Mr And Mrs Smith | 2005
Doug Liman brings a sly indie sensibility to what, at first sight, seems little more than a bang-bang star vehicle. More an OTT romance than a shoot’em-up, hence the total excision of villains Jacqueline Bisset and Terence Stamp from the final cut.
Set, though you’d hardly notice, in New York, the film was made almost entirely in Los Angeles. With the stars never leaving California, the Big Apple itself is reduced to a handful of establishing shots.
The initial courtship of Smiths-to-be John and Jane (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) in ‘Bogota’ Is rather more convincing than the evocation of the US east coast – but it’s still Los Angeles: the lobby of the hotel where they staying is downtown, and its courtyard is on Olvera Street in the city’s historic core. The convincingly distressed suite, no more than a studio soundstage.
Even the funfair, where the pair are unable to rein in their competitive natures at a shooting booth, is the Paramount backlot.
There is a brief escape from LA as Jane goes rock climbing. The striking red cliffs are at Glenwood Springs, Colorado, But – doh! – Angelina Jolie is clambering on a foam mock-up in the studio, cunningly blended into the real landscape.
The Smiths’ classy neighbourhood is supposedly ‘Westchester’ in New York State. To be honest, I’ve never been to Westchester, so it may well look just like a leafy eastern suburb of LA. Whatever, their expansive mansion can be seen at 1565 San Pasqual Street in Pasadena.
Both the designer hotel and the scuzzy ‘Irish’ bar, where the pair – separately – carry out their respective assignments, are downtown Los Angeles. After offing the arms dealer, Jane Smith rappels 200 feet down the side of the southeast corner of Sixth Street at Grand Avenue – landing in front of what is really a branch of Starbucks (incidentally, the same one seen in the background as the TV store is blown up in Fight Club).
Unknown to each other, both Smiths are assigned to dispose of unwitting pawn Benjamin (Adam Brody) in a scene written to be played out in a wintery gorge. Indeed, this is how filming began, but budgetary considerations led to a last minute change of locale to a desert ‘north of Mexico’. And though, technically, north of Mexico it is, this seems an odd description for the Mojave Desert around Lancaster.
The mission naturally goes awry. The café in which John Smith and Eddie (Liman regular Vince Vaughn) mull over what might have gone wrong, is an old favourite. It’s the Quality Coffee Shop, 1238 West Seventh Street, downtown Los Angeles, which you might remember from Se7en, the 2000 remake of Gone In 60 Seconds, Training Day and Ghost World.
Jane works for I-Temp, supposedly at ‘570 Lexington Avenue’ (in New York, remember?). The gloriously elaborate deco lobby could pass convincingly for Manhattan, but it’s actually the lobby of the Fine Arts Building, 811 West Seventh Street, downtown LA. You can see the Fine Arts’ exterior as one of Tom’s favourite buildings in (500) Days of Summer.
Staying downtown, the building under construction, where John Smith appears to meet his end in an exploding elevator, survived to completion. It’s now the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters, 100 South Main Street at First Street.
There’s yet more classic deco in another old fave – the elegant restaurant in which John unexpectedly reappears and their cartoonish battle to the death – or to enthusiastic make-up sex (guess which?) begins. It’s Cicada, Oviatt Building, 617 South Olive Street, once again downtown LA. A cheeky cutaway shot outside Cicada, as John Smith narrowly avoids getting blown up, seems to place the restaurant in New York’s Times Square. You might recognise Cicada's sleek lines from Pretty Woman, Indecent Proposal, Bruce Almighty, or as the site of Peppy’s unfortunate interview dismissing silent movies in The Artist or of Viola Davis' briefing at the opening of Suicide Squad.
The freeway chase is along Terminal Island Freeway, a stretch of freeway down toward San Pedro which can be closed without too much disruption to traffic (it was used for the same reason for the chase in Terminator 2).
The motel in which Benjamin reveals the real set-up after being spring from his cell is the Motel de Ville, 1123 West Seventh Street at South Bixel Street, downtown Los Angeles.
And finally, it’s to the ‘Home Made’ furniture store, where the pair finally gel as a team for the choreographed climactic gun battle, which was an about-to-be-demolished Ikea store in City of Industry, to the southeast of LA (it pops up again in the same year’s Fun With Dick and Jane).