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Friday July 20th 2018

Alpha Dog | 2006

Alpha Dog film location: Circus Liquor, Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, California
Alpha Dog location: the stash of dope is dropped into the boot of Johnny Truelove's car: Circus Liquor, Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, California | Photograph: wikimedia / Cbl62

Ultimately downbeat and disturbing account of a true story of escalating violence among dope dealing kids. Set, for once, not in the ghetto or trailer park, but in the comfy white suburbs of Los Angeles, mainly around the San Fernando Valley.

The stash of dope is dropped into the boot of Johnny Truelove’s (Emile Hirsch) car as he stops at Circus Liquor, 5600 Vineland Avenue, in North Hollywood, which was previously seen in the much fluffier Clueless.

With young Zack Mazursky (Anton Yelchin) in tow, Frankie Ballenbacher (Justin Timberlake) stops to get beer at West End Liquor, 21500 Sherman Way, at Alabama Avenue in Canoga Park.

Panicked, Johnny Truelove phones his lawyer from outside Norwood Inn, 16200 Nordhoff Street in Woodley Avenue, in North Hills.

The Palm Springs hotel, where Zack is taken for the party of his life, is Caliente Tropics Resort, 411 East Palm Canyon Drive, which you really will find out in Palm Springs. It’s one of the finest remaining examples of Tiki and Polynesian-styled hotels so fashionable in the 1960s – although it’s been completely updated for the 21st Century, I should add.

Alpha Dog location: Vasquez Rocks, southern California
Alpha Dog location: the grave is dug out in the desert: Vasquez Rocks, southern California

When events take a nastier turn, a desert grave is dug beneath the jagged formations of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, 10700 West Escondido Canyon Road, near Agua Dulce Springs. The violently upended rocks more usually provide the backdrop for sci-fi movies, such as the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, or fantasies like The Flintstones.

The ‘Albuquerque’ motel, in which Johnny Truelove and his girlfriend hide out, is the Glen Capri Motel, 6700 San Fernando Road, in Glendale. The motel was previously seen in The Girl Next Door (with Emile Hirsch again) and The Good Girl.