Barton Fink | 1991
The Coen Brothers' cryptic movie sends Left-ish, Clifford Odets-style Broadway playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) to an all-too-literal Hollywood hell.
There’s no real ‘East Coast’ here, though. ‘New York’s Belasco Theater’ (the real location for Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway), where Fink’s Bare Ruined Choirs – the drama of the common working man – triumphs, is actually the beautifully preserved 1926 Orpheum Theater, 842 South Broadway, downtown Los Angeles (a popular location seen also in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, Last Action Hero, Kenneth Branagh’s Dead Again, Damien Chazelle's Whiplash and Oliver Stone’s The Doors).
The stylish ‘Sardi’s’-type restaurant and bar, where Fink gets the call to the West Coast, filmed in the wonderfully deco bowels of the Queen Mary, 1126 Queen's Highway, Long Beach at her dry dock on Pier J.
Moving to Hollywood, Fink checks into the dismally claustrophobic ‘Hotel Earle’. Although the hotel room and corridors are sets, the lobby is the entrance of the restored 1931 grand movie palace the Wiltern Theatre, 3790 Wilshire Boulevard at Western Avenue, midtown Los Angeles (Metro: Wilshire/Western, at the Western end of the Purple Line). After renovation, the Wiltern still functions as a performance venue.
The studio commissary of ‘Capitol Pictures’, where Fink meets the cynical director, filmed in the (shamefully) demolished Ambassador Hotel, which stood at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard at Catalina Street, midtown (seen in many films including the 1954 A Star Is Born). The ‘adjoining’ men’s toilet where burned-out writer Bill Mayhew (John Mahoney) loses his lunch, is about a mile to the east in the Park Plaza Hotel, 607 South Park View Street overlooking MacArthur Park.
The ‘USO dance’, where a celebratory Fink inadvertently starts a brawl, was also filmed at the Park Plaza, in the wood-panelled Ballroom (a familiar venue seen in Chaplin, New York, New York, Hook, Final Analysis and many other films).
The exterior corridor leading up to Bill Mayhew’s bungalow on the ‘Capitol lot’ is on the Columbia Pictures’ lot (previously the MGM Studio), 10202 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City, though the interior of the bungalow is once again the old Ambassador Hotel.
The office of production executive Ben Geisler (Tony Shalhoub) is a bungalow on the lot of the Hollywood Center (previously Francis Coppola’s ill-fated Zoetrope Studios) at 1040 North Las Palmas Avenue off Romaine Street in Hollywood.
The bizarre closing scene was shot near Zuma Beach on the west side of Point Dume, west of Malibu.