Showing posts with label Filming Locations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Filming Locations. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) Filming Locations - Part 1 Downtown Boston

Carlos and I headed to Boston to do some filming location research on The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). It's a project I had in mind for a long time and I hope to do the same for Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) which was also shot in the Boston area.

In The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen) recruits several highly trained criminals to do a bank heist. They don't know who hired them and they don't know each other. Only Thomas Crown knows who they are. He figures this is the perfect crime because no one can squeal on anybody else. In the beginning of the film, you see all the criminals arrive in Boston and head to the Boston Mercantile Bank. This part of the film offers lots of glimpses of downtown Boston circa late 1960s.

Boston Common at Park Street

Alas, we couldn't find the exact spot in the Boston Common so we just shot a few pictures of the general area. The phone booths from the movie are long gone.

South Station. Maybe? We were at a loss and couldn't find anything in South Station that looked quite like this.

This is what part of the interior of South Station looks like today.

Faneuil Hall in Boston. 

The surrounding area of the historic Faneuil Hall looks nothing like it did back in 1968. My how things change! The Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market Place area is a popular tourist location. There are lots of shops, restaurants, eateries and live outdoor entertainment.

We think this is the entrance/exit of the Downtown Crossing subway stop (locally known as just a T stop) but we are not sure. Downtown Crossing area has gone through a lot of changes recently. The original Filene's Department Store and Filene's Basement in Boston, there since 1909, is being torn down for condominiums. The building is not part of the movie but important to the area so I thought I'd share it.

This is where we think the above shot from the film was taken but we are not sure. This entrance/exit is right beneath the Filene's building.

Truly the end of an era!

We tried and tried but couldn't quite figure out which streets these were. I think one of them is Washington Street. The actor is clearly walking across more than one street to get to Congress Street where the bank is. Below are a couple streets that could be these above.

We had better luck finding the Boston Mercantile Bank exterior which is on 55 Congress Street. The interior scenes of the bank robbery were filmed elsewhere.

See those dots? I think that is where the old Boston Mercantile Bank sign used to be.

City of Boston Police Department Headquarters. After the bank robbery, you can see an image of a police car driving by and of this building. The building is now a Loews Boston Hotel but they left the old inscription up.

In this scene, the getaway car drives off with all the money. I noted the name of the Snifter Tavern on the right and Googled it. It's no longer around but I found that the address was 237 Congress Street.

This is what the current 237 Congress Street looks like from the other side of the road. Note that the building with the Trade Composition Co. from the film screencap no longer exists. But there is a building in the far distance that is still the same and that and the address of the tavern is how I know I got the right spot.

In this scene, Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway) meets with Boston Police Detective Eddy Malone (Paul Burke) at the Prudential Center. I'll admit that I didn't quite find the spot but this looked similar and was in the same area.

Stay tuned! I have Parts 2 and 3 coming up. We had much more success finding the Beacon Hill and Cemetery locations from the film. We also plan to take a couple more trips to find the other locations we didn't get to the first time.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Discovering Oahu, Hawaii with Charlie Chan - Part 2 - The Black Camel (1931) and Kailua Beach

The Black Camel (1931)

"In May 1931, a small, wrinkled old man visited the production set of a film on Oahu's Kailua Beach...the man... was none other than Chang Apana."Yunte Huang - Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History.

When I read the above quote, I was on my honeymoon in Oahu. Carlos and I had been scoping out local filming locations (for example we found the house from the TV show Magnum P.I.) but I hadn't been aware of Kailua Beach as a filming location for a Charlie Chan film. I looked into it, and although IMDB doesn't list it as a location, I discovered that The Black Camel was filmed here. And I just knew we had to stop by that beach and check it out!

Chang Apana and Warner Oland meeting on location for the filming of The Black Camel (1931)

According to Huang, Chang Apana particular liked this interchange that happened in the film:
Inspector, you should have a lie detector
Lie detector? Ah I see! You mean wife. I got one.

The Black Camel (1931) is a very important film in the history of Charlie Chan. It's the only film adapted from one of Earl Derr Biggers' six Charlie Chan novels that still exists. The other film adaptations are lost. Also, it was the only Charlie Chan movie filmed on location in Hawaii. Filming on location proved to be a great moment in history when Chang Apana, the Chinese Honolulu detective who inspired the character Charlie Chan, got to meet Warner Oland, the man who would essentially play him on film. Chang Apana was invited to watch the production of the film and he went as many times as he could. He thoroughly enjoyed watching the persona he inspired in action.

The Black Camel is the fourth out of the six Charlie Chan novels that Earl Derr Biggers would write. The film follows the story of Shelah Fane (Dorothy Reiver) a film actress who is in a bit of a bind. She wants to marry her beau Alan (William Post Jr.) but she's worried that her ties with the murder of film star Denny Mayo will ruin her career and her future life with Alan. She seeks help from Tanaverro (Bela Lugosi) a psychic but nothing seems to help. On the night of a party, she is found murdered on Waikiki Beach.  What follows is a complicated and convoluted series of events which leads Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) on a whirlwind of a case. The film can be a little confusing but it is so enjoyable. It's a wonderful little murder mystery that is bolstered by exotic filming locations. I had lots of fun trying to figure out who dunnit and was happy to see that my first of many guesses was right! In my opinion, it's the best Charlie Chan film I've seen yet.

While Carlos and I were in Oahu, we planned to stop by Kailua Beach before heading up to the North Shore. However, there were two problems with this trip. The first one was that I hadn't seen the movie before the honeymoon so I really didn't know what to look for. The second problem was that I had one too-strong Mai Tai at the local restaurant across from Kailua Beach and was a bit too tipsy to take this filming location shoot seriously. However, I did get some nice shots but I ended up missing two in particular: the canal and the parking lot.

This is one of the shots in the very beginning of the film. It has Shelah Fane (Dorothy Reiver) filming on location in a movie within a movie. She's on Kailua Beach and you can spot the Mokulua Islands ("Twin" Islands) in the background.

This shot looks to be near the spot where I took the picture above!

The parking lot! I remember this parking lot so vividly. It was packed with beach goers and we parked our rental car here. It looks so different today, paved and sectioned off. In the movie it's just a bare lot. Behind the parking lot today you'll find Buzz's Original Steakhouse which is where I had that infamous Mai Tai.

Kailua Beach canal (Source)

I really wish I had gotten a picture of this canal. I remember it but for some reason didn't think to take a picture. We drove over that bridge to get to the parking lot on the left. And as you can see below, the bridge and the canal were in The Black Camel.

What you'll notice when you watch the movie is that there are a lot of local spectators watching the filming of The Black Camel. This wasn't an inconvenience considering the fact that the scene involved filming a movie within the movie. It just worked! I did try to keep an eye out for Chang Apana in the crowd but couldn't spot him.

We didn't spend much time at the beach but had some fun playing in the sand and water.

But next time I got hunting for a filming location, I'll skip the Mai Tai.

Stay tuned for Part 3 in this series!

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