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Danny’s Apartment from “A Few Good Men”

May 31st, 2017 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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It is rare when a movie comes along and changes the course of your life.  For me, one such movie was A Few Good Men.  I walked out of the theatre after first seeing it in 1992 proclaiming that I was going to become a lawyer.  I was 15 at the time – a sophomore in high school.  I spent the next few years convinced that law was my calling, regularly and passionately professing my love of the film and its climatic “I want the truth!” moment to anyone who would listen.  One day, a neighbor who happened to be on the listening end of my diatribe said something very profound to me.  He said, “You don’t want to be a lawyer.  You want to be a lawyer in a movie.”  It was a valid assessment (I guess I did want the truth!) – one that got me thinking about acting.  It wasn’t long before I tried out for – and landed a role in – my first play.  My love of acting led to my move to L.A. shortly thereafter, which in turn led to the start of this blog.  And the rest is history.  Needless to say, A Few Good Men has always had a very special place in my heart.  So when I learned that we were heading to Washington, D.C. last September, I informed the Grim Cheaper that I wasn’t leaving town without stalking Lt. Daniel Kaffee’s (Tom Cruise) apartment from the film.

Daniel’s brownstone pops up regularly throughout A Few Good Men.

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While blue at the time of the filming, the exterior of his Georgetown-area walk-up has since been painted yellow.  Aside from the coloring, though, the place looks much the same today as it did when A Few Good Men was filmed 25 years ago.

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According to Zillow, the property, which was originally built in 1900, houses condos in real life.

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Because so many scenes took place there, I am 99.9% certain that the inside of Danny’s apartment was a set built on a soundstage at The Culver Studios in Culver City (where many of the movie’s interior scenes were lensed) and that the building’s actual interior was not used.

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Cementing my belief is this November 1992 Los Angeles Times article which states that A Few Good Men “was shot almost entirely on a sound stage at Culver Studios in Culver City, with the exception of two weeks of location shooting exteriors in Washington.”  Now we know that many scenes were, in fact, lensed on location in the L.A. area, so the article’s information isn’t exactly ironclad.  (The column also asserts that because the Defense Department did not sanction AFGM, no filming was allowed to take place on any military bases – another falsehood.  The flick utilized several military sites, including the US Coast Guard base in San Pedro, the Naval Air Station Point Mugu – which a later LA Times article does acknowledge – and Fort MacArthur.)  Regardless of the erroneous reporting, I do believe that most of the movie’s interiors, including Danny’s apartment and his fridge full of Yoo-hoo, were sets.  There’s just no way Tom Cruise was hanging out inside of someone’s actual apartment for the amount of time it would have taken to shoot the many segments.  Nor would a studio utilize a real life interior – with no insulation to block out exterior noise and no control of the outside world – to such an extent.

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What is interesting, though, and what had me doubting my hunch for a bit is the fact that countless scenes were shot from the outside of Danny’s apartment window looking in.

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As unbelievable as it may seem (and it seems pretty unbelievable to me), I think that the production team built an exact replica of the building’s façade, as well as replicas of the neighboring façades, on a soundstage to shoot the window scenes.

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While I initially thought that the segments were likely created using special effects, with footage of the actors superimposed behind actual shots of the building’s window, in scrutinizing the scenes further, I noticed that a line was visible in the brickwork running along both sides of the window fame that appeared the movie.   As you can see in the photo below, that line is not there in real life, which led to my conclusion about the façades.

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It is really too bad that the interior of Danny’s pad was not real.  His place was so warm and inviting, though I have to admit I am a sucker for a fireplace and any sort of built-in bookcase.

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On an A Few Good Men side-note – while researching this post, I was shocked to discover that the movie was based on a true story!  In 1986, ten Marines stationed in Guantanamo Bay performed a code red on Pfc. William Alvarado, a fellow soldier who had been writing letters to his senator about the illegal discharge of another platoon member’s weapon.  (Sounds familiar, right?)  Though Alvarado did not die during the code red, his face turned blue and he passed out.  The ten men informed the higher-ups and Alvarado was taken to Miami for treatment and survived.  While seven of the Marines wound up being dishonorably discharged for the act, three decided to fight the charges in court.  One of the lawyers assigned to the case was a man named Don Marcari, who defended Lance Corporal David Cox.  It was Marcari’s very first trial.  (Again, sound familiar?  “So this is what a courtroom looks like!”)  Another lawyer who worked on the case was A Few Good Men screenwriter’s Aaron Sorkin’s sister.  She told Aaron about the proceedings via telephone one day.  Sorkin was working as a bartender at the Palace Theatre in New York at the time and, inspired by what his sister told him, began writing a script based on the story on cocktail napkins during his downtime.  That script went on to become a hit play and then a hit movie.  But the tale doesn’t end there.  Five of the marines involved in the real life case wound up suing Castle Rock Entertainment in 1994.  And David Cox, who was planning to join the lawsuit, was murdered under extremely mysterious circumstances that same year.  His killing has never been solved.  You can read more about the story and Cox’s death here, here, here, and here.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Lt. Daniel Kaffee’s apartment from A Few Good Men is located at 3017 Dent Place Northwest in Georgetown.

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