“Get out of Long Beach tonight,” a guy snarls to rival car thief Nicolas Cage in “Gone in 60 Seconds” (2000).
Watching the film the other day, I was reminded that you don’t often hear “Long Beach” uttered in movies or TV.
In terms of evoking civic pride, “Get out of Long Beach tonight” doesn’t measure up to “We’ll always have Paris,” but I suppose it’s better than being ignored. Maybe.
Another movie with a less-than-nostalgic LB theme is “Crazy Mama” (1975). As con-woman Ann Sothern uproots her gang and heads out of Southern California, she growls, “We wuz cooped up in Long Beach too long.”
• Long Beach’s remoteness from its big neighbor to the north also has a been a comic theme. In “Double Indemnity” (1944) homemaker Barbara Stanwyck expresses fear that she and her lover might be caught by her oil worker husband in her Los Feliz mansion. The lover, Fred MacMurray, comforts her: “He’s in Long Beach, isn’t he? Relax.”
• In a skit on “Saturday Night Live,” a West L.A. man is told he must see a doctor in Marina del Rey. Complains the patient: “It’s almost Long Beach, man.”
• Even when L.A. gets some bad publicity, as in an attack of giant killer ants in “Them!” (1954), the producers can’t resist a reference to Long Beach. “All trains as far south as Long Beach are covered by either a bazooka team or flame throwers,” a military official in the film announces.
• In “The Muse” (1999), with giant killer ants no longer being a danger, Sharon Stone actually wants to head down the 405 to here. She tells Albert Brooks, an Angeleno with writer’s block, that the city’s aquarium will inspire him. “Let’s go to Long Beach!” she enthuses.
•A more neutral view of the charms of this city is expressed by femme fatale Veronica Lake when she picks up hitchhiker Alan Ladd in Hollywood in “The Blue Dahlia” (1946). She’s driving to Malibu, she explains, because when she can’t make up her mind where to go, she flips a coin: “Heads I go to Malibu, tails I go to Laguna.”
Ladd: “And what if the coin rolls under the davenport?”
Lake: “I go to Long Beach.”
• On the subject of heading out of Long Beach, if you intend to visit Honolulu this summer, you should keep an eye on the sky (see photo). I’m surprised no one has ever made a movie titled, “Attack of the Killer Coconuts.” I don't think it would be set in Long Beach.
Steve Harvey can be reached at email@example.com, even when he gets out of town. His Twitter handle is @steveharvey9.