The Aviator, 2004


Martin Scorsese


visit the film locations

Los Angeles: Flights: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Grauman's Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood/Highland, Metro Red Line)

Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard (tel: 323.468.1770). This grand old picture palace now houses live Broadway musicals (Hollywood/Vine, Metro Red Line)

The Queen Mary 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach (tel: 562.435.3511)

San Bernardino International Airport, 294 South Leland Norton Way, San Bernardino (tel: 909.382.4100), east of Los Angeles


See the old Bullock’s entrance again as a ‘Connecticut’ hotel in the 1937 comedy Topper

Grauman's Chinese is seen in Blazing Saddles and the 1937 A Star is Born

See the exterior of Pantages in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, and its interior in The Bodyguard (the Oscar ceremony) and Species (as the decadent ‘Id’ club)

San Bernardino International Airport has hosted filming for Congo, Volcano, The X-Files, Bad Boys, The Fast and the Furious and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

The Aviator location: Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles

The Aviator location: The premiere of Hell’s Angels: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles

No, your DVD player doesn’t need adjusting. The first half-hour of Martin Scorsese’s biopic of Howard Hughes (initially intended to be directed by Michael Mann) recreates the old magenta-and-turquoise, two-strip Technicolor look of 30s Hollywood.

Set, naturally enough, around Los Angeles, the studio filming was in Canada, at Mel’s Cité du Cinema, Montreal, and at Saint-Hubert, Quebec.

For instance, the ‘Cocoanut Grove’ was recreated on a soundstage – as it was for George Cukor’s 1954 A Star Is Born – but this time in Canada. The legendary hangout of the stars, where the Oscars were presented in the 30s, was part of the old Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Boulevard at Catalina Street, midtown Los Angeles.

The wonderfully kitschy fake palms were stripped out in the 70s, and the hotel itself has closed down in the 80s. Since then it's been used solely – and frequently – as a film location. It can be seen in dozens of films including A Star Is Born, The Graduate, Se7en, Rocky and Apollo 13. Howard Hughes actually lived at the Ambassador for a while, and it was in the hotel’s kitchen that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

You can see the entrance to the Cocoanut Grove in Jim Carrey comedy The Mask (as the entrance to the ‘Coco Bongo Club’) and in the training sequence of S.W.A.T. Incredibly, this historic landmark has – after years of wrangling – finally been demolished. You can check out the hotel’s history at

The Aviator location: Muirfield Road, Hancock Park, Los Angeles

The Aviator location: The real Hancock Park home of Howard Hughes: Muirfield Road, Hancock Park, Los Angeles

Another great Los Angeles landmark, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, was also duplicated in Montreal This time, it's the extravagant mock-Oriental exterior, used for Hughes’ nervous arrival with Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) at the premiere of Hell's Angels.

Apart from the logistics of closing down Hollywood’s main thoroughfare long enough to stage a huge crowd scene, this stretch of Hollywood Boulevard has been massively redeveloped since the 30s.

John Schlesinger, facing similar problems with the apocalyptic climax of his 1975 film of Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust, duplicated three blocks of central Hollywood on the Paramount lot. This also allowed the crafty addition of a convenient sidestreet directly opposite the famous movie house. Coincidentally, it was the frenzy of the Hughes premiere in 1930 which inspired the mob hysteria of West’s book.

The Aviator location: Southwestern Law School, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

The Aviator location: The ‘Beverly Hills’ nightclub: Southwestern Law School, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

The exterior is fake, but Scorsese’s film uses the actual interior and lobby of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. The heart of Hollywood, Grauman’s was rebranded for years as Mann's Theatre, but has now thankfully reverted to its original 1927 name, and retains its magnificently barmy glory. It’s a tourist trap, of course, swarming with resting actors togged up as Darth Vader or the Frankenstein monster, who’ll flog you tours of moviestar homes, but who can resist checking out the celeb footprints on the forecourt?

Didn’t John Wayne have tiny feet?

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