Crash | 2004
Made on a tight 35-five-day schedule on locations around Los Angeles, Paul Haggis’s Magnolia-tinged drama of racial disjunction took home the Best Picture Oscar many assumed was going to Brokeback Mountain.
Although it seems to be agreed that the Ang Lee drama was robbed, Crash doesn’t deserve much of the backlash it’s since received if you take it as a schematic exercise in irony rather than a slice-of-life realism.
“In LA, nobody touches you” murmurs Detective Waters (Don Cheadle) at the opening of a film where everyone touches everyone else... constantly. As paths cross and recross, the vast sprawl of Los Angeles seems no larger than Miss Marples’ St Mary Mead.
Although it seems to be set in one small area of the city, the neighbourhood is an amalgam of Studio City (in the Valley), Wilmington (way to the south), Santa Monica and Westwood.
Anthony (Ludacris) points out perceived racist attitudes to pal Peter (Larenz Tate) as they leave a diner on Broxton Avenue in Westwood Village. Jean and Rick Cabot (Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser) approach them, passing the Regent Cinema, only to get carjacked outside Shane’s Jewellery, 1008 Broxton Avenue.
To keep costs down, director Paul Haggis filmed the interior of the Cabot home, where Jean Cabot begins to obsess about changing the locks, in his own house, south of Hancock Park.
Rick Cabot, by the way, works in our old favourite, Los Angeles City Hall, 200 North Spring Street, downtown.
Up in the San Fernando Valley, Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon) makes a frustrating phone call to the clinic about his ailing father in Carney’s, 12601 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City. The burger and hot dogs eaterie is housed in a bright yellow railway carriage – don’t confuse this with the original Carney’s in West Hollywood
Getting a tip off about the stolen car, Ryan and his partner Hansen (Ryan Phillippe) spot a suspect vehicle at Ventura Boulevard at Rhodes Avenue in Studio City. It’s not the car they’re looking for, but Ryan’s blood is up and he follows the vehicle east on Ventura before stopping it at Radford Avenue.
Still pissed with the clinic receptionist, Ryan humiliates the car’s occupants, Cameron and Christine Thayer (Terrence Howard and Thandie Newton) outside the CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue just north of Ventura Place in Studio City.
Cameron Thayer works on TV dramas at Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood (almost opposite the much grander paramount lot). This small studio doesn't offer tours, but Raleigh claims to be the longest operating independent studio in the US, having opened in 1915. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? was filmed here, but it's mainly used for TV shows.
When Detective Waters investigates a cop-on-cop shooting, which is also a white-on-black killing, outside ‘Valley Ho Liquor Mart’, you might assume this too is in the Valley. In fact, the store is South Bay Liquor Mart, 1014 Wilmington Avenue, way south of the city in the dodgy area of Wilmington.
Also in Wilmington, Anthony and Peter accidentally run down the Asian guy as they drive the stolen car west along East C Street at the junction with North Broad Avenue.
Just one block to the west, the Persian shop, which gets vandalised with anti-Arab graffiti, is on the west side of Avalon Boulevard immediately north of C Street.
On the north side of Venice Boulevard, outside El Charro at Beethoven Street, in Mar Vista, Peter boards a bus, while Anthony expounds his theory that buses are deliberately designed with large windows in order to humiliate the people of colour who don’t own cars.
Officer Ryan is assigned to a road traffic accident. It’s on 36th Street at South Gaffey Street, alongside Angels Gate Park in San Pedro, that he rescues – surprise! – Christine Thayer from the blazing upturned car. It’s here in Angels Gate Park you’ll find the huge Korean Bell of Friendship, seen in The Usual Suspects.
Back in the Valley, it’s now Cameron Thayer’s turn to get carjacked by Anthony. The stand-off where Officer Hansen intercedes on his behalf as the situation escalates, is on the turnaround at the north end of Costello Avenue, north of Hartsock Street, in Sherman Village.
Thayer drives off southeast to Rhodes Avenue at Ventura Boulevard, just west of Studio City, where he lets the hidden Anthony walk free outside the King’s Road Cafe. You may remember this is the spot where the cops first began following the Thayers...
Finally, it’s on North Broadway at Ord Street in Chinatown that Anthony, in turn, releases the van full of Cambodian immigrants, but a whole new cycle of misunderstandings kicks off as Shaniqua gets rear-ended.