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Hooniverse Asks- What’s Your Favorite Ubiquitous Movie Driving Location?

Robert Emslie December 21, 2012 Hooniverse Asks 53 Comments


If the Mayans were correct, then this will be the last Hooniverse Asks in history. Of course, if the Mayans could predict the future there probably would still be a shitload of Mayans around today. Instead, they faded from the prominence whilst singing Heart And Soul and fending off Conquistadores who were trying to steal their gold Cadillac Eldorado or something. I know this, I saw it in a movie.

I’ve seen a lot of movies, and the ones I like the best are the ones filmed in places I know and frequent. Living in the City of Angels makes this an easy realization. In fact, just considering Hollywood fare featuring or centered on car culture will invariably bring up the Third Street tunnel, Boyle Heights section of the LA River, or Pasadena’s Arroyo-spanning Suicide Bridge. It’s comforting to see, and fun to think of all the films that have featured one or another when traversing them yourself.

Many are historical landmarks – that Third Street tunnel being more than a century old – and as such have been used as movie backdrops for decades. You might remember Sarah Conner tossing pipe bombs at a pursuing Arnold Schwarzenegger down Third Street’s tiled and eerily-lit half circle in The Terminator. That’s one of my favorite movie locations for driving scenes, but LA is not alone in Hollywood’s use of the real-world for film fantasy. What are your favorite movie driving locations, and the films in which they appear? 

Image: [PrivateLosAngelesTours]

  • Vavon

    <img src="http://www.films-au-cinema.com/zoom-photo/128-4.jpg&quot; width="600/"><img src="http://www.speeddoctor.net/media/2011/12/Ronin_11.jpg&quot; width="600/">
    Paris (France), like in the Ronin chase scene. I've driven there so often, but sadly never at those speeds!

    • Dean Bigglesworth

      The only "driving" i've done in Paris is riding a around in a tourist coach when i was about twelve. I have some blurry shots on a cheap Minolta point-and shoot somewhere, though the first two rolls were taken from the bus within 15 minutes of leaving CDG.

      Also c'était un rendez-vous. did i copy that from a place that spelled it correctly? no one knows.. Sadly the original has been removed from the you tubes again.

      • Vavon

        That sounds exactly like my first visit to Paris! And yes they wrote it correctly.
        It might not be on Youtube anymore, but you can still find it here: http://www.google.fr/search?q=c'était

  • Van_Sarockin

    PCH – Pacific Coast Highway.

    • danleym

      I lived next to the central California portion of this, and drove the stretch between San Luis Obispo and Carmel quite a few times. Makes me smile any time I see it in a movie, now that I'm halfway across the country and can't just go drive it on a whim anymore.

      • If I could live anywhere on earth, it would be on the section of PCH between Carmel and Santa Maria.

        • danleym

          I was in Lompoc for about 15 months. Lompoc was nothing to speak of, but lots of great driving nearby. Heck, if you went anywhere from there it was a great drive.

          • Ooof, heard that place called "Lompton". Not so much there, but nearby Jalama beach is awesome.

            I could spend the rest of my life at this turnout:
            <img src="http://farm1.staticflickr.com/92/240183268_6bf4345ce0.jpg&quot; width="500" height="375" alt="California Coast">

            • danleym

              Yeah, people called it that, but it's not like the place was violent or crime ridden. Just a little run down- a lot of stuff looked like it hadn't been updated in 30 years. Jalama Beach is pretty nice. If you're ever in the area again and driving something fun, there's a road just north of Lompoc that is the best 1 or 2 mile stretch of road I have ever driven. As you follow Highway 1 north out of town, the highway turns left at an intersection, but if you go straight, you're on Harris Grade Road. If you follow it the 4 or 5 miles until it ends, there's a section in there that climbs through the hills that is absolutely perfect. That was my own personal race track for 15 months. I miss it.

              One day that I was driving down the PCH I stumbled on a car show down the main street of Cayucos. That was pretty cool. I didn't stay long, but Cayucos seemed like it would be a cool place to live- right on the water, right on the PCH.

    • I am a ten minute walk to PCH… and I'm about to move to place that's a five minute walk. I love PCH

    • Van_Sarockin

      The thing about the PCH is that it runs nearly the whole length of California, and it looks and feels a great deal differently, depending on just where you are. It's also close to Hollywood, so setting the crew up for shots is fairly simple. Just like that LA River concrete basin and neighboring WPA era bridge show up in damn near every movie. It's always a bit of a pleasant shock to be watching a movie and notice a stretch of road I've enjoyed driving.

  • cruisintime

    Paradise Road in American Graffiti.

  • I like the one at my local track…BTW…there is a Syncro owning dude who lives near the intersection of Zelda and Halifax here Beachside…

    Can't seem to imbed the damn thing so just click here….

  • Number_Six

    Toronto and Vancouver subbing in very poorly for American cities; especially when "Chicago" has a mountain range behind it, or when "Manhattan" has contemporary streetcars.

  • <img src="http://www.gonemovies.com/WWW/Pictures/Pictures/BackFuture59.jpg&quot; width=500>
    Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.

  • JayP2112

    Only ubiquitous for Thunder Road, Smokey and the Bandit, Season 1 of Dukes of Hazzard, The Hunger Games and Deliverance: Appalachia

    I'd never noticed the end of Two Lane Blacktop until after I'd watched it on DVD (it was my first DVD ever).
    The ending looked familiar. I did some research and it was shot at a Knoxville airstrip with some local rodders Hellman talked into being in the movie. Damn if that scene didn't look like my commute to school.
    [youtube aJCVybmrodY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJCVybmrodY youtube]

    I need to watch it again. We're headed east to visit Granddad after Christmas.

    • I just got off GA 400. The limited access highway that served as the Interstate for Smokey and the Bandit. It was filmed before the road opened.

  • Desert roads keep popping up year after year in several movies
    <img src="http://www.bentclouds.com/toptenimages/madmax.png&quot; width="600">

    • JayP2112

      When is MM4 Thunder Road due out?
      Kinda been waiting a while to see that. And ThunderDome was disappoint.

  • "…the ones I like the best are the ones filmed in places I know and frequent."

    Living in Kansas City, not a whole lot of movie locations to spot. My wife, however, regularly spends time in Albuquerque on business, and it made the recent USA series In Plain Sight*, which was filmed on location there, that much more fun for her to watch.

    *A totally fantastic show by any measure. If you didn't catch it on air, the boxed DVD set would make a great gift for a family member. http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/detail.php?p=384

    • I prefer Breaking Bad's depiction of Albuquerque. I look forward to spending an afternoon there this Christmas.

  • OA5599

    [youtube 7zhDKFhfEgg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zhDKFhfEgg youtube]

    If the name of the film matches the name of the driving location, do I get double points?

  • The leading photo reminds me of trivia tidbit I recently learned. Check out the junker lot in the back of New Deal Used Cars:

    <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i032081.jpg"&gt;
    <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i493301.jpg"&gt;
    <img src="http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/RiverBedRaceStart6thSt.jpg"&gt;

  • Oh, and I thought the tunnel used for a bunch of films in LA was 2nd Street, not 3rd?

    edit: Wiki says I'm right: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Street_Tunnel

  • I actually got to head down to that area for a car launch event.

    It was … for CODA, believe it or not.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/8Eucw.jpg'"&gt;

    • BlackIce_GTS

      It's not actually easy or legal to drive in there, is it? Nobody ever has any difficulty in movies, but I imagine allowing that (in LA) would be lawyer-baiting.
      There's some ramp everybody always uses…. hmmmm… Ah, here it is (3:11):
      [youtube VAWjsVoDpm0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAWjsVoDpm0 youtube]

      • It's illegal to go down there without a permit. You can sneak in, but if you're caught you're probably getting arrested.

        CODA paid for us to go down there, and we listened to a lecture from a society that is attempting to turn the LA River back into … a river. Some super hipster chick was speaking about how the river was what drew people to the region originally, and they want it to be a place where people can come and sit and hang out, etc.

        It's surrounded by an industrial area.

        • danleym

          Hey, I enjoy having a leisurely picnic with my wife listening to the sounds of heavy industry and breathing noxious fumes.

          • So, in other words, you like Nine Inch Nails concerts?

        • The section right by where I used to live is a perfect candidate for being turned back into a more river-like area: http://goo.gl/maps/q1lWa

          I used to go hike and run in Griffith Park all the time. Had a very "only in LA" morning where I was walking the dog on the trail right by ~10 lane I-5, looking over to see guys on horses (each holding a beer) fording the river to cross into a tunnel that goes into the park.

          South of there…it's pretty dicey for a while, but still makes sense to have a more park/trail like environment that you could hike or bike along.

          We can't all live by the beach, you know….

          • Vairship

            You live on Unknown Road? Must be tough getting mail delivered there.

  • BlackIce_GTS

    I've been surprised a few times by how much I know about New York based almost entirely on GTA4. A lot of the buildings are the same, and even the overall geography is condensed but accurate. I mean, as far as I can tell from the other side of the continent.
    Speaking of that:
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/INyqN.jpg&quot; alt="" title="Hosted by imgur.com" />
    Anyone know where this is from? I got the image from a Hungarian gaming website which I couldn't translate anything useful of. It's almost totally wrong, but I'd still like to play that game.
    The first Rambo movie was shot in that area, but I wouldn't call it ubiquitous.
    Vancouverspotting, on the other hand, is a very easy game for anyone in the Fraser Valley to enjoy. Fun candidates include The X-Files, Supernatural, and The Dead Zone (okay maybe not that one so much, but I totally knew a guy who rented a garage in Langley by that one field in that one episode). Lots of creepy stuff for some reason? People think grey clouds and the sense that it is, is about to, or has just finished raining is scary?

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    My favorite Thai place is just off camera.

    [youtube vtkBWC94csI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtkBWC94csI youtube]

  • Pinkerton1
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