Welcome to Cape Ann, Maine. Or, as we in New England call it, Chester, Connecticut.
As part of our annual celebration of Amtrak’s National Train Day, which falls this Saturday, May 12th, we have a look today at the filming sites for the fictional Cape Ann in the movie “It Happened to Jane” (1959). This Doris Day/Jack Lemmon film is going to be discussed this Thursday on my Another Old Movie Blog. I hope you can join us over there.
Chester, Connecticut was a movie stand-in for a fictional Maine village, where Doris Day and Jack Lemmon run up against a nasty mean railroad owner played by Ernie Kovacs. It’s a charming movie, and its many outdoor shots of a seemingly idyllic New England village in a lush 1950s summer are a huge part of what makes the movie so pleasant.
A lot of townspeople were used as extras in the film, its own town fife and drum corps appeared in the movie, and Chester still identifies with the film to the extent of showing it in the Meeting House of an occasional summer evening. Larry Bloom, a native of Chester, writing in the New York Times January 25, 2009 noted, “…it is eerie, in particular, to watch the scene of town meeting that takes place in that very building, or watch Lemmon and Ms. Day argue in front of the nearby waterfall on High Street.”
It must be eerie, too, to catch glimpses of long-passed relatives “voting” in town meeting.
Have a look at then and now. You’ll see that not a lot has changed in Chester over the last 50-odd years, that perhaps the biggest change is reflected in the seasons. The movie was shot during summertime, with all the trees leafed out. You can almost smell the mowed lawns and hear the crickets. These present-day shots were taken in March, when things are still apt to be pretty colorless and the sunshine weak.
Have a look at this previous post on the delightful Essex Steam Train.