Left Coast Film Locales: We’re Having A Case Of Déjà Visité!

By on March 11, 2015

If you spend any amount of time in Los Angeles, driving around on the car-clotted streets, eating in the cafés and restaurants, drinking in the bars, etc. you’ll pretty quickly start to become aware that you’re experiencing déjà visité — or, déjà vécu, perhaps, or even déjà vu if you must insist — in that you’re perhaps visiting a lot of same locales that you’ve seen in movies and TV shows.

Hell, all you need to do is visit the Left Coast on a 3-day weekend this summer and pay attention to what you’re seeing, and you’ll see what we mean. We’re sure it happens in New York City too, but cineastes, cinephiles and couch spuds already associate the larger geographical “Hollywood” area with the movie/TV biz, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find these destinations listed on those star maps we used to be able to buy from street vendors (hey, are those still a thing?) with captions saying “Don Draper had a drink here.” Anyway, we came across this wonderfully colorful slideshow of familiar film & TV locations — 70 total! — that we thought it deserved another look here on Night Flight. We selected out a few here, but for sure check out the entire slideshow over at LA Weekly!


Johnie’s Coffee Shop at the intersection of Fairfax and Wilshire is a preeminent example of Googie architecture. The restaurant closed in 2000 and operates today as a filming location only. In 2013, the building was declared a historical landmark by the Los Angeles City Council. Johnie’s Coffee Shop, designed by Armet & Davis in 1956, has been seen in multiple feature films such as The Big Lebowski, Reservoir Dogs, Miracle Mile, and American History X.


Three Clubs is famous for its use in Swingers. The bar has also been seen in Stand Up Guys, Mad Men, Castle, Private Practice, and most recently Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys.


Frank’s Restaurant in Burbank. Larry Crowne location manager John Panzarella, LMGA, says, “Tom [Hanks] didn’t want to go super Googie.” The futurist style, known for its slanting rooftops and bold use of geometric shapes, felt overdone in movies, Panzarella adds. “Googie just sort of screams out and we didn’t want to do that. It’s about Tom and his character. It’s not about the coffee shop,” he says. Frank’s Restaurant on Olive Ave. in Burbank has been used in Larry Crowne, Mad Men, Justified, CSI, and most recently, Gone Girl.


The booth at Dinah’s Family Restaurant where the Nihilists order lingonberry pancakes in The Big Lebowski. Dinah’s Family Restaurant on Sepulveda Blvd. is known for its fried chicken.


Jim Morrison of The Doors was famously thrown out of Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood for urinating on the bar, as depicted in Oliver’s Stone 1991 film The Doors. Today, a plaque on the bar informs people that Jim Morrison sat there.


Location manager Richard Davis, Jr. says the filmmakers of La Bamba were looking for a cowboy bar for Ritchie Valens’ first performance in the film. Having previously used the Cowboy Palace Saloon in Chatsworth for Iron Eagle, Davis suggested the bar for La Bamba.


The Frolic Room, a Hollywood dive bar with a long history, has surprisingly not been featured in many movies or TV shows. It’s most well known on-screen for a scene in L.A. Confidential in which Detective Jack Vincennes, played by Kevin Spacey, begins to question his own ethics.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.