August 12, 2009

Location Cubed

I was never a big fan of John Hughes, but I've watched most of the movies that he directed.  I believe the only one I've missed is "She's Having A Baby", which judging by the title alone, tells me that this was a blessing.  I've sat through the baffling "Weird Science", the cloying "Uncle Buck" and "Curly Sue", the nausea inducing "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club", and I've endured the crapfest that is "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

And now that I've dissed the man, I have to say that one of my 5 favorite movies of all time is the 1987 "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles".  Despite a hurry-up, flawed ending, this is a great film.  It's one of the few discs that I have in my collection, and I know I've watched the whole thing at least 20 times, not counting the times I've run across it while channel surfing on television.

I mention this because one of my secret pleasures is seeing places in real life that were used as locations in movies.  I have great memories of a trip to San Francisco in the early '70's, not because it was San Francisco, but because I was able to visit locations that were used in the movie "Dirty Harry".  The cross at Mt. Davidson Park where Scorpio tried to kill Harry, the bridge over Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, where Harry jumped on the school bus, and even the rock quarry where Harry and Scorpio blasted away at each other.

Today I found one of the location shoots for "Planes, Trains & Automobiles".  I had only been driving by it on occasion for 20 years and every work day for five, and it was finally brought to my attention in a column by Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times.  The El Rancho Motel in Gurnee, Illinois.  This was the second motel that Neal and Del stayed at after they had wrecked and burned their fake wood sided Chrysler wagon. 


The decor has changed a little.
But the 3 window doors are still there.

The other location that I ran across, the first motel that Neal and Del stayed at, is on I-55 in Braidwood, Illinois. Jan and I discovered that one soon after the movie came out.  We used to pass it on our visits to her parents in St. Louis.  It actually was called the Braidwood Inn at that time, but became a Days Inn for a while and is now the Sun Motel.

The Braidwood Inn during shooting.

As it is today.  The Sun Motel.

Okay, you're probably sitting there thinking "what a tool".  Well, I like this kind of stuff, so if that makes me a tool, then so be it.

If you really want me to get into "tool" territory, just ask me about my "B-List" celebrity sightings.

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