Most movies portray a certain kind of lifestyle that many of us aren’t accustomed to. On the one hand a movie may portray life in a way that seems impossible to get out of. We see the harshest of conditions and financial situations. On the other hand many movies give us a taste of “the good life.” We’re going to be focusing on the latter today. In particular we’d like to focus on some of the amazing settings that movies have created over the years. Penthouses in movies are meant to symbolize wealth, status and power. These expensive and often palatial estates are home to many great characters and stories. That being said, here are our picks for the top 20 penthouse apartments in movies.
Down With Love
In the 2003 homage to the Doris Day – Rock Hudson romantic comedies of the 1960’s, “Down With Love” features one of the prettiest penthouses ever. Feminist advice author Barbara Novak falls for a sly playboy journalist played by Ewan McGregor in Manhattan in 1962. Barbara’s Manhattan penthouse is like a Barbie Dream House. Decorated in pink and white with floor to ceiling windows, the luxury apartment features a spiral staircase, wrap around pink sofa and an indoor fire pit in the sunken living room. Pink lounge chairs rest on the open terrace.
A Perfect Murder
The 1998 movie “A Perfect Murder” starred Michael Douglas as Steven Taylor, wealthy hedge fund manager working on Wall Street. The millionaire and his much younger wife, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, live in an amazingly luxurious Fifth Avenue Manhattan penthouse. The exteriors of the penthouse were shot at the building at 1 East 91st Street at the corner of Fifth Avenue. The limestone building was built in 1918 and features a private driveway and a stone ballustraded courtyard. In the film Steven Taylor is wealthy, charming and manipulating. He plots to have his wife’s lover kill her so that he can collect her inheritance. The penthouse steals many of the scenes. The majestic entry hall and staircase lead to a plush living room, office and den. Even the kitchen is impressive. The large open terrace adds to the palatial charm of the upper east side apartment.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio)’s penthouse befits the fast wealth of a man who commits securities fraud. The penthouse is located at 300 East 55th Street in midtown Manhattan. The open floor plan is a 3 bedroom, modern abode with Manhattan views on three sides. The penthouse takes up 2500 square feet and the terrace is 200 square feet. The grand lobby of the apartment building was used in television shows including “Gossip Girls” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.
Sex and the City: The Movie
In the 2008 movie “Sex and the City” Carrie and Big go house hunting. They fall upon their dream penthouse on Manhattan’s upper east side. It’s palatial, elegant and luxurious all at once. There were actually 2 separate locations used in the filming. The exterior is a penthouse located at 1010 Fifth Avenue. The Italian Renaissance apartment building was designed in 1928 by Frederick Fillmore. The 15 story building is located across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The interior scenes were filmed at The Ziegler House at 2 East 63rd street. The home was built in 1921 for Royal Baking Powder Company heir William Ziegler Jr. The 4 story palatial building features elegant décor, a grand entrance, a fountain, large windows and a courtyard garden. The beautiful prewar setting is the perfect place for Big and Carry to call home.
Wealthy businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) comes to Los Angeles for business in the 1990 romantic comedy “Pretty Woman”. Edward needs an escort to several events and hires prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts). The two fall in love in this Cinderella like story. One of the most memorable scenes takes place in Edward’s penthouse suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. After spending the night together Edward is called for business and Vivian takes a bath in the regal marble bathtub listening to Prince on her Walkman. Edward’s suite at the Wilshire Hotel goes for $38,500 a week. The 4000 square foot suite has an elegant living room, library and dining for 8. His and hers closets are also a feature of this large suite and it is surely filled with many luxurious amenities.
When five friends decide to use a penthouse loft to secretly carry out marital infidelities, a murdered girl creates psychological tension among the me. 2015’s “The Loft” was not a great movie but at least the scenery is great. When architect Vincent Stevens (Karl Urban) designs an apartment building, he proposes that he and his friends rent the loft to use secretly. When they discover a dead woman handcuffed to the bed the friends realize one of them is a murderer. While the plot is dull and there is nothing thrilling about the movie, the open spaced penthouse and its great design is at least good for scenery.
The 1967 movie “The Penthouse” takes place in a London penthouse. A real estate agent played by Terence Morgan is having an adulterous affair with a young girl played by Suzy Kendall. The couple spend the night together in a magnificent penthouse in an unoccupied building. In the morning, two men ring the doorbell posing as meter readers. Tom and Dick are intruders who inflict mental and physical abuse on the couple for the next 24 hours. When they are done a girl named Harry shows up and the suspense and abuse continues. The movie was based on a 1964 play and was meant to be a suspenseful thriller and not to carry any type of deeper message. It’s difficult to watch, but the penthouse which features prevalently in the film is nice to look at.
2013’s “Last Vegas” united veteran actors Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Kevin Klein as 60ish friends who take a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate the impending marriage of their friend, a sworn bachelor. As with most movies about Las Vegas bachelor parties, “Last Vegas” features the VIP penthouse suite that the group rents while having fun in city. The penthouse is luxurious and sophisticated. The group however gets into mayhem while gambling, judging a swimsuit contest and meeting women.
The Dark Knight
When Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) relocates to a hotel penthouse in Gotham City while Wayne Manor is reconstructed in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”, we get to see an amazing penthouse. The 2008 movie’s exterior shots were filmed mostly in Chicago. The location of Batman’s temporary home was on the 39th floor of the 40 story Hotel 71 located at 71 Wacker Street along the Chicago River. Scenes from the penthouse balcony clearly show the iconic “corn cob” apartment buildings in Marina City. Bruce Wayne’s temporary home boasted seven rooms decorated in imported Italian marble and featuring panoramic views of Gotham City. When Wayne throws a party for newly appointed Police Commissioner Harvey Dent, Wayne’s nemesis The Joker shows up and a major fight scene ensues in Bruce Wayne’s penthouse.
Fifty Shades of Grey
Wealthy young businessman Christian Grey (Jamie Doran) can certainly afford a luxury Seattle penthouse. When he brings Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) to the penthouse we see how gorgeous it is. With sweeping views of Seattle, a baby grand piano and masculine furnishing, the penthouse is impressive, and Anastasia is impressed. Of course she learns their is a secret red room located in the house where Grey acts out his BDSM fantasies.
Meet Joe Black
The 1998 film “Meet Joe Black” is about a wealthy media mogul facing death. William Parrish (Anthony Hopkins) has led a successful life, but as he approaches his 65th birthday he, literally, meets death in the form of a handsome young man called Joe Black (Brad Pitt). Bill Parrish’s New York City penthouse is featured prevalently in the film. The penthouse represents Parrish’s financial and emotional success. He has been a happy family man on top of the world until he learns that he will die. The penthouse was actually the 14 Regiment Armory Building located in the South Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. The medieval structure was built in 1893 by William Mundell. The design of the New York State Militia residence is based on European medieval military structures. The castle-like building is 2 stories tall with a flat roof. A 1.5 story barrel spans 70,000 square feet of open space. The brick building features 2 towers. The building has been used as a women’s shelter. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Spaces in 1994. The building also served as the scene of Bill Parrish’s offices.
Blade Runner 2049
The latest “Blade Runner” film features striking visual imagery to represent the dystopian future world. Fans of the original “Blade Runner” have waited 35 years for this sequel. In the future, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are the settings as Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a bioengineered human working for the Los Angeles Police Department must hunt down older rogue “replicants”. As with much of the scenery, the film features a distinctive futuristic penthouse. The penthouse is home to Niander Wallace’s (Jared Leto) pyramid shaped office. Much of “Blade Runner 2049” was shot in Budapest, Hungary. The set of Wallace’s office is actually based on the design of a Spanish museum that was never built. It’s a hauntingly futuristic design.
2013’s “Penthouse North”, also called “Blindsided”, is about a photographer Sara (Michelle Monaghan) who was blinded by a sniper attack while working in Afghanistan. She returns to America and figures out her new life in New York City. She moves into her boyfriend Ryan’s (Andrew W. Walker) penthouse which concerns her friends and family because they don’t trust Ryan. The penthouse is spacious and beautiful. While preparing for a party, Sara returns home and doesn’t realize Ryan has been murdered. When she slips in his blood she tries to flee but men claiming Ryan stole a diamond begin to play a cat and mouse game with the blinded girl. The action filled and suspenseful film at least showed us a beautiful penthouse where much of the action takes place.
In the Superhero trilogy of “Spider-man” Manhattan plays the striking background in the dramatic film. Norman Osborne is also the villain the Green Goblin. Osborn’s penthouse is impressive. The palatial estate is actually located at 5 Tudor City in midtown Manhattan. The triplex has 1 bedroom, a grand staircase, 18 foot high ceilings and a private terrace. Elegantly appointed, the penthouse is the perfect home for the wealthy and powerful villain. The penthouse was recently on the market for $1.6 million.
How to Marry a Millionaire
1953’s “How to Marry a Millionaire” was the first was Hollywood film studio 20th Century Fox’s first film released in color using Cinema Scope wide screen effects. The result is beautiful scenes of the “Sutton Place” penthouse in Manhattan. The romantic comedy starred the A list actors Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe in memorable performances in a film about gold digging models seeking wealthy men. The ladies get the chance to rent a penthouse from an IRS dodger hiding out in Europe. They use this to their advantage to attract wealthy men. The Sutton Place penthouse exudes elegance and luxury. With feminine pastel colors and a large wrap around terrace with panoramic views of Manhattan, the penthouse steals the movie.
The classic 1958 film “Auntie Mame” is about an eccentric unconventional socialite of the 1920’s. Mame Davis is played by Rosalind Russell. When Mame’s brother dies, he leaves his son Patrick in Mame’s care. Mame takes the boy through an interesting world as the aunt and nephew form a lifelong bond. Just as Mame, her New York City penthouse is flamboyant. The scene changes as the decades change. One of the best is the modern décor. Mame’s bohemian apartment features a guest room that Marie Antoinette would indulge in, hanging fishbowls and hydraulic seating.
Another Las Vegas bachelor party must feature a luxury penthouse. When 4 friends arrive in Las Vegas for one of their bachelor parties in 2009’s “The Hangover”, they find that they are staying in a posh penthouse in Caesar’s Palace Hotel. The movie which spawned a trilogy starred Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha. The group relaxes in their hotel suite and go up to the rooftop to make a toast. They wake up the next morning in the hotel penthouse with no memory of what happened. The bachelor, Doug, is missing. There’s a baby in the suite and a tiger in the marble bathroom. The guys must piece together what happened and find their friend.
John Woo’s 1997 thriller movie “Face Off” is filled with action. The movie’s climactic scene takes place in am elegant and masculine penthouse. John Travolta and Nicolas Cage play an FBI agent and a terrorist. The 2 are sworn enemies. The vendetta is heightened when Cage’s character shoots Travolta’s son. When Travolta’s character undergoes a face implant to look like Cage’s character to infiltrate his gang, Cage’s character has Travolta’s implanted on himself. The 2 finally meet up in a penthouse where they fight to the death in a well choreographed scene.
Even in 1933 a luxury penthouse is used in film to reflect power. In the 1933 film “Penthouse” an attorney defends mobsters estranging him from his law firm and his girlfriend. The attorney Jack Durant gets caught up in the thrill of the defense and the lifestyle of the mob. The penthouse is a powerful location in the film.
The Penthouse (2010)
The premise of the 2010 movie “The Penthouse” is not very complex. This was not a great movie but at least the penthouse is great. When a guy wins a reality show, he wins a penthouse. He invites his childhood friends to live with him in the penthouse. The film starred Rideer Strong, Corey Large and James DeBello. The young men party and act like teenagers. A kink comes into their living arrangement when the contest winner wants his girlfriend to move in, and the sister of his roommate visits. At least the penthouse looks really cool.