The California Bank Building from “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”Jun 3rd, 2015 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
Since we’re on the subject of Girls Just Want to Have Fun, I thought I would blog about another locale from the movie that I recently hit up – downtown L.A.’s California Bank Building, which masked as the Dance TV (aka DTV) studio in the 1985 flick. A couple of years back, Chas, from the It’sFilmedThere website, managed to track down the location via a helpful crewmember, but because nothing about the structure matched up to what was shown onscreen, I was never sold on it being the right place. So a couple of weeks ago, I set out to verify or invalidate the information. When I told Mike, from MovieShotsLA, of my query, his response was, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun? I thought we were done with that movie!” Oh, Mike, we will never be done with that movie! So I quickly got started on the hunt and, though it was quite a lengthy process, wound up discovering that the California Bank Building was, indeed, the right spot.
The California Bank Building was designed in 1960 by architect Claud Beelman, who was also responsible for The Historic Mayfair Hotel from The Office and The Standard, Downtown L.A. from Fracture. The 300,000-square-foot structure originally served as the headquarters of California Bank. Standing at 18 stories and 267 feet tall, the property was the tallest commercial building in Los Angeles at the time of its inception. This was due in large part to the fact that a 1904 law limiting the height of buildings in Los Angeles to 13 stories or 150 feet was repealed in 1956, shortly before the ground was broken on the new structure.
In its original state, the California Bank Building featured a large, box-like three-story granite base. You can see some photographs of what it looked like in its early days here and here. Sadly, in 2008 the site underwent an extensive renovation that rendered it virtually unrecognizable from its former self. The straight vertical lines that once encased the façade giving it a sleek, towering aesthetic are now broken up by balconies. The edifice of the structure, which was renamed SB Tower, was also painted white and green.
Most jarring of all, though, is the fact that windows were cut into the granite base and a large mural painted over the exterior.
Those portions of the building did not appear in Girls Just Want to Have Fun, though. In actuality, only the entrance area and lobby were shown. But those, too, were rendered unrecognizable during the renovation. In the scene pictured below, Drew Boreman (Jonathan Silverman), best friend of Jeff Malene (Lee Montgomery), is shown selling DTV memorabilia while standing outside of the property, in an alcove that formerly led to the lobby area.
As you can see in my recent photograph of the building’s entrance pictured below, that alcove has been completely removed. So when I first viewed the location via Google Street View, I was convinced it was the wrong place. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the renovation would have included such a major restructuring of the ground floor! As it turns out, I was wrong.
Thanks to Geoff, from the 90210Locations website, I learned that Google recently made it possible to view Street View renderings from years past, so I toggled back to 2007 and 2008 and, as you can see below, the alcove was once, in fact, there and does resemble what appeared onscreen. Because the imaging is so grainy, though, I was still not 100% convinced. I needed more proof.
I was able to match a few things up to this historic image of the California Bank Building, though it still was not enough for me to write off on the location. In the image, you can see that a sign was posted on the wall of the alcove in the same place that a placard was situated in the movie (denoted with a pink circle below). The image also shows that the building had some sort of corner detailing on the outside portion of the alcove, which matches what appeared in Girls Just Want to Have Fun (denoted with a pink arrow below).
Another detail that matched up to what appeared onscreen was the SB Tower’s address number. The number “600” was visible behind Drew in the movie and the SB Tower is located at 600 South Spring Street . Still though, I wanted more.
Finally, came the clue I was looking for. While re-watching the movie for the umpteenth time, I was able to make out a sign located across the street from the DTV studio that read “Mi Tierra Restaurant.”
I searched the July 1987 Pacific Bell Street Address Telephone Directory for an eatery by that name and only two listings came up. The first was for “Mi Tierra Restaurant No. Two” located at 1903 West Olympic Boulevard in Westlake. The second was for simply “Mi Tierra Restaurant” at 611 South Spring Street. 611 South Spring Street is located directly across the street from the California Bank Building! Further proof – at 613 South Spring, right next to Mi Tierra, is a listing for Golden Eagle Dry Cleaning Shop.
What was pictured next to Mi Tierra in Girls Just Want to Have Fun? Yep – a dry cleaning shop!
While I am distressed that the structure has changed so drastically and that I never got to see it in its original state, I am thrilled to now be able to say with absolute certainty that the California Bank Building was indeed DTV studio from Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Big THANK YOU to Chas, from It’sFilmedThere, for finding this location.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: SB Tower, aka the California Bank Building from Girls Just Want to Have Fun, is located at 600 South Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. You can visit the property’s official website here.