Popular murder mystery produced by Seacoast filmmaker Louis de Rochemont and directed by Elia Kazan.
Lee J. Cobb
THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER
87 mins (originally longer)
Things 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.
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. Not shot in this region, the story focuses on a farewell holiday reunion orchestrated by a man about to die.
THE GATHERING, PART 2
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!
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
THE GOOD SON ( R)
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.
The fading glory of the century old Wentworth-by-the-Sea hotel will be used in a key scene of this upcoming Hollywood film shot in New Castle in October 1997.
Robert Downey, Jr
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.
THE LAST DETAIL ( R)
Although the entire story is about a trip to Portsmouth Naval Prison, (now abandoned 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.
One of the first movies ever made to deal with racial issues head on. Shot entirely in the Seacoast by Oscar winner Louis deRochemont. (click for complete web site)
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.
THE MIGHTY (PG-13) Writer Rod Philbrick
Miramax film written by our own movie critic Portsmouth/Kittery author Rod Philbrick about two misfit boys who combine their resources. Due in March. Sting wrote the theme song.
For more information:
Early Release Photos
Shooting in Toronto
Book I: Roger's Rangers
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)
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.
Stephen King SF flick a single scene shot in downtown Portsmouth.
TO DIE FOR (R)
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.
Joaquin Rafael Phoenix
WALK EAST ON BEACON
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.
WHISTLE AT EATON FALLS
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)
Early feature-length award-winning adventure film by March of Time producer Louis de Rochemont included scenes shot in New Castle.