Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

Movieland Mystery Photo

I was watching this movie the other day and thought:  that’s….

Mystery Photo

[Update: Let me begin by saying that I got this one wrong. I’m not a Westsider and my first guess, when it went by, was that this is the Malibu tunnel. Nope, it’s not.

[Michael Ryerson correctly pegged the movie as “Harper” and suggests the tunnel is on Las Virgenes Road or Kanan Dume Road.  Mary Mallory, Greg Clancey, William Stansel and Lee Rivas opt for the Sepulveda tunnel. Arye Michael Bender and Barry OB like the tunnel on Topanga Canyon. B.J. Merholz says Malibu Canyon and Walt Daily says it’s a tunnel in Needles, Calif.

[I didn’t have the time to follow all the routes on Google Street View to verify which is right – so many stories and only one Larry Harnisch.]

For fun, here’s a list of tunnels on state highways. It doesn’t list tunnels on county highways, however.

Most of “Harper” is interiors and (rather tacky) process shots… There are a few exteriors (freeways, a gas station, twisting mountain roads)… and this fun shot:

"Harper"
So much for the Porsche.

"Harper"

But this is what I really like about “Harper.”

"Harper"
Paul Newman has a Chemex!

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo [Updated]

  1. One of the tunnels on Las Virginese (sp?) Canyon Road from ‘Harper’ (Paul Newman) who is driving this Lincoln trying to overtake his stolen Speedster.

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  2. Mary Mallory says:

    that’s the tunnel on Sepulveda by Skirball Museum.

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  3. Greg Clancey says:

    Sepulveda Tunnel going north. (One lane north, two lanes south)

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  4. B.J. Merholz says:

    …in Malibu Canyon.

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  5. Wm. Stansel says:

    Sepulveda Pass Tunnel, “Heaven Can Wait”, Warren Beatty, 1978

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  6. la peregrina says:

    …the tunnel at the end of the light?

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  7. …from “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”?

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  8. Barry OB says:

    Looks like Topanga Canyon on the way to the beach.

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  9. Lee Rivas says:

    ….the Sepulveda Tunnel portal?

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  10. Walt Daily says:

    Looks like an old tunnel going under the BNSF RR on an off street in
    Needles CA. Built many years ago.

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  11. CraigDeco says:

    …a 1964 Lincoln Continental sedan?

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  12. Mary Mallory says:

    Can you blow up the sign above the tunnel? That should probably say where it is, or give a number to help trace it. I’ll try and see if we have stills.

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  13. Rotter says:

    I believe this location was seen in the Adam-12 episode “Ambush” from 1971. Officers Reed and Malloy go through this tunnel while transporting a prisoner.

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  14. Rotter says:

    They also mentioned the location in the episode and it being “out in the sticks”, Geez, city slickers…. .

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  15. Easily the most painful image from the movie, the willful destruction of a ’56 Speedster in service of an otherwise pedestrian (early Newman notwithstanding) noirish whodunit.

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    • lmharnisch says:

      @Michael: I still mourn the Jaguar XKE that goes over a cliff in “Harold and Maude.” I realize that the Jags have certain issues when it comes to maintenance. But still.

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      • Ah yes, Harold & Maude, a thoroughly entertaining and disturbing movie and the XKE, not the least of the disturbing elements in the film as Harold turns an otherwise perfectly good E-type into a hearse! (more likely the evil handiwork of George Barris but still…a minor blasphemy!) When this ritual metal-cutting is depicted (implied, as it occurs offscreen) I was from that point on distracted as part of my brain wrestled with how they did it and if it could be undone after the film. But then, in the end, they run it off a cliff and the restoration becomes moot. Bothers me to this day.

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      • lmharnisch says:

        @Michael: At a Q&A years ago, I asked John Alonzo (cinematographer on “Harold and Maude”) whether they really wrecked the XKE and he said, yes, they sure did. He was an interesting fellow and I’m glad I got to hear him discuss the making of “Chinatown.” Of course Jack Nicholson’s Ford convertible got smashed into a tree in “Chinatown.”

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      • I don’t think it’s a reach to say the destruction of a thing of beauty to make a dramatic point is not unlike shooting the dog or the good-natured sidekick. Of course, some of us, to paraphrase Woody Allen, idealize a set of wheels out of all proportion. Which reminds me, did you see the two cars Ralph Meeker drives in Kiss Me, Deadly??

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      • lmharnisch says:

        @Michael: Like shooting the elephant at the beginning of “Mogambo?” At least I think it was “Mogambo.”

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      • Ew, I don’t really remember him shooting an elephant in Mogambo. I do remember him ‘knocking over’ a magnificent male gorilla at one point (actually stock footage but still a despicable image) to demonstrate his character’s surplus of testosterone. The elephant killing may be here too, it is just the kind of thing I’d have blocked out over time but it seems more likely to be one of the Stewart Granger/Deborah Kerr bodice-rippers.

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  16. Gary Martin says:

    We all had a chemix in those days. Sigh for the past.Mr. Coffee it is.

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  17. Coto says:

    It’s the Sepulvada Pass Tunnel, here is a picture of it.
    http://www.americassuburb.com/sepulveda_tunnel.html
    My favorite tunnel was Cahuenga Pass as it went underneath Highland Ave approaching Hollywood. This was in the late 1940’s, maybe into the ’50’s. I remember a truck got stuck underneath it once.

    Like

  18. Kevin Distel says:

    Definitely the Sepulveda tunnel. Telephone pole on the right of the mystery photo is still there too.
    (hope the Google short url works!)

    http://g.co/maps/7uke6

    Like

  19. The tunnel facing doesn’t appear to match with the Sepulveda tunnel.

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  20. Greg Clancey says:

    Michael, it HAS been 46 years. Obviously the plaque has been removed. And the division of lanes is a obvious giveaway.

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  21. I don’t think I said anything about the plaque. They didn’t go back and recast the tunnel facing. Look at the two images and let your eye follow the top line. Do you notice a fundamental difference in the shape? These old tunnel entrances were unique and unless there had been a natural disaster or major accident, there would have been no reason to repour it. As to the asymmetry of the lane allocation, this was not uncommon especially where a grade led into a tunnel with two lanes leading uphill into the tunnel allowing slow moving vehicles (especially trucks) a way to maneuver while reducing the danger to other traffic. 46 years notwithstanding these two tunnel entrances do not appear to be the same.

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    • I was wrong. I bought a copy of Harper (Blockbuster bargain bin, retired rental copy, $2.95) and was able to view and review the moment the tunnel plays on the screen. I now think it is the Sepulveda tunnel, with several panels of graffiti masking paint and some minor hardware missing.

      Like

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