Friday, August 12, 2016

"Last Action Hero"

In John McTiernan's "Last Action Hero" (Columbia, 1993) young Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) gets a magic ticket from a friendly projectionist that propels him into another dimension of the movies. He starts on 42nd St. in New York City at the "Pandora Theatre" (actually the Empire) but when we go inside we're at the Orpheum, 842 S. Broadway, in Los Angeles.  The Pandora, as we see from the signage, is about to be demolished so it can be replaced with a new Loew's multiplex.

When they shot the 42nd St. sequences the neighborhood was already being redeveloped. The theatres were all closed and plans were in place for the "New 42nd St."  The filmmakers had to make the street grungier again and put appropriate film titles on the various marquees.

Danny's a big fan of fan of Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his ticket allows him to enter Jack's world where the heroes always win. The film is surprisingly funny and what's not to like?  It's all about the joy of going to the movies in run-down old theatres.

Inside the Orpheum with a creature coming down the aisle. It's death. He's escaped off the screen from a nearby theatre's screening of "The Seventh Seal."

Strange things are happening in the theatre after the screen goes blank. 

Spectral phenomena in a view of the top of the Orpheum's proscenium.

Our young hero alone in the theatre.

The set built for the booth scenes. Definitely not the Orpheum booth. We're still running 2,000 foot reels yet we have an automation system installed. Looks like our Magnarcs have been converted to Xenon.

Another look at the booth set. Exactly the improvised situation you would hope to see going up to the top of an old legit house that had no booth originally.

We're supposedly in New York City in this sequence (as in the whole movie). Yet Arnold and his young friend are in a rainy night traffic jam chasing the bad guy (Charles Dance) on 8th St. in front of L.A.'s Olympic Theatre. See the Los Angeles Theatres pages on the Olympic for more about the 1927 vintage theatre, now used for retail.

A lobby scene shot at the Orpheum.

A look back toward the booth. Don't you love that 2x5 multicell horn?

A wider shot up to the booth.

A look at the rear of the main floor. The filmmakers took pains to make the Orpheum look much more rundown than it was at the time.

All is well at the end of the film as our heroes, young and old, race up an aisle of the Orpheum. Head over to the Orpheum Theatre pages on the Los Angeles Theatres site for information about the building, a 1926 design of San Francisco based G. Albert Lansburgh.

When we go to the premiere of the film "Jack Slater IV" we're at the National Twin in Times Square.  Leo the Fart's funeral sequence was filmed at the Hyatt Regency in Long Beach.

The site Movie-Locations has a page on filming locations. On the Set of New York also has a page which has images of several New York locations.  The blog MediaTwin has a great post about the film's recreation of the 42nd St. grindhouse era. The website Silver Screens also has a page about the film which has good coverage of all the theatres on 42nd St. that we see in the film.  

On IMDb: "Last Action Hero"

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