Big Screen Boston: From Mystery Street to The Departed and Beyond

Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 
Book Review - Big Screen Boston: From Mystery Street to The Departed and Beyond
Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 

Former Herald and Improper Bostonian film critic and native Bostonian Paul Sherman has mined his multi-decade career to put together a comprehensive look at just how Boston has figured in the movies.  Written in a breezy, conversational tone, the book is of note for both its Hollywood insights and historical perspective as well as being a heck of an entertaining read.

The book's intro discusses Hollywood's love/hate relationship with Boston (including several amusing anecdotes) and just what the author is calling a 'Boston movie' (it must be at least partially shot here, which, for example "Legally Blonde" was not).  Boston's contribution to the independent scene is particularly interesting - I hadn't realized we had our own movement, the 'Beanstreets' movies of the 1970's.

Although there was some Massachusetts location shooting done earlier (as far back as 1922!), Sherman fixes 1950's "Mystery Street" as the first Boston shot film.  The book's main section features eighty alphabetical listings of films that primarily take place in the state.  Paul gives brief synopses and commentary on the film's value as well as stories about the shoot.  He follows each with a listing of shooting locations, whether the Boston accents cut the 'muhstaad' or not and whether the film has true local color (Paul particularly loathes films that refer to Boston Common as 'the Commons' - these do not rate, but a references to Kelly's does.) Where applicable, Sherman also notes local celebrity and 'before-they-were-stars' appearances.  "Brief Visits, Day Trips & the Rest" list a whole bunch more films in brief but there are many cool nuggets to be mined there as well.  And just to make sure you've been paying attention, the book closes with a Boston movie quiz.

From troublesome teamsters to local comedians who seem to pop up in an awful lot of movies, "Big Screen Boston" has plenty of color of its own and is sure to educate even the most Boston savvy filmgoer.  The author's pick for the best Boston movie, "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," has never been available on home video or DVD. Here's hoping "Big Screen Boston" has a part in changing that.

"Big Screen Boston" is available at and at the book's own website

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