Architecture in cinema
In the film L.A. Confidential (1997) the residence of the high class pimp Pierce Patchett is in reality a historic cultural monument situated at Dundee Dr. in L.A.
Richard Neutra was a modernist architect who was famous for building houses that corresponded with the needs of the soon-to-be inhabitants. In 1929 he finished the Lovell Health House, for the physician and naturopath Philip Lovell, situated in Los Angeles. The great amounts of glass used to place inhabitants in a close proximity to nature as well as the owners strong belief in healthy living and exercise gave the home it’s name.
Neutra’s Lovell House is considered one of the first steel frame homes in the United States. While working with steel framed buildings (sometimes lights steel frames that had been prefabricated and erected a lot quicker then if one had followed previous and conventional methods) he began investigating the the opportunities of a more accessible way to transport concrete. This led to his revolutionary method of spraying concrete from hoses (which also made it easier as the home is built on a steep hill).
The house is an early example of the new International Style in the United States with it’s spatial organization of the overlapping planes and it’s sprayed-on concrete. Neutra built tons of homes, the majority of them are located in California. To get a better feel for the home I would recommend (re)watchng the film as the impressive exterior is showed in key scenes and the unusual interplay of spaces of the interior can be detected in the indoor scenes.
The house featured in Woody Allen’s hysterical 1973 slap stick comedy Sleeper goes by the name The Sculptured House and was built by architect Charles Deaton in 1963.
Deaton himself was never able to inhabit it as he, due to debt, was not able to finish it. The house was abandoned for thirty years whilst being subjected to vandalism by teenagers and inhabited by an owl and a fox. It was finally sold in 1999 to an entrepreneur who spent millions on restoring it.
This spectacular example of modern architecture and sculptural expressionism is according to Forbes listed as one of Americas ugliest mansions.
The movie Sleeper is about a young clarinet player (Allen) who is cryogenically frozen in 1973 to be awoken 200 years later by scientists who want his assistance in overthrowing the leader of their society. Along the way he meets Luna (Keaton) whom in the beginning is skeptical but eventually helps him try to overthrow their tyrannical government. The film is a superb example of Woody’s sharp wit, comedic timing as well as functioning as a homage to the films of the Silent Era. The chemistry between Allen and Keaton is undeniable and makes this one of his best films. The house is located in Colorado.
Architect A. James Speyer, a protege of Mies Van der Rohe, spent many years in Europe perfecting his conversion to the modernist architectural style, which was being practiced by the most avant garde architects. Speyer studied with Van der Rohe adopting his main philosophy that ‘less is more’ while implementing some of his own techniques and ideas. His houses are rectilinear structures with exposed steel beams that support vast expanses of glass or brick , all enclosing open spaces that flow into each other, rather than being carved into discrete, wall-bounded room.
Speyer built the Ben Rose Home, which is located in Chicago, in 1953. In 1986 the house became terribly famous as it featured in the one of the most sophisticated coming-of-age teen comedies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Though the house was built in 1953, the famous ferrari garage was added in the 70′s as the owners needed a decorative space to exhibit their vintage car collection. In an iconic scene towards the end of the movie Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) accidentally leans against the car (1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder) causing it to crash through the glass wall of the cantilevered garage plummeting to the ravine below. Despite it’s cult status, Like the Sculptured House, The Ben Rose Home (or The Ferris Bueller house) has also had a hard time selling and the price has dropped several times. The Chicago home is also often frequented by curious Bueller fans.
John Lautner‘s Elrod House featured in the Bond film Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is not only one of Lautner’s most unique and inspiring homes it is also an iconic example of modernist architecture.
Lautner was a dedicated practitioner of Organic Architecture, a term coined by Frank Llyod Wright, Lautner’s mentor, is a philosophy of architecture dedicated to promote a harmonic relation between human habitation and nature by uniting the building with its surroundings creating a unified and interrelated composition. The Elrod House is perched on a hillside outside of Palm Springs, California and (as seen in the pictures below) the most prominent feature is the large circular concrete canopy that covers the half-outdoor main living room which has glass doors allowing the area to become open towards the pool deck and semi-circular swimming pool. There are also throughout the home incorporations of the natural rock that covered the hillside fusing the building with the rock.
Another fascinating John Lautner home – the Sheats Goldstein Residence - featured in The Big Lebowski.