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Saturday April 13th 2024

Million Dollar Hotel | 2000

We’ve had movies based on video games and movies based on theme park rides, but this must be the only movie inspired by a rooftop. If you saw U2’s video for Where the Streets Have No Name, you’ll have seen the huge rooftop sign for the Million Dollar Hotel.

Well, actually, that was a recreation built on top of a downtown Los Angeles liquor store. This is the real thing, which was the trigger for Bono to come up with the idea of the transients’ hotel populated by society’s misfits.

This quirky misfire from Wim Wenders, produced by Mel Gibson’s Icon production company, has its loyal adherents, but the parade of contrived eccentrics feels too much like an actors’ extended improvisation class.

Although it’s gradually being cleaned up, a section of downtown LA was dotted with these large but cheap hotels and among them was the Rosslyn with its unmissable signage. It’s now the Rosslyn Apartments, 111 West Fifth Street at Main Street.

Another longstanding LA institution used is the café in which Detective Skinner (Mel Gibson), investigating the suspicious death of rich kid Izzy Goldkiss (Tim Roth), meets up with naive narrator Tom Tom (Jeremy Davies). This is the the Original Pantry, 877 South Figueroa Street, also downtown, which you can glimpse briefly in Judd Apatow's slightly more mainstream Knocked Up.