Step on Set: Film Locations of Las Vegas
Many Las Vegas hotels have been used as film sets over the years, along with the Strip itself and other iconic locations within the city. Mob and casino movies feature predominantly, but a whole host of other genres have also taken advantage of the city’s fame, particularly in recent years.
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Top hotels to have featured in classic films include Circus Circus, the Riviera Hotel and Casino, SLS (formerly the Sahara), Desert Inn, Caesar’s Palace, Stardust, Flamingo Hotel and Tropicana Las Vegas, amongst several others.
Circus Circus played host to the sets of Diamonds are Forever (1971) and, more recently, the comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and acclaimed semi-autobiographical drama Leaving Las Vegas (1995). With the largest big top in the world, the hotel features various breathtaking circus acts, along with various ballrooms, pools and other facilities.
The Riviera Hotel was also shot in Diamonds are Forever and Austin Powers, as well as many other older and more contemporary classics. The Riviera – and Las Vegas – of an older age is immortalised in Ocean’s Eleven (1960), and the hotel was also the main location for Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995), which beautifully captures the shady, brash Las Vegas of the 1970s. Terry Gilliam’s hallucinatory Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) and the garish cult classic Showgirls (1995) also featured the Riviera. Built in 1955, the hotel was the first high rise resort on the Strip – it is one of the oldest and most well-known hotels in the city.
Famously, Tropicana was the site for Michael Corleone’s casino in The Godfather (1972) by Francis Ford Coppola, a world that persisted into The Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Godfather: Part III (1990). The hotel also featured in Diamonds are Forever (as did the Las Vegas Hilton). The Tropicana dates from 1957, with high rise towers built later in 1977 and 1986.
Flamingo featured in Ocean’s Eleven and Leaving Las Vegas. Other hotels to make an appearance in Ocean’s Eleven include the Sahara (now known as the SLS), Desert Inn and the Sands. Leaving Las Vegas also made use of other well-known locations, including the Excalibur and Bally’s Casino Resort. Flamingo, the oldest hotel still operating on the Strip, was opened in 1946; it was built in Art Deco style and features a garden courtyard with live flamingos.
Besides the Riviera, Showgirls also took advantage of several other locations in the city, including Cheetah’s Topless Club and Caesar’s Palace. The film featured shopping venues such as Versace and the opulent classical setting of the Forum Shops at Caesar’s.
One of the more recent films to encapsulate the spirit of contemporary Vegas decadence is The Hangover (2009). The film has many memorable scenes set in Caesar’s Palace, including scenes set in the lobby, pool and roof. The suite featured, however, was built for purpose away from the hotel. Caesar’s Palace, which opened in 1966, was one of the later resorts to be built on the Strip. It was designed to evoke an atmosphere of Roman grandeur, with its classical architecture and impressive water fountains. Further structures were added later, including the 14 storey Centurion Tower in 1970 and the 26 storey Augustus Tower in 2005. Today the hotel is also home to the Forum Shops, open air Plaza and Colosseum theatre.
#Disclosure: this is a guestpost by our contributor.