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Thursday February 21st 2019

Bus Stop | 1956

Naïve country boy Bo (Don Murray) learns the important life lesson, that the best way to a long and mutually satisfying relationship is not to lasso and subdue your potential partner like a prize steer.

William Inge’s stage play (which is confined to a single night in 'Grace's Diner') is opened up to take in Bo’s bus journey with ranch hand/father figure Virgil (Arthur O'Connell) from Montana to take part in the rodeo at Phoenix, Arizona.

The production ventured out to the wintery wilds of Idaho to find ‘Grace’s Diner’, the titular bus stop along the way, and where the party gets stranded in a snowstorm on the return journey.

The ‘diner’ was North Fork Store, about ten miles north of Ketchum on Route 75 in the Sawtooth National Forest, Central Idaho. It still stands and, despite some renovations, is still recognisable.

Arriving in Phoenix (with shots of the old Downtown), Bo is smitten by nightclub chanteuse Cherie (Marilyn Monroe) and decides unilaterally to take her back to Montana as his bride.

In Downtown Phoenix, Bo and Cherie watch the pre-rodeo parade on North Central Avenue as it passes the Hotel Westward Ho, 618 North Central Avenue at West Fillmore Street, with its still-recognisable Spanish-Baroque frontage.

The Westward Ho is now a residential block, although it does briefly pose as a hotel again for Marion and Sam’s lunchtime canoodling in Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot 1998 revisiting of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Cherie and her friend Vera (Eileen Heckart) watch the rodeo action from the sun-blasted bleachers rather than the shade of the 5,000 seat Grandstand of the Arizona State Fairgrounds, 1826 West McDowell Road, northwest of Downtown Phoenix

The 1937 Grandstand Arena can still be seen to the north of the grounds, on North 19th Avenue.

Don’t go looking for the lovely old gingerbread houses where Bo finds Cherie’s lodgings. They were demolished in 1966, though were never in Phoenix to begin with.

Surprisingly, they’re the old wooden buildings of Bunker Hill, downtown Los Angeles.

They stood on South Bunker Hill Avenue between Second and Third Streets, before the area was totally redeveloped in the 1960s. The long-gone Avenue used to run alongside South Grand Avenue, southwest from where the Disney Concert Hall stands.

In the background of the scene you can see one of the Hill’s most famous houses and one of the last to be demolished, the old Brousseau Mansion, which stood at 238 South Bunker Hill Avenue.

One of the Hill’s earliest mansions, built in 1878 for Judge Julius Brousseau, it did itself become a boarding house in 1939 after the Brousseau family had left.

There’s no remaining trace of this characterful district, which had gone downhill from its initial grandeur to becoming the seedy backdrop for several noir thrillers, as well as part of The Glenn Miller Story.

All that’s left is the Angel’s Flight funicular railway, which was dismantled but since restored to trundle up and down the now pleasantly grassy hill as a tourist attraction.