23 June 2024

Universal Studios Hollywood CA, USA

The 2005 film WAR OF THE WORLDS is the second film adaptation of H.G. Wells' 1898 book "The War of the Worlds". The first version was released in 1953. The book also inspired, among others, Orson Welles' 1938 radio play of the same name and Jeff Wayne's 1978 double album.

War of the Worlds, 0:25:43
After collaborating on the movie Minority Report from 2002, Tom Cruise suggested to Steven Spielberg that they make a contemporary version of the classic story about an invasion by aliens. The director was immediately enthusiastic. After 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1982's E.T., it would be his third film about an alien invasion, but the first in which the aliens are scary and dangerous.

Filming took place from 8 November 2004 to 7 March 2005 in the states of Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and New York. The story was moved from nineteenth-century England to modern-day New Jersey, where divorced longshoreman Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) lives. His two children, son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning), happen to visit him when the invasion begins. 

Universal Studios Hollywood, 21 July 2023
When total chaos reigns, Ray takes his children to the suburban home of his ex-wife Mary-Ann (Miranda Otto). However, no one is home and Ray decides they will spend the night in the basement of the house. At night, they wake up to the sound of huge explosions. The next morning, everything seems calm but when Ray steps outside, he discovers that the house has been largely destroyed as a plane crashed into the residential area.

Although Mary-Ann's home is in Bayonne, New Jersey, this scene was shot at Universal Studios Hollywood. The film company bought a retired Boeing 747 from All Nippon Airways and brought it from Japan to the studio backlot where the plane was dismantled to look like as if it had crashed. The damaged houses make the massive outdoor set even more realistic. Shooting the scene during which Ray walks past the plane was filmed from 5 to 7 January 2005. A short 34-second video made during filming is on YouTube. After production completed, the set became part of the Universal Studio Backlot Tour, a guided train tour of the studio.

War of the Worlds, 0:42:17
War of the Worlds set, Universal Studios
Hollywood, 21 July 2023
War of the Worlds, 0:42:56
War of the Worlds set, Universal Studios
Hollywood, 21 July 2023
War of the Worlds, 0:43:02
War of the Worlds set, Universal Studios
Hollywood, 21 July 2023

The studio tour is one of the main attractions of the Universal Studios theme park. We also did the studio tour in 1996 (see Universal Studio’s Hollywood). Today, the tour consists of more than just film sets and studios. It now offers, amongst others, 3D movies of King Kong and The Fast & The Furious that were made especially for this tour.

According to our guide, Steven Spielberg stipulated that the crashed plane could not be used for other film productions for the next 10 years. If this is true, it did not apply to music videos as the plane can be seen in "Never Say Never" by The Fray from 2009 (available on YouTube) and "Fly" by Nicki Minaj featuring Rihanna from 2011 (also available on YouTube).

"Fly" - Nicki Minaj ft. Rihanna, 02:07
War of the Worlds set, Universal Studios
Hollywood, 21 July 2023
Screenshots © Paramount Pictures

13 May 2024

Deventer, Netherlands

For the film A BRIDGE TOO FAR producer Joseph E. Levine aimed to film as much as possible on location in the Netherlands, where events had taken place during Operation Market Garden in World War II. However, not a single scene would be filmed in Arnhem, the Gelderland capital where the bridge from the title stands.

A Bridge Too Far, 2:41:28
The film is based on the book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan from 1974, about the Allied military offensive against Nazi Germany in September 1944, both from the air (Market) and on the ground (Garden). British, Polish and American troops managed to capture key bridges in the south of the Netherlands, including the Waal Bridge (see also Nijmegen, Netherlands).

The advance stalled at the Rhine Bridge in Arnhem. Operation Market Garden failed, although the south of the Netherlands was liberated.

Deventer seen from the Wilhelmina Bridge, 30 April 2024 
Filming started on 26 April 1976. In the more than 30 years that had passed since the Battle of Arnhem, the area around the Rhine Bridge had changed much due to postwar architecture that a the World War II movie could not be filmed here. Yugoslavia was briefly considered, until Deventer came into the picture: also an arch bridge and an area where little had changed since the war.

To mark the film's 45th anniversary, local broadcaster RTV Oost published a report on 26 April 2021, Hollywood in Deventer: 45 years ago, the city was the setting for a world-famous war film, on filming in Deventer. The presence of the film crew reportedly earned the city 5 million guilders (2.3 million euros/2.4 million US dollars).

Deventer is first seen when German soldiers walk through Arnhem. They are watched by the son (Erik van 't Wout) of a resistance leader (Siem Vroom) from his room. The soldiers walk from Kerksteeg to Rijkmanstraat; the resistance leader's house is number 48. This was the first scene filmed.

A Bridge Too Far, 0:10:12
Corner Kerksteeg and Rijkmanstraat, Deventer, 30 April 2024 
A Bridge Too Far, 0:10:19
Rijkmanstraat 48, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Operation Market Garden has begun. In Leopoldsburg, Flanders, Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks (Edward Fox) arrives at the headquarters of the XXX Corps. Brink, the central square in Deventer city centre, was chosen to represent the Belgian city. The building in the background is De Waag, built from 1528 to 1531 and now Museum De Waag.

A Bridge Too Far, 0:28:13
De Waag, Brink, Deventer, 30 April 2024

At cinema Splendid, Horrocks gives a briefing on the operation. Splendid had been demolished in 1973, this is cinema Luxor Plaza at Brink 20. In 1977, A Bridge Too Far was shown at Luxor Plaza, which must have been a strange sensation for the visitors: on the screen, you see the room you are in. The cinema closed in 1983 but the building remained, now home to event venue Chicago Club.

A Bridge Too Far, 0:28:52
Chicago Club, Brink 20, Deventer, 30 April 2024

The 2nd Parachute Battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel John Frost (Anthony Hopkins), has reached Arnhem after landing on the Ginkelse Heide. The soldiers walk from Duimpoort to Polstraat in the old centre of Deventer. The Wilhelmina Bridge can be seen for the first time, as well as the tower of the Lebuinus Church. The bridge, named after the then queen of the Netherlands, was blown up by the Germans in 1945 and rebuilt in 1948 according to the original design.

A Bridge Too Far, 1:13:02
Duimpoort, Deventer, 30 April 2024
A Bridge Too Far, 1:13:16
Polstraat, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Next to the Wilhelmina Bridge was a car park in 1976. A set consisting of several houses was built here. Today it is a car park.

A Bridge Too Far, 1:13:36
Emmastraat, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Frost and Major Harry Carlyle (Christopher Good) go up on the roof of one of these houses to view the bridge. The Bergkerk or St Nicholas Church can be seen in the background. The Rhine Bridge in Arnhem would be named after John Frost (1912-1993) in 1978.

A Bridge Too Far, 1:15:30
Bergkerk, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Carlyle walks onto the bridge with an umbrella. Holding up the umbrella would be the signal to advance. In reality, this was done by this Major Digby Tatham-Warter. To the left of the bridge, across the river IJssel, the sails of the Bolwerks Mill can be seen.

A Bridge Too Far, 1:15:43
Wilhelmina Bridge, Deventer, 30 April 2024
A Bridge Too Far, 1:15:56
Wilhelmina Bridge, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Wilhelmina Fountain,
Deventer, 30 April 2024
After Eindhoven is liberated, residents celebrate exuberantly in the streets. The tank of Lieutenant Colonel John O.E. Vandeleur (Michael Caine) drives across Brink, now filmed from the other side. In the centre of the square is the Wilhelmina Fountain, just like the bridge named after the queen. The statue standing on the column represents the Deventer city maiden. The fountain dates from 1898, the year of Wilhelmina's inauguration. Between 1960 and 1985, and thus also during filming, the fountain had been removed because of car traffic. Since 1993, the square has been car-free.

A Bridge Too Far, 1:31:00
Brink, Deventer, 30 April 2024

After German sergeant Matthias (Lex van Delden) has crossed the bridge with the white flag, he returns to General Wilhelm Bittrich (Maximilian Schell) to give a report. The bridge can now be seen from Bolwerksweg.

A Bridge Too Far, 2:00:55
Bolwerksweg, Deventer, 30 April 2024

In Arnhem, the resistance leader sees in horror that there are many deaths to mourn. Kerksteeg 12, opposite the previously mentioned Bergkerk.

A Bridge Too Far, 2:01:54
Kerksteeg 12, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Jan Spaander (Laurence Olivier), a Dutch doctor, is taken by the Germans and is driven through a destroyed Arnhem. Muggeplein in the Noordenberg Quarter, which was a neighbourhood in decline mid-70s but has since been completely renewed. The only similarity between 1976 and 2024 is the spire of the Lebuinus Church, circled in red.

A Bridge Too Far, 2:37:32
Muggeplein, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Deventer is last seen as Major General Stanisław Sosabowski (Gene Hackman), Lieutenant General Frederick Browning (Dirk Bogarde), Brigadier General James Gavin (Ryan O'Neal), Horrocks and Vandeleur meet atop a church tower. Again the Lebuinis Church, at 38 Grote Kerkhof. The actors were not actually standing on the church tower, this was a set built on the other side of the Wilhelmina Bridge. However, it is possible to climb the 220 steps of the 46-metre (150 feet) church tower, for more information see the Lebnuiskerk website.

A Bridge Too Far, 2:40:29
Lebuinis Church, Deventer, 30 April 2024
A Bridge Too Far, 2:40:39
Lebuinis Church, Deventer, 30 April 2024

Many thanks to the website Strijdbewijs (Dutch only) for background information.

For an overview of every location in this movie, see my blog Hollands Decor (in Dutch).

Screenshots © Joseph E. Levine Productions

13 April 2024

Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank CA, USA

After a few bit parts, James Dean played his first leading role in the film EAST OF EDEN. He would make two more films after this, Rebel without a Cause and Giant, before he died on 30 September 1955 as a result of a car accident, aged just 24.

East of Eden, 0:40:00
The film East of Eden is based on the fourth and final part of John Steinbeck's 1952 novel of the same name. The story has parallels with the Bible story of the rivalry between the brothers Cain and Abel. The title of the book comes from Genesis 4:16: " So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden". The film is set in 1917, against the backdrop of World War I. Filming took place from 27 May to 13 August 1954.

The movie was filmed on location in California, including Monterey and Salinas. In most blog posts, I mention in a side note that the remaining scenes were shot at the studio and then write about visiting the locations. This time however, the location is the studio. Warner Bros. Studios is located in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles. 

Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023
As I wrote in my previous blog about La La Land, the studios can be visited. We had chosen the Classics Tour. Although selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, East of Eden was not mentioned once during the tour of the backlot, a permanent film set of different streets, each with its own theme. Fortunately, our photos turned out to match the film images quite nicely.

The parade held in Salinas to boost war bond sales was filmed on Midwest Street, a town square with a white church and a gazebo surrounded by a courthouse, shops and houses. According to website The Studio Tour, this set was first seen in the film Four Wives (1939) and later extended. It is amazing to see how little has changed here since filming of East of Eden nearly 70 years ago.
The parade is taken by prominent residents of Salinas; the church can be seen in the background.

East of Eden, 1:04:07
Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023
East of Eden, 1:06:42
Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023

Aron Trask (Richard Davalos), the eldest brother, visits the parade with his girlfriend Abra Bacon (Julie Harris), a volunteer for the Red Cross.

East of Eden, 1:04:13
Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023

Cal (James Dean), the youngest brother, is also at the parade. The facades of the shopping street have probably been repainted numerous times and a new set has been added on the right.

East of Eden, 1:05:31
Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023

Cal walks towards Aron and Abra standing behind a tree, somewhat hidden. Part of the courthouse can be seen in the background.

East of Eden, 1:05:58
Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023

Following on from Midwest Street is Kings Row, a street with five houses named after the 1942 film of the same name for which the set was originally built. The street is also known as Residential Street. Coming from Midwest Street, the second house on the left in the film can be seen as the house where Adam Trask (Raymond Massey) lives with his sons Aron and Cal.

East of Eden, 1:32:06
Kings Row, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023

To promote the film, James Dean was photographed in front of the white church by an unknown studio photographer.

James Dean, 1954
Midwest Street, Warner Bros. Studios, 20 July 2023

Screenshots © Warner Bros.