Los Angeles for Film Fans: San Fernando Valley 4
Casablanca was filmed almost entirely on Warners’ soundstages. Despite some claims, the famous farewell scene between Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart on the tarmac was filmed, not at an actual airport, but on one of these very soundstages on the Burbank lot.
Until recently, there was one Casablanca location to be visited, though. The arrival of Captain Strasser (the splendidly nasty – and in real life, vehemently anti-Nazi – Conrad Veidt) was filmed at the old Metropolitan Airport at Van Nuys west of Burbank.
The old airport site has since been incorporated into Van Nuys Airport, 6590 Hayvenhurst Avenue, occupying the area between Woodley Avenue to the east, Balboa Boulevard to the west, and Roscoe Boulevard and Vanowen Street. The art deco control tower, seen in the film, was demolished long ago, the last hangar, which after the runways were realigned, stood on Waterman Drive, disappeared only recently but has thankfully been put into storage to be re-erected elsewhere.
About a mile and a half to the east of Van Nuys Airport, incidentally, Van Nuys High School, 6535 Cedros Avenue at Haynes Street, between Vanowen Street and Victory Boulevard, was ‘Ridgemont High’ where Spicoli (Sean Penn) became an icon for 80s stoners in Amy Heckerling’s 1982 Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And what self-respecting school in LA can’t number at least two movie stars among its past pupils? In this case, it’s Jane Russell and Robert Redford.
West of Van Nuys Airport runs Bull Creek, one of Los Angeles’ concrete-lined flood control channels, leading down to the Sepulveda Flood Control Area (which, in drier times, functions as the Balboa and the Encino Golf Courses). This channel is the route used by young John Connor (Edward Furlong) on his dirt bike, to escape the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
It’s only a few blocks north of the airport on Hayvenhurst Avenue, at the junction with Plummer Street in North Hills, where the T-1000’s 18-wheel truck makes a spectacular leap down into Bull Creek, before roaring off down the 40-foot wide spillway.
Further north still, the Chevron Filling Station, Balboa Boulevard at the corner of Rinaldi Street, in Granada Hills, is the ‘San Diego’ neighbourhood where Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore catch up with the T-Rex in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, in time to see the trademark ‘76’ ball roll down the street.