17 L.A. Landmarks That Made Awesome Cameos In Iconic Feature Films

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Since movies have historically been made here in Los Angeles, it’s no wonder so much of the place ends up on screen. Just about anything you watch, there’s something familiar about that building/coffee shop/street/beach.

These are a few we’ve noticed coming up a lot. Maybe not quite as in-your-face as the Hollywood sign, but still pretty memorable buildings, streets, and views.


Give it a glance – how many do you recognize?

1. Quality Cafe in Million Dollar Baby

See also: Se7en, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, 500 Days Of Summer, Catch Me If You Can, certain episodes of Mad Men, and basically any movie with a cafe scene. It’s a popular place.

2. CAA Lobby in Inception

When Leo DiCaprio instigates the sting against Fischer, the place he catches up with the targeted CEO is a swanky hotel lobby. Or is it?

3. Shrine Auditorium in King Kong (1933)

When the King’s captors reveal their glorious find to the public, that’s the Shrine stage it happens on. No footage on YouTube, but you can get more info on the movie via the imdb page.

4. Bradbury Building in Blade Runner

The painstakingly chosen brick, tile and color scheme for this 1893 structure is still chic today – and useful for anything from an office to an apartment building to a climactic rooftop confrontation.


5. The Sunken City in The Big Lebowski

“Donny was a good bowler. And a good man.” The heartfelt eulogy was delivered overlooking one of our weirdest local landmarks. Walter and The Dude make their way over the broken pavement of what used to be a street to scatter the ashes.

6. The Korean Friendship Bell in The Usual Suspects

This is the part where things get anything but friendly.

7. The Orpheum in The Artist

When Jack the dog steals the show, it’s on the stage of The Orpheum – one of the few remaining Vaudeville theaters still in use.

8. The Dresden in Swingers

Apparently, this is where all the beautiful babies hang out.

9. Downtown L.A. in To Live and Die in L.A.

This might be the greatest car chase scene ever in Los Angeles, and I swear no one knows it.

10. The L.A. River in Terminator 2

To quote The Guardian:

“The riverbed in downtown LA provides the backdrop for the T-1000’s first appearance, when he is found by a policeman under the historic 6th Street bridge. And one of the most exciting scenes – when John is pursued by the T-1000 in an 18-wheel lorry – happens in Bull Creek.”

11. Gamble House in Back to the Future

The Pasadena house, commissioned by David and Mary Gamble in 1908, is available for tours and artsy educational events. It also happens to be where Doc Brown lives in 1955.

12. Union Station in Dark Knight Rises

Movie magic trivia: how do you create the grand scale of a city like Gotham? With locations from a bunch of other cities – and creating a court room out of a train station.


13. Griffith Observatory in Rebel Without a Cause

What better place for a long stare-down/flirtation than the Observatory. This is where the protagonists confront tormentors in a cinematic showdown (be they rebels, Terminators, or Charlie’s Angels).


14. Greystone Mansion in There Will Be Blood

Who knew Daniel Plainview and The Dude live in the same house?


15. City Hall in Lady Killer (1933)

When James Cagney is set up by his gang, the place where Mae Clarke bails him out of jail – and later saves him – is our own Hall of Justice. And if you’re unfamiliar with this classic, get familiar.

16. Biltmore Hotel in Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy just needs a place to sleep, y’all.


17. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Rain Man

The striking marvel of glass and chrome is an ideal setting for Tom Cruise to turn down $250,000.

BONUS: Los Angeles takes a feature role in Los Angeles Plays Itself.

In Thom Anderson’s 2014 documentary, all these icons around town finally get to play themselves.

What is your favorite depiction of an L.A. landmark in an iconic movie?


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