People Will Most Definitely Come

Costner and Corn: the Netflix Rolling Roadshow near Dyersville, IowaThe Netflix Rolling Roadshow is doubtlessly a brilliant piece of marketing, but the core concept celebrates the sense of place that movies can conjure or capture.

The DVD-rental company is sponsoring free screenings of famous movies at the places that inspired them or the sites where they were filmed. Hence, Escape from Alcatraz on Alcatraz, The Shining at the Stanley Hotel in Colorado, and Jaws on Martha’s Vineyard.

But none of this summer’s selections can match the inspiration behind the showing of Field of Dreams this past Friday at Left and Center Field of Dreams.

By bringing roughly 5,000 people to the place where a cornfield was plowed under for a baseball field, the event fulfilled the movie’s explicit promise, articulated by James Earl Jones’ Terence Mann:

“The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. ... Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

The vibe was not magical — there were too many of us for that, squeezed into too small a space because of an ongoing property dispute. But it was jovial and fun, and the type of singular experience that felt genuinely special. The Field of Dreams not only represents memories of the movie — and an aching hope for closure — but embodies them. The place is inextricable from the text.

On the way to the event, Bride of Culture Snob and I were trying to think of other places tied so closely to a movie experience. We landed upon Devils Tower and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but that was the best we could do.

GreenCine Daily yesterday suggested Vertigo and San Francisco, but that feels different. While Hitchcock’s classic is deeply rooted in northern California, our independent experiences of the place seem to discount the relationship; Vertigo is set in San Francisco, but it doesn’t own it.

For me, the main criterion should be that our film bond with a place overwhelm any real-life memories of it.

So a question: What movies connect you to a place like no other? Put more concretely, if you were putting together a Rolling Roadshow, what movies and places would you pick?

A fun challenge indeed. Let me try: ‘Deliverance’ equals Tallulah Gorge in Tallulah Falls, Georgia... I would see ‘Sideways’ at a vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley where it was shot too. I think the most compelling locations would be the Horror locales: Amityville, and the Plainfield home of Ed Gein for a ‘Psycho’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ triple bill. I think the best example I can come up with however would be sitting on the Russian Odessa Staircase while watching ‘The Battleship Potemkin’.
Man, THAT would be intense.

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