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Hollywood menace: Los Angeles Mid-Century Modern Dens of Vice

Solomons, Gabriel



Edward Clift

Mirko Guaralda

Ari Mattes


This paper will discuss the use of Los Angeles Mid-Century Modern homes in context of Hollywood films from the 1950s until the present day, with particular focus on the association these houses have with movie villains.

A wealth of writing and discourse has emerged on this subject since film-maker and University lecturer Thom Andersen highlighted the connection in his 2003 documentary ‘Los Angeles Plays Itself’. Since then writers, designers, musicians and bloggers have either tried to explain this relationship or simply have fun with the notions of drug dealers, pimps and other ‘undesirables’ occupying modernist homes that were often designed with higher ideals in mind.

The essay will attempt to tie together the various strands of written material on the subject while discussing a range of filmic examples to illustrate key points. I will discuss the ways in which German Expressionism played a crucial role in formulating ideas that would filter through into both Modernist architecture and Film-Noir, and how these two ‘artforms’ were drawn together by film-makers to create villainous dens of vice.

Houses designed by John Lautner, Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd-Wright and Brent Saville will be discussed as will their architectural philosophies, many of which are often inverted when their creations are cast as homes to movie villains.

The conclusion will show how there has been a shift in perception by Hollywood of late and a reappraisal of modernism as a whole, resulting in a more sympathetic role played by these homes recent films.


Solomons, G. (2016). Hollywood menace: Los Angeles Mid-Century Modern Dens of Vice. In E. Clift, M. Guaralda, & A. Mattes (Eds.), Filming the City - Urban Documents, Design Practices And Social Criticism Through The Lens, 97-110. Intellect Books

Publication Date May 31, 2016
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 97-110
Series Title Mediated Cities
Book Title Filming the City - Urban Documents, Design Practices And Social Criticism Through The Lens
ISBN 9781783205547
Keywords film, architecture, Hollywood, representation, crime, German expressionism, Film Noir, Mid-Century Modern, Richard Neutral's, John Lautner, design
Publisher URL,id=5178/


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