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Sunday May 19th 2024

Grosse Pointe Blank | 1997

Grosse Pointe Blank film location: John Marshall High School, Tracy Street, Silverlake, Los Angeles
Grosse Pointe Blank film location: 'Pointes High School': John Marshall High School, Tracy Street, Silverlake, Los Angeles

There are glimpses of Detroit and its classy northeastern suburb of Grosse Pointe (notably driving shots on Lake Shore Drive), but the film is based firmly in Los Angeles.

The film actually opens in Downtown LA as professional hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) seemingly foils an assassination attempt. The swanky hotel entrance, where rival killer grocer (Dan Aykroyd) thwarts him by bloodily completing the hit is the famous Millennium Biltmore Hotel – but not its familiar grand frontage on Pershing Square.

Grosse Pointe Blank film location: Millennium Biltmore Hotel, South Grand Avenue, Downtown Los Angeles
Grosse Pointe Blank film location: Blank shoots the hitman on the bike: Millennium Biltmore Hotel, South Grand Avenue, Downtown Los Angeles

It's a more modest rear entrance on South Grand Avenue, near the side entrance featured as the restaurant in Chinatown.

Grocer suggests Blank join his professional association to avoid such unfortunate clashes, but Blank declines.

Fate conspires to dispatch Blank for a job back to Grosse Pointe, where he grew up, just in time for his school’s ten-year reunion.

There are establishing shots of the Ambassador Bridge across the Detroit River, the towers of the Renaissance Center and Grosse Pointe’s Lake Shore Drive, but we seamlessly arrive on the 400-block of South Myrtle Avenue, between East Lime and East Lemon Avenues, in LA’s eastern suburb of Monrovia, which stands in for 'Grosse Pointe'.

This is where Blank sees old flame Debi (Minnie Driver) broadcasting from the studio of ‘Radio Free Grosse Pointe’. There's been some redevelopment of this stretch of road and some locations are no longer recognisable.

Many of the film’s ‘Grosse Pointe’ hangouts could be found on this stretch of road, including ‘The Hippo Club’ where Blank and Debi meet for a chat, and the sidestreet of East Lemon Avenue where Blank’s old pal Paul (Jeremy Piven) is parked.

Grosse Pointe Blank film location: South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, California
Grosse Pointe Blank film location: 'Cuppa Joe' today: The Pour House, South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, California

The oddly named café, ‘Cuppa Joe Natick’ where Blank and Grocer have an uncomfortably edgy breakfast, was then Natick Hobby Shop (that part of the name was retained). It’s now sports bar The Pour House, 405 South Myrtle Avenue.

Grosse Pointe Blank film location: South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, California
Grosse Pointe Blank film location: 'Cuppa Joe' – as it was as Natick Hobby Shop in 1998: South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, California

‘Pointes High School’, where Blank and Debi attend the reunion, is John Marshall High School, 3939 Tracy Street, Silverlake, a familiar filming location seen in the original film of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Pretty In Pink, John Frankenheimer’s Fifties juvenile delinquent melodrama The Young Stranger, with James MacArthur and Kim Hunter, Eighties bodyswap farce Like Father, Like Son and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Its playing fields were seen in Grease.

Some interiors – the corridor where Blank is attacked and the boiler room in which Paul helps him dispose of a body in the incinerator – were filmed in Reseda High School, 18230 Kittridge Avenue, Reseda, in the San Fernando Valley.

Debi’s impressive home is the Chateau Bradbury Estate, 2232 South California Avenue, south of Monrovia in Duarte, which was also featured in 1996 supernatural drama, The Craft as well as a few lesser-known productions. Built in 1912, it was for a while available as an events space / wedding venue but it’s now home to the Hon Los Temple.

By the way, Grosse Pointe Park and Grosse Pointe Shores are seen in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.