This detailed archival production history of The Killer Elite (Sam Peckinpah, 1975), shot on location in San Francisco, indicates how extensively the economics, logistics, and production practices of Hollywood location shooting inform the depiction of cities on-screen. The growing body of scholarship on cinematic space and place overwhelmingly focuses on the ways that films reveal and rely upon the history of specific sites. This piece takes a different tack, focusing on the fundamental impact that budgetary and logistical constraints have on urban representation. Analyzing the production context of The Killer Elite rather than the film text elucidates how locations can be chosen and transformed to suit scripted fantasies and available resources, with limited concern for local realities. This approach reorients the discussion of film locations from the broad but often disconnected paradigms of financial incentives and indexical representation toward more specific decision-making processes that favor sites that efficiently and affordably suit narrative imperatives. Locations are not just settings but sets, and this history suggests how they might be productively read as constructions rather than depictions.


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pp. 18-31
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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