The Pasadena Main Branch of Bank of the West from “Falcon Crest”Nov 13th, 2015 | By Lindsay | Category: TV Locations
For years now, I have been trying to track down the bank where Terry Dolittle (Whoopi Goldberg) worked in the 1986 comedy Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It is one of those locations that always sits fixed at the back of my mind, images of it constantly floating around in my head. So when I came across photographs of the Pasadena Main Branch of Bank of the West, which bears a striking resemble to the bank where Terry worked, on a Noirish Los Angeles forum, my heart caught in my throat! I was on vacation at the time and, unfortunately, did not have my Jumpin’ Jack Flash DVD on hand to make comparisons, but was fairly certain I had found the right spot. My parade was rained on as soon as I got home, though, when I popped in my DVD and fairly quickly realized the two banks were not one and the same. I decided to stalk Bank of the West anyway in the hopes that researching it might help me to eventually locate the Jumpin’ Jack Flash bank. So far, my quest has not been fruitful. Hence this post. I am now putting it out there to my fellow stalkers. If any of you happen to recognize the place or want to get in on the hunt, please let me know!
In the Noirish Los Angeles thread, a commenter named T.J.P. had asked for help in identifying a bank that had appeared in the Season 6 episode of Falcon Crest titled “Perilous Charm” (screen captures from the episode, in which the property masked as San Francisco Merchant Bank, are pictured below). Forum member Tovangar2 quickly recognized the place as the former First Trust Bank Building, now Bank of the West, located at 587 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. Another commenter named HossC then posted a link to photos of the interior of the building and it was those photos that had me so intrigued.
In Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Terry works at First National Bank in Manhattan. Now, I should start off by saying that I am unsure if the bank used in the movie is in New York or Los Angeles, being that filming took place in both cities. I am leaning towards L.A., though – at least for the interior scenes. I am also leaning towards the idea that two different locations might have been utilized as Terry’s bank – one for exteriors and another for interiors. But that is just a guess. Sadly, with this one, I am just not sure about anything.
While I am fairly certain that the bullpen where Terry worked was a set (as evidenced by the fact that it got shot up at the end of the movie) . . .
. . . I believe that the interior of First National Bank is a real location.
The photo of Bank of the West that HossC posted that originally caught my eye was of a large stone staircase, one that I thought was a match to the staircase shown in Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Upon closer inspection, though, I realized the two had some differences. I am not used to seeing staircases in banks, so the one featured in JJF always stuck out to me. What I wouldn’t give to see it in person! If it, or the interior of the bank looks familiar to anyone, please let me know!
In the meantime, the Pasadena Main Branch of Bank of the West is a pretty spectacular property in and of itself. The eight-story Italian Renaissance-style building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed in 1927 by architects Cyril Bennett and Fitch Haskell.
While the cast stone and stucco exterior makes for a stately and imposing site, it belies nothing of the bank’s stunning interior. The inside of the building is marked by tall walnut wood paneling, travertine walls, and towering stone columns. The gorgeous gilt coffered ceiling was painted by John Smeraldi, the same artist who painted much of the interior of the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The Sicilian-born painter, who is likewise known for his work at the Vatican and The White House, is so synonymous with the Biltmore, in fact, that the property named its signature restaurant “Smeraldi’s” in his honor. Bank of the West also boasts four murals created by American Impressionist painter Alson S. Clark. Because the property is a working bank, I felt a little odd about taking photographs of the interior, but if you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping by for a peek. It is absolutely gorgeous!
Besides being featured in Falcon Crest, Bank of the West also appeared in the pilot episode of Undercovers as the bank where Samantha (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Steven Bloom (Boris Kodjoe) attempted to steal security footage. I apologize for the subpar screen captures pictured below – I could not find a copy of the episode anywhere and had to take snaps from a preview of it on YouTube.
The super-nice teller that I spoke with while I was stalking the place informed me that a movie starring John Travolta was also lensed on the premises about twenty years ago, but she was unsure of the name of the film or what it was about.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: The Pasadena Main Branch of Bank of the West, from the “Law and Ardor” episode of Falcon Crest, is located at 587 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.