Against All Odds | 1984
Shifty Jake Wise (James Woods), the owner of Hollywood nitespot ‘Jake’s Palace’, hires washed up football player Terry Brogan (Jeff Bridges) to find Jessie Wyler (Rachel Ward) in this convoluted remake of the 1947 film noir Out Of The Past (aka Build My Gallows High).
The ‘Palace’ is Avalon Hollywood, 1735 North Vine Street opposite the Capitol Records Tower, by Hollywood Boulevard. Built as the Hollywood Playhouse in 1927, the theatre became El Capitan in 1942, venue for many TV shows including This Is Your Life in the Fifties. It became the Hollywood Palace Theater in 1964 and rock/jazz club Avalon in 2003. The venue stands in for the 'Ritz, New York' in 1993 Tina Turner biopic What's Love Got To Do With It, and it’s the site of the Rush gig, where Paul Rudd and Jason Segel bond in 2009 bromance I Love You, Man.
Brogan’s investigations take him down Mexico way – the exotic island resort on which he finds Wyler is the tiny, and relatively unspoiled, island of Cozumel, off the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, a mere 30 minute flight from that wildly over-developed tourist mecca Cancun.
75 miles south of Cancun, Route 307, at Tulum on the mainland coast, you can see the Mayan ruins where Brogan and Wyler finally get together. Although not the most spectacular ruins, the alabaster temples are unique, being the only Mayan site built directly on the coast (tel: 988. 3.1505, admission charge).
The much more spectacular ruins where Coach Sully catches up with the pair is the Toltec site of Chichen Itza. Amazingly, Jessie Wyler’s speech about Mayan football is generally true. A form of soccer was played in the 272-feet long pitch seen here, and the game did indeed end in ritual sacrifice with the beheading of the losing team (though some claim this fate was awarded to the winners as an honour).
The square mile of ruins tends to be overrun by tourists – best to get there early in the day. Buses run from Cancun or Merida.
Visit on the spring or autumn equinox to see the awesome optical illusion created when carefully engineered shadows become the body of giant plumed snake god Quetzlcoatl writhing down from the temple at the top of El Castillo (the giant pyramid you can see in the background of the movie) to the carved serpent head at the bottom.
After killing Coach Sully, Brogan disposes of the body in the Sacred Cenote, a 200-foot wide well half a mile into the jungle north of the site. He seems to be following tradition – precisely why the dank water is so well stocked with skeletons isn’t known, but the most popular theories involve screaming sacrificial victims being hurled down the 70-foot drop.