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Sunday June 23rd 2024

Pearl Harbor | 2001

Pearl Harbor location: Luna Park Auto Court, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles
Pearl Harbor location: ‘Haleiwi Motor Court’: Luna Park Auto Court, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles

Michael Bay’s slam-bang epic is photographed, largely around Los Angeles and Hawaii, in eye-popping colours that will leave bruises on your retina. Hardly a failure, but with a launch party alone that cost $3 million, it wasn’t the titanic hit intended.

Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, is now a historical site. US Arizona, sunk in the raid, still lies at the bottom of the harbour and has been turned into a permanent memorial, open most days of the year, with free admission. It’s about 45 minutes west of Waikiki on the Kamehameha Highway, Highway 99. The end of the movie features underwater shots of the real US Arizona – now part of the World War II Valor In The Pacific National Monument.

Most of the film was shot around California, including the ‘Tennessee’ fields of the opening, which are at Somis, between Thousand Oaks and Ventura, northwest of Los Angeles.

The movie kicks off on the East Coast, supposedly in ‘New York’. ‘Mitchell Field’, where Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin) indulges the laddish antics of Rafe and Danny (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett), is Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley (just where are those mountains in the background supposed to be, then?). The airport (before redevelopment) was one of the few real locations (if not the only one) seen in Casablanca.

Pearl Harbor location: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Exposition Park, Los Angeles
Pearl Harbor location: the hospital entrance: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Exposition Park, Los Angeles | Photograph: wikipedia / David Leigh Ellis

The steps of the hospital, where Rafe’s romantic gesture ends with a Champagne cork thwacking his already bruised nose, is the entrance to the old LA County Historical and Art Museum, now the eastern entrance to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park, south of downtown Los Angeles. You might recognise this location as the ‘San Francisco’ opera house in Pretty Woman.

The ‘New York’ nightclub, where the pilots and nurses fraternise, is the Queen’s Salon (which used to be the First Class Lounge) of the Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, permanently berthed in Long Beach. The interior of the Queen Mary was also a ‘New York’ nightclub in Ridley Scott’s Someone To Watch Over Me, and a ‘Manhattan’ bar in the Coens' Barton Fink.

Ironically, in the next scene, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) is taken for a nighttime cruise around the Queen Mary, though supposedly in ‘New York Harbor’, where she dreams of being aboard the luxury ship.

Pearl Harbor location: Union Station, South Alameda Street, downtown Los Angeles
Pearl Harbor location: The ‘New York’ goodbye: Union Station, South Alameda Street, downtown Los Angeles

Rafe tells of his posting to ‘Eagle Squadron’ in England, and promises to come back, at Evelyn’s elegant ‘Manhattan’ hotel.

And this is Los Angeles, too, downtown. The deco entrance and the lobby are the Title Insurance Company Building, 433 South Spring Street, which obviously has a Manhattan vibe, as it was also the ‘New York’ TV station office in Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla.

Also downtown LA is the ‘New York’ railway station where Danny waves byebye to Rafe, which is Union Station, 800 North Alameda Street, which has featured in countless movies, including Walter Hill’s 1978 The Driver, The Way We Were and The Replacement Killers (where it was passed off as an airport).

Most famously, the station was transformed into the futuristic cop station for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

Pearl Harbor location: Warner Grand Theater, 478 West Sixth Street, San Pedro, Los Angeles
Pearl Harbor location: Watching The Great Dictator at the 'Honolulu' cinema: Warner Grand Theater, 478 West Sixth Street, San Pedro, Los Angeles

Rafe’s UK base, ‘RAF Oakley’, though, really is England. It’s Badminton House, Tetbury, near the historic city of Bath in Gloucestershire, which was also one of the locations used to represent 'Darlington Hall' in Merchant-Ivory's 1993 adaptation of The Remains of the Day, with Anthony Hopkins. Unfortunately, the house is not currently open to the public.

In Hawaii, the hospital exterior is at Palm Circle, Fort Shafter, part of the Pearl Harbor complex in Honolulu, but the interior is the familiar Linda Vista Hospital, 610 South St Louis, east Los Angeles.

Another strange juxtaposition is the circular pool, where the Japanese high command plans the attack on Battleship Row, which is part of the US army post built to guard Los Angeles Harbor. It’s the gun emplacement, flooded with water for the movie, of the old Battery Osgood-Farley, part of Fort Macarthur in Angel’s Gate Park, San Pedro – which is also where you'll find the Korean Bell of Friendship, famous from The Usual Suspects. Close by is the ‘Hawaiian’ lighthouse, where Rafe suddenly reappears fulfilling his promise to return, which is the Point Vicente Lighthouse, Point Vicente Drive South, on the most southwest point of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The ‘Honolulu’ movie house, where Danny and Evelyn go to see Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, is the Warner Grand Theater, 478 West Sixth Street in San Pedro, south Los Angeles. And, yes indeed, it is as gloriously deco as it is in the movie. The cinema can also be seen in Seabiscuit, What's Love Got To Do With It? and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton. Next door but one, an empty store at 474 West Sixth Street was transformed into the ‘Black Cat Diner’, where they reminisce about the presumed-dead Rafe after watching the movie.

Pearl Harbor location: 474 West Sixth Street, San Pedro, Los Angeles
Pearl Harbor location: The 'Black Cat Diner, Honolulu': 474 West Sixth Street, San Pedro, Los Angeles

‘Kai Kai Korner: crossroads of the Pacific’, where Red Winkle (Ewen Bremner) proposes to Betty, was created on Sixth Street a few yards east.

The training scenes with Doolittle filmed in the enormous Blimp Hangars at Tustin, California, but the raid on ‘Japan’ does gets a little further afield. The industrial section of ‘Tokyo’ is the 4,000-acre US Steel Gary Works at Gary, Indiana, on the shore of Lake Michigan (standing in for the Pacific) The bombers were digitally added to shots taken from the ground, while the reverse aerial shots were taken from a ‘copter, with B-25s added later.

The peaceful Japanese temple seen as the planes retreat, is the Byodo-in Temple, 47-200 Kahekili Highway in the Valley of the Temples, outside Honolulu. It’s a replica of the original Byodo-in in Uji, Japan.

The ‘White House’ rose garden, where President Roosevelt (Jon Voight) is informed that the returning mission has no homing beacons, is the Rose Garden back at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard.

Luna Park Auto Court, now the Lincoln Park Motel, 2101 Parkside Avenue, Lincoln Heights, east Los Angeles, became the ‘Haleiwi Motor Court’, where Evelyn tells Rafe she’s pregnant.

Pearl Harbor location: Luna Park Auto Court, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles
Pearl Harbor location: ‘Haleiwi Motor Court’: Lincoln Park Motel, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles

There was filming also at Camarillo State Hospital, 1878 South Lewis Road, Camarillo in the Santa Monica Mountains, which closed in July 1997 and is now California State University: Channel Islands; and at: Westward Beach, Point Dume (the location of the ending of the original Planet of the Apes).