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Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Miracle Mile (Steve de Jarnatt, 1988)

Again and again, the movies have visited the apocalypse on Los Angeles. Miracle Mile did it at the end of the Cold War, with both a city and an apocalypse perfectly suited to the zeitgeist of the era: mutually assured nuclear destruction. But despite the global stakes, the story stays local, focusing on not just one particular couple in this particular city, but in one particular stretch of Wilshire Boulevard: the titular Miracle Mile, home of such Los Angeles landmarks as the Pan Pacific Auditorium, Johnie’s Coffee Shop Restaurant, Park La Brea, and the Mutual Benefit Life building — all of which play important roles in this totally non-transplantable story of the end of the world.

The video essays of “Los Angeles, the City in Cinema” examine the variety of Los Angeleses revealed in the films set there, both those new and old, mainstream and obscure, respectable and schlocky, appealing and unappealing — just like the city itself.