I really like watching movies that were filmed in cities that I know, like Phoenix. Yes, I'm a background watcher. And just when I thought I'd seen them all, I got an email a week ago from a B-movie fan who had discovered a real gem, called Squad Car, released in 1960, and filmed in Phoenix, Paradise Valley, and Scottsdale.
I can't speak for the acting, or the drama, as I fast-forwarded over as much of that as I could. And like all movies with great backgrounds, it was low budget. If you're a background watcher, you like low-budget movies. Nothing shot on backlots! No budget to build a fake building, that sort of thing.
|Navarre's Restaurant in 1960, Uptown Plaza, Phoenix, Arizona|
I've watched Squad Car now a few times, and I'm still working on id'ing some of the locations. What's easy to identify is the swanky night club where the gorgeous blonde works, which is Navarre's Restaurant exterior, and what looks to me like a studio interior. Navarre's, by the way, was at Uptown Plaza, which is at Camelback and Central Avenue in Phoenix. It faces Camelback, way on the southeast side of the shopping center, and as of this writing (May 2015) there is construction there, and you can see the "ghost signs".
|Ghost sign at Navarre's in March of 2015. Yeah, that's me. I just love this kind'a stuff!|
There are also some good shots of Paradise Valley, where Desert Shadows Resort used to be, north of Camelback Mountain. When this movie was shot, in the late 1950s, the area was so empty that it gave a nice, kind'a spooky, desolated look to some scenes in the movie. There are scenes of the exterior, and interior, of Mountain Shadows, you just have to look behind the actors who are talking about the story, whatever it was. I'm just watching the backgrounds, you know.
|The pool at Mountain Shadows in 1960. Camelback Mountain is in the background|
Towards the end of the movie, there are a lot of scenes of wide-open desert, presumably north of Mountain Shadows, that is, Paradise Valley. I pride myself on recognizing areas of Phoenix just by looking at the mountains, but at this point, I'm still puzzled.
So there you go, Squad Car 1960. I don't know if this blog post qualifies as a review or not, and it's probably not what the director had in mind for someone to talk about, but it's worth a look, and the nice people at 20th Century Fox have released it on DVD, and the print is excellent. No, they're not paying me to say this, and I don't care. But if you take a look at the end of the movie, you know, where the little plane is flying around, and you recognize the area, will you let me know?
Image at the top of this post: Looking south at Camelback Mountain from Paradise Valley in the 1950s.
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