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Friday April 19th 2019

Travel – Los Angeles: Los Feliz & Silverlake 3


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Sowden House, Franklin Avenue
Sowden House, Franklin Avenue

L.A. Confidential showcases yet another piece of East LA high-style with the 1926 Sowden House, 5121 Franklin Avenue at Normandie Avenue. The work of Frank’s son, Lloyd Wright Jr, it rears up over Franklin like the jaws of T Rex emerging from a primeval jungle

In L.A. Confidential, this was the site of Pierce Pratchett’s decadent party, and later became the home of Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (please note that this is a private home).

After all this architecture, it’s about time to cut loose on the dance floor and, where better than Los Feliz – the centre of LA’s swing scene? Below Glendower Avenue, on Los Feliz Boulevard, is Mess Hall Kitchen (formerly the Derby), 4500 Los Feliz Boulevard at Hillhurst Avenue, the club where Doug Liman pays hommage to Martin Scorsese’s famous tracking shot from Goodfellas in Swingers.

This was the old Brown Derby (though not the famed original hat-shaped restaurant, which stood on Wilshire Boulevard in Midtown), reinvented in 1993 as a swing bar and restored to its Hollywood glory. Stand further back and you’ll just about be able to see the Derby’s original dome.

You can see the Mess Hall again in Speed – it’s where Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) celebrates getting his bravery award – and the icing on the cake for movie buffs was that its oval bar was the original from the classic Joan Crawford noir Mildred Pierce.

The coffee shop, in which the Swingers meet up for their hearts-to-hearts, is the 101 Coffee Shop, within the Best Western Plus Hollywood Hills, 6145 Franklin Avenue, East Hollywood – which is where much of the film’s script was actually concocted.

Just north of Barnsdall Art Park, is the very centre of the swing scene, the Dresden Restaurant, 1760 North Vermont Avenue, where Mike Peters (Jon Favreau) meets the Starbucks waitress in the same film. You can see the Dresden again in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

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