Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Gauntlet

I've just watched and enjoyed this movie[^]. A totally unbelievable but thoroughly enjoyable movie. I first saw it about 20 years ago and that was my reaction - nothing special but still a good watch. Clint Eastwood is usually good value.

So why am I writing about it? Because some of it was shot in Phoenix of course. If you live in one of the 'much filmed' cities such as London, New York or Los Angeles the seeing of yet another movie shot there is probably ho hum; for the rest of us it's an added extra to see familiar scenes in the movies. Thus, I always enjoy movies shot in Melbourne. There have been a few ya know . Part of the fun is in seeing, for instance, a chase where they're running down Swanston Street and they cut; but now they're running down Lonsdale Street 5 major streets away. The observant local smiles and says 'yeah right'. My wife tells me she took great pleasure in observing such incongruities on Hawaii Five-O; she lived in Hawaii when it was shot and indeed was on the (non filming side of) the crew. On one of our walls is a framed poster signed by Jack Lord, of whom I'd never heard until she pointed it out. Fair's fair, she'd never heard of Gary McDonald.

What's truly interesting about the movie, for me, are the locations used in Phoenix. The location for the police department is actually Symphony Hall. Early in the movie the camera does an almost 360° pan around Civic Plaza, which is where Symphony Hall is. Now this movie was released in 1977; it could have been shot in 1976. But for the visuals it could have been shot in 2004 except Clint Eastwood would have looked a whole lot older. I attended a Microsoft Dev Days at the Hyatt there 13 months ago and the scene looked exactly the same 27 years later! Same multi-level carpark, same globular fountain, even the same road markings. Of course the old Catholic Cathedral was there but those building are constructed to last centuries so that was no surprise.

I'm glad I went to that Microsoft Dev Days now (at the time I felt it was a waste of money save for getting the Whidbey Preview). Last night, after dinner, we went for a stroll through downtown and I was surprised to see that Civic Plaza is being rebuilt. The entire area is fenced off and access to Symphony Hall is blocked. If I hadn't been there a year ago I'd never have remembered how it looked.

And talking of Phoenix in the movies; try the first 10 minutes of this movie[^]. Shot in 1959, it opens in downtown Phoenix. That building on 3rd Street (?), the one with the metal tower on top, is there. The camera starts by looking in at the window of a hotel room and pulls back. It keeps on pulling back and, if you watch the edges of the screen, you can see Phoenix peters out into the desert maybe 2 miles from Central and Washington! I gotta tell you, Phoenix is a LOT bigger than that nowadays!

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