5 Places You'll Recognize from the Background of Every Movie

#2. Old Royal Navy College -- The British-est Place in Existence

londoncalling.com

Hey, have you seen the trailer for Marvel's new Thor movie? Of course you have, you're a nerd. Well, then you might have noticed that a good chunk of it takes place in an extremely British-looking series of old buildings:

Marvel Studios, Marvel Studios
"Should we make even the tiniest effort to move away from these giant glass windows?"
"Nah, we'll be fine."

If those scenes look familiar, that's because they were shot at the Old Royal Navy College, located in Greenwich, London, which has been featured in a crapload of other films. For instance, it turns out that Thor: The Dark World isn't the first movie starring an Avenger to be shot in that exact same hallway above -- here's Sean Connery as the kilt-wearing villain in the non-Marvel version of The Avengers from 1998 (note the arch behind him):

Warner Bros.
"Who wantsh to feel how shoft my legsh are? You there. Come feel my legsh."

Probably the most distinguishing feature of the college is its famous "Painted Hall," which is exactly what it sounds like (it took 20 years to paint all of it, back in the 18th century), and it has been crossed by characters like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider ...

Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures

... and Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Walt Disney, Walt Disney

Meanwhile, the roads through the college have been used to portray old-timey London in movies like The King's Speech, Sherlock Holmes, The Mummy Returns, and Shanghai Knights ...

Touchstone Pictures
The place where we went to college had a hot dog stand, so it was pretty nice, too.

... but the exact same streets also doubled as Paris in the recent version of Les Miserables (note the windows in the back).

Universal Studios
If you were trapped in a world where Russell Crowe "sings" constantly, you'd be running, too.

Even the gates of this place are famous: Stick a guy in a furry hat in front of them and they look exactly like the entrance to Buckingham Palace. Here's little Thora Birch as Harrison Ford's daughter bugging a palace guard at the beginning of Patriot Games ...

Paramount Pictures
The woman's bag would later co-star with Thora in American Beauty.

... and here are Garfield and Odie doing the same thing in the same place in Garfield 2.

20th Century Fox
We refuse to type the actual name of the movie.

And speaking of sequels no one asked for, we also see Nicolas Cage going through the same gates before completely losing his shit inside the palace in National Treasure 2. We're campaigning for them to add Cage's crazy face to the fresco in the Painted Hall.

#1. 650 South Spring Street -- The One Bank in Every Movie

majestichalls.com

650 South Spring Street, Los Angeles, used to be the location of Bank of America, but this big, fancy-looking building is no longer a financial institution ... it only plays one on TV (and in movies). These days it goes by the name the Majestic Halls, and you can totally rent it if you want to shoot a film or, like, host the classiest hot dog eating contest ever. This place has been in a bunch of movies and shows over the past couple of decades, and not always portraying a bank. Its biggest fan is probably Christopher Nolan, who apparently reuses locations as often as he reuses actors. For instance, in his movie The Prestige, the building appears as both a courthouse ...

Touchstone Pictures
He's on trial for Jaws: The Revenge.

... and the restaurant where Michael Caine meets Hugh Jackman for a beer. Nolan didn't even bother to cover the wooden panels in the back.

Touchstone Pictures
Sixty percent of the production money was spent on bowler hats.

By the way, Caine is sitting in the same place ...

Warner Bros.

... where Joseph Gordon-Levitt meets Morgan Freeman after Bane takes over Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises. Speaking of Freeman, you may recognize the building as the library where Detective Somerset does research while listening to classical music in Se7en.

New Line Cinema, New Line Cinema
Somerset, succumbing to the deadliest sin: swaggering in a public building.

We've pointed out the wooden panels before, but do you recognize those pillars, too? You should, you've probably seen them a crapload of times, like in the scene from Ghost where Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg go to a bank to try to withdraw a shit-ton of money.

Paramount Pictures
"If the manager says no, let me jump into your body and we'll try that 'clay thing' on him."

Oh, and this is also the bank where Kevin Nealon works in The Wedding Singer, which apparently makes him a co-worker of Jim Carrey's character in The Mask, Stanley Ipkiss. Note that both bank employees seem to be checking out the boobies of the person in front of them:

New Line Cinema, New Line Cinema
Sorry, Cameron, but you just can't compete with Sandler's rack.

As the Mask, Ipkiss later robs the safe in the same bank ...

New Line Cinema

... which has also been visited by Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro in Blow (this time it's supposed to be in South America) ...

New Line Cinema

... and Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2.

Columbia Pictures
"FREEZE! PUT THE FEDORA DOWN!"

And finally, lest you think the security in this bank sucks, Jennifer Garner once stopped a robbery here in an episode of Alias ...

ABC Studios
Why did everyone suddenly stop casting Jennifer Garner in action roles?

... in the same place where she later danced to "Thriller" by herself in 13 Going on 30.

Columbia Pictures
Never mind.



Aaron Short is a film student. Check out his film ramblings at his blog here.



For more things you may not have noticed about movies, check out 6 Tricks Movies Use to Make Sure You Root for the Right Guy and 5 Ways Hollywood Tricks You Into Seeing Bad Movies.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 5 Weirdly Specific Scenes You See In Every Marvel Movie.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn which Wookiee has been in every Bigfoot movie.

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Related Reading: Curious about other locations you see in every movie? Click here. If you're more interested in wasteful movie productions -- like the Apocalypse Now scene that used up 1,200 gallons of gasoline and acres of pristine jungle -- you should give this article a read. If you'd like to bust some movie myths about famous places, click here and learn about the giant tacky mall atop the Louvre. Complete your obsessive film knowledge with a look at fictional places that exist in the real world.

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