Lester Tobias

Lester Tobias is a longtime Malibu resident and architect.

If you like mid-century modern homes and movies, then this short film by James Munn is for you. The 11-minute film includes clips of movies featuring famous modern homes by prominent architects, as well as fictional creations.

Modern homes by legendary architects such as Frank Lloyd WrightJohn Lautner, and Richard Neutra were used in many films from the 1930s to present day. And striking “fake” homes created by well known art directors and production designers are seen in films such as “The Lake House” and “The Fountainhead.” 

MID-CENTURY MODERN HOUSES from James Munn on Vimeo.

Wright’s huge textile-block Ennis House was used in many Hollywood films such as the 1933 movie “Female,” and the 1959 Vincent Price “House on Haunted Hill,”  as well as  John Schlesinger‘s ”The Day of the Locust” (1975). Lautner’s Sheets-Goldstein Residence in Los Angeles shows up in “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” and his modernist octagon-shaped house, Chemosphere, was featured in director Brian De Palma’s ”Body Double” (1984). Neutra’s elegant, glass and wood-paneled-ceiling Schaarman Residence in the Hollywood Hills is the star of “The Anniversary Party” (2001), a “Big Chill” type of film, with actors Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Ennis House Frank Lloyd Wright

The Ennis House was designed in 1923 by Frank Lloyd Wright for Charles and Mabel Ennis, and built in 1924. It was the perfect setting for movies like “House on Haunted Hill” starring Vincent Price. Photo by Mike Dillon

Casa Curutchet, designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and located in La Plata, Argentina, is central to the storyline of “El Hombre de al Lado.” In “El Hombre” a furniture designer and his family must put up with a constant stream of architecture buffs who visit the house they live in. The home illustrates Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture, built off the ground on stilts or pillars, with an open floor plan, non-supporting walls and unobstructed views, as well as  a roof garden. The four-level house has a courtyard between the main house and a medical office (the home was commissioned by surgeon Pedro Domingo Curutchet), and incorporates a spiral staircase and ramp.

Mid-Century Moden Home Casa Curutchet by Le Corbusier

Casa Curutchet, located in La Plata, Argentina was designed by Le Corbusier and has been in several films including “El Hombre del al Lado.”

While “Mid-Century Modern Houses” features many real homes, there are also fantastical creations such as “The Lake House,” (name of the film and house) created by production designer Nathan Crowley. The house was built for the film on Maple Lake, located in a preserve in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. It was later torn down and replaced with a fishing dock. A main character of that film, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, is also an architect.

The Lake House, modern homes

The Lake House is a fictional home designed by Nathan Crowley for the film of the same name. The film starred Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.

Another fictional movie home , and also centered on the theme of architecture, is the Wynand House in “The Fountain Head,” (1949). Art Director Edward Carrere created the Wynand House for the characters Gail and Dominique Wynand. Dominique, as those who know the story, was the flame of rebel architect Howard Roarke.

One of Los Angeles’ most famous homes, the Stahl House, or Case Study House No. 22, by Pierre Koenig has been in a host of movies and still photo shoots, including “Galaxy Quest.” The mid-century modern home with floor-to-ceiling glass walls was made famous by architecture photographer Julius Shulman’s black-and-white photo showing two women perched in a corner of the home with panoramic views of the city.

Case Study House No. 22 Richard Neutra

Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House No. 22, or Stahl House, is one of Los Angeles’ most famous homes. It has been featured in many films and still photo shoots.

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