All Women's Talk

7 Brilliant Movies Set in New England ...

By Neecey

I was watching one of my favorite movies this week and realized that I have a penchant for books and movies set in New England. And, it wasn’t until I thought about it that I realized, there actually are a good number of them. I think it’s a wonderful part of the country with tiny villages, historic towns and vibrant cities, and the gorgeous countryside makes for ideal filming locations. Even though there are hundreds of movies set in New England, I’ve managed to whittle out my favorites. (Note: Contains no spoilers.)

1 The World According to Garp

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I could easily have picked any number of John Irving’s books that have been made into movies. He is my most favorite author. Born in New Hampshire, his books are set in and around his home state. Five have been turned into screenplays, but of all his movies set in New England, I have to pick The World According to Garp. It has the added bonus of Robin Williams (one of my favorite actors). Like all Irving stories, it is wonderfully quirky and the parts played by Glenn Close (Garp’s mom) and John Lithgow (a 6ft strapping transsexual footballer) are just ace. And, the movie follows the book story very closely.

2 Little Women

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You may be familiar with the 1995 version, but to me 1949’s Little Women is better and is somehow more evocative of New England movies. (There’s also an earlier version, made in 1933, with Katherine Hepburn.) In the 1949 version, June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor (and co-stars) really bring out the characters exactly how I think Louisa M. Alcott would have liked to have seen them portrayed. Funny, heart-wrenching and romantic, who can resist a perfect ending?

3 The Paper Chase

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With the clutch of world class universities in the region, it’s no wonder that a number of the films set in New England have a college theme. The Paper Chase is the story of a law student at Harvard, the pressures of study and the complex relationship he has with one of his professors and his daughter. Said professor was superbly played by John Houseman and won him the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1974.

4 Jaws

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There are some gorgeous beaches in New England, but not so much fun if a giant man eating shark has staked a claim and adopted the sea as his territorial waters. One of the truly suspenseful stories of the '70s, Jaws is one of the greatest movies ever. Set on the fictional island of Amity, Jaws will frighten the life out of anyone. Did you know that the shark used in the film was called Bruce by the filmmakers?

5 Mona Lisa Smile

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Another of the movies set in New England’s school system, Mona Lisa Smile is the story of an inspirational teacher. Of course, inspiration in the movies means maverick, so the story interweaves the impact of the art history teacher on her pupils with the struggle she faces against the establishment. There are some excellent lessons of life and romance included, and the cast, which includes Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst, give excellent and credible performances.

6 Moonrise Kingdom

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This has to be one of the kookiest of all films set in New England. A stellar cast which includes Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, Jason Schwartzman and Tilda Swinton gather on the fictitious island of New Penzance to play out the story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love and run away. As the local sheriff, the scout troop and parents hunt them down, a storm is brewing – both off the coast and in the town relationships.

7 White Christmas

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No list would be complete without a musical, would it? Actually there are very few musicals set in New England, and the two most famous ones are interlinked by one of the world’s most-well known and loved songs – White Christmas. Even though there is a movie called White Christmas (1954), the song was first introduced to us in Holiday Inn in 1942. Both feature Bing Crosby, unsurprisingly, but it is having Danny Kaye as the co-star that makes me pick the newer of the two movies.

This was just a small selection of movies set in New England that I love to watch. I won’t spoil the fun of you telling me your favorites by listing others that I could so easily have included. Let’s hear from you instead, now I’ve had my say.

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