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Monday October 15th 2018

Monster's Ball | 2001

Monster's Ball location: Louisiana State Prison
Monster's Ball location: Hank Grotowski works on Death Row: Louisiana State Prison | Photograph: wikimedia / msppmoore

Marc Forster’s drama is set in ‘Jackson Georgia’, but was filmed in Louisiana, around LaPlace, about 25 miles west of New Orleans.

Redneck prison guard Hank Grotowski (Billy Bob Thornton) finds redemption with Leticia (Oscar-winning Halle Berry) after they both have to deal with sudden bereavement.

Grotowski works on Death Row in Louisiana State Prison, Angola, about 50 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. The prison farm was named Angola after the African country from which the slaves on this former plantation originally came. The facility was also featured in Dead Man Walking.

It’s the prison’s real Death Row and, although Angola now uses lethal injection, the original electric chair was brought from the prison museum for filming. The prison now houses Angola Museum, documenting the history of Louisiana’s prisons.

Leticia is fired from her job at Bud’s Broiler, 500 City Park Avenue, New Orleans. Opened in 1951, it’s the first of a chain of seven in the city, and you can also see it in Gary Fleder’s 2003 John Grisham adaptation Runaway Jury, with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman.

Monster's Ball location: Airline Motors Restaurant, LaPlace, Louisiana
Monster's Ball location: Leticia gets a job: Airline Motors Restaurant (now closed), LaPlace, Louisiana | Photograph: Airline Motors Restaurant

She ends up working at Airline Motors Restaurant, which stood at 221 East Airline Highway, LaPlace, exit 209 off I-10 between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Built in 1937 as car dealership Airline Chevrolet Co, a cafe was added in 1939 and. As motor sales declined, the cafe grew into a restaurant and, after a remodelling in 1948, remained virtually unchanged. The restaurant was also seen in 2006 basketball drama Glory Road, but has since closed down. As of 2016, the art deco building remains empty.

The motel to which Hank and Sonny (Heath Ledger) both slip off to relieve sexual tension, was a genuine no-tell motel (‘$17 for three hours; condoms $1’), the Sugar Bowl Courts Motel, 4303 Airline Drive, at Central Avenue, Metairie outside New Orleans. Along with other similar places in the area it has been demolished as part of a drive against, erm “illicit activities”.