Los Angeles Plays Itself: The City in Cinema

An ode to the City of Angels.
By  · Published on September 1st, 2017

An ode to the City of Angels.

Los Angeles, the City of Angels and the Home of Hollywood, the center of the cinematic universe, both offscreen, and on. No other city in the world has been presented on film more often than L.A., not London, not Paris, not even New York City. And sure, a large part of this is owed to the fact that the film industry and most those who make it up are based there, but it’s also because as a metropolitan area, L.A. has a very distinct personality. It’s a City of Angels, that’s true, but there are many Devils lurking, every shining star has its muddied opposite, a constant sun still casts shadows, and in them are parasites waiting to prey on the jilted dreamers who wash up on the shore by the dozens daily.

But as L.A. is a town of corruption, it’s also a town of redemption, a town where anybody can become somebody in the blink of an eye, it’s a place where also daily, dreams are realized. Given this jarring juxtaposition, it’s no wonder filmic storytellers have chosen to use L.A. so often as the backdrop, or indeed as an integral character, for their most dour and most uplifting tales.

In this spirit, editor MaxDfry has put together the following supercut of the panoply of films set in L.A., from Drive to (500) Days of Summer to Sunset Boulevard to Dope and all stops in-between. It’s a nice reminder that while other cities are definitive in their atmospheres, Los Angeles is the opposite: different for everyone, the city itself another actor looking for its next role.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist