Sunday, February 26, 2012

Harry and Tonto (1974) - Film Locations

Art Carney was primarily a television star for most of his career, but at the age of fifty-five, Carney would win that award most coveted by film stars, the Oscar. The year was 1974, a year that included stiff competition in the Best Actor category: Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express, Dustin Hoffman in Lenny, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, and Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part II were the other nominees. But Carney, best remembered as Ed Norton on The Honeymooners, would be the victor that year for his endearing performance as the 72 year-old widower Harry Coombs in a little film called Harry and Tonto. Carney was only 55 years-old when he played the part of Harry, but Carney whitened his hair, grew his mustache and used make-up to make himself appear older than he really was. 

In the film, Harry is a retired teacher who has lived in New York his whole life. At the age of 72, the proud New Yorker is evicted from his Upper West Side apartment building to make way for the development of a parking garage. With nowhere else to go, Harry moves in with his son's family on Long Island, but that situation just doesn't work out. Harry doesn't feel like he belongs there so he decides to hit the road with his cat Tonto as his travel companion. Harry and Tonto hitchhike across the country, befriending many interesting characters along the way, and end up in Los Angeles.

When Harry arrives in Los Angeles he is dropped off by bus in the center of Hollywood near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place, just outside a hotel that used to be the Christie Hotel. Built in 1922, the Christie Hotel was the first luxury hotel in Hollywood. The tall brick building is now owned by the Church of Scientology.

Harry gets dropped off in Hollywood near
6724 Hollywood Boulevard.

Looking towards 6724 Hollywood Boulevard. The
former Christie Hotel is now owned by the Scientology Church.

Harry gets picked up at the bus stop by one of his sons who is living in California. Across the street from the bus stop is the former Pickwick Bookshop located at 6743 Hollywood Boulevard. Pickwick opened in 1938 and was in operation until 1995 when it finally closed due to a lack of shopping in the area.

Harry and his son hugging at the bus stop across from
Pickwick Bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard.

6743 Hollywood Boulevard, the former home of
Pickwick Bookshop.

Another view of Pickwick Books ca. 1955
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Public Library

Looking at what used to be Pickwick Bookshop.

On the other corner of Hollywood Boulevard and opposite Pickwick Bookshop we see what was once a Diamond Jim's Restaurant. That corner is now the home of the lingerie shop Fredrick's of Hollywood.

Behind Harry (Carney) and his son is a Diamond
Jim's Restaurant, 6753 Hollywood Boulevard.

6753 Hollywood Boulevard is now Fredrick's of Hollywood.

Looking east down Hollywood Boulevard from
McCadden Place.

Looking east down Hollywood Boulevard from
McCadden Place.

When Harry and his son leave the bus stop we see them driving down Cahuenga Boulevard where it parallels the 101 freeway. In the shot below we see Cahuenga Blvd East at Lakeridge Place.

Looking down Cahuenga Blvd. East at Lakeridge Pl.

Cahuenga Blvd East at Lakeridge Pl.

Harry traveling past the intersection of 
N. Cahuenga Blvd at Cahuenga Terrace.

N. Cahuenga Blvd at Cahuenga Terrace.

The view of Cahuenga Blvd from near the Barham Boulevard bridge.

Looking down Cahuenga Blvd near Barham Blvd bridge.

Harry spends a lot of time near the end of the film in Santa Monica and Venice. The next comparisons are all from these beach communities.

Harry walks along the path near Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica.

Looking down the railing of the walking path in Santa Monica.

Another view of the walking path near Ocean Ave.
The Santa Monica Pier is in the background.

Looking down the walking path towards the Santa 
Monica Pier.

Harry sits at a bench in Venice across from 
401 Ocean Front Walk.

The benches on Ocean Front Walk in Venice as they
appear today.

Harry stands near 401 Ocean Front Walk, Venice.

Looking at 401 Ocean Front Walk.

The building at 401 Ocean Front Walk also appears in another 1970s film I recently blogged about, The Big Fix, starring Richard Dreyfuss.

Harry spots what he thinks is his cat Tonto.

Looking down Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

Another view of 401 Ocean Front Walk.

Looking towards 401 Ocean Front Walk.

A Tonto look-a-like cat on Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

If those are the same palm trees, look at how much they've grown!

Harry running towards the Pacific Ocean.

Looking towards the ocean from 401 Ocean Front Walk.

The view behind Harry is of Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

The view of Ocean Front Walk in Venice as it appears today.
Most of the same buildings seen in the screenshot can still be spotted.

Harry and Tonto has had a DVD release and is also currently available as a Watch Instantly title from Netflix.

UPDATE: July 2, 2014

The website otsoNY ( has posted some of the New York City filming locations.


Tancanary said...

That was a wonderful little film. I enjoyed the presentation of how the location shots look today. I wonder how many people find places familiar in California but don't realize its probably because they recognize it from a film!

I think ARt Carney was a terrific actor in this film but I don't believe he was "better" than Al Pacino in the Godfather Part II..the two GF films represent a kind of apex of American film for me and Pacino is transcenent in that role. Nicholson in Chinatown as well? What a year for filmmaking it was.

Robby Cress said...

Hi Tancanary,

I completely agree. As good as a performance Art Carney gave in HARRY AND TONTO, I really think the award should have gone to Al Pacino that year. But what a year in cinema indeed! Great performances all around.


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