Saturday, July 18, 2009

Billy Wilder's "The Front Page" Film Locations

The Front Page
Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors and I haven't seen a film of his I didn't like. That was until just recently, when I finally saw one of his later films, The Front Page. The movie even has some of my favorite actors - Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Carol Burnett and a young Susan Surandon - but that still didn't help my opinion of the film. However, I was very excited to notice that this film which is set in Chicago was actually filmed in Los Angeles!
The film is about competing newspaper men in 1920s Chicago so I thought I would see some iconic Chicago locations. Instead, I found some iconic downtown Los Angeles locations.

The corner of 4th & Main, Los Angeles, as seen in The Front Page
In the film a prisoner who is awaiting execution is believed to have escaped. A circus of police go on a chase around the city in search of the convict. Above is a scene of the squad cars rounding the corner of 4th Street and Main Street as it appears in the film and below is the same corner today.

Hotel Barclay, Los Angeles, California
Right away I knew this film wasn't shot in Chicago because I recognized the above building as being the historic Hotel Barclay. If you look at the building it hasn't really changed too much over time, other than the shop at the bottom.

The Regent Theater, Main Street, Los Angeles

Continuing on the chase, we get a glimpse of the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The theater is on Main Street, just around the corner from the Hotel Barclay. Below is the present day view showing the Regent Theater.

Regent Theater, Main Street, Los Angeles (7/2009)

5th & Main Street, Los Angeles as seen in The Front Page
The chase continues down Main Street going towards 5th Street. Above is a screenshot of the intersection from the film and below is a photo I took of the intersection showing how it appears today. I'm very happy to see that the old building on the right is still standing. The chicken shop isn't so lucky. As you can see that building has been replaced by another building and a parking lot.

5th & Main Street, Los Angeles (7/2009)

4th Street & Main Street, Los Angeles as seen in The Front Page
In one scene, a doctor who was accidentally shot, is being rushed in an ambulance. The ambulance suddenly stops and the doctor goes flying out the back door on the stretcher which you can see in the screenshot above. This scene gives us another glimpse of the Hotel Barclay on the corner of 4th Street & Main Street. Below is the same location today.

Hotel Barclay, 4th Street & Main Street, LA (7/2009)

Spring Street as seen in The Front Page
Above is another screenshot from the police chase. Here the cops are driving down Spring Street. You can barely make out the Alexandria Hotel in the background. Below is a photo I took recently looking down Spring Street. The Alexandria Hotel can barely be seen in the back to the left. That hotel, which is now an apartment building, is a historic landmark with a rich film history. Everyone from Chaplin and Greta Garbo to Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable have stayed there. Perhaps I'll do a post just on the Alexandria Hotel at another time.

Looking North on Spring Street, Los Angeles
Here's the trailer for The Front Page. (At the end of the trailer is a clip of the ambulance scene.)

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