May 29: The Bradbury Building

Cel phone snap, The Bradbury Building. M Cox

The Bradbury Building in culture:
If you want to really get in to some class preparation you can see The Bradbury Building featured prominently as the setting in a wide range of popular media — particularly in the science fiction genre — including films, television, literature, and music videos. Most notably, the building is the setting for both the climactic rooftop scene of the 1982 cult classic Blade Runner, as well as the set of the character J. F. Sebastien’s apartment in which much of the film’s story unfolds.

It is also featured in the 1944 Billy Wilder film classic Double Indemnity and the 1950 film noir classic D.O.A. (including the final shootout). It appeared prominently in the 1953 film noir I, The Jury. Joseph Losey’s 1951 remake of M, starring David Wayne, contains a long search sequence filmed in the building, and a spectacular shot through the roof’s skylight. The famed 5-storey atrium also substituted for the interior of the seedy skid-row hotel depicted in the climax of the Jack Lemmon comedy Good Neighbor Sam (1964), supposedly set in San Francisco but filmed, save for some establishing shots and rear-projection footage, entirely in Los Angeles.

The Bradbury also featured in the 1994 film Wolf (starring Jack Nicholson), the Charles Bronson movie Murphy’s Law (1986), Chinatown (1974), Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), Marlowe (1969), Avenging Angel (1985), as well as The Indestructible Man (1956), the 1972 made-for-television movie The Night Strangler, and the Michael Douglas and Demi Moore vehicle, Disclosure (1994). In (500) Days of Summer (2009) the building features in the last scenes as the location of an architectural firm.

The Bradbury has been frequently alluded to in popular literature. In Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, the protagonist refers to Philip Marlowe, who will “feel homesick for the lacework balconies of the Bradbury Building.”  – Martin