Nov 18, 2011

Must-See Movies Starring Architecture and Design

In some films, a house, castle, or high-rise apartment quietly rounds out the characters’ personalities. In others, the set is key to the plot. Then there are movies where the location becomes the whole point of watching. With that in mind, these are the motion pictures in which architecture or interior design play major roles. So sit back, grab the remote control, and check out these cinematic settings.

The Thin Man (1934) - Shows mid Century modern design at its best.

The Fountainhead (1949) Skyscrapers and modern architecture abound.
Mon Oncle (1958) Exposes the pitfalls of modern architecture.  The house, including the garden’s
grand mosaic of alternating rectangles of grass and gravel, was designed by Jacques Lagrange.

Last Year at Marienbad (1961) The stark landscape of château interiors, fountains, topiaries, and 
parterres is actually a skillful cinematic mingling of disassociated details from various 
European historic sites.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
A luxurious apartment that looks like a pastry—swathed in aquamarine fabrics and accented by white
upholstery and white statues.

The Graduate (1967)
Smart mid-’60s interiors. Several Southern California landmarks were used for exteriors, including the 
Ambassador Hotel.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
With modern British architecture as a backdrop.  The notable locations included a celebrated Japanese 
garden by Milton Grundy and the interiors of Skybreak, a country house codesigned by 
 Norman Foster, Wendy Cheeseman, Richard Rogers, and Su Brumwell.

Interiors (1978)
Set in a house awash in a color that production designer Mel Bourne called “muted clay beige.” All the 
windows were re-glazed with meticulous lines of putty because that’s what the character would have done.

Blade Runner (1982)
 Harrison Ford’s handsome apartment became the masculine ideal imprinted on every razor commercial
 for the following decade.  L.A.’s Bradbury Building, an 1893 Italian Renaissance Revival landmark, was the
setting for climactic scenes.

Body Double (1984)
Architect John Lautner’s cliffside Chemosphere House. Key scenes also pull in iconic L.A. buildings,
 including the giant outdoor hot dog, Tail O’ the Pup.

The Remains of the Day (1993)
Outside the film is the aristocratic English country house is Dyrham Park, a magnificent Baroque mansion in
Gloucestershire. Inside, it is, among other majestic homes, Badminton House, the seat of the dukes of 
Beaufort. Every scene is chockablock with rare antiques, stunning statuary, and masses of gilt-wood frames.

Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
The house’s spacious windowed kitchen—with all-white cabinets and soapstone-look countertops—was a 
huge hit with audiences and ended up influencing scores of renovations across the country.

A Single Man (2009)
This film features two stunning spaces at opposite ends of the design spectrum: Lautner’s sleek and
 sparse 1949 redwood-and-glass Schaffer residence and a glamorous Hollywood Regency interior (shown above).

The Ghost Writer (2010)
A ruggedly sophisticated stony bunker on the New England coast is actually on an island in the Baltic Sea
The interiors of the house were created by set designer Albrecht Konrad, who had them constructed at a
 Berlin film studio.