It’s not hard to spot the Bellagio’s distinctive fountains or Dale Chihuly glass sculpture-adorned ceilings in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven remake, the neon signs being demolished by the title prisoner transport in Con Air, or the many films in which the space-age Landmark Hotel and Casino and its implosion appeared on camera during—and after—its existence. But if you’re trolling around Downtown Las Vegas looking for the sites of famous film locations, you might have to dig a little deeper.
Luckily for you, we have nothing better to do than dig around. And so, today—as local production company Lola Pictures films a new Gerardo Naranjo film practically in our backyards—we’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting landmarks (and not-so-landmarks) in Downtown Las Vegas to have appeared on the silver screen. Bet you didn’t know that you lived on a movie set.
Martin Scorsese’s fictionalized version of the last days of the Mob’s reign in Las Vegas doubles as a paean to Downtown Las Vegas as well, with scenes filmed at off-the-beaten-path locations such as Bells Market at 515 E. Oakey (right next to Luv-It Frozen Custard), the Regency Motel at 784 N. Main St. (just south of Washington Avenue), Atomic Liquors at 917 Fremont St. and, of course, the law offices of the Goodman Law Group at 520 S. Fourth St., home to the practice of real-life mob lawyer Oscar B. Goodman, who showed off his acting chops by playing—what else?—a mob lawyer in Casino, four years before being elected actual mayor of Las Vegas.
Cheetah’s Gentlemen’s Club, 2112 Western Ave.
You probably don’t consider Cheetah’s as being located in Downtown Las Vegas, do you? Well, it is, both according to the city’s Downtown Centennial Plan and by decree of DTLV.com—and it’s not alone: other dens of decadence such as Little Darlings and Treasures are located not only within Las Vegas city limits, but also within the official Downtown redevelopment corridor. Anyway, yes, Cheetah’s is the not-so-discreet location where Jessie Spano’s “Cheetah Club” scenes from the Razzie award-winning Showgirls were filmed. Needless to say, it’s not located in front of the former Stardust Hotel and Casino, as it appeared in the movie.
The Hangover Part III (2013)
1406-1410 S. Main St. (at Imperial Avenue)
While the first Hangover was an inspired, over-the-top take on the craziest of Las Vegas bachelor party tropes, its sequels got progressively worse—and if you’re lucky, more forgettable. That said, the third installment saw almost an entire block of Main Street in the 18b Arts District (at the corner of Imperial Avenue) transformed into several fictional businesses— including a strip club, pawn shop and convenience store—for the Wolfpack’s (hopefully) last cinematic outing.
Fremont Hotel & Casino, 200 Fremont St.
The film that both popularized and destroyed the swing revival movement in the mid-1990s was also the first to make Vegas look semi-cool again after ill-fated Disneyfication of the Las Vegas Strip threatened to take the sin out of Sin City. Although Mike and Trent weren’t so “money” their first time at the blackjack tables, the Fremont casino looked like a winner nonetheless. Vegas, baby, indeed.
Pay It Forward (2000)
Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, 1 Fremont St.
The Haley Joel Osment (what happened to that kid?) vehicle Pay It Forward not only toyed with our emotions, but took some liberties with its sense of Las Vegas geography—somehow Arlene and Trevor lived in a house obviously on the edge of town (actually Sunrise Manor) and yet close enough for young Trevor to ride his bicycle Downtown—but it was filmed in some very real Downtown Vegas locations, including the Golden Gate (where Arlene worked as a slot attendant) and the now-demolished Motel Royal at 615 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Last Vegas (2013)
The Neon Museum, 770 Las Vegas Blvd. N.
Binion’s Gambling Hall, 128 Fremont St.
It might not have been great cinema, and often came across like a multimillion-dollar advertisement for the Aria Resort & Casino, but this Hangover for the AARP set did give some love to Downtown, including some significant scenes shot at Binion’s (with the property’s shuttered hotel accommodations serving as a major plot point) and one nice moment between Michael Douglas and Mary Steenburgen’s characters walking through the Neon Boneyard.