Have you ever watched a movie and realized that you knew the location where a scene was shot? Have you ever visited or lived in a city somewhere for a while and then, perhaps years later, seen a movie that was shot in areas you know? Isn't that a cool feeling!
I hadn't seen Angel since 1984; when I saw it again in 2006 I was impressed by the character acting but I also saw a few familiar locations. I'd already been feeling nostalgic about previous visits to Hollywood back in the days when I had more time for such things, so this was enough to get me started on identifying as many filming locations as I could and then making a trip down there to photograph them for a then-and-now comparison.
I only knew some of the movie's locations on Hollywood Blvd itself so I had to do preliminary research to track down what other locations I could because I would not have any time for research once I was on site. This preliminary research was quite fun, involving poring over satellite photos available at Google Maps, oblique-angled aerial photos from Windows Live Local, and lots of Googling to dig up what two-decade old location details I could. It's interesting to consider that both those image search sites are relatively new. Without them it would have been much more difficult or impossible to track down these locations. As it turned out almost all the locations I know of that aren't directly on Hollywood Blvd can be found by looking at aerial photos. The location search isn't complete though, there are still some unanswered questions.
I've deliberately omitted listing details like the street address for all but a few of these locations while still giving enough information for anyone to easily find them. It's more fun that way, isn't it?
Enough with the introduction, let's move on to the tour. Overall, the locations are presented in more-or-less the order seen in the movie, but with the Hollywood Blvd locations and theatres listed last. I've assumed some familiarity with the movie but I've also tried to eliminate spoilers. To help clarify which image is from which year the DVD images have been framed in orange, the 2006 photos in green, and the 2007 photos in red.
The camera pan across Hollywood that opens the movie gives us a distant overview of the area where the movie takes place — and sets a mood with its nice incidental music — was shot from the Yamashiro Restaurant, making use of its great view of Hollywood. I expect many people in the area know this view when they see it, but for us non-locals it's a puzzle.
Before I realized what that funny looking "tree" at the end of the shot really was, I found the location by using the surveying technique of finding sight lines through objects at the beginning and end of the pan, and then seeing where the lines intersected. When I found that this point was in an interesting looking parking lot I wondered if the building there was a restaurant, and if it were then was it perhaps the oriental-style restaurant seen later in the film where Angel and Andrews have their chat? Identifying it by its location and googling for photos showed that indeed it was! Two scenes, one location!
Here's a wide-angle view of the area covered by the last two thirds of the opening pan. The Griffith Observatory is way out of frame to the left.
Don't go away, there's more of the restaurant down below! The next couple of shots in the movie are morning views of Hollywood Blvd shot from the west near La Brea Ave.
Tracking down the apartment building took a bit of detective work because it has been demolished. The Las Palmas Apts (the best clue to its name is only visible in one of the full-frame releases) was torn down (when?) and a new apartment building was built on the lot in 1988, per Los Angeles city records. The location is just a short way up Las Palmas at Franklin Pl.
The layout of the rooms that we see doesn't really match up with the building itself. For example, the windows in Molly's suite would have to be on three sides of the building, which doesn't make sense given its exteriour. In actual fact, all of the apartment room interiours were shot on a sound stage. My thanks to Robert O’Neil for confirming this. It's the magic of editing that makes us accept that the rooms are where we're led to believe they are.
|Frankly, I like the looks of the old building much more. At the left of the DVD frame in the background is the Pacific Federal Savings sign on a building that was torn down for Hollywood & Highland, and barely visible over the top of the apartment is the old Holiday Inn, now known as the Renaissance Hotel.|
|Lots of change! The only real constant is the road layout and that office building down Franklin Pl, and even it's being worked on right now.|
|Those big trees are at the Las Palmas Senior Citizen's Center. Another frame from the same scene shows the sidewalk curving, implying that the road curves; that plus the angle to and relative size of the old Pacific Federal building helped me find this location.|
|This scene was shot in the lobby of the apartment building. Take a close look at the wallpaper and railing to compare with the next image, which has the camera supposedly looking into the lobby from the corridor we see going off to the left.|
|This was shot on a sound stage. The wallpaper and railing are similar, not identical, and there is no Manager sign. An argument could be made that the camera is not looking out into the lobby but into the corridor leading from the lobby, but the editing doesn't support it. The differences are so small that it's doubtful anyone watching the movie would notice.|
|Angel takes quite a roundabout walk to get from her Las Palmas apartment to her school bus at Hollywood & Highland. The Samuel Goldwyn star is at 1631 Vine St. not near the old Budget Rent a Car location as the editing would lead us to believe. This scene starts at the Cornel Wilde star at 1635 Vine, so Angel is walking south, away from Hollywood Blvd and the school bus she'll catch there shortly.|
Angel's school scenes were shot at the Harvard School for Boys, which merged with the Westlake School in 1989 to become the Upper School Campus of the Harvard-Westlake School. It's located on Coldwater Canyon Ave on the edge of the San Fernando Valley about 15 km from Hollywood Blvd.
The school can be fairly easy to find if one knows what to look for in order to reduce the search area: A field with what looks like a large building at one end, and school buildings situated among some large hills. This is where satellite photos proved their worth! There are many schools with fields in the Los Angeles area but few are in hilly or mountainous areas.
The arrow in the aerial photos below marks the approximate location of the camera and the direction its pointing. The blue-tinted buildings are new or have been redeveloped since filming in 1983. The aerial photos are from maps.live.com.
|The pillars on the corner (were they an arch?) are gone but that is the driveway next to the swimming pool.|
|That building in the background is the Seaver Academic Center. Only the top two floors are visible to the camera, presumably due to the slope of the land.|
|The bus is parked near St. Saviour's Chapel, visible behind the back end of the bus.|
|Those buildings in the background no longer exist. Look carefully at the lower roof on the left. It's out of focus in this scene but it's where the "my mom thinks I'm too young to date" sequence was shot.|
|That's Rugby Tower in the background, although it looks like it may have been renovated since 1983 because modern photos show windows or openings near the top that should be visible in this scene. Keep an eye on that railing to the left because we see it in the next scene.|
|The camera is now probably under the covered walkway connecting with Rugby Tower. Note the same railing as in the previous scene and the momentary glimpse of a small part of the school bus still parked near the chapel visible in the background.|
|The camera ends its pan pointing west along the walkway in front of the Mudd Library building.|
|This must be one of the classrooms in Seaver Hall at the corner where the two wings of the building meet. The biggest clue is that the exteriour walls of the classroom meet at an angle that's greater than 90°. Based on the view out of the window this is probably the third floor classroom.|
|The two doors in the background and the brickwork one student is sitting on can be seen in the earlier shot that pans from the bus to Rugby Tower. This location has been renovated and the buildings replaced.|
|This full-frame image from the German DVD shows the overhead wooden structure in relation to the building in the background that's visible across from the bus during the earlier panning shot.|
|The camera is facing west, more or less, looking in the direction of the Mudd Library building. The building in the foreground, at the right side of the frame, has been torn down and replaced.|
|The bleachers have been replaced but they're in the same location as they were in 1983.|
|The tossing the football sequence was shot in front of the Mudd Library building. That wall in the background is Seaver Hall.|
|The scenes in Miss Allen's office were filmed at the school but it's not known exactly where. Thanks to Robert O’Neil for this information. Do any former or current students recognize this room?|
|This must be the east end of Seaver Hall, on the third floor. That plain-looking window is actually quite unique on this campus, and an earlier scene clearly shows the brickwork on the outside of this building that is visible through the left side of the window.|
|Molly runs out of Chalmers Hall and will talk with Wayne near that outdoor lunch area before running across the field. The two trees that she's about to run by (out of the frame, to the left) are probably the same trees visible in the modern photo.|
|Molly runs across the school's field.|
The Roosevelt Hotel was apparently restored to its original appearance in 1986 but the interiour layout didn't change enough to make it difficult to find the filming locations.
The north entrance to the Roosevelt Hotel, on Hollywood Blvd. The 7000 street number is gone and I think the plaques on either side of the entrance have been replaced.
The north side of the Roosevelt Hotel. That overhead part above Crystal is no longer there; was it removed when the hotel was restored in 1986?
"Throwing the bum out" inside the Roosevelt Hotel. That's the east entrance that opens onto Orange Ave.
|This is the northeast corner of the lobby. The east entrance is still in place but the Cinegrill must have changed dramatically when those walls were ripped out. I think what looks like steep stairs near the entrance are really items in a small storage area. The "throw the bum out" scene has a better view of it.|
|A better view of the north side of the lobby, where the Cinegrill entrance must have been on the right. Note that glow visible from both the north and east hotel entrances.|
I don't know if the old Cinegrill area is open at all, so no photos of that.
The motel exteriours (and it looks like some interiours as well) were filmed at El Royale Motel located at 11117 Ventura Blvd. Twenty-four years later, in 2007, it still looked like it did in the movie, with the most visible changes being the trees, shrubs, and the roofs' new shingles. Someone found this location a few weeks before I visited Hollywood again so it was added to the itinerary as one of the highlights of the trip, and it did not disappoint. It was quite a thrill to be standing where the motel scenes were filmed and imagining the actors performing their scenes.
It's the same sign! A little more beaten up and perhaps that kink in the "O" has been worsened by another hit from a truck, but it's still the same sign.
The only significant changes visible in these images are the canopy over the office window and a new lamp housing at the entrance. What's not obvious is that the tree between units #2 (the office) and #4 has been cut down. Note that the street number is visible on the outside wall in the DVD frame.
Check out the cracks in the pavement. The same ones are still there, showing that it hasn't been repaved since Angel was filmed in 1983.
The bushes have been replaced. There's a new light at the north end and a few other small changes. Plus, no police car to block the view.
At least one tree has been cut down. A telephone's been installed. An eye for detail finds many more telephone cables on that pole behind the end unit 24 years later.
The Hollywood Hamburger was next to the old Budget Rent a Car on Hollywood Blvd, one of a cluster of small disconnected shops on the south side of the former Hollywood Hotel site that were replaced by the Hollywood & Highland mall. It was located approximately where the southern entrance to the mall is now.
|Note the short green wall beside Dick Shawn that encloses the outdoor table area, and the structure of the wall behind her. Watch this scene to see lots more hints.|
|Same structure to both walls. Watch this scene for more confirmation. Two figures are crudely painted out here to avoid spoilers!|
We only see interiours of the church but that spectacular dome and altar are enough to identify it if one searches enough. It's the Blessed Sacrament Church on Sunset Blvd. Apparently it's popular for movie and TV location work; looking at the interiour it's not too hard to understand the attraction.
|The church has a web site! They even have an online photo gallery but I couldn't find any interiour photos that matched this area of the church. I did find a photo showing windows of that same design though.|
|Ain't that a gorgeous interiour!|
|Things have changed a bit across the street, and there's that gate now, but otherwise the alley is the same.|
|The back side of this building is the same except for that space beside the door that's been blocked up. A figure has been crudely painted out to avoid spoilers.|
The scene by the barely in focus "Joseph's Cafe" sign takes place at Joseph's Cafe (imagine that!) on the corner of Yucca & Ivar.
|There has been lots of change at the cafe to enclose that outdoor area. Aerial photos show that some remnant of the foundation of that rooftop sign across the street still exists.|
The 2006 photos of the Yamashiro Restaurant were shot in the morning before the sun had completely burned off the mist, so I don't think that's smog in the photos.
As with anything temporal some of the aerial photos on the sites I used are already out of date. It was a good thing that one in particular (see below) was obsolete because I don't believe I would have been able to identify the site if an up-to-date aerial photo had been used; sometimes windows of opportunity can be small, and I think I got lucky!
|Hollywood Blvd, the Cinerama Dome on Sunset, the spire on the Yamashiro pagoda, and 23 years of tree growth hiding the Musso & Frank sign. What's the story behind the new spire on the pagoda? When was it installed? What happened to the old one?|
|That tall building in the background is on Wilshire Blvd at Hauser, the lit-up street angling off to the left is La Brea. The roof of the building in the foreground, now partly obscured by a different tree, is being worked on (see the worker on the roof?). Aerial photos show that this roof has changed enough that it may not be easily recognized from the DVD frame anymore.|
|Here's a more open view of Wilshire Blvd and La Brea Ave taken from a less obscured location a few metres west. The worker on the roof has moved too.|
|The lower roof in the 2006 photo appears to be for an expansion of the restaurant that wasn't there 23 years ago. This is a wider-angle shot that shows more of the restaurant and the area of Angel and Andrews' walk, but was taken from perhaps a metre too far west?|
The restaurant has a web site with some historical information. I think it could be improved with more photos showing what the exteriour and grounds looked like each decade, showing us how the restaurant has evolved to its modern appearance.
The chase sequence begins in front of the Chinese Theatre and heads east along Hollywood Blvd. Throughout the entire pursuit we see parts of many storefronts but sometimes they just fly across the screen! Appropriate for a chase sequence but an irritation when trying to identify the location of each scene.
|The hunt begins by the Chinese Theatre. When did the theatre lose the ticket booth and awning?|
|Someone (spoilers crudely painted out) crossing Orchid Ave at its old intersection with Hollywood Blvd. The southernmost 100 metres of Orchid Ave was removed to make way for Hollywood & Highland. That manhole at the right edge of the 2006 photo is roughly in-line with the manhole in the 1983 image, marking where Orchid Ave used to be.|
|The surroundings around the Celeste Holm star at 6841 Hollywood Blvd have totally changed because of Hollywood & Highland but the terrazzo grain patterns show that the star is the same one seen in the movie, although the surrounding blocks are new.|
|The camera pans up from the Celeste Holm star, showing the east wall of the Chinese Twin (two figures have been crudely painted out to heighten the viewer's suspense!). The building behind that Virgin Megastore sign was built on the former Twin site.|
|A car chase (sort of) in front of the Paramount Theatre (it's off-screen to the left). That's the old Budget Rent a Car sign over-exposed to the right. The modern photo shows the same place but I've crudely tinted purple the row of video production trucks that were parked along Hollywood Blvd blocking the view of the storefronts when I took this shot.|
|My best guess is that Hollywood Discount was at 6816 Hollywood Blvd. The building exteriour has a zig-zag pattern that matches what's visible above the sign in the open-matte Australian R0 DVD if one squints the right way.|
|Via the magic of editing the chase jumps to Cahuenga & Hollywood where it crosses the intersection back to the north side, but then jumps to Wilcox. Magic! A figure has been crudely painted out as an anti-spoiler measure!|
|Chaos in front of the Pacific Theatre. Trivia: Angel had its premiere here. Imagine watching it in this theatre and seeing the chase take place outside just a few metres away! I wonder how many people clued in?|
|These stairs at the Pacific Theatre are accessed via a tunnel that led to parking behind the theatre. The stairs and parking signage are still there but it looks like this isn't used anymore. The 2006 photo was shot through a hole in the grating that blocks the street entrance to the tunnel.|
|The east side of the Pacific Theatre. Is that a completely new fence?|
|The 2006 photo was taken from ground level on the other side of the fence, a few metres north of where this scene was shot. That building that looks like it has no roof is gone, and the building across the street with the striped awnings is no longer the Tick Tock Restaurant.|
At the end of that fence approaching Cahuenga there just has to be a space warp because at that point everyone involved in the chase transports 600 metres west to the alley beside Miceli's.
The entrance to the alley where the chase ends is beside Miceli's on Las Palmas Ave. The other end is across the street from Boardner's on Cherokee Ave. I was disappointed to find that the alley has been fenced off at both ends, so one can't walk it anymore. Across the alley south of Miceli's is the former Las Palmas Theatre, still with its marquee.
|If one looks down the alley one can see Boardner's at the other end. In 1983 their sign was visible edge-on from this spot, but not anymore because it was moved to the next arch on the left on some as-yet unknown date.|
|The entrance to the alley. Note the electrical conduits that haven't changed much, but ignore the spoiler that's been crudely painted out.|
Remember those puzzles that show two drawings where you have to find the few subtle differences between them? Here are then and now shots looking southeast through the Hollywood & Las Palmas intersection. In this version of the puzzle, find what hasn't changed!
|The first shot is a composite of two DVD frames from a pan showing Kit crossing Hollywood Blvd. The 2006 photo shows a more expansive view of the same location.|
After spending enough time staring at video frames I realized that a few scenes had a common element in the background: A distinctive looking white truck or van with roof rack. Perhaps this was used by the production crew to haul equipment? If any crew members are reading this then please let me know if this is a coincidence or not!
Here are a few Angel promo photos courtesy of www.donnawilkes.com. Donna Wilkes fans should check out that site for many more images.
|This doorway is a back entrance to the Outpost Building, leading to the lobby. We see the other side of this doorway in the movie when Angel walks down the corridor and out the front of the building. This shot would have been impossible to identify without that scene.|
|Another photo shot at the rear of the Outpost Building. The street with the car is Las Palmas Ave, and that striped wall at the left in the background is the west wall of the Vogue Theatre.|
|This was shot on Hollywood Blvd, west of Highland, camera facing east; those glowing rectangular things on the left are above the doorway of the office building that used to be on the northwest corner of Hollywood & Highland. In the movie one can see a sign for Pacific Federal near the top of that building.|
On to Part 2, the Hollywood Blvd locations.
DVD frame captures from Angel are copyright 1983 The Angel Venture and are from The Angel Collection released by Anchor Bay in 2003.
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