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Monday August 19th 2019

Travel – Los Angeles: Pasadena 4


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Queen Anne Cottage, Los Angeles Arboretum, Arcadia
Queen Anne Cottage, Los Angeles Arboretum, Arcadia | Photograph: Wikimedia / Bruce Boehner

To the east of Pasadena is Arcadia, and the127-acre Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 North Baldwin Avenue – which has proved a real gift to film-makers over the years. The use of its tropical gardens to stand in for expensive jungle locations dates back to the Tarzan movies of the 30s and includes Bob Hope-Bing Crosby Road to... movies, classics such as George Cukor’s The Women and William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, a couple of Alfred Hitchcock movies (Notorious and Under Capricorn), and literally hundreds of others.

The later action scenes for Amazon adventure Anaconda were filmed here (watch the lush jungle foliage of Brazil suddenly sprout palm trees), as was the ‘Uruguayan’ hideout of fugitive Nazi Szell (Laurence Olivier) in John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man.

TV’s 1970s-80s Fantasy Island prominently featured the Arboretum’s kitschy little Queen Anne Cottage, but it seems enough time has past for a new generation not to notice the same 1885 folly is the ‘Florida’ home of Rozalin and Bernie Focker (Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman) in Meet The Fockers. The Arboretum’s reflecting pool is also the site of the extravagant wedding in Bridesmaids.

Further east still, Monrovia frequently supplies ‘Main Street, Anytown’ for films as diverse as Grosse Pointe Blank and American Pie, not to mention the awesome Dude, Where’s My Car? The gingerbread extravagance that provided the original 1986 House can be seen in Monrovia, too, at 329 Melrose Avenue.

Huntington Library & Gardens, Oxford Road, San Marino, California
Huntington Library & Gardens, Oxford Road, San Marino | Photograph: Wikimedia / Rennett Stowe

In San Marino, visit the Huntington Library and Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, which houses an impressive art and artefact collection, including a manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible and a collection of the early editions of Shakespeare.

The art collection contains works by Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, John Constable, John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper.

The Dorothy Collins Brown Wing is devoted to the work of Charles and Henry Greene, the architects responsible for the amazing Gamble and Blacker houses in Pasadena.

The Huntington is a screen veteran. The classical house itself was home to the monstrously wealthy John Gage (Robert Redford) in Indecent Proposal and was a German mansion in Steven Soderbergh’s The Good German, but it’s the extensive gardens that have proved endlessly adaptable – the Japanese garden often saves a location trip to the Far East – for example the flashback scene in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Screen appearances include Eddie Murphy’s 1996 version of The Nutty Professor, Memoirs of a Geisha, Joss Whedon's 2005 Serenity, American Wedding, Coming to America, Monster-in-Law and Iron Man 2 among many, many others.

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