Catch Me If You Can | 2002
After the serious disappointment of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Steven Spielberg bounced back with two corkers, Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can. From the stylish credits and John Williams’ jazzy score, the incredible story of opportunist con artist Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio) bounces along at a lick, fast-paced, light-as-air and with a Spielbergian theme of distant fathers.
Montréal and Quebec stood in for ‘France’. Place Royale, Quebec City, with Notre Dame des Victoires in the background, stood in for the square of ‘Montrichard’ where Abagnale is arrested.
Union Station, 800 North Alameda Street, between the Santa Ana Freeway (US 101) and Cesar E. Chavez Avenue (formerly Macy Street), downtown Los Angeles (seen in plenty of movies, most famously Blade Runner and Pearl Harbor), became the grandiose ‘Miami Mutual Bank’, where Frank comes onto the cashier, who helpfully explains the workings of the system. Union Station, built in 1939, considered to be “The last of America’s great rail stations” is a breathtaking taste of 30s glamour.
The ‘Tropicana Motel’, where Abagnale has a really close encounter with Hanratty (Tom Hanks) – palming him off with a walletful of cardboard labels – is the rear of the Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard.
The hotel opened in 1927, on the site of strawberry fields. In 1929, the first Academy Awards (all three of them) were presented in its Blossom Room (now the Academy Room), when Wings picked up the first Best Picture statuette. Janet Gaynor and Emil Jannings picked up the other two awards, for Best Actress and Actor.
The poolside area, where Abagnale stays, is a forties addition to the hotel. The rooms don’t actually look out on to the street. The poolside Tropicana Bar is real, though.
Something of a rockstar hangout, the real Tropicana Motel stood at 8585 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood (Andy Warhol’s Heat, his typically spaced-out take on Sunset Boulevard was filmed there), but was demolished in 1988 to make way for the Ramada Inn that now stands on the site.
School scenes were filmed at Rose City High School, 325 South Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena (which also hosted filming for Legally Blonde, Stuart Little 2 and Pleasantville).
The white house, where the Hanratty informs Frank’s mother that he owes $1.3 million, is also in Pasadena, at 3077 East California Boulevard; and the ‘New Orleans’ home of the Strong family is to the north, 2186 East Crary Street, tucked away behind lots of foliage in Altadena.
In the real New York, Frank makes a phone call on Park Avenue at East 50th Street in front of what was the old Pan Am Building.
The sleekly 60s New York airport is also the real deal, the 1962 TWA Building at JFK Airport, which stood conveniently empty at the time of filming. The smaller apartment that Frank and his family move to after they lose their home, is on Buena Vista Avenue, downtown Yonkers. And also in Yonkers are the ‘Washington DC’ square, which is Larkin Park; and Launderland Laundromat, 151 Lake Avenue, where the rather down-at-heel Hanratty does his laundry while Frank lives the high life.
The university, where Frank recruits ‘eight young ladies’ as stewardesses, is the Fine Arts Auditorium of the Ebell of Los Angeles, 4401 West Eighth Street at Lucerne Boulevard, off Wilshire Boulevard, midtown Los Angeles. The complex, comprising a women's club and the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, is a frequent film location, seen in Forrest Gump, Air Force One and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button among many other films.
‘Miami International Airport’, where Abagnale evades the FBI by escorting a chorus line of flight attendants, is Ontario Airport – which is not in Canada, but on I-10 east of Los Angeles (seen also in American Wedding).
The ‘FBI offices’are the old Boeing-Aerospace facility in Downey.
The hotel where Frank enjoys himself with model Cheryl (Jennifer Garner) was the old (recently demolished) Ambassador Hotel, which stood at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard. The Ambassador also stands in for the ‘Miami’ hotel, where Frank forges Pan An cheques with model plane labels.
Back on the east coast, the cathedral-like ‘Chase Bank’ is Brooklyn Borough Hall. There was filming also at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Brooklyn bank and courthouse buildings; and in Orange, New Jersey.