Life and Death in L.A.: June 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Scene of the Crime (Film) IV: Shock of Recognition

If you live in or visit Hollywood you can find lots of buildings used as film exteriors. You might be familiar with the address, such as 77 Sunset Strip, named after the 1950s-60s TV detective show set in Los Angeles, For the record, the building where they filmed the opening sequence and some exterior scenes was not really number 77, but it was on the Strip. The detective agency was located "between La Cienega Boulevard and Alta Loma Road on the south side of the Strip next door to Dean Martin's real-life lounge, Dino's Lodge.

If you're looking for other film and TV locations, here are a few that will appeal to film noir fans. In "Double Indemnity," Walter Neff, portrayed by Fred MacMurray, the L.A. insurance salesman who gets pulled into a murder plot by femme fatale Barbara Stanwyck, lives in an apartment building, the Kensington, at 1825 N. Kingsley Drive in Hollywood (right). "Double Indemnity" director Billy Wilder instructed the art director to build the set used as Neff's apartment interior to resemble Wilder's quarters in the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Blvd., where the director was living while shooting the movie.

You can see the train station where, in "Double Indemnity" Neff and femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson pull a switcheroo with the body of her murdered husband, and where
Neff boards a train posing as Phyllis's husband. The station at Glendale (right) was the scene of the crime. Neff jumps off the train as it's pulling away from the station, and he and Phylis dump her husband's cold, dead body by the side of the tracks, making it look like the old guy got killed in an accident. Neff and Phylis plan to ride off together with the husband's insurance money, but complications ensue for the murderous pair.

While in Glendale don't forget to drop in on the "Mildred Pierce" house (right) where Joan Crawford resided in the 1945 film of the same name.  It's at 1147 N. Jackson Street, Glendale. Don't literally drop in, it's a private residence. The impressive palm tree still dominates the front of the house, but it has grown substantially taller than it was in the 1940s.

The first glimpse of these sites can be a little strange. You instantly recognize the place and the buildings, but something's wrong. Then you realize that you've experienced this scene only in black and white, and now for the first time you're seeing it in color.