Saturday, December 10, 2016

"La La Land"

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) mourns that his favorite jazz club, Van Beek, has been turned into a samba and tapas joint in Damien Chazelle's "La La Land" (Lionsgate, 2016).  "Just pick ONE!" he says.

He's done a drive-by and at the time of this shot is sitting at a drive-in restaurant across the street looking at the building. It's the former Magnolia Theatre, 4403 Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank. In the years since its film house life has been over it's been a recording studio, once owned by Barbra Streisand. See our Magnolia Theatre page for more on the venue.

Sebastian keeps running into Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress. When they finally start clicking after a number of mis-steps, their first date is to be at the Rialto in South Pasadena to see "Rebel Without a Cause."  Here she's driving by earlier in the day and sees the show on the marquee.

She's late and he's waiting.

He gives up and goes in.

Not able to find him in the darkened theatre she steps out on stage to look into the house.  

The credits are rolling for "Rebel Without a Cause." 

Watching the film at the Rialto.

Projection problems as they're ready to kiss.


A "What do we do now?" look. Mia has an idea: they go to the Griffith Observatory.

Wandering by the former jazz club one afternoon, Mia holds the doors while Sebastian does a bit of vandalism to their sign.

Mia rents a theatre for her one-woman show. The theatre is the Hayworth at 2511 Wilshire Blvd. Well, the interior is anyway. The exteriors were done at the Variety Theatre on W. Adams Blvd. See the page about the Hayworth Theatre on the Los Angeles Theatres site for more about the venue.

Mia does another drive-by of the location of their first date. Things have changed. See the Los Angeles Theatres pages on the Rialto Theatre for more about this historic venue. The "closed" marquee we see in this shot was accurate until mid-2017. It's now been leased to a church group.

Sebastian, without funding to open his own jazz club, takes a gig with a group called The Messengers, headed by Keith (John Legend). Mia goes to see their first show -- it's at the El Rey Theatre on Wilshire Blvd. 

Sebastian playing at the show at the El Rey. We don't get any exterior shots or see much of the interior. The Los Angeles Theatres El Rey Theatre page has more about the 1937 vintage theatre, now used as a music club.

Mia heads into the theatre the afternoon of her show. The exterior of the theatre she rents for the production is the Variety, 5253 W. Adams Blvd. See the page about the Variety Theatre on the Los Angeles Theatres site for more about the building. In recent years it's been used as a music club and events space.

Onstage at the Hayworth before the one night run of her show.

Onstage during Mia's one-woman show. Thanks to theatre detective Mike Hume for this screenshot. And also thanks to Mike for figuring out where these interior scenes were filmed. Visit his great Historic Theatre Photography website for hundreds of photos of theatres he's explored in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Sebastian at the Variety Theatre after Mia's show. Few people came. Sebastian misses it as he has a photo shoot he forgot about. Mia is depressed and tells Sebastian it's over. "What is?" he asks. "Everything" she says -- and goes home to Boulder City, Nevada. He'll have to drive to Boulder City to get her when that magical phone call from a casting director comes that makes her a star.

Other locations seen include the freeway interchange between the 105 and the 110 for the opening number, the Smokehouse Restaurant in Burbank (where Sebastian plays Christmas music), the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, the Hermosa beach pier, Angel's Flight, the Watts Towers, Griffith Observatory, and the Blind Donkey in Long Beach (Seb's nightclub at the end).

"La La Land" director Damien Chazelle talks with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone during filming at the Rialto in South Pasadena. Thanks to Escott O. Norton for posting an album of sixteen photos of the 2015 shoot on the Friends of the Rialto Facebook page. The photos appear courtesy of David Wasco, production designer for the film.

The N.Y. Times had a fine story "L.A. Trancendental: How 'La La land' Chases the Sublime" that included several shots from the film. On L.A. Curbed see "LA's Starring Role in 'La La Land'" and "The Ultimate 'La La Land' Filming location Map."

David Ng's December 25, 2016 L.A. Times story "'La La Land' looks beautiful but..." talks about the difficulties of location shooting for this film (and others) with so many historic locations vanishing.

USA Today has "Your La La Land Cheat Sheet."  Architectural Digest weighed in with "La La Land Set Design" profiling designers David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco. E Online has "The Official La la Land Guide To Los Angeles."

There's a page about the film on the website for Elle.  The trailer is on YouTube, as is a four minute making-of featurette

On IMDb: "La La Land"


  1. Too bad the NYT article places the Rialto in Pasadena, not South Pasadena, a separate city! There is another famous movie palace that makes a very brief appearance, let me know if you see it!

  2. Thanks for the hint, Escott. I haven't seen the film yet but I'll be on the lookout for another theatre in the film.

  3. Great��
    Thanks for being on top of it����

  4. Requests for corrections should be submitted to The Times at
    Because its voice is loud and far-reaching, The Times recognizes an ethical responsibility to correct all its factual errors, large and small (even misspellings of names), promptly and in a prominent reserved space in the paper. A correction serves all readers, not just those who were injured or who complained, so it must be self-explanatory, tersely recalling the context and the background while repairing the error.

  5. I love this! Thank you, this is fascinating! I just watched the Columbo episode that has a shot of the Magnolia, and that brought me here!

    1. Thanks, Patrick. Glad you like the post.