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Seacoast NH Film Classics

Movies
SEACOAST MOVIE TRIVIA

Trivia quiz! How many major films can you name that have connections to this region? The Last Detail, yes. Don’t forget A Separate Piece, The Mighty and Northwest Passage. We can think of about 20. Help us discover more, no matter how tenuous the link. 

 


 

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This is a work in project, but not a bad start, we think. Following are the major films that have connections to Seacoast, New Hampshire. If you know of more, please let us know via email. We're looking for memories, photos, behind the scenes details.

BED AND BREAKFAST (PG-13)
1992
97 mins.
Women from three different generations run a bed and breakfast shot, in part in York, Maine. The plot revolves around the arrival of a mysterious stranger played by Roger Moore. Also starring Talia Shire, Nina Siemaszko and Colleen Dewhurst.

Seacoast Movies

THE DEFECTION OF SIMAS KURDIRKA (TV)
1978
100 min
On November 23, 1970 a Lithuanian sailor tried to escape from a Soviet ship but was denied asylum in the US and sent to a Russian contraction camp on a charge of treason. He was later released when it was proved that his mother had actually been born in the USA. In the movie version, Alan Arkin as Simas, jumps ship to the deck of the USS Coast Guard in Portsmouth Harbor and requests political asylum.

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER
1941/b&w
87 mins (originally longer)
Daniel WebsterThings are going badly for young New Hampshire farmer Jabez Stone in April 1840. He's broke and the mortgage is due. When he angrily offers his soul to the devil for two cents, Mr. Scratch himself shows up to seal the deal. Farmer Stone gets a pot of Hessian gold and seven years good luck in exchange for his soul. Celebrating his new found wealth in downtown Cross Corners, NH, Stone meets presidential candidate Daniel Webster (who lived 10 years in Portsmouth). Later, when Jabez becomes rich and haughty, his wife entreats Webster to help her husband. Webster agrees to act as defense attorney for Jabez in Hell saying, "I'd fight 10,000 devils to save one New Hampshire man!" Webster argues his case against a jury of legendary murderers and traitors in the midnight court of Franklin County, NH -- and wins. Frustrated, the devil says he will see to it that Webster never becomes president. (He didn't!) Based on Stephen VIncent-Benet's 1937 short story. Bernard Herrman's score won an Oscar. Creedence Clearwater's tune "Bad Moon Rising" is reportedly based on this movie.Starring Walter Huston, Edward Arnold, Jane Darwell, Anne Shirley, Simone Simon, James Craig.

2001 REMAKE NOTES: Another version of this film was made in 2001 starring Alec Baldwin, Anthony Hopkins and Dan Aykroyd and has been shelved and may never be released.

THE GATHERING
1977
92 min
Located in a generic New Hampshire Seacoast/lakes region, this made-for-TV special was well received at the height of star "Lou Grant's" popularity. The story focuses on a farewell holiday reunion orchestrated by a man about to die. At least one scene was shot at Strawbery Banke. Starring Ed Asner, Maureen Stapleton, Lawrence Pressman, Stephanie Zimbalist.

THE GATHERING, PART 2
1979
98 min
This sequel, which includes local scenes, tried to recapture the Christmas spirit of the original by introducing a new boyfriend to the family reunion. It didn't fly critically. For one scene in this TV movie, downtown Portsmouth was decked out months early for Christmas, decorations taken down, and put back up a month later! Starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Maureen Stapleton, Jamison Parker.

THE GOOD SON ( R)
1993
97 min
In one small scene in this creepy film, the evil son tosses a dummy off a bridge onto a highway just to watch the cars crash. Unluckily for us, he decided to toss it off a bridge near Greenland, NH. Starring MaCaulay Culkin, Elijah Wood, Wendy Crewson.

IN DREAMS (R)
1999
98 min.
The fading glory of the century old Wentworth-by-the-Sea hotel (before renovation) was used in a key scene of this upcoming Hollywood film shot in New Castle in October 1997. At its lowest ebb, the hotel is depicted as a ruin where a dog eats a man alive. Robert Downey, Jr, Annette Benning, Aiden Quinn.

JOHN PAUL JONES
1959
126 min.
Amazingly, so far, the only full movie treatment of this American naval hero. The film follows Jones' life based on the 1959 biography by Samuel Eliot Morison. Although Portsmouth gets short shrift in the film -- just one mention -- the battles in RANGER and the BONHOMME RICHARD are fairly accurately depicted. Jones, a 5'6" Scot is played by Robert Stack (aka Eliot Newss) to drive home the Cold War theme of America as a naval poewer going in harm's way. SeacoastNH.com includes three dozen articles about the life of Jones, including many pages on this film. Also starring Bette Davis, Marisa Pavan, Charles Coburn, Peter Cushing.

JUMANJI (PG)
1995
104 min
In this $65 million special effects flick, Robins Williams has been trapped in a magic jungle board game for 26 years. One New England setting is actually a factory in nearby North Berwick, Maine. Starring Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Michael.

THE LAST DETAIL ( R)
1973
105 min
Although the entire story is about a trip to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Prison, (now closed in Kittery, Maine) the final scenes were shot elsewhere. Portsmouth becomes a metaphor for Hell on Earth as two career petty officers awaken a naive sailor to the sensual joys of life even as they escort him to the brig for an eight-year prison sentence. Includes brief scenes with Gilda Radner and Carol Kane. Adapted from a novel by Daryl Ponicsan. Starring Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, Randy Quaid.

LOST BOUNDARIES
1949
99 min.
One of the first movies ever made to deal with racial issues head on. Shot entirely in the Seacoast by Academy Award winner Louis deRochemont. The film is based on a real New Hampshire family who "passed" for white. Starring Mel Ferrar, Beatrice Pearson, Richard Hylton, Canada Lee..

LYDIA BAILEY
1952
89 min
In his historical novel about black rebellion in the French West Indies, Kenneth Roberts portrays Portsmouth's favorite son Tobias Lear as a creepy self-promoting power monger. When we locate the film, we'll tell you how Lear plays on celluloid. We have not seen it. Starring Dale Robertson, Anne Francis.

THE MIGHTY (PG-13)
1998
100 min
Miramax film written by Portsmouth/Kittery author Rodman Philbrick about two misfit boys who combine their resources. A strong story based on a King Arthur theme and inspired by the life of a Portsmouth boy. Adapted from the novel "Freak the Mighty" which has sold over a million copies. The film was shot in Canada. Sting wrote the theme song. Stars Sharon Stone, Kieran Culkin, Gillian Anderson

Northwest Passage

NORTHWEST PASSAGE
Book I: Roger's Rangers
1940
125 min
Although it looks suspiciously like a Hollywood sound stage, this film opens boldly in Portsmouth, NH in the mid-1700s with a most unlikely pair of characters. Robert Young (long before "Father Knows Best" or "Marcus Welby"), a young Portsmouth artist, has just been kicked out of Harvard. He returns to Portsmouth and meets cantankerous town drunk Walter Brennan (before the "Real McCoys"). Young pitches woo to a local socialite in a colonial doorway that looks authentic, and then spars with soldiers of the British Governor at Stodley's Tavern (now in Strawbery Banke.) To escape arrest the unlikely pair fall in with the famous "Indian-fighter" Robert Rogers played by Spencer Tracey and embark on a deadly march across uncharted America. Listening to Walter Brennan wax nostalgic about "old Portsmouth" is worth the video rental fee. Based on the book by Kenneth Roberts.

A SEPARATE PEACE (PG)
1972
107 min
Exeter English literature classes traditionally march to the tree at Phillips Exeter Academy where a key scene in this John Knowles novel takes place. The film version was shot in town and included area actors and extras. Despite good local memories of this private school WWII coming-of-age story, Leonard Maltin refers to its sentimental portrayal as a "complete bummer." Critics seem to agree. Starring John Heyl, Parker Stevenson, William Roerick.

SUBMERGED (TV)
2001
The story of the half-successful Squalus submarine rescue off the Isles of Shoals in 1936. This made for TV movie was shot in Greece, not the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and is drawn from the Peter Maas book The Terrible Hours. The only submarine rescue focuses on the diving bell designed by "Swede" Momsen. We have the only online archived images from film director James Keach. Starring Sam Neill as Momsen.

THINNER (R)
1996
92 mins
Stephen King SF flick a single scene shot in downtown Portsmouth. (Anybody got more details?)

TO DIE FOR (R)
1995
103 min
Making a comedy out of a real crime is disquieting enough, but this film hits too close to home. It's based on the Hampton, NH murder case of Pam Smart, the high school AV director who used sex to entice her students into murdering her husband. The incident was first done to death in a rash of TV miniseries. This celluloid version is based on a novel by Joyce Maynard, who grew up in nearby Durham, NH. The screenplay is by comedy writer Buck Henry and the movie was shot in Canada. Starring Nicole Kiddman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Rafael Phoenix.

THE UFO INCIDENT
1975 / b&w
120 mins
Portsmouth residents Berry and Barney Hill are nabbed by aliens while driving through the White Mountains in 1961. The "true life" drama was adapted from the novel Interrupted Journey by John Fuller. Starring James Earl l Jones & Estelle Parsons star.

WALK EAST ON BEACON
1952
88 min
Although reference books say "filmed on location in Boston," many scenes in this FBI spy docu-drama by Louis de Rochemont were shot in the Portsmouth area near the producer's home. Stars George Murphy, Finlay Currie, Virginia Gilmore

THE WEIGHT OF WATER (R)
2002
113 min.
Kathryn Bigelow’s adaptation of Anita Shreve’s fictionalized account of an actual double-murder on Smuttynose Island in 1873. The film flashes back and forth between a contemporary story and an historical event. Sean Penn, Sara Polley, Elizabeth Hurley.

WHISTLE AT EATON FALLS
1951
96 min
Lloyd Bridge, Ernest Borgnine and Anne Francis met in Dover, NH for this true story film about a wildcat factory strike. It was Borgnine's first film ever. (click for complete web site)

WINDJAMMER
1937
75 min
Early feature-length award-winning adventure film by March of Time producer Louis de Rochemont included scenes shot in New Castle. Stars George O'Brien and Constance Worth.

Thanks for added info from George Oakes.
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