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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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‘Once Upon a Time in’ … the Valley Region

This summer, movies such as “Toy Story 4” and “The Lion King,” released by Walt Disney Co., and Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” have offered viewers exotic blockbuster thrills. However, the best movie for Valley-centric cinephiles has been Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” a film clearly located in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys. Set in 1969 and coinciding with the Manson family killings, the dark comedy by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt as actor Rick Dalton and stuntman Cliff Booth, respectively, while the “Hollywood” in which Dalton and Booth circulate is rife with commercial real estate and retail sites familiar to Valley locals. For instance, Dalton and Booth meet for drinks in Sherman Oaks at Casa Vega, the 63-year-old, old-school Mexican restaurant at 13301 Ventura Blvd., which, according to Fandango, now features a tequila cocktail called “The Tarantino.” The scene in which Booth encounters hitchhiking Manson girl Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) unfolds in front of venerable diner Chili John’s, a Burbank fixture at 2018 W. Burbank Blvd. since 1946, and Jackalope Pottery, at 10726 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood, even though, as Fandango observed, “the two locations are two miles apart.” What would a movie be without a movie ranch or two — one former and one active — on screen? In a suspenseful scene framed by boulders of the Santa Susana Mountains and involving Pitt’s Booth, Manson family cultists and Bruce Dern as George Spahn, Corriganville Park (7001 Smith Road in Simi Valley) doubles as the nearby Spahn Ranch, where the Manson family squatted. Founded as Corriganville by stuntman Ray “Crash” Corrigan in 1937, the former 1,500-acre movie ranch is today a public park. Since the real Spahn Ranch was razed, the film crew turned to the Simi Valley spread where such fare as “The Lone Ranger” was made. The real estate also once belonged to comic Bob Hope in the 1960s. When Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate dances in an airplane, it’s actually one of the airplane interiors at Air Hollywood, 13240 Weidner St. in Pacoima, which bills itself as the “world’s largest aviation-themed film studio.” The specialty location was also used for scenes involving Dalton’s flights to and from Italy to make cheesy spaghetti westerns. The French Normandy style adjacent Beverly Hills houses on Cielo Drive where Dalton and Tate are neighbors were also faked. Tate’s home is actually a 1964-built abode at 10974 Alta View Drive in Studio City, according to Curbed LA, while Dalton’s midcentury man-cave is at 10969 Alta View Drive. Santa Clarita also makes the cut in Tarantino’s ninth feature film. For the TV show-within-the-movie “Lancer” starring DiCaprio’s Dalton, the production used Gene Autry’s western sets at Melody Ranch, 24715 Oak Creek in Newhall. Tarantino, who filmed chunks of his 2012 film “Django Unchained” there, also shot some of “Lancer” scenes at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Western Street.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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