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.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

One of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1990s, Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” was shot in Southern California. The restaurant that opens and closes the film was the Hawthorne Grill in Hawthorne, California.  Unfortunately, the restaurant closed in 1996 and is now an AutoZone.

LOCATION: 13763 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA 90250 (demolished)

Butch discusses throwing a boxing fight with Marsellus Wallace at Starz, a former strip club in Gardena. This location was identified by Rayen Belchere after he spoke with the former management, who confirmed the club was used in the film. The location is only seen from interior views in the film, but photography was not permitted inside and the club has since permanently closed. Here is what the exterior looked like.

LOCATION: 2528 Rosecrans Ave, Gardena, CA 90249

Vincent Vega takes Mia Wallace to the memorable “Jack Rabbit Slims,” which is not a real restaurant.  The interiors were built on a studio stage.  However, the exterior is in fact a real place, albeit not a restaurant.  Located in Glendale, California, the building was originally a bowling alley called Grand Central Bowl, which has long since closed.  Today, the building is owned by The Walt Disney Company, which owned Miramax, the company which released “Pulp Fiction.”  The building is part of Disney’s larger Grand Central Business Center, which consists of numerous buildings in the area used as business offices.  The building is actually tucked away behind a wall and fencing, but the wall is not very tall and it’s easy to get a view over top of it.  What is not so easily accomplished is getting a closer view of the building.  The property is only open to business staff, so the closest the public can get is the sidewalk.

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LOCATION: 1435 Flower St, Glendale, CA 91201

Vincent Vega pays a visit to his friend Lance, played by Eric Stoltz, early in the film, in order to purchase some heroin.  After Mia Wallace mistakes Vega’s heroin for cocaine, she overdoses and is rushed to this house in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, for a very tense scene in which they give her an adrenaline shot.

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LOCATION: 3519 La Clede Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039

The building where Butch’s boxing match takes place can be found in Pasadena.  The marquee has since been changed.  The same building was also used in “This is Spinal Tap.”

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LOCATION: 129 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

Later in the film, after Butch has double-crossed Marsellus Wallace, he sneaks back to his apartment, located in North Hollywood, to retrieve his gold watch.

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LOCATION: 11813 Runnymede St, North Hollywood, CA 91605

After a violent confrontation at his apartment, Butch is leisurely driving away, when a chance encounter with Marsellus occurs at this intersection of Fletcher Dr. and Atwater Ave., also located in Atwater Village.  Butch is facing NW on Atwater Ave. when he spots Marsellus crossing Fletcher Dr.

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LOCATION: Intersection of Atwater Ave. / Fletcher Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90039

Butch quickly floors it and hits Marsellus, before getting in a car collision in the intersection.  Marsellus awakens and begins firing his gun at Butch, when a bystander is hit in front of Fosters Freeze, which is at the same intersection.  Forsters Freeze was also featured on the television show “GLOW.”

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LOCATION: 2760 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Marsellus chases Butch on foot SW down Fletcher Dr. from the same intersection.

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LOCATION: Fletcher Dr., just past Atwater Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039

Marsellus fires one last shot in the distance at Butch, who is standing at the corner of this building in Canoga Park.  This location is far away from the earlier shots in Atwater Villiage.  It is actually the corner alley next to the Zed’s Pawn Shop, in which both characters make a grave mistake in entering.

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LOCATION: The alley left of Crown Pawn Shop at 20933 Roscoe Blvd, Canoga Park, CA 91304

Zed’s Pawn Shop is where things take a bizarre, ugly turn for Butch and Marsellus.  The real building actually is a pawn shop.

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LOCATION: 20933 Roscoe Blvd, Canoga Park, CA 91304

The motel where Butch and Fabienne stay was demolished in 1996. Formerly known as the River Glen Motel, this building now stands in it’s place. Only the exteriors were used in the film. The interior of the motel was a set, albeit designed to resemble the River Glen Motel rooms.

LOCATION: 2934 Riverside Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039 (now demolished)

What can be better lined up at the location is the view down Riverside Drive, seen as the couple leaves the motel on a chopper. Everything here still matches how it appeared in the film, with the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge visible in the distance. The same bridge was seen in the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

Near the end of the film, Jules and Vincent find themselves in “The Bonnie Indecent,” in which they are in sudden, urgent need of getting rid of a body.  They arrive here at Jimmy’s house, played by Quentin Tarantino.  It is here they meet “The Wolf,” played by Harvey Keitel.

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LOCATION: 4145 Kraft Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

The site of Monster Joe’s Truck and Tow can be found in Sun Valley. The area has changed some since filming took place.

LOCATION: 12143 Branford St, Sun Valley, CA 91352

Related articles: Reservoir Dogs (1992)Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003), Django Unchained (2012), Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood (2019)