American Beauty (1999)

It is common practice in Hollywood to film exteriors of homes on location, while filming interiors on studio lots.  For the 1999 Sam Mendes film, “American Beauty,” an unusual approach was taken to film the exteriors on a studio lot and the interiors in real locations.

Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, lives at this house, the exterior of which is located on the Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank, California.  The ranch is a small lot located apart from the main studio lot, and is unfortunately not open to public tours.  The house is also well known for having been used as the Griswold home in 1989’s “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”  It has also appeared in the films “Hocus Pocus,” “Small Soldiers,” “Pleasantville” and more.  As is often the case with houses on studio lots, the outer facade has since changed a bit from how it appeared in the film.

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LOCATION: 411 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

The interiors of Lester’s home were filmed at this house, located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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LOCATION: 11388 Homedale St, Los Angeles, CA 90049

To the right of the Bernham house at the Warner Bros. Ranch is the exterior of the Colonel’s house.  This house is most well known for being Danny Glover’s home in the “Lethal Weapon” films.  Known as the Lindsay house, it has also appeared in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” The Three Stooges serials, “Pushing Daisies,” “The Middle” and many more.  Once again, the outer facade has changed a bit from how it appeared in the film.  The interior of the Colonel’s house was filmed at 330 S Windsor Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90020.

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LOCATION: 411 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

To the left of the Burnham house is the house of the two Jims, played by Scott Bakula and Sam Robards.  To stand on Blondie Street at the Warner Bros Ranch, where all three of the house exteriors are located, it really does feel like you’re standing in a real neighborhood.  It’s only when you approach up close that the facades begin to show.

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LOCATION: 411 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

Lester takes a job at a fast food restaurant, where his wife unknowingly visits him at the drive through.

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LOCATION: 20105 Saticoy St, Winnetka, CA 91306

Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)

For the 1992 sequel “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York,” the entire, original cast and crew returned, as well as a location from the first film.  In the early scenes, the McCalister house is once again on display.  The famous home can be found in Winnetka, Illinois.

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LOCATION: 671 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093

The bulk of the film, however, takes place in New York City this time around.  Upon arrival, Kevin takes in many of the city’s landmarks, including Radio City Music Hall.

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LOCATION: 1260 6th Ave, New York, NY 10020

Later Kevin makes his way over to Central Park, where he first encounters the Pigeon Lady, a scary and mysterious woman covered in birds, who essentially serves the same role as Old Many Marley in the original film.  Kevin is initially frightened when he sees her feeding birds in front of Gapstow Bridge in Central Park, though the two eventually strike up a friendship.

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LOCATION: Gapstow Bridge, Central Park, New York, NY 10019

Very close to Gapstow Bridge is another major location in the film, the Plaza Hotel.  “Guests of the new ‘Celebrity Ding, Dang, Dong’ stay at the world-renowned Plaza Hotel, New York’s most exciting hotel experience.”  It is a real, well-known hotel in Manhattan, perched right above Central Park.  Here is a view of the hotel from the park.

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LOCATION: 768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019

Later in the film, Kevin returns to Central Park at Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, where he flees from the Sticky Bandits.  The terrace is another famous New York landmark seen in countless films.

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LOCATION: 72 Terrace Dr, New York, NY 10021 (inside Central Park)

A reverse view of the fountain.  Here Kevin hides in the back of a carriage, narrowly escaping the bandits.

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A couple other, notable locations from the film were actually sets.  Uncle Rob’s house, where Kevin once again wreaks havoc on the Sticky Bandits with homemade traps, was a set located on Brownstone Street on the backlot of Universal Studios Hollywood.  The street suffered a fire in 2008 and portions had to be rebuilt.

While made to resemble Central Park, the scene where the Pigeon Lady throws bird seeds all over the bandits, saving Kevin from harm’s way in the process, was also a set.

Near the end of the film, Kevin is finally reunited with his mother in front of Rockefeller Center.

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LOCATION: 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111

Some props from this film, as well as the first part, can be found on display at Planet Hollywood in Florida.

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

Related articles: Home Alone (1990)

Magnolia (1999)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 film, “Magnolia,” named after a street that spans the San Fernando Valley, was shot mostly, as you might expect, around the Valley.  However, in the opening “coincidences” sequence, there is a memorable scene in which an attempted suicide becomes an accidental homicide.  That scene was shot at the Bryson Apartments in Los Angeles.  The same apartments were seen in the film “The Grifters.”

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LOCATION: 2701 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Early in the film, Quiz Kid Donnie Smith, played by William H. Macy, crashes his car into this liquor store in Winnetka.  The same liquor store also appeared in Kevin Smith’s “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.”

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LOCATION: 20001 Roscoe Blvd, Winnetka, CA 91306

Officer Jim Kurring, played by John C. Reilly, investigates a crime scene at this apartment complex in North Hills.  As he walks back to his police car, he is approached by a young boy.

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LOCATION: 15150 Parthenia St ,North Hills, CA 91343

As the two stand on Burnet Ave, the boy performs a rap for him.

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Linda, played by Julianne Moore gets upset with a pharmacist after he insinuates she may be abusing the medications.  These scenes were filed at the A to Z Pharmacy in North Hollywood, although it is only seen from interior views in the film.

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LOCATION: 12626 Riverside Dr # 100, North Hollywood, CA 91607

Donnie visits the Foxfire Room, located on the titular Magnolia Blvd in Valley Village.  In a slight bit of movie trickery, Donnie parks in the lot at the rear of the building, but is seen entering through the door facing the street on opposite side.

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LOCATION: 12516 W Magnolia Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607

The Firefox Room is a staple of the San Fernando Valley and in the two decades since filming took place, it still looks nearly identical.  The bar opens at 7AM daily and it’s dark and inconspicuous.  Yet the staff is friendly and the vibe is welcoming.  Donnie enters through the door on the right.

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Donnie sits at this corner booth.  The lighting in the bar is so dark, any brightness quickly overexposes a shot, so photography can be a challenge inside.

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He sits and admires Brad the bartender.

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Donnie then sits at the corner of the bar and talks to a mysterious older man, credited as Thurston Howell.

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Late in the film, as a biblical storm hits, Officer Jim finds himself at the intersection of Reseda Blvd and Sherman Way in Reseda.  This is located right beside the “Hot Traxx” night club from “Boogie Nights.”

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LOCATION: Sherman Way / Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335

He makes an emergency stop at a gas station, only see Donnie climbing on a pole, where he has just attempted to rob his workplace.  Donnie then falls to the ground.  The pole and payphone are both still standing at the location.

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LOCATION: 7222 Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335

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The two take shelter at the gas station.

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LOCATION: 7208 Reseda Blvd, Reseda, CA 91335

Related articles: Hard Eight (1996)Boogie Nights (1997)Punch-Drunk Love (2002)There Will Be Blood (2007)The Master (2012)Inherent Vice (2014)

Home Alone (1990)

If there’s one location that should someday be converted into a tourist attraction, it would probably be the house from Home Alone.  A truly iconic film spot, it seems an exercise in futility to try to manage a private life at the residence, yet to this day, it does indeed remain private.  The house can be found in the quiet neighborhood of Winnetka, IL, a bit north of Chicago.

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LOCATION: 671 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, IL 60093

They left the garage door open, just like in the film.

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The church from the film can be found over in Wilmette, IL.  This is the Trinity United Methodist Church, which was used as the exterior location for the film.  The interior of the church was actually an entirely separate location; the Grace Episcopal Church (924 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60301).

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LOCATION: 1024 Lake Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091

Some props from the film and it’s sequel can be found on display at Planet Hollywood in Florida.

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

Related articles: Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992)