Cover image for Los Angeles plays itself
Los Angeles plays itself
Andersen, Thom., film producer, film director.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Cinema Guild, 2014.

Physical Description:
1 videodisc (170 min.) : sound, color with black and white sequences ; 4 3/4 in.
"Thom Andersen's landmark documentary explores the tangled relationship between the movies and their fabled hometown, as seen entirely through the films themselves. From its distinctive neighborhoods to its architectural homes, Los Angeles has been the backdrop to countless movies. Andersen takes viewers on a whirlwind tour through the metropolis' real and cinematic history, investigating the myriad stories and legends that have come to define it, and revealing the real city that lives beneath" --Container.
General Note:
Originally produced as a motion picture in 2003.

Special features: The Tony Longo trilogy (2014, 14 minutes) a short film by Thom Andersen; theatrical trailer; collectible booklet featuring essays by Mike Davis, author of "City of quartz: excavating the future of Los Angeles" and Thom Andersen.
Part one : Credits ; Another way to look at movies ; Reality and representation ; Locations ; Hollywood ; "L.A." and "the industry" ; The city as background: the city with no name ; The Bradbury Building ; The decline of public spaces ; Benign lies ; Geographic license and literalism ; Landmarks ; Disaster movies; The city as character: James M. Cain ; A brighter world ; Film noir ; Things that aren't any more ; Bunker Hill -- Part two : High tourist/low tourist ; The outside men: Deray, Antonioni, Demy ; The city as subject: Chinatown ; Modes of transportation ; Downtown vs. the suburbs ; Blade Runner ; L.A. Confidential ; Cops ; The provincialism of over-privilege ; Neorealism.
Reading Level:
Rating: Not rated.
Added Corporate Author:
Added Uniform Title:
Container of (work): Tony Longo trilogy.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library F869.L857 L677 2014V Adult DVD Central Library

On Order



CalArts professor Thom Andersen directs the digital video essay film Los Angeles Plays Itself, titled after a gay porn classic by Fred Halsted (L.A. Plays Itself). Using clips from well-known mainstream movies to lesser-known obscurities, Andersen explores the myths and realities of the city as produced by Hollywood and as viewed by contemporary philosophy. He divides the film into three segments: "The City as Background," "The City as Character," and "The City as Subject." In addition to the pre-manufactured images, he also provides footage of the actual landscape, showcasing structures like Union Station and LAX. His commentary touches on various political and social views of the city, often voiced through criticism or praise of other filmmakers and their work. Encke King delivers the narration. Los Angeles Plays Itself was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. In the decade since it debuted on the film festival circuit, Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) has acquired a reputation as one of the best documentaries ever made about the movies. It was never previously released on home video, so, now, cinephiles everywhere can finally cross it off their bucket lists. The film's brilliance is evident from the first scene, a three-minute rumination on why downtown is disproportionately prominent in the movie version of Los Angeles (the city may be mostly flat, but high-rises look great on the big screen), along with clips from 15 different films and a thesis: "If we can appreciate documentaries for their dramatic qualities, perhaps we can appreciate fictional films for their documentary revelations." VERDICT Essentially a tour of the imaginary city that appears in the 200-plus movies excerpted here, led by an extraordinarily witty and erudite guide. Regular visitors to movieland will find it well worth the price of admission.-Andrew Horbal, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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