“What do you think we do here in the middle of the desert? It is about money. It's the end result of all the neon signs, all the free travel, all the champagne, the free hotel suites, all the little ladies and all the drinks - it was all set up just to get your money. That's the truth about Las Vegas. "
This is how Las Vegas is presented by Sam "Asso" Rothstein (Robert De Niro), in Martin Scorsese's masterpiece, "Casino" (1995). Indeed, the city of Nevada represents excess, the place where all vices can be satisfied. Films set in the city of sin bring to mind blackjack tables, strip-teases, slot machines, luxury hotels and billions of sparkling lights. The city that rises in the Mojave desert is famous for being the world capital of kitsch, even if, so crazy and exaggerated, as to leave you speechless.
- The Location of Downtown Las Vegas
- The Locations of the Strip
- The locations around Las Vegas
The Location of Downtown Las Vegas
“(…) And then one day he gets a great idea; to build a city in the middle of the desert, in the place where the soldiers stopped on their way to the Pacific. That boy was named Moe Green. And the city he invented is called Las Vegas. That was a great man; he had imagination and courage, and there is not even a plaque or a street or a statue that remembers him in his city of him. (...) ".
This is the fictionalized version by Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) who, in "The Godfather - Part II" (1974), sheds light on the birth of "Sin City". In historical reality, in the mid-1800s a first settlement was created near what is now considered the Downtown of Las Vegas, the gambling district before the “Strip” was created. The city center is home to a large variety of hotels, commercial skyscrapers, historic buildings, government institutions, as well as cultural centers.
Precisely among the latter the (1) Neon Museum, is dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of the most iconic relics over the years. The Museum's Visitors Center is located inside the historic hall of “La Concha Motel”. This characteristic shell-shaped building appeared in the aforementioned Scorsese film; in the motel with its curvilinear and sinuous structure, the ruthless gangster Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) secretly meets the splendid Ginger McKenna (Sharon Stone), the absolute female protagonist of the film.
In the third installment of 2013's The Hangover Trilogy, the unstoppable Mr. Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) lands with his parachute on the roof of the limo driven by the seemingly calm and thoughtful Stuart Price (Ed Helms). Stu, with the windshield obscured by the parachute canvas, turns in front of the (2) California Hotel & Casino, on the intersection of East Ogden Ave and North Main Street, to finish the race against a fire hydrant between the old man (3) Las Vegas Club Hotel & Casino (demolished between 2017 and 2018) and the majestic entrance to the (6) Fremont Street Experience, a famous covered pedestrian street.
On the other side of the road, poor Mr. Chow, after the impact, finds himself lying on his back on the ground on the edge of the forecourt. (4) Plaza Hotel & Casino. This structure features an entrance with a glittering canopy that also appears in Terry Gilliam's psychedelic film, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998).
The protagonists of the film, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro), great consumers of psychotropic substances, greet their arrival in Las Vegas by parking their convertible right in front of the glorious hotel and casino. To make the entrance to the Plaza even more opulent is the restaurant (5) Oscar’s Steakhouse, whose insides appear during the brief remedial dinner between Sam "Ace" Rothstein and Ginger McKenna in "Casino" (1995).
The upper part of the gallery, which appears like a mushroom on the square along South Main Street, is completely built in transparent glass, and, sitting at the same table where the two actors were seated in the scene of the film, you can enjoy a privileged view of the great arch of Fremont Street. Of this iconic restaurant, which mainly serves succulent dishes for true meat connoisseurs, a trade magazine writes: “The approach to food and service at this gorgeous restaurant is the same as Oscar's approach to life: eat, drink and have fun! ".
A small taste of the interior of the famous Fremont Street can be seen in the sequence of the comedy "Last Vegas" (2013), in which, the retired and widower Paddy Colson (Robert De Niro), talks with his friend Diana Boyle ( Mary Steenburgen), met the night before with her fellow sufferers at the (7) Binion’s Hotel Casino.
The four friends, Billy Garson (Michael Douglas), Archie Clayton (Morgan Freeman), Sam Harris (Kevin Kline), as well as Paddy himself, are catapulted into memories of the good times in the historic Downtown facility as soon as they land in Las Vegas. While they are disappointed to see how the place has changed after numerous restylings, they are fascinated by the performance of the singer ("No more first hair") Diana Boyle, who, after the performance, is entertained with the patrons for a drink.
All sorts of experiences can happen in Las Vegas; however, unique and mythical, is the one told in the plot of the first and incomparable "The Hangover" (2009), in which hilarious gags follow one another always in balance between outrageous shamelessness and ingenious irreverence. On board the vintage Mercedes convertible, right outside the (8) Atomic Liquors, bar at 917 East Fremont Street, the three desperate protagonists, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), are hit by Mr Chow's large SUV. Following the impact, the disastrous fall of the neon sign depicting a female silhouette of the famous club, also causes the destruction of the roof of the car. Atomic Liquors prides itself on being the first bar to be licensed for the legal sale of spirits in the city and continues to serve sophisticated craft beer to this day.
Las Vegas is also famous for flash weddings. The most famous location is certainly the (9) Graceland Wedding Chapel, appeared in a sequence of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (1998). In this chapel, which has been in business for many years, it could be “Elvis Presley” in flesh and blood to celebrate, from the pompous altar, the lay function for couples who do not always present themselves in a state of full lucidity.
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The Locations of the Strip
Today, the heart of Las Vegas is Las Vegas Boulevard, a huge boulevard glittering with neon lights, better known as “The Strip”. The southernmost part of this six-kilometer-long street is crowded with new themed resorts, most of which contain hotel rooms, casinos, swimming pools, theaters, cinemas, restaurants and shops. of all sorts. At night, strolling along this fantastic world, characterized by structures with a truly creative design, you happen to see monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty or the bell tower of San Marco at the same time. Obviously, any film set in the entertainment capital of the world has some of these splendid ensembles as a backdrop.
Before going along the Strip, at number 3000 of Paradise Road, stands the (10) Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, ex-Hilton Hotel, theater of the world arm wrestling competition in “Over The Top”. In the cult movie of 1987, the protagonist Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone), tries to get the big cash prize by winning the title of champion before the eyes of his son Michael "Mike" Hawk (David Mendenhall), painstakingly regained after winning mistrust and previous grudge.
It's a real shame that we can no longer enter the most film-friendly casino in all of Las Vegas: the (11) Riviera Hotel & Casino, historic hotel on the strip sadly demolished in 2016. Especially inside the halls of this casino an impressive sequence of films have been shot, such as, for example: "Casino", "Rain Man", "The Hangover", " Ocaean's Eleven ”,“ Austin Powers - The Counterintelligence ”,“ 21 ”,“ Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ”and“ Jason Bourne “.
In relation to the latter film, the producers jumped at the opportunity to facilitate the already planned dismantling of the hotel structure with a spectacular sequence of car chases through the streets of the city, culminating with the demolition of the slot machines. placed in the belly of the casino and destroyed forever by a police armored car.
At street number 2985, the lounge bar (12) Peppermill Las Vegas, not only appears in the movie "Casino", in which one of the first romantic dinners between Ace and Ginger is set, but also appears on TV in the series "CSI: Las Vegas" and "The Holly Madison Show", as well as in recent music videos of the songs “Feeling it Coming Back” by Carlos Santana and “Another Lonely Night” by Adam Lambert. Peppermill, a place with a fascinating atmosphere where sophisticated drinks and exquisite desserts are prepared, is a must-see on the Las Vegas Strip.
In a performance that earned him the Oscar for Best Actor, Nicholas Cage, as Ben Sanderson, plays the role of a problematic and alcoholic man who traveled to Las Vegas determined to drink to death. In "Away from Las Vegas" (1995), the gloomy and seedy side of the city was brilliantly exposed by director Mike Figgis, who claimed that the lack of budget helped to increase the authenticity in the film itself: without money or permits, closing the Strip was not an option, so the night scenes on the streets of the city are shown in all their reality.
In the many outdoor sequences, hotels such as: the (13) Circus Circus, with the gigantic and joyful "Clown Lucky" inviting passersby to enter to enjoy circus acts and amusement park attractions in the mezzanine above the casino (the interior of the casino appears in a scene from the film "Fear and delirium in Las Vegas "); the (14) Flamingo whose facade is characterized by the unmistakable neon pink and orange feather, which, given its long stay, has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the street; L'(23) Excalibur, with the characteristic and unmistakable medieval English style turrets.
Il (15) Caesar Palace, built in 1966, as well as being one of the best known hotels in the city, is a central location in the "Hangover" saga. In fact, the interior of the Caesar appears in multiple sequences of the play by director Todd Phillips: the hotel lobby, adorned with numerous mosaics on the walls and copies of Roman statues scattered here and there, is shown with great care during check-in of the protagonists; the hotel's swimming pool, where Phil, Stu and Alan try to recover the morning after the hangover, recalls the ancient baths built by the Romans; the roof, whose access is unfortunately strictly forbidden, is the place where everything begins and everything ends ... even if: "What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas ... (... apart from herpes: that comes back with you !) ".
The forecourt appears both in the opening scenes, when the “pack” arrives in Las Vegas, and in the final scenes, when Dr. Stu takes leave of his new wife Jade (Heather Graham). Still in the same spot, the brilliant protagonist of "Rain Man - The Rain Man" (1988), Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman), finally manages to "drive slowly down the driveway" the 1949 Buick Roadmaster, a jewel of family inherited from brother Charlie (Tom Cruise).
Faced with all this opulence, many have attempted, both in reality and in fiction, to rob one of the many casinos crammed with cash. In the remake "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould) tries to dissuade Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), with the following warning:
“Has anyone ever tried? They tried it! Someone even came close. Want to know the three most successful robberies in Las Vegas history? Third place, bronze medal: Mezzocollo grabs a hand chest at the Horseshoe, gets closer to the door than anyone else before him; second place - among the most successful robberies: at the Flamingo in '73. This one even got a breath of fresh air before they got it. After that he breathed with the artificial lung for three weeks; grupie of shit! And in absolute first place the one who came closest to robbing a Las Vegas casino was one who tried it in '87: he came - got - they won. ".
However, the ingenious and inimitable plan devised by the gang to rob the quarry of the (16) Bellagio, cannot be repealed. Built in 1998, this luxurious hotel has a lobby decorated with glass flowers created by the artist Dale Chihuly and an area in front of the entrance occupied largely by an immense body of water that recalls the delightful Italian town of the same name, placidly overlooking on Lake Como. So much is the space available that the perimeter walk along the banks takes the name of Riverwalk. This is a privileged point that allows, just as Ocean's eleven accomplices do after completing the shot, to closely observe the spectacle of the jets of water that move and explode to the rhythm of the music, forming spectacular choreographies.
Mr Chow, in "The Hangover - part 3" (2013), as already mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, before landing on the roof of Stu's Limousine, enjoys Las Vegas from the top of his parachute, out of tune with the famous verse "I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky". In the long sequence, the mad criminal flies over both the Bellagio fountains and the reproduction of the Eiffel Tower, symbol of the (17) Paris Las Vegas, historic hotel & casino on the Strip.
As mentioned, the large resorts are cities within cities, and also offer high-level musical and theatrical performances hosting the performances of the best national and international artists. The great theater (18) Jubilee!, dell’hotel Bally’s, appeared in the film “Casino”: on this stage, the protagonist leads his television talk show, while also entertaining the audience during the filming.
The film “21” (2008) tells the story of some mathematicians from the prestigious Harward University who, working in groups and practicing card counting, break the blackjack tables every weekend with the lucky motto: “Twenty-one victory; great revelry. ".
The group of colleagues, led by Professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey), usually operate at the (19) Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, a hotel chain also present in other parts of the world. In fact, there are many sequences shot inside the casino where all the most distinctive elements of the gaming room appear.
Among the many other resorts that have appeared as film locations: the(20) ARIA Resort & Casino, in which the elderly friends of “Last Vegas” (2013) stay on their trip to the city of sin; L'(21) MGM Grand Las Vegas, whose arena appears in "Oceans' Eleven" (2001) for a boxing match; the (22) Tropicana Resort & Casino, whose entry is glimpsed in "The Godfather" (1972) just before Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) presents "an offer you can't refuse" to Moe Green to take over his casino; the (24) Luxor Hotel whose pyramid appears behind “Showgirl” (1995) protagonist Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) as she sits on a bench.
Last point to report in the Strip area, the (25) Parking Lot which is located at 93 Eeast Mandalay Bay Road, in which, Mr. Chow, also in the hilarious "The Hangover" (2009), jumps out completely naked from the trunk of the car and surprises the three friends by hitting them repeatedly with a bar metallic. Before running away to the direction of the city, the still unknown Asian, brutalized and mocked the previous night.
Our guide to the best hotels on the Strip
The locations around Las Vegas
There are many places of interest surrounding the most popular city in the state of Nevada. “Somewhere outside Las Vegas”, for example, is the writing that appears superimposed in the opening image of the demented comedy “Austin Powers - The Counterintelligence” (1997). The scenographic glimpse that can be observed is that of (26) Valley of Fire. Here, in a secret underground lair, Dr. Male (Mike Mayers), eternal enemy of the homonymous protagonist of the film, executes some of the most lethal killers on the planet, guilty of not having been able to put an end to the life of the electric and lively British spy.
This state park, of great geological interest, is characterized by sandstone rock formations which, when burned by the sun, show themselves in all their intense and bright shades of red. The Valley of Fire, can be easily reached from Las Vegas in less than an hour, and, given its strategic position, it can also be an intermediate stop when traveling to or from Zion National Park.
Another natural spectacle of desert and rocks is the (27) Red Rock Canyon, which appears in some sequences of the cult movie "Fear and delirium in Las Vegas" (1998). This national wonder, located just outside Sin City's west gates, can also be reached in about half an hour.
Most visitors choose to delve into its red rock canyons via the convenient Scenic Drive, which stops at most of the main points of interest. At the foot of the National Park stands the brand new hotel (28) Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa, really impressive for the modern style, the exceptional view of the mountains and the immense swimming pool. In the film “21” (2008), in moments of well-deserved leisure and relaxation, the children enjoy the Sandbar Pool, with its comfortable loungers, personalized service and the presence of a well-stocked bar.
In the legendary coming-of-age film "Into the Wild" (2007), written and directed by Sean Penn, Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) satisfies his desperate need for freedom by going down the street: "And the road has always led west." In the early stages of the journey, his car is hit by a sudden flood near the (29) Lake Mead. He abandons the car and camps on the lake shore.
In that place, Chris not only leaves his car, but also changes his real name to Alexander Supertramp. The largest artificial basin in the United States is formed thanks to the work of the (30) Diga in Hoover, built along the Colorado River. This incredible concrete engineering work is primarily a colossal hydroelectric power plant vital to the glittering and electric Las Vegas. In his trusty kayak, Chris also passes the dam crest, before finishing his run in the wilds of Alaska.
Sam "Asso" Rothstein (Robert De Niro) and his boss friend Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci), due to the constant excesses of the latter, are forced to meet in secret at (31) Idle Spurs Tavern, a dark and gloomy place lost in the desert south of Las Vegas. The dive-bar is located exactly at 1650 Quartz Avenue in the remote town of Sandy Valley. Here simple burgers and fries are served 24 hours a day, but the location is really worth a visit because it is undoubtedly: "The best place to rest your spurs!" (the best place to rest your spurs).
Traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to celebrate Doug's (Justin Bartha) bachelor party, the four from The Hangover (2009) take a break at the (32) Chevron gas station, at 1 Goodsprings Road in the town of Jean. Here, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), insults an elderly passing gentleman for free, who wanted nothing more than to admire the boys' vintage car.
“There are a lot of holes in the desert, and there are a lot of problems buried in those holes. You just have to do it right. In short, you must have already dug the hole before presenting yourself with a package in the luggage compartment, otherwise we talk about digging for half an hour, forty-five minutes, and who knows who can show up in the meantime. In no time at all, you have to dig more holes and, shit, you can stay there all night! ”.
So Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) explains how to solve problems in "Casino" (1995). And that's how, when Nicky himself invites Ace to meet him alone at the (33) Jean Dry Lake Beds, the latter does not feel completely at ease ... The famous dried lake is often used to shoot the classic scenes in which, in the desert just outside Las Vegas, murders, exchanges and encounters are combined.
Our tips on where to sleep in Las Vegas