Gone Girl | 2014
David Fincher turns Gillian Flynn’s novel into a treat of a feelbad movie, with the horribly perfect married life of Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike) disrupted when Amy is apparently abducted during a break in.
Set in the (fictitious) Missouri town of ‘North Carthage’, the movie was made (apart from a few scenes staged in Los Angeles) almost entirely in and around Cape Girardeau, eastern Missouri on the Illinois border, the town Flynn had in mind when she wrote the best-selling novel.
Behind the credits, we see the town clock of downtown Cape Girardeau, standing at the intersection of North Main Street and Themis Street. Just a few yards west of the clock, at 117 Themis Street on the corner of North Spanish Street, is ‘The Bar’, jointly owned by Nick and his sister Margo (Carrie Coon), where he’s spending time when the mysterious break-in is supposed to have occurred. Formerly Socials Cafe & Catering, the property was was empty at the time of filming. It’ll be interesting to see if it becomes a Cape watering hole in the wake of the film’s success.
The bar – and all of downtown – is overlooked by the commanding Common Pleas Courthouse, 44 North Lorimier Street, the most prominent landmark in the area, and destined to feature importantly as the story unfolds.
Nick returns from the bar to discover signs of a violent struggle in the Dunne’s suburban home a couple of miles northwest of the downtown area, at 3014 Keystone Drive, near the Cape Woods Conservation Area.
The couple have moved to ‘North Carthage’ from New York, but there’s very little of the Big Apple to be seen in the flashbacks to their earlier married life.
The shots of the Dunnes moving out of their city brownstone was filmed on the ‘New York City Street’ on Universal Studios’ backlot in Los Angeles.
And when Nick and Amy get it on among the volumes of Jane Austen, the bookshelves are those of The Last Bookstore, 453 South Spring Street at West 5th Street, downtown Los Angeles. At 16,000 square feet, it’s California’s largest independent bookstore, housed in the Spring Arts Tower – which happens to be directly opposite John Doe’s apartment block from David Fincher’s earlier Se7en.
The Chinese restaurant, where Amy gets to pre-empt the audience with the line “We’re so cute, I wanna punch us in the face”, was Beso Hollywood (owned and run by Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria and celeb chef Todd English), 6350 Hollywood Boulevard at Ivar Avenue, in – not surprisingly – Hollywood. Things change quickly – it's now Mexican restaurant, Viva Hollywood.
Back in the present, and ’with his home now a crime scene, Nick goes to stay with Margo at her home at 2404 Albert Rasche Drive, east of the Dunne house.
The investigation into Amy’s disappearance predictably chips away at the too-good-to-be-true relationship, and Nick begins to lose public support with his disastrously offhand performance at a press conference held at the Common Pleas Courthouse. Incidentally, the Gazebo standing on the north side of the courthouse grounds is where Nick later addresses a crowd during a candlelight vigil for his missing wife.
Amy’s more obviously distraught mother cuts a more sympathetic figure, determinedly announcing that ‘Drury Hotels North Carthage’ will become a campaign centre for the search for her missing daughter. The lightly disguised venue was actually the now-closed Drury Lodge, 104 South Vantage Drive, west of downtown on I-55.
‘North Carthage Police Department’, where Nick faces some uncomfortable questioning from Detective Boney (Kim Dickens), is the city's old federal building at 339 Broadway. Since filming, it's been converted into an office building.
The ‘little brown house’ (it’s little, but not brown) where Nick’s dad lives is 831 Ranney Avenue at Elm Street, south of downtown. The modern bridge you can see in the background is the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, opened in 2003, across which characters are seen driving as they enter or leave town.
The search for Amy takes in both shores of the Mississippi River, at Riverfront Park, on Water and Themis Streets in Cape Girardeau, two blocks east of The Bar, and across the river at Thebes Boat Ramp, Second Street, in the small Illinois town of Thebes. Cape Girardeau itself is a regular stopping point for several old-school steamboats such as the Delta Queen, which you might get to see if you’re lucky enough.
The abandoned mall occupied by homeless people, where the cops discover that Amy had been trying to buy a gun, is a conflation of two different locales – both empty and both in California.
The exterior is the old Montgomery Ward store in the Panorama Mall, 8401 Van Nuys Boulevard, Panorama City up in the San Fernando Valley, but the dark interior is to the south of Los Angeles in Hawthorne. The deserted Hawthorne Plaza Mall, Hawthorne Boulevard at 120th Street, briefly burst into life as the bustling shopping centre to which Tom Cruise took ‘pre-cog’ Samantha Morton in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report.
Trying, with some difficulty, to cover the locations without revealing too many spoilers, the out-of-town ‘Missouri Ozarks campground’ is Giant City State Park Lodge, 460 Giant City Lodge Road, Makanda, Illinois.
And the golf course where a little too much financial information gets revealed, with disastrous consequences, is Arena Park Golf, 2901 Hawthorne Road, Cape Girardeau, which, in reality, is only minutes from the Dunne’s home.
The remaining few locations are all around Los Angeles – several of them familiar, though largely unrecognisable, favourites.
As Nick heads off to New York to meet with slick lawyer Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry), both ‘New York’ and ‘St Louis’ airports are Ontario International Airport – not in Canada, of course, but in the city of Ontario, about 38 miles east of downtown LA. Being so close to Hollywood and more amenable than LAX, the airport is a movie regular, seen in the likes of Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can and Ben Affleck’s Argo.
The ‘St Louis Club’ airport bar, though, was filmed in another old downtown standby, the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street.
The ‘New York’ office in which Nick gets to meet with Bolt is the three-story lobby of Gas Company Tower, 555 West 5th Street in Bunker Hill. You’d probably recognize its entrance, on the corner of West 5th Street and Grand Avenue, from Speed, Charlie’s Angeles and Collateral.
West from downtown, in the swanky Hancock Park district, the mansion of Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), Amy’s unhealthily obsessed ex, is no stranger to the screen, either. It’s in Fremont Place, the exclusive gated community south of Wilshire Boulevard (and just west of popular location the Ebell Of Wilshire). The same property, 104 Fremont Place, was home to silent star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) in Michel Hazanavicius’ Oscar-winning The Artist.
And finally, the glitzy modern hotel lobby in which Nick participates in a soul-baring TV interview with Sharon Shieber (Sela Ward) is that of the InterContinental Los Angeles Century City, 2151 Avenue of the Stars, in Century City.
• Many thanks to Lindsay Blake from IAmNotAStalker.com for LA locations.