featured-image-famous movie locations in la

A blog about movie themed stuff including merch and film locations. This was bound to pop up at some point. 

Famous movie locations in LA is like writing about chicken options for a blog about KFC. The locations are going to be fewer skyscrapers, more beaches. That’s a departure from most cities. 

But for the sake of completing this post sometime this year, I’ll be settling for filming locations in LA outside of the many, many movies sets that call this city their home. 

You can add these spots to your trip to LA, depending on the movies you like, if you’re not on one of the sightseeing tours that would save you all the trouble. 

Here are some of the best merch I found related to what I’ll be talking about: 

Merch for Famous movie locations in LA

A good ol’ Terminator head. Hand-made from high-grade material and with lit up eyes. Complete with the panel where the Connors switch him to active learning mode.

The eye-catching jacket from Drive. While you won’t catch me in one of these ever, partly because I do not possess the animal magnetism of Ryan ‘The Canadian’ Gosling, you can always give the white bomber jacket, with a golden scorpion emblazoned on it, a whirl.

No, they’re not aviators. But they are ridiculously cool. You’ll have to figure out if the round metal style works for your face. All I can do is show you the way.

Capturing the exquisite confusion of Charles Heston’s character and a message that can only be termed a very good hard-sell

The Catwoman on the bat-pod statue from The Dark Knight Rises. Why ever did they think to sell this?

Griffith Observatory

It is possibly the most common filming location for movies set in Los Angeles. Be it romantic movies or crime thrillers, the Griffith observatory tends to make an appearance. 

Also in a lot of Shutterstock photos when you look for pictures related to Los Angeles City. 

We’ll get the most recent one that’ll be fresh in your memories. La La Land became an Oscar winner for all of 2 minutes due to the movie industry getting high on the movie industry. 

Let me clarify. I love Emma Stone movies. Ryan Gosling is one of my favorite actors. Whiplash is an amazing movie. First Man is serviceable.

la-la-land-griffith-famous movie locations in la

But I draw the line when there’s a movie about the magic of Hollywood. The cinematography was hypnotic and the music was great. 

And a movie about movie magic in these cynical times can be seen as a breath of fresh air. I did not see it that way.

But the Griffith observatory sequence really did stick in the mind. Were there two sequences? I’m not rewatching the movie to find out. 

Rebel without a cause also used this location for the climax and most of what led to the climax. That’s a classic too. 

I’m sorry if I come across as a bit indifferent. I never really got Rebel without a cause. But my opinion notwithstanding, this location was used very well in the movie. 

There were a lot of great shots of the observatory and the view of the city from the observatory. 

Even the best in sci-fi felt the observatory is a great place to introduce one of the most iconic characters in movies.

The T-800 time-travels next to the Griffith observatory in the 1984 classic in all his Olympian glory. God, I miss good Terminator movies. Who else is excited about the latest one? 

In a not-so-classic, but still, a favorite to many, Yes Man uses Griffith observatory as the starting point to Zooey Deschanel’s photography jog. 

It’s as good a place as any to show a man who’s ready to say ‘yes’ to everything that comes his way

Soon-to-be-rebooted Charlie’s Angels also filmed a pivotal scene at the observatory. 

Although I couldn’t find a good horror film based on the place. I always figured it’d make a great spot at night for the climax of a horror movie. 

Venice Beach

Venice beach is a great way to show off LA. A very famous beach frequented by very famous actors filming very famous movies.

The Jake Gyllenhaal gem Nightcrawler uses it a bit differently to the other movies on the list. 

Rather than use it as a setting for a great sunset shot, the movie shows Jake’s character (not even a lousy Oscar nom) using the general good vibes and energy of the place to burgle a bike. 

There’s a lot already written on how the movie uses real-life locations in unusual ways to creep out a viewer. The Venice beach scene definitely fits into that pattern. 

I Love You, Man uses the beach and its surrounding areas to show the budding bromance between Paul Rudd and Jason Segel’s characters. 

There are scenes on the boardwalks around Venice beach where Segel teaches Paul the nuances of being a man

Even the house where Jason and his gang have their jam sessions are close to the beach.

Point Dume

I like to think of Point Dume as the film location where our new-lord and savior used to reside before the Mandarin blew up his pad without much fuss. Miss you 3000.

But the pad itself is quite memorable thanks to the many aerial shots scattered throughout the first 3 Iron Man movies

But the beach itself was used in the most legendary of scenes. This is the spot where Charles Heston finally figures out where he actually is, in the original Planet of the apes.

point-dume-apes-famous movie locations in la

It was also the place where they filmed the bizarre ending to Barton Fink. What other endings would’ve worked for this Coen brothers’ masterpiece?

The ending of the classic ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ was also shot here. It’s almost as if the place is built for twist/bizarre endings.

Lower Grand Avenue

You’ll remember this gloomy location as the spot where Bale Bat hitches a nuke to a newly updated bat-plane, reveals his identity to Gordon, snogs Catwoman and flies off to Nolan’s one terrible ending. Still a blockbuster though. 

It also made an appearance in the 1984 Terminator. Used to be, that having a Terminator movie filmed at a spot used to make it famous.

Park Plaza Hotel

I can’t remember how much the movie featured the hotel. And it seems to be famous for the architecture. Something I’m quite ignorant about. 

But it was in one of my favorite movies, Drive (told you I loved Gosling). 

But this is where the driver-with-no-name forms a relationship with Carey Mulligan and her son. Which is what leads to a gloved man, a hammer and a bullet. Filmmaking genius, that Refn guy. 

The truly cool s&%t is filmed elsewhere.

John Sowden House

Another architectural masterpiece that has attracted some top-notch filmmakers. Something-something Mayan, something Shark tooth architecture. 

Point being it was used as Kate Beckinsale’s Ava Gardner residence in the Di Caprio movie The Aviator. The one he should’ve won an Oscar for. 

Leo Carillo Beach

Only one movie requires mention for Leo Carillo beach. Grease.

This is the location where they film Danny and Sandy’s summer fling. The ‘emotional crux’ around which the rest of the ‘plot’ revolves. 

The memorable scene was shot at sunset in an empty beach set to ‘Love is a many splendored things’. If that doesn’t make you want to go, nothing will. 

LA Times Building

The best movie to feature the LA Times building is the Ben Affleck starrer Argo. Another movie that should’ve been nominated for the Oscars but wasn’t.

This argument was presented by the host on the night, Seth MacFarlane in a hit-and-miss monologue, that let the Academy know how terrible they are at their jobs. 

The baseball/statistics movie Moneyball also had Brad Pitt pop up in this historic building in one of its scenes. 

Its interiors are used in a lot of period films, including Dreamgirls. The movie used one of the offices to act as Jamie Foxx’s office in this Beyonce-starrer. 

Final Word

There are plenty of posts that cover filming locations in LA. I thought I’d throw my post on to the pile with a bit of inspired movie commentary thrown in.

I didn’t include a couple of obvious locations like Hollywood Boulevard and LAX. But no matter, there are 20 other posts that do.

Personally, there’s nothing more cliche in movie tourism than visiting filming spots in LA, and must be avoided for uppity reasons.

And that’s all for this post with very mixed messages.

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