By Victor Block
Bob Burrus is channeling John Travolta. He enters Lenny’s Pizza in Brooklyn and orders a slice. After devouring the snack, he emerges onto 86th Street and struts down several blocks as the song “Staying Alive” plays in his head. Bob is reliving the opening scene of the 1977 motion picture “Saturday Night Fever.” And he’s not alone. As he mimics one of his favorite movie sequences, others around the country are fantasizing theirs.
From Maine to Hawaii, places where parts or all of movies were filmed attract visitors seeking to hold on to memories of beloved motion pictures. At places ranging from a delicatessen in New York to a beach in Hawaii, from a state reformatory in Ohio to an island off the coast of South Carolina, people recapture treasured scenes.
Folks in the know stop by Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City and plop down at a table marked by a sign that identifies it as a prop from the movie “When Harry Met Sally.” That’s where Meg Ryan acted out the famous scene that prompted an elderly woman at a nearby table, played by director Rob Reiner’s mother, to tell the waitperson, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Some visitors to Maine are on a quest to relive scenes from movies based on books by Stephen King. The master of horror has lived in that state for most of his life, and places in Bangor and elsewhere play roles in his novels.
The Thomas Hill Standpipe, a water tower built in Bangor in 1897, shows up in his novel “It” when the bodies of a number of drowning victims show up inside. The Mount Hope Cemetery is the setting for scenes from “Pet Sematary,” and the names of some characters in that film are believed to have been borrowed from headstones.
King’s creepy Victorian-style house also is worth a look-see. It dates back to 1858 and is surrounded by a fence decorated with bats and gargoyles. A good way to take in these and other places associated with the author and his books is to join a tour group led by Stuart Tinker, a recognized expert in all things Stephen King.
As long as you’re in Maine, you might wish to take in other film locations. Sand Beach on Mount Desert Island was the site of a picnic in “The Cider House Rules.” The Marshall Point Lighthouse near Point Clyde is where Forrest Gump ended his run across the country from California’s Pacific coastline to “another ocean.” More about him later.
Not surprisingly Hawaii has a number of motion picture claims to fame. In what may be the most legendary beach scene of all time, Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr engaged in a passionate kiss on the shore of Halona Cave in “From Here to Eternity.”
A very different scene occurs in the original version of “Planet of the Apes” (1968), which starred a craggy-looking Charlton Heston. The movie comes to an end on a magnificent strip of sand located between Zuma Beach and Point Dune in Malibu.
A very different setting provided the backdrop for much of the action in “The Shawshank Redemption.” Most of the film was shot in and around Mansfield, Ohio, and an immersive experience awaits those who seek out the locations. The brooding Ohio State Reformatory played the role of the fictional Shawshank State Prison in New England. Warden Norton’s office, the parole board meeting room and the tunnel through which Andy Dufresne escaped are among sites waiting exploration. The reformatory also houses what passed for the hotel room where Brooks Hatlan stayed and, shortly after being paroled, died.
A self-guided Shawshank Trail Driving Tour leads devotees to 15 filming sites, including the courtroom where Andy was wrongly sentenced for killing his wife and her lover and the bus station where Red purchased a ticket to join his friend Andy in Mexico.
A very different locale provided the backdrop for one of a number of iconic characters played by Tom Hanks. Most locations portrayed in “Forrest Gump,” for which Hanks won an Academy Award, were grouped around Beaufort, South Carolina. The fictitious town of Greenbow, Alabama, where Gump lived as a boy is played by Varnville. The tiny bridge with a “Mississippi Welcomes You” sign that Gump crosses is east of Beaufort. Even the realistic Vietnam War scenes, when Gump first meets Bubba and Lt. Dan, were filmed on barrier islands off the Beaufort coastline.
The list of settings, imaginary and real, includes places at or close to where they’re depicted in films. The dreamlike baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in “Field of Dreams” (1989) is at a farm in Dyersville, Iowa, a town of about 4,000 people near the state’s eastern border. Fans of that movie continue to show up to tour the farmhouse and regulation-size field.
Alfred Hitchcock’s frightening film “The Birds” (1963), in which flocks of murderous seagulls and crows attack humans, was filmed in and around Bodega Bay and the nearby town of Bodega, a former fishing village on California’s coast. In reality the inlet is located along a major migration route and is a popular bird-watching site. Among places associated with the motion picture are the Potter School building (now a private home), from which terrified children ran screaming while being attacked by birds, and the Tides Wharf and Restaurant.
Countless other places throughout the country also have played roles in numerous motion pictures. They await discovery and delight by fans seeking to keep alive memories of their favorite movies.
WHEN YOU GO
Stephen King tours with Stuart Tinker: www.sk-tours.com, 207-947-7193
“Shawshank Redemption” sites: www.shawshanktrail.com
“Field of Dreams” sites: www.fieldofdreamsmoviesite.com
(SET IMAGE2) tad091519bdAP.jpg (ENDF IMAGE2) (SET CAPTION2). Visitors can see the baseball field where “Field of Dreams” was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa. Photo courtesy of David Carter/The Visual Playground. (END CAPTION2)
Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, is where “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed. Photo courtesy Destination Mansfield/Richland County.