Movies are a great way to stimulate architectural thinking, especially in summer when relaxation is on the agenda. Call me a little narrow (nothing new there!) but I love films with good residential architecture. High on my list is the modern Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired stone-and-steel aerie above Mt. Rushmore in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
According to a very fine article by Sandy McLendon on Jetsetmodern.com (which is the source of this image) it was a stage set. But you just can’t beat the stone base, the window wall, and that crazy cantilever. It’s Luxuriant Modernism — With An Edge!
I’m also a fan of the more traditional shingled beach house on Long Island in Something’s Gotta Give where the huge white kitchen seduces the eye with its array of storage cabinets and expansive island; and the over-the-top Tuscan mansion in Holiday (built in 1929 by well known San Marino, California architect Wallace Neff for his own family) where the master bedroom mimics the presidential suite in a five star hotel. Seeing such films again — while paying closer attention to design details this time — is an enjoyable way to research what you want in a home.
In fact, I have a friend who assigned film homework to his architect. He wanted his new rural getaway to resemble a classic hip-roofed, veranda-wrapped Australian farmhouse, like the one in the 1982 horse film The Man From Snowy River, seen here courtesy Hamlett.blogspot.com.
It’s a classic ranch house form: the simple strong shape of the hip roof and generous veranda create a memorable image of life on the range. Here’s a variation from Houseplans (Plan 81-101) that combines the hip and the gable. You can find many other variations by browsing through our Ranch House Style Collection.
This sort of house suits a rural setting and conjures images of horses tied up to the posts while their riders relax on the porch. A seductive summer idyll, and something to ponder as you dig into the popcorn.
GREAT HOUSES IN THE MOVIES LIST — Your suggestions welcome (a great place to start looking is the website www.movie-locations.com.)
–Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan-inspired Ennis house in LA in Blade Runner; the Neo Classical brick Filoli mansion in Woodside, California (by San Francisco architect Willis Polk) in Heaven Can Wait, with Warren Beatty; the round-towered Victorian in Mrs. Doubtfire; the Roman pool temple at Hearst Castle as the villa in Spartacus; the Gamble House by Greene and Greene in Pasadena (the ultimate Craftsman bungalow and open to the public for tours by appointment) as Doc Brown’s house in Back to the Future…