Often, the settings of a film frames the quintessential images that stick in the viewer's mind. Take Titanic, for example: the iconic scene in which Leonardo DiCaprio yells that he's the king of the world at the brow of the ship, or the one in which he teaches Kate Winslet to 'fly', both focus on the impressive facade of the ship. Similarly, ionic buildings like Seattle's Space Needle and the Eiffel Tower in Paris have been essential in numerous films, the former featuring as the romantic meeting place for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle and the latter the site of Grace Jones' dramatic escape in the James Bond classic A View to Kill.
On-screen representations of familiar or novel settings are significant in the filmmaking process, often providing a constant place which the viewers feel familiar with and serving as a point of stability in the lives of the characters - like the Central Perk coffee shop in TV series Friends, or, in a similar vein, McLaren's pub in How I Met Your Mother. A site can also be significant for its role in the turning point or climax of a scene or film: the school gymnasium in American Beauty, for instance, memorably marks the point at which Kevin Spacey is metaphorically clubbed over the head with the dull reality of his life.
There can be no doubt that places and buildings in films are meticulously selected depending on the impression a movie might want to convey. Interestingly, some buildings are used a great deal more than others, featuring in an almost ridiculously wide range of films. This list details five buildings most often used in films and their various merits which might go some way towards explaining their on-screen versatility.
5 The Fox Plaza
4 Greystone Mansion
Greystone Mansion is the largest home to ever have been built in Beverly Hills, the construction of which began in 1927 under the ownership of the family of Edward Laurence Doheny, who rose to sudden and incredible wealth as a result of striking oil in Los Angeles. Greystone Mansion was designed by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann, and was built under the supervision of the P.J. Walker Company. The building's construction is incredibly elaborate: it has seven chimneys, each of which was individually designed by a different artist, and hand-carved banisters and rafters. The building contains fifty-five livable rooms, and boasts a cinema, billiard room, bar and bowling alley amongst its amenities.
3 The Bradbury Building
The Bradbury Building, built in South California in the year 1893, is at number three, and was commissioned by one Louis L. Bradbury. Bradbury initially rejected a plan proposed by Sumner P. Hunt before approaching George Wyman, who allegedly only accepted the commission after consulting a Ouija board. Wyman's vision for the building took its inspiration from the idea of a millennial utopian civilisation referenced in a book — Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward — and is the oldest commercial building in the central city of Los Angeles.
2 Hatfield House
At number two is Hatfield House, which has belonged to the same family — the Cecils — for four hundred years, and is currently home to the seventh Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury. The house was originally built in 1611 and is situated in Hertfordshire, close to London, England. It is a Jacobean house, with quintessential examples of the period's architectural features including the carved staircase and the stained glass window in the chapel. The grounds offer farm buildings, numerous houses and cottages which date from different eras, a twelfth-century church and a forty-two acre garden. Hatfield House itself includes a fully-stocked library, armoury, chandeliers, and a fully-functioning Victorian period kitchen. Hatfield House's many varied facilities and amenities may very possibly contribute to its popularity with film production companies.
1 The Quality Café
At number one is both the most unassuming location on our list and the most widely-viewed restaurant in the world, ever: the Quality Café. Located at 1238 West 7th Street in Los Angeles, the establishment used to be open to the public for business, but as of 2006 has only been available for use as a film location. The café isn't too impressive in and of itself as a tourist attraction, since its shutters are perpetually down, and there isn't a great deal of readily available information about the building's history, but what is certain is that it has been used in a staggering number of films and TV shows over the years.
The viewers of these are frequently expected to turn a blind eye as to the actual physical location of the Quality Café — the eatery sometimes features in both Los Angeles and New York at the same time, as is seen in television shows such as CSI: New York and Mad Men. The Quality Café provides the booth in which Scarlett Johannson and Thora Birch mock Steve Buscemi in the 2001 movie Ghost World, and was the location of a birthday dinner for Hilary Swank, courtesy of Morgan Freeman, in Million Dollar Baby. Morgan Freeman previously appeared at the restaurant's tables in 1995, in this case with Gwyneth Paltrow, in Se7en. The café also featured in Catch Me If You Can, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and, again, (500) Days of Summer. The Quality Café is a non-time-specific venue, which can and does frequently vary in portrayals of era and location, which clearly shows its versatility — and its enormous value — in many movies over many years.
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