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Movie-star houses

casa-malaparte At Been-Seen we're fascinated by architectural houses and movies, so, just out of curiosity, we wondered how many amazing homes we could find in films. Architectural masterpieces that really exist, places we might even be able to travel to. le-mepris-casa-malaparte-3 Let's start with the ultimate movie house, Casa Malaparte, which stars in Jean-Luc Goddard's Le Mépris (1963). A striking red rectangular block perched on Punta Massullo on the Isle of Capri in Italy, it was conceived by architect Adalberto Libera for Italian writer Curzio Malaparte, then actually built by Malaparte and a local stone mason Adolfo Amitrano. le-mepris Famous for its eccentric design, it is loved and loathed in equal part by students of architecture. Today, it opens occasionally for cultural events, but sadly is mostly only visible from afar. les-mysteres-movie Another great classic movie house can be spotted  in avant-garde American artist Man Ray's short film, Les Mystères du Château du Dé (1929, click here to watch a clip). villa-noailles It's the Villa Noailles (above and below) in Hyères, southwest France, an early modernist home created in 1925 by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens for art patrons Arthur Anne Marie Charles Vicomte de Noailles and his wife Marie-Laure Bischoffsheim. villa-noailles-4 Today, it's an arts center. Click here for a short video of how it looks. villa-noailles-5 villa-noailles_0 Fast forward to the Seventies, and we find one of the most unsual houses ever built, in one of the oddest movies ever made. The Sculptured House (below) was created by architect Charles Deaton on Genesee Mountain, Colorado, in 1963. 'People aren't angular,' he said. 'So why should they live in rectangles?' It featured in Woody Allen's 1973 orgasmatronic comedy Sleeper. It was recently given a makeover and sold for $5.5 million. sculptured-house In 1971 Bond flick, Diamonds are Forever, architect John Lautner's striking Elrod House (below) in Palm Springs doubled as a villain's lair, and has set the tone for movie villain accommodation ever since. elrod-house-2 The house, with its domed roof and curved concrete walls, was built in 1968 for interior designer Arthur Elrod, and is still privately owned. diamonds-are-forever-elrod-house diamonds-are-forever-elrod-house-4 Another famous artchitect to have his work featured in a classic movie is, unsurprisingly, Frank Lloyd Wright. The movie (among many others) is 1982's Blade Runner, and the property is the Ennis House (below), an extraordinary 6,000 square foot textile block house in LA's Los Feliz neighborhood, built for Mabel and Charles Ennis in 1924. ennis-house-5 The house is an architectural landmark, inspired by the ruins of Uxmal in Mexico, and has been restored extensively. But due to rising costs, the non-profit that manages it has been forced to put the house on the market for sale. For $15 million. And that doesn't include the $5 million+ estimated costs of restoring it. ennis-house-3_0 Three years later, the Gamble House (below) in Pasadena, California, appeared in a wildly different form of sci-fi as Doc's house in Back to the Future (1985). Built in 1908 as a retirement for David and Mary Gamble, it was designed by the legendary Charles and Henry Greene, leaders in the Arts and Crafts movement. It's open to the public, but photography of the inside is not permitted. As a result, interiors for the movie were shot at the nearby Robert Roe Blacker House, another Greene and Greene creation. gamble-house-3 On the other side of the country, the Ben Rose house (below) in Highland Park, Illinois, played a starring role in Ferris Bueller's Day Off in 1986. ferris-bueller-cameron-frye-house It's a goofy film, but there's nothing goofy about this stunning modern design in steel and glass that's cantilevered over a wooded ravine. Designed by A James Speyer and David Haid, it was recently offered for sale at $1,650,000. ferris-bueller-ben-rose-2 If you've seen Curtis Hanson's LA Confidential (1997), you'll have noticed the dramatic white house that Russell Crowe visits to interrogate an upmarket pimp. In real life it's the Lovell Health House (below) in Los Feliz, and was built by Richard Neutra in 1929 for physician and naturopath Philip Lovell. la-confidential-lovell-health-house In 2000, kitschy Charlie's Angels featured a replica of the John Lautner Chemosphere house in LA (below) – as, surprise, surprise, a villain's lair. It's easy to see why. charlies-angels-chemosphere However, three years later, when its sequel (Charlie's Angels II: Full Throttle) came out, a real Lautner home made an appearance. charlies-angels-sheats-goldstein-house-new The Sheats/Goldstein house (above and below) in Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills, was completed in 1963, and has also appeared in The Big Lebowski. charlies-angels-sheats-goldstein-house-2 Twilight fans will be very familiar with the Cullen house (below), home to a family of impossibly stylish, white-faced vampires. It's in Vancouver, is really called the Hoke House, and was recently listed for sale at just under $3 million. twilight-house Interestingly, the trees in the picture above were added in post-production, and the real house, designed by Jeff Kovel of Skylab Architecture, looks more like this (below). twilight-house-2 Even more interestingly, the house wasn't used in the sequel, New Moon, and a similar property, designed by Arthur Erickson, was found (below). It was also listed for sale recently at just over $3 million. new-moon-cullen-house-5-512x340 Another recent movie that didn't make quite as huge an impact on popular culture, but did feature a great house is Atom Egoyan's Chloe (2009). It is set all over the Ravine House in Toronto (below), designed by architect Drew Mandel. In the movie you'll see inside and outside, though some exterior shots actually used one of the neighbor's houses instead. chloe-house Then there are those properties which just keep on popping up in movies. Take the impossibly beautiful Villa del Balbianello (below). This 18th-century Italian villa on the southwest coast of Lake Como has appeared in at least two blockbusters: Bond flick Casino Royale (looking like itself) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (CGI-ed, of course). casino-royale-villa-del-balbianello-2 The great news is it belongs to the National Trust of Italy and is therefore open to the public, so you can grab your lightsaber (or an Aston Martin) and go visit. RM

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  • […] for its eccentric design, Casa Malaparte is loved and loathed in equal part by students of architecture. Today, it opens occasionally for […]

  • Staying a night in a house like this is all about feeling the fascination of luxurious lifestyle.. Thanks for this article.. seeing a picture even takes me on a ride to a dreamy paradise.

  • Devkant Sangwan

    May 20, 2013

    OMG ! so beautiful place. What a amazing location and with a great architecture. I wish to visit this place. 

    Thanks for sharing so good place like paradise on earth.

    Excellent article. Great photograhy.

  • Peter Wlodylo

    October 19, 2012

    Does anyone know of any old movie star mansions built by architect William Rideout Senior? (in California)

  • Dublo

    June 1, 2011

    A very interesting article! I’ve just written an article on great movie houses and I was impressed to see that we had chosen so many similar examples.

    I’ve written a few articles on architecture in movies, including the fictional Iron Man residence and the Elrod House for Diamonds Are Forever. I’ve also done one on John Lautner’s architecture in movies.

    It’s funny, I didn’t think to include Villa Balbianello, despite having visited there myself. Worth the trip if you haven’t been.

    Anyway, thanks for a great read.


  • Marsha

    November 4, 2010

    Great investigation. Any idea where the tv show Shark was filmed ?

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