceanside, California, about 40 miles north of San Diego, you’ll find the iconic house from the 1986 hit “Top Gun.”  Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis, lives at this beachfront cottage, where she is visited by Maverick, played by Tom Cruise.  The two make love while Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” plays, in one of the most famous love scenes of the 1980s.

The house sat vacant and boarded up for years, having fallen into a state of disrepair, with fencing erected around it in an effort to minimize vandalism.  At the time of filming, several other houses existed along the block, but all were demolished except for this one.  Hotel development has since taken place in 2020 on this block, but the “Top Gun” house drives tourism to Oceanside, so rather than demolition, the house was relocated about a block away and restored (much like what happened with the Michael Myers house from the original “Halloween“).  While the restoration is much needed, we were able to capture it at it’s original site while it still remained there. The house now sits in it’s permanent location across from the Oceanside Fishing Pier, on N Pacific St, between Pier View Way and Mission Ave.

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LOCATION: Originally located at 102 N Pacific St, Oceanside, CA 92054, permanently relocated to N Pacific St, between Pier View Way and Mission Ave

Here is a front facing view of the house before the 2020 restoration, where you can see a poster for the film over one of the boarded up windows.

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For scenes set at the back of the house, a completely different location stood in, behind the medical building of Paramount Studios.

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LOCATION: 5555 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

In San Diego, you’ll find the bar where Maverick and Goose sing “Great Balls of Fire.”  Kansas City Barbeque, located not far from the city’s convention center where their famous Comic Con takes place, makes no secret of their connection to the film.  In fact, it’s one of the main themes of the restaurant.  Here is the room where Goose played the piano, which was on the wall to the left.

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LOCATION: 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

The piano itself has been relocated to a different room in the restaurant.

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The walls are adorned with tons of imagery and promotional items from the film.

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In a later scene, Maverick sits at this bar.

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They even have a neon sign for the film in the front windows.

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It’s always nice to see places embrace their film history so much.  Be sure to check it out if you’re in the San Diego area.

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True Romance (1993)

In the 1993 Tony Scott directed, Quentin Tarantino penned film, “True Romance,” the outlaw couple of Clarence, played by Christian Slater and Alabama, played by Patricia Arquette, supposedly meet in Detroit.  In reality, most of the film was shot in Southern California.

In the opening scene of the film, Clarence sits at a bar and talks about Elvis. These scenes were filmed in San Fernando. The bar is only seen from interior views in the film, but you’ll see the distinctive glass block windows match up to those visible behind Clarence in the film.

LOCATION: 1113 San Fernando Rd, San Fernando, CA 91340

Early in the film, Clarence and Alabama watch a Sonny Chiba “Street Fighter” triple feature together.  This was filmed at the Vista Theater, one of L.A.’s best vintage theaters.

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LOCATION: 4473 Sunset Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027

After the movies, the couple goes for coffee and pie at Rae’s Restaurant in Santa Monica.  The restaurant has been used in countless films, such as “Lords Of Dogtown,” “Bowfinger” and “Starsky & Hutch.”

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LOCATION: 2901 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

The comic book store, “Heroes For Sale,” where Clarence works, was actually “Fantastic Store,” a former comic book, music and vintage store located near the famous intersection of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave in Hollywood.  The store has unfortunately long since closed and bears little resemblance to how it appeared in the film.

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LOCATION: 1718 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

The billboard location where the two sit outside and talk could be found in downtown Los Angeles at the Dewey Hotel Apartments.  Unfortunately, there is no longer an actual billboard on the side of the building.

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LOCATION: 721 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

The building where Drexl, played by Gary Oldman, resides was a combination of two locations.  The exterior was located in Downtown Detroit, Michigan.  It was demolished in the 1990s, to make way for a football stadium.  The interior living room, where Clarence confronts Drexl, was actually shot on the other side of the country, back in Los Angeles.  Known as The Beckett Mansion, the property, located in the West Adams neighborhood, actually operates as an event space and filming location year round.  The same house has been featured in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” “Neighbors,” “No Strings Attached” and many more.  It’s also located directly across the street from the house from “The People Under The Stairs.”

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LOCATION: 2218 S Harvard Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018

The apartment of Floyd and Dick Ritche, played by Brad Pitt and Michael Rapaport respectively, can be found in Hollywood. The scenes were filmed on the upper level unit of the Krotona Apartments. Tarantino himself lived at Krotona Apartments for a time, staying on the couch of writer-director Scott Spiegel, much like Floyd in the film. The apartment is seen only from interior views in the film. This area is on the side of the building.

LOCATION: 2122 Vista Del Mar Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

Clarence calls Dick Ritchie from a payphone in the desert. The building in the shot has long since been demolished and now its just an empty plot of land. The mountains in the distance can be seen behind Clarence and Alabama in the payphone in multiple shots.

LOCATION: 17012 E Palmdale Blvd Palmdale, CA 93591 (now demolished)

The scene took place near the intersection of 170th St E and E Palmdale Blvd in Palmdale.

The foundation where the building stood still exists.

Dick Ritchie auditions for a role on “T.J. Hooker” at the majestic Castle Green Apartments in Pasadena. The scene was shot on the bridge of Castle Green facing S Raymond Ave. The location is only seen from interior views in the film.

LOCATION: 99 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

Here’s a closer look at the hallway, which leads into what would have been the casting office in the film. Castle Green has been featured in countless films, such as “The Sting,” “Wild At Heart,” “The Little Rascals,” “Deja Vu,” “Sneakers,” “Bugsy,” “The Last Samurai” and many more.

Later in the film, the couple stays at this motel, supposedly located on the Sunset Strip.  The real motel, the Safari Inn, is actually located just north of L.A., in Burbank, California.

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LOCATION: 1911 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91506

The same motel was featured in the films “Apollo 13” and “Coach Carter.”

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The final drug deal takes place at the fictional Beverly Ambassador Hotel. The exterior used in the film is The Athenaeum, an event venue at Caltech in Pasadena. The same building was featured in the films “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Beverly Hills Cop II.” The interiors were filmed at the former Ambassador Hotel (3400 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010), which has since been demolished.

LOCATION: 551 S Hill Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106