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Friday July 1st 2022

Los Angeles for Film Fans: Hollywood 3

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Saharan Motor Hotel, Sunset Boulevard
The Saharan Motor Hotel on Sunset – special rates for alien life forms

If the Roosevelt is out of the price range you’ve set yourself (its rates went up after a designer makeover a few years ago), there’s no shortage of motels – of variable quality – in the area. The Days Inn Hollywood, 7023 Sunset Boulevard, lacks screen credentials but is only two minutes away from the Roosevelt.

To the west, the old-style Saharan Motor Hotel, 7212 Sunset Boulevard, has its moment of screen fame in the enjoyably daft 1995 sci-fi Species. It’s the hotel of choice for newly-arrived and broody alien Sil (Natasha Henstridge), and is also featured in the TV movie LA Takedown, Michael Mann’s 1989 early version of what eventually became Heat. The Saharan is conveniently opposite the huge 24-hour Ralph’s Grocery, 7257 West Sunset Boulevard – a great place to stock up on fresh fruit and veg.

Ralph's Grocery, Sunset Boulevard
Rock'n'Roll Ralphs on Sunset

Ralph’s – affectionately known as Rock’n’Roll Ralph’s – is the place to grab that bottle of JD while pretending you’re not star-spotting. This particular branch was the inspiration for the supermarket in Doug Liman’s 1999 breakout hit Go.

The classic Fifties styling of Hollywood Center Motel, 6720 Sunset Boulevard, east of Days Inn, is showcased in L.A. Confidential, when Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) finds the body of murdered actor Matt Reynolds (Simon Baker) in Room 203. It also featured in Hit Man, the little-seen 1972 blaxploitation version of Get Carter, with Berney Casey and Pam Grier. This place looks like it’s seen better days and, frankly, is more a place to look at than to stay in.

Hollywood Center Motel, Sunset Boulevard
The Hollywood Center Motel on Sunset... make up your own mind

This is where I used to recommend grabbing a cheap and substantial breakfast at Shelly Cafe which stood on Hollywood Boulevard directly opposite the Roosevelt Hotel. This was the café in where Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) visited waitress Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) in Million Dollar Baby. Now, along with the souvenir shops which stood alongside, it's been replaced by a department store.

Looking north from Hollywood Boulevard up Orange Avenue, you can make out the elegant lines of Yamashiro, 1999 Sycamore Avenue. A cedar and teak replica of a Kyoto palace, complete with teahouse, gardens and an imported 600-year-old pagoda, it was built in 1914 by hundreds of Japanese craftsmen.

Naturally, the movies couldn’t resist the opportunity to use this ready-made Oriental backdrop. It became the ‘American Officers’ Club’ in Joshua Logan’s Oscar-winning 1957 drama Sayonara, with Marlon Brando, and – more recently – the ‘Kyoto’ tearoom in Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha.

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