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Tuesday May 21st 2024

Midnight Run | 1988

Midnight Run filming location: Red Rock Park, Sedona, Arizona
Midnight Run filming location: Walsh and Duke are chased by the cop cars: Red Rock country, Sedona, Arizona | Photograph: wikimedia / wenzday01

A smart script and the fortuitous pairing of Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin ensured that Martin Brest’s cross-continental chase movie has stood the test of time.

The film’s journey calls in not only at a slew of locations across the USA, but even New Zealand – though you’d be forgiven for not noticing.

Ex-Chicago cop-turned-bounty hunter Jack Walsh (De Niro) is hired by slippery Eddie Moscone (Joe Pantoliano) to retrieve mob accountant Jonathan ‘Duke’ Mardukas (Grodin) from New York.

Midnight Run filming location: GM Hoff Building, East 5th Street, Downtown Los Angeles
Midnight Run filming location: Eddie Moscone’s bail bond office: GM Hoff Building, East 5th Street, Downtown Los Angeles | Photograph: Google Maps

Moscone operates his bail bond office in Los Angeles, out of the old 1905 GM Hoff Building, 118 East 5th Street at Los Angeles Street, in a rundown section of Downtown. The building also housed the liquor store raided by the doomed Father Hennessy in Francis Lawrence's 2005 supernatural thriller Constantine, with Keanu Reeves, and outside this property that the beleaguered citizens of ‘Gotham City’ queue up for emergency supplies in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.

Midnight Run filming location: Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, New York
Midnight Run filming location: Jack Walsh tracks down Duke to a Brooklyn apartment: Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, New York | Photograph: Google Maps

Taking on the assignment, Walsh heads east to New York, where he tracks Duke down to a very pleasant Brooklyn Heights apartment, 16 Remsen Street at Montague Terrace overlooking the East River.

Any modern road movie needs an excuse to avoid the obvious plane journey, and here it’s Duke’s feigned fear of flying that sees the two leaving for LA by train from New York’s Grand Central Station.

Also on the case is FBI agent Alonzo Mosely (Yaphet Kotto), who catches up with the train only to find that Walsh and Duke have already slipped off to take the bus.

The station where he boards the train is the picturesque Niles Amtrak Station, 598 Dey Street, Niles, on I-33 down in the southwest corner of Michigan toward the Indiana border. The screen-friendly station is also seen in John HughesOnly The Lonely with John Candy.

Having successfully evaded Mosely, the pair realise that Duke’s boss Serrano (Dennis Farina) also has them In his sights when they change buses in Chicago only  to find marksmen waiting at the Chicago Bus Terminal on North State Street at Lake Street.

While the FBI trades shots with the mob, Walsh escapes with Duke in Alonzo’s car, before dumping it on West Wacker Drive, alongside the Chicago River, in front of the Marina City ‘corn cob’ towers.

It’s left to Serrano’s henchman to phone his boss from a payphone on East Harrison Street, just east of South Wabash, outside the old (now closed) Cart Restaurant.

Midnight Run filming location: North Broad Street, Globe, Arizona
Midnight Run filming location: Walsh and Duke can't even afford breakfast (but don't be fooled by the coffee cup sign): North Broad Street, Globe, Arizona | Photograph: Google Maps

Borrowing money from Walsh’s ex-wife, Walsh and Duke have soon made it to Arizona. The diner, where they can’t even afford breakfast, is in the town of Globe, about 70 miles east of Phoenix. It’s often assumed to be La Luz Del Dia – since this is the coffee shop with the distinctive cup-shaped sign outside which they park – but the scene was filmed about three blocks south of that, in Joe’s Broadstreet Grill, 247 South Broad Street.

Rescued from Serrano’s heavies by rival bounty hunter Marvin Dorfler (John Ashton), their car is chased by a helicopter along the stretch of I-60 running west from Globe, though the bridge they crash into is the Salt River Canyon Bridge, on I-60 about 35 miles north of the town.

Walsh’s attempt to rescue Duke from the swirling rapids, which swiftly turns into Duke’s rescue of Walsh, was restaged in warmer water in New Zealand, when the Salt River proved far too cold for filming.

Surviving the waters, but now carless, the pair get a lift to the Navajo Reservation at Cameron, north of Flagstaff, where the supposedly flight-phobic Duke attempts to steal a plane, before swapping his expensive watch for a truck.

'Red's saloon', where Duke poses as the law and deftly demonstrates the phony 20 dollar bill scam, was Pancho McGillicuddy’s, 141 West Bill Williams Avenue, alongside the railroad tracks in Williams, about 30 miles west of Flagstaff. Sadly (who doesn't occasionally long for a lively mash-up of an Irish pub and a Mexican cantina?), it's no longer in business. The premises is now the Station Bistro.

Now supplied with groceries, they board a passing freight train, turning up about 30 miles to the south at Clarkdale (which isn’t on the rail line), where Walsh hotwires a truck on Main Street at North 10th Street.

Always one step behind, Alonzo and his men are meanwhile searching the train at Flagstaff Train Station.

With a whole fleet of cop cars hard on their heels, Walsh and Duke are chased along the roads winding through the ruggedly beautiful sandstone formations of Red Rock Country around Sedona. Western fans will find this familiar territory, the backdrop to countless movies from the silent era to the 1970s, including the 1950 Broken Arrow, Nicholas Ray’s 1954 cult favourite Johnny Guitar and the original 1957 3:10 To Yuma.

Marvin somehow contrives to grab Duke, and holds him captive at the Blue Angel Motel in Las Vegas. This was a real local landmark, which stood at 2110 Fremont Street, before disappearing in 2012 to make way for a splashy new development of the downtown district. The good news is that its much-loved ‘Blue Angel’ statue has been rescued and will take pride of place as part of the new gateway at the intersection of Fremont Street and Eastern Avenue.

For a film which has spent most of its running time avoiding air travel, the movie ends with two airport scenes.

It’s at Las VegasLas Vegas McCarran International Airport, 5757 Wayne Newton Boulevard, that Walsh exchanges Duke for the now quaint-looking MacGuffin of the Eighties, little floppy discs.

And in a final act of reconciliation, Walsh lets Duke go – with a small fortune – at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), One World Way.