Friday, October 4, 2013

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) Filming Locations ~ Part 3 Cambridge Cemetery

After finding the filming locations in Downtown Boston and Beacon Hill for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968),  Carlos and I headed to Cambridge, MA to find the cemetery from the film. Finding specific locations in cemeteries is more difficult than it seems. I personally have tried to find the graves of the author Henry James (Cambridge, MA) and the actress Thelma Todd (Lawrence, MA) with no luck and even though I had photo and location references from the Find-A-Grave website.

You would figure that cemeteries would not change much over time, with the exception of new headstones, but that's just not the case. Weather causes damage, teenagers vandalize and knock over headstones, many gravestones get replaced, plants and trees grow or are taken down, etc. Also, unless you are looking for something in a small cemetery, most cemeteries are complex labyrinths of stone, pavement and plants and are difficult to navigate if you don't know what you are looking for or don't have some guidance.

I went into this particular project with an open mind. Carlos didn't. He thought he could find the exact spots right away but I knew better! Our first mistake was thinking that the cemetery scenes in the film were shot at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. We went there and good thing Carlos asked someone at the visitor center because we were told the actual filming location was the adjacent Cambridge Cemetery and not Mt. Auburn. IMDb clearly states Cambridge Cemetery so I'm still confused why I thought it was Mt. Auburn to begin with!

The well-organized bank heist in the films ends with a money drop off at a cemetery just outside of the city. The bags of money are deposited in a trash can and shortly afterwards Thomas Crown arrives to pick up the loot. There are several shots of the Cambridge Cemetery, before you get to the drop off location, and I picked this one above because it stood out. The sculpture is of four cannons topped off with cannon balls and what look like graves of veterans surrounding it. I figured this one would be the easiest to find. It took some time but I found it.

And here it is! Notice how all the headstones are gone? They were replaced by flat markers. See what I mean about cemeteries changing over time? This part of the cemetery was a Civil War memorial and the graves were of fallen soldiers. It was very sobering to be there.

What the Civil War memorial looks like from the other side
Then we started looking for the money drop off location. I knew this one would be tricky and that we would need to compare screen shots from the movie with the areas and specific headstones we came across. I made an album on Picasa of my screen shots and accessed them on my iPhone. It helped a lot to have the screen shots on hand to compare with what we were seeing in real life.

This is the spot we were looking for!

This is the one screen shot I was most grateful for because it helped me find the exact location of the drop off. Compare the three tombstones in the foreground of the shot with the ones below.

I tried to line up the shot as close as I could to the original, even trying to get that pointed headstone in the bottom left of my picture. Notice how different the tombstones look 45 years later. That one on the right seems to be sliding off some sort of pedestal. The trashcan where Steve McQueen picks up the trash would have been towards the back.

Here are some more shots of the area.

If you watch the film closely, you'll spot these two headstones, the Skelton above and Nourse below. Kudos to Carlos who took the time to note the names.

We looked for this headstone in particular but couldn't find it. It was supposedly next to the Skelton and Nourse headstones but when we were there that spot was empty. There wasn't even a marker. I'm wondering if this was a fake headstone added for effect. "Blessed are the Pure in Heart" is what you see when Steve McQueen drives away with the bank loot.

You might think it's pretty strange of me to visit a cemetery looking for filming locations and photographing graves. That's actually pretty normal for me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have been fascinated with cemeteries and I did a lot of photography work at many of them.

I hope you enjoyed my little series on the filming locations of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). Carlos and I plan to find more locations but we may have to wait a while before we have time to do this kind of research again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Raquel!
    I love seeing movie locations. How fun that you were able to locate the cemetery then share the photos with us.

    Such a great film with some spectacular locations. A fun read with interesting pics.
    Have a nice weekend!


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