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Shot On Site - Tom Skeritt Visited Armand's Before The Ghostbusters

 By Paul Rudoff on Sep. 5, 2015 at 11:55 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 2, Filming Locations , Tags:

This is a first for Spook Central's Shot on Site series. This is a Ghostbusters II location that was already identified, but I will be writing about it based on its usage in another movie - and tying it all together using images from both movies, some behind the scenes images, and the usual Google Maps images to show it in real-life. This is going to be quite image-intensive, so keep that in mind as you proceed. On a bored whim, I set the DVR for the generically-titled television movie "Moving Target", starring Jason Bateman, which originally aired on NBC on February 8, 1988. At the time, Jason was the breakout star of NBC's "The Hogan Family" (aka "Valerie", aka "Valerie's Family"), which is likely why he was chosen to star in this movie. Now, when I found the movie in the TV listings, I knew absolutely nothing about it (I never even knew it existed!), but the description made it sound interesting. Two weeks later, I watched that DVR recording, and my jaw hit the floor when, shortly into it, there was a dinner meeting at a very familiar restaurant.

I instantly recognized it as the same one used in Ghostbusters II: Val's at 10130 Riverside Drive in Toluca Lake, California. When Val's was previously identified, it had to be confirmed using the building across the street and some Ghostbusters II behind-the-scenes footage because the movie never showed the outside, and Val's no longer exists. Moving Target actually shows Val's exterior and its interior, and even the building across the street that was used to confirm the ID last year. How serendipitous to finally see the exterior of Val's, and all because I taped a movie I never knew existed, because I was bored the day it aired and found it in the TV listings and thought it sounded interesting. Now if only I could have that kind of luck with the lottery.

I will be going through the three-minute scene roughly in the order it plays out, but I'll skip around a little bit to keep locations together. Since the scene takes place at night, some images have been lightened up to make the details easier to see. Major thanks to Matthew Jordan for locating a DVD-quality copy of the movie (it's available on DVD), so I had a better source to work with than the TV broadcast.

Let's start with the exterior of Val's. As I studied the exterior, I noticed that the current Trader Joe's actually uses the same building, though without the four-columned covering over the entrance. I previously thought that Val's was razed, but looking at the architectural details, I see that that wasn't the case. As you see in the comparison below, the entrance to Trader Joe's retains the "corner cut-out" of Val's. The trim around the top is the same (red rectangle), as is the trim along the bottom (black rectangle). The eight-windowed doors with their decorative triangle top are still present. Only the coloring has changed.


That infamous brick building (currently Discovery Store) on the other side of Talofa Avenue with the unique square vents is visible in the above real-life photo (taken Aug, 2011 by Google Maps), in Moving Target (first below), and in the Ghostbusters II behind-the-scenes footage (second below) (alt url). I don't think I need to draw arrows or boxes to point that out further :-)


We're now inside Val's, and the first thing we see is the Maître D'. Why, look at that! He's in the exact same spot as Ghostbusters II's Maître D', and the same artwork is hanging behind him. Clearly, this is where Val's Maître D' stands, and both movies just left his podium where it was.


Going into Val's main dining room, we see a lot of short walls topped with brown marble. The one that separates the entry area from the rest of the room has two brown lion statues sitting on it. In Ghostbusters II, these statues are obscured by two potted plants. You won't notice them unless you were specifically looking for them.


In Moving Target, Joseph Kellogg (Tom Skeritt) is at Val's to meet with a man from the Justice department (John Glover) posing as a prospective employer. The Feds escort Mr. Kellogg from the restaurant when his boss, whom they want him to testify against, enters the place. They head out through the kitchen and out the back door to another Fed in a taxi waiting in the back alley. That alley is actually behind Val's, just off of Talofa Avenue. As seen in the collage below (graciously assembled by Matthew Jordan), and the real-life image from Oct. 2011 (taken by Google Maps), many elements are still there, such as the raised residence with the first floor garage (notice the placement of the two single windows on each side), the fence next to it, and even the dark brown wooden utility pole. The light brown wooden wall behind Val's is now a short white wall. It should be noted that in the movie, they walked out from behind the wooden wall on the right and passed in front of the utility pole, so they were legitimately walking out from Val's back door. (Click on the image below for the full-size collage)


I could end this right here, because that's all we see of Val's itself in the movie, but within this scene we also see some of the other buildings on Riverside Drive across and down the street from Val's, so why not identify them, too? It'll actually show how much the entire area has changed over the years.

So, the Feds and Kellogg are in the taxi escaping from Val's...or are they? The start off not at Talofa Avenue, but two blocks down Riverside at Patys Restaurant, which is at 10001 Riverside Drive. Thanks to Google Maps, we can see that in July 2015, Patys still has that distinctive neon sign. Speaking of signs, the "Quick Photo Print One Hour" place is now a "Star Nails" salon. Looking over past Google Maps photos, it was still a photo place in September 2007 (I was surprised it was still there 20 years later!), but went out of business by Sept 2011.


Before Patys opened in 1960, it was Gabys, as seen in the image below left taken in the 1950s. The one on the right shows that the photo place was originally a camera place (Gabys neon sign peeks out from behind the palm tree in the background). These photos came from videos taken by Getty Images, found on YouTube here and here. The second video essentially travels the "getaway" route down Riverside Drive as seen in Moving Target.


So, if they didn't start off behind Val's like they should have, then where were they heading off to? Why, they were going back TO Val's, silly. How do I know? Well, the shot that starts at Patys, ends at the "Toluca Lake Travel" building, with the "But, Naturally..." store on the first floor. That building is directly across the street from Val's on the other side of Riverside. The text on the building now reads "Northwest Lab, Medical Laboratories" (though a lot of the letters have fallen off the building), and on the first floor is a "Sossy's" boutique. (Second image below from Google Maps, taken August 2011, when most of the letters were still on the building.)


Now, let me jump back into the scene and address a few things that wouldn't fit in the flowing narrative I just went through. For starters, earlier in the scene the Fed parked the taxi in front of the "But, Naturally..." store. That perfectly fits, location-wise, as we saw the taxi pull up to that spot across from Val's at the start of the scene.


Once his buddy sees Kellogg's boss pull up in the limo, he gets the call to go to the back alley. He does so by making a U-turn. That's where things start to fall apart. We see him come down the back alley from Forman Avenue heading towards Talofa Avenue behind Val's. To make that journey, all he would have had to do is drive straight down Riverside to the next block, Forman, make a left, and then another left into the back alley. By making the U-turn, he was going the wrong way.

That said, as he makes the U-turn, we get to see the old Money Tree restaurant at 10149 Riverside Drive, just down the block from Val's on the other side of Riverside. The middle image shows the Money Tree in the 1950s (from this Getty Images video). The bottom left image shows part of the Money Tree's distinctive neon sign in that final shot (seen a little bit above) of the taxi driving from Patys to the Travel building. The bottom right image is of the Money Tree's awning from an unknown date, as posted on Facebook by Burbank in the 60's.


Some place called Forman's in a butt-ugly brown building occupies 10149 Riverside Drive in July 2015:


Finally, there is one building that I can not identify, and I suspect it's because it's no longer there. The Fed who sees the limo pull up comes out of a pizza parlor.


I'm pretty sure that it's the building diagonally across from Val's. If you scroll up to the movie shot with the Travel building in it, on the right side of the shot, you'll see a white building with brown wood trim that could be the pizza parlor. Unfortunately, the shot of the guy coming out is dead-on, with barely any indication of what's on the side of the building, so I can't determine if that's it or not.

By July 2015, there's a completely different building in that spot, which is occupied by The Counter - Custom Built Burgers.


Back in the 1950s, the Tick Tock restaurant was on that spot. Tick Tock was also directly across the street from that brick Discovery Store building with the vents on the side (which was crucial to ID'ing Val's in the first place). Interestingly, Tick Tock also has those vents on the side, as seen in the image below. Maybe it was a paired building with the one across the street (Discovery Store), and Tick Tock was demolished later on while it's "twin" across the street remains.


So, that's it. A Ghostbusters Shot on Site article that wasn't about Ghostbusters :-)

As I mentioned earlier, the movie is available on DVD. It's not exactly a "must have", but it's an enjoyable little thriller. I'd also like to give you two more little location factoids about this movie. The scene preceding the restaurant scene shows Jason Bateman and his friends hanging out in front of the Fox Westwood Village and Braun movie theaters at the intersection of Bronton Avenue and Weyburn Avenue in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. Later, Jason goes to Boston, but the "Boston" neighborhood is really California, as evident by the California-style street signs.

For more information about Ghostbusters filming locations, be sure to check out the rest of Spook Central's Shot On Site articles, Spook Central's Filming Locations page, and Chris Stewart's Shot On Site articles. Thanks Chris for letting me use your awesome title. Title graphic drawn by Paul Kinsella.

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