The Quick 10: 10 Movies Shot on Location

There's a movie filming in town right now - it's called Smitty and stars Mira Sorvino and Peter Fonda. I'm sure you Manhattanites and Los Angeleans are quite unimpressed, but it's pretty unusual here in Des Moines. But not as unusual as it used to be - a couple of years ago Iowa approved legislation that gives tax cuts to filmmakers if they shoot on location here. I guess it worked - these days, it's not as weird as it used to be if you see Adrien Brody or Susan Sarandon wandering around town.

Anyway, we're just one of many towns to be excited when movie crews pull into town - here are 10 other fairly famous movies shot on location.

mouth1. Roman Holiday. Obviously. It would be pretty hard to make a set pass as some of those scenes, particularly the Mouth of Truth part. In case you're not familiar with the Audrey Hepburn-Gregory Peck classic, Gregory sticks his hand in the Mouth of Truth, a stone carving with an open mouth, and tells her that legend has it that liars will have their hands bitten off. He pulls his arm back and reveals that his hand is gone, and Audrey screams. He has only hidden it up his sleeve, of course. The real kicker? She didn't know that was going to happen, and her shock was genuine. That part took just one take to complete.

2. The Birds. Yep, the Bodega Bay that is taken hostage by blood-thirsty avians is a real place, right down to the cute little schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is a private residence these days, but it still looks nearly the same.

3. Deliverance. Mmm. This is one location I wouldn't want to visit. I'm sure the Chattooga River in Georgia and South Carolina offers gorgeous views of the scenery, and I've got nothing against the Sumter National Forest. I just don't think I could tramp around on a hike without looking over my shoulder for hillbillies trying to kill me. Amongst other things.

4. Groundhog Day. Oh, it was shot on location, but not where you think - certainly nowhere near Punxsutawney, Pa. It was filmed in Woodstock, Ill., chosen for its idyllic, small-town feel. The town was really excited to host the Groundhog Day production, and even put a plaque on the corner where Phil Conners steps into the mud puddle repeatedly: "Bill Murray stepped here."

5. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Like Roman Holiday, there's just no way some of that could have been faked. So, the cast and crew lived in Savannah for a while. You can even go and tour the spots mentioned in film and in the book - there's a walking tour that takes tourists to the Mercer House and through Bonaventure Cemetery, home of the famous Bird Girl statue that adorned the cover of both versions.

6. Dances with Wolves fans, boy are you in luck. The fort from the movie has not only been preserved, it's now a whole tourist attraction called the Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper and Cowboy Music Variety Show and Dances with Wolves Film Set. But it's only the movie fort - the real fort was in Kansas. Some of it still stands, including the guardhouse and some of the officers' quarters. If you're more excited about the movie version, though, it's in Rapid City, South Dakota, just 15 minutes away from Mount Rushmore and 45 minutes from Deadwood.

MBDNOBY EC0107. Speaking of Mount Rushmore, parts of North by Northwest were actually shot on location. But probably not the part you're thinking of: the climax of the movie, the chase across the mammoth stone depictions of four of our greatest presidents, was not shot on location. Oh, Hitchcock wanted to, but the National Park Service denied his request, finding it disrepectful to shoot an attempted murder scene there (that's the fake Roosevelt in the picture). But the cafeteria scene just before, and all of the scenes shot of the parking lot - those were actually shot on location. "¨

8. The most famous films ever shot on location were probably the Lord of the Rings movies, which were, of course, shot in New Zealand. Peter Jackson wanted to go for authenticity and actually shoot in Middle-Earth, but it would have taken production costs way over budget. (Kidding.) More than 150 locations in New Zealand were used, and afterward, some areas of Tongariro National Park were damaged enough that they needed to be restored by a conservation crew.

9. Giant, the classic James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor movie, was shot in Marfa, Texas. What was unusual about this one is that the film's director encouraged citizens to come by and watch the filming or be extras or stagehands. In recent years, parts of There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men were shot in Marfa. Marfa is also known for the Marfa Lights, unexplained colored lights that appear 10-15 times a year (I smell another post...).

10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind shot on location at Devils Tower in Wyoming, despite the fact that Steven Spielberg was originally against doing any location shots. Yeah... that might have been a pretty hard set piece to construct. Although it didn't stop Hitchcock when the real Rushmore was forbidden.

Has a movie ever set up shop in your town? And has anyone ever had any luck with being an extra? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!

And thanks to Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into Hollywood for some of the on-set locations!

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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