boston.com Arts and Entertainment your connection to The Boston Globe

The reels on the bus

Boston Movie Tours offers a close-up look at films with local ties

"Trivia question: What 1978 movie, filmed in Boston, was about a robbery called the 'crime of the century ' ? "

Jeff Coveney, owner of Boston Movie Tours, stands at the front of a customized bus, looking around at the eight passengers. We're at the corner of Prince and Commercial streets in the North End. ``Anyone?" he asks. No one answers.

" 'The Brink's Job'!" he says, pointing to a parking garage on our left where the Peter Falk comedy based on the heist re - created the robbery. While the passengers look out the windows of the bus at the garage, Jeff's wife, Rachel, cues up a scene from the movie on the bus's five flip-down video screens.

On the screens: the movie. Out the windows: the real thing. That's the idea behind Boston Movie Tour s .

Jeff and Rachel got the idea on their Hawaii honeymoon in 2002, where they visited "Jurassic Park" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" locations on a Hawaii Movie Tours trip. Since July 2005, they've operated Boston Movie Tour s . When the Coveneys recently added a weekly bus tour to twice-daily walking tours, the Globe tagged along.

1. The tour group meets at The Rack nightclub in Faneuil Hall, where Jeff and Rachel, two perpetually chipper 30-somethings, hand out red "VIP" badges to the seven women and one reporter here for this week's excursion. Once on board, everyone picks a seat, each of which is monogrammed with the name of a celebrity who has appeared in a Boston-made movie. I pick the Mark Wahlberg chair and settle in for what the Coveneys say will be a three-hour tour.

2. While waiting to leave, we watch a scene from "Good Will Hunting" on the bus's video screens. This will be the first of five separate "Good Will Hunting" clips in the course of at least twice as many references to the 1997 film. By the second of the tour's two stops, both to make pilgrimages to "Good Will Hunting" locations, Boston begins to feel like a giant "Good Will Hunting" theme park.

3. As the bus pulls away from Faneuil Hall, Jeff grabs a microphone and assumes his narrator position in the front of the bus. Rachel sits in the second row, operating the DVD player and keeping score for the movie trivia contest that will last for the duration of the tour. We're treated to a Massachusetts Film Bureau promotional video, featuring the cast of ``Mystic River" praising Boston's film crews.

``See, it's not just me," Jeff tells the passengers. ``Clint Eastwood loves Boston, too!"

4. The tour starts in Charlestown, near the stairs Forest Whitaker ran down in the 1994 action film ``Blown Away."

``The great thing about Boston is the neighborhood feel," Jeff says enthusiastically. ``We have such close-knit communities!"

5. We cross under the Tobin Bridge, which makes a cameo in ``Legally Blonde" and ``Mystic River," and pass the Charlestown Navy Yard, where Martin Scorsese filmed parts of his upcoming film ``The Departed," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson. Jeff shows us pictures he took of Smilin' Jack emerging from his trailer. The extent of the Coveneys' s Nicholson obsession will become apparent later in the tour.

6. As we pass the TD Banknorth Garden, Rachel cues up a scene from the 1996 comedy ``Celtic Pride," which was filmed at the original Garden. The movie starred Dan Aykroyd and Damon Wayans, whom Jeff insists on calling ``Damien Williams."

7. We drive down Charles Street -- ``The Boston Movie Mile" in Coveney-speak -- dodging construction work as we hurtle past buildings that appeared in ``The Thomas Crown Affair" and ``A Civil Action."

``Bob, you're doing a terrific job," Jeff tells bus driver Bob Staples. ``It's like a slalom course out here! OK, next question: What famous Matt Damon quote in ` Good Will Hunting ' involves fruit ?"

When someone guesses the answer -- ``How do you like them apples?" -- Rachel springs up and hands out apples to everyone on the bus.

8. ``Get ready for the Jack Nicholson triple threat!" Coveney shouts as we make the turn onto Tremont Street. We pass Boston Common, where Nicholson filmed scenes from ``The Last Detail" and ``The Departed," and Coveney shows us more of his creepy, paparazzi-style photos of the actor. Coveney then points out the Wang Center for the Performing Arts, the set for Nicholson's mansion in ``The Witches of Eastwick."

9. About an hour into the tour, we get our first rest stop at ``Cheers ," the bar that was the inspiration for the long-running television show . The Coveneys then lead us across Beacon Street to the Public Garden, and the park bench Matt Damon and Robin Williams shared in ``Good Will Hunting." I strike up a conversation with Heike Werder, who lives on the South Shore and seems to be enjoying herself.

``I like the owners' ingenuity," Werder says. ``I don't think I've ever gotten an apple on a tour before."

While the seven women take turns photographing each other on the bench, Rachel tells the story of how she and Jeff once spotted Nicholson in the bar of the nearby Ritz-Carlton.

``Well, of course, I went over to introduce myself," Rachel says, ``and he's got these two young blondes on either side of him, and he looks just like Jack Nicholson looks in the movies!"

``You should have invited him to join us!" Jeff says. ``There wasn't anyone else at the bar!"

I get the impression they've had this argument before.

``I know, I know , " Rachel says, sighing. ``I was too nervous."

10. Driving through Copley Square, after doing a drive-by past Drew Barrymore's apartment in ``Fever Pitch," Coveney shows us clips from ``The Firm," `` The Boondock Saints," and ``Blown Away." Although the Coveneys claim that more than 400 movies and TV shows have been filmed in Boston, that number seems to include features such as ``The Firm" and TV series such as ``Ally McBeal" and ``Boston Legal" that only used building exteriors. Interior scenes, Coveney informs the disappointed passengers, are nearly always filmed on Hollywood sound-stages.

11. Our second and final stop is at the L Street Tavern in South Boston, the bar made famous in ``Good Will Hunting."

``Ben Affleck took J.Lo here when they were dating," Coveney informs the passengers. They seem impressed.

As everyone files out of the bus to take more photos, I linger behind to chat with the bus driver, who sits beneath a sign reading ``Tips Are Appreciated for a Job Well Done."

During the school year, Staples drives buses for the Beverly School District. He heard about the Boston Movie Tour s gig through a want ad on Craigslist.com.

``It's some extra income, Staples says. ``And I'm learning a lot about movies."

Has he seen ``Good Will Hunting"?

``No," Staples says, laughing. ``I'm curious, though. I think I'll rent it."

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives