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Monday October 15th 2018

Leaving Las Vegas | 1995

Leaving Las Vegas filming location: Molly Malone's, South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles
Leaving Las Vegas location: Ben Sanderson drinks in LA: Molly Malone's, South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles

Washed-up screenwriter Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) takes himself off from Los Angeles on a mission to drink himself to death in Las Vegas.

Plenty of bars in LA have been claimed to be the bar in which Sanderson drinks, including the Cock’n’Bull Pub in Santa Monica and Boardner’s in Hollywood (which, hands up, I mistakenly included in the book).

Thanks to Lindsay Blake’s excellent LA-based site, iamnotastalker.com, the real location turns out to be Molly Malone’s, 575 South Fairfax Avenue, in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, an 'Irish' pub which also crops up in Philip Noyce's in Patriot Games.

The walls of the pub, which has been going since 1969, are covered by paintings by noted Irish portrait painter Neil Boyle, depicting not only notable Irish figures but longtime Molly Malone’s patrons and staff.

Leaving Las Vegas filming location: Saharan Motor Hotel, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood
Leaving Las Vegas location: Sanderson takes the hooker to a motel: Saharan Motor Hotel, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood

Sanderson takes a hooker to the Saharan Motor Hotel, 7212 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046 (tel: 323.874.6700) at Alta Vista Boulevard in Hollywood, the motel where Sil (Natasha Henstridge) stays in sci-fi horror, Species.

Leaving LA, Sanderson takes one of the world’s great drives, the six-hour trip along I-15 through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas.

And although the Vegas exteriors are real enough, the casino interiors were shot 90 miles south in Laughlin, on Nevada's border with Arizona.

Founded in 1966 by Don Laughlin, the town has grown to become a mini-Vegas with small-scale counterparts of its big sister’s casinos. The movie was shot in the Gold River Casino and Resort, which has changed hands and is now the Laughlin River Lodge Hotel & Casino, 2700 South Casino Drive.

The movie makes up for its Laughlin interiors by setting key scenes in front of a slew of Las Vegas Strip landmark casinos.

Leaving Las Vegas filming location: Excalibur, Las Vegas
Leaving Las Vegas location: Sera is picked up by the college jocks: Excalibur, Las Vegas

Sanderson first bumps into hooker Sera (Oscar-winning Elisabeth Shue) at a stop light on Las Vegas Boulevard outside the Flamingo, 3555 Las Vegas Boulevard South, the starting point of the new Las Vegas, opened in 1946 by ‘Bugsy’ Siegel – see Barry Levinson's Bugsy, with Warren Beatty, for a cinematic version of its history.

Sera, in turn, finds Sanderson in front of Bally’s, 3645 South Las Vegas Boulevard.

The giant illuminated clown in front of which they talk is, of course, the famous frontage of Circus Circus, 2880 Las Vegas Boulevard South, which you'll no doubt recognise from the 1971 Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever.

Sera is picked up by the college jocks on the aerial walkway in front of the toytown turrets of Excalibur, 3850 Las Vegas Boulevard South.

She hails a cab after her terrible ordeal in front of the waterfall at Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South.