With so many movies set in Boston, we asked Globe critics Ty Burr and Mark Feeney to offer up contenders for the best Boston film. Check out their list of the top 10 flicks shot right in our backyard.
Pictured: Mark Wahlberg (left) and Matt Damon, both Boston area natives, in a scene from “The Departed.” Next
The Boston Accent: ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ (1973)
Stars Robert Mitchum as the title character, “an aging low-level mook in the Boston criminal hierarchy who has to decide whether avoiding a two-year stretch in a New Hampshire prison is worth dropping the dime on his bank-robber friends,’’ Burr writes. ‘’ ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ grandpa Peter Boyle is a treacherous bar owner, and Alex Rocco (Moe Greene from ‘The Godfather’) is one of the robbers.’’ Filmed in Dorchester and on the South Shore, at the Kentucky Tavern on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Newbury, on the Cambridge side of the Charles by the MIT dorms, in a Milton house, and at the railway station in Sharon (a sign mockingly informs the characters that the town is “a better place to live because it’s Naturally Beautiful”). The accents, Burr writes, are ‘’just about flawless.’’
Pictured, Robert Mitchum as Eddie Coyle. Next
A New Yorker’s View: ‘The Verdict’ (1982)
Stars Paul Newman as alcoholic Beantown lawyer Frank Galvin, who gets a shot at redemption when he takes on a medical negligence case involving a church-run hospital—an easy out-of-court settlement—and decides to take it to a jury. James Mason is his prince-of-darkness opponent Edward Concannon, Charlotte Rampling a shady lady. Ironically, it was mostly shot in New York, supposedly to get away from the Boston Teamsters. However, “Southie plays a large part in the film, from the William F. Spencer Funeral Home at 575 East Broadway to George’s Variety on G Street.’’ On the accents, Newman and Jack Warden tread carefully and come off unscathed.
Pictured, Paul Newman as Frank Galvin. Next
All about the neighborhood: ‘The Brink’s Job’ (1978)
Director William Friedkin used 65 different locations overall but spent a goodly amount of time rebuilding the old Scollay Square—torn down in 1962 to make way for Government Center—in McKinley Square and mocking up a re-creation of the Dudley Street el stop. He also shot extensively in the North End on Prince Street, using the original site of the robbery (by 1978, the garage of Polcari’s restaurant) and paying locals to remove storm windows, air conditioners, and TV antennas (the story goes that Friedkin’s crew paid $200 to get rid of one AC unit—and the next morning every window had one). ... Globe reviewer Bruce McCabe wrote that Friedkin captured “a big small town where the Irish-Americans and the Italian-Americans coexist with varying degrees of ease and where the neighborhood is the setting for life.”
Pictured, a scene from the film. Next
The Boys from Cambridge: ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)
Stars Matt Damon as a troubled math prodigy from Southie and Ben Affleck as his running mate, faster of mouth and slower of brain. Robin Williams is along for the ride as Damon’s tortured-but-wise therapist. Remembered for Damon and Affleck’s screenwriting Oscar and the apotheosis of Hollywood-on-the-Charles chic. For Boston cred, Williams reenacts Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair in the sixth game of the 1975 World Series. On the minus side, Damon takes the Red Line through Dorchester to get from MIT to Southie. That’s possible if you want to double back in a cab, but highly impractical.
Pictured, Matt Damon (left) as Will Hunting and Robin Williams as Sean Maguire. Next
Don’t Rescue Me: ‘Monument Ave.’ (1998)
Stars Denis Leary as a prototypical late-1980s son of Charlestown: a car-boosting, coke-snorting layabout happy to rip off the encroaching yuppies but less happy to hew to the neighborhood code of silence when a local kingpin (Colm Meaney) kills his loose-lipped cousin (Billy Crudup). “The Town” notwithstanding, this movie gets Charlestown right. On accents, any movie with the line “Jackie’s gat a sweet dealahship jab up in Sahgus” is doing fine ... Alone among Boston movies, Monument acknowledges our town’s unscalable racial divide in the scene in which Leary and his buddies terrify a black man who’s made the mistake of wandering into the wrong neighborhood.
Pictured, Denis Leary as Bobby O’Grady and Famke Janssen as Katy. Next
Bossa Nova Boston: ‘Next Stop Wonderland’ (1998)
Stars Hope Davis as a South End lonely-heart with a meddling mother (Holland Taylor) and Alan Gelfant as the East Boston plumber-turned-marine-biology student who keeps just missing meeting her. Burr says the movie with a bossa nova soundtrack strikes “the right balance between tourist Boston and lived-in Boston.’’ There’s a shot of rush-hour crowds on the Blue Line that’s like a museum exhibit of New England faces, and the film’s perverse un-love story, in the words of former Globe critic Jay Carr, “easily aligns with the bred-in-the-bone Boston conviction that nothing should come easily.”
Pictured, Alan Gelfant (left) as Alan Monteiro and Hope Davis as Erin Castleton. Next
Cinematic Boston Reborn: ‘Mystic River’ (2003)
Stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon as three friends from the nabe who grow up to be, respectively, a local crime king in semi-retirement, an emotionally shattered abuse survivor, and a cop. The film, Burr says, marks “the big-time return of the Boston movie.’’ Inherent Boston-ness? “Just about as good as could ever be expected from a director and a cast with major California credentials. Mystic River is a great movie more than it’s a great Boston movie, references to the Cantab in Central Square aside.’’
Pictured, Sean Penn as Jimmy Markum. Next
Ben Affleck’s redemption: ‘Gone Baby Gone’ (2007)
A better Boston movie than its contemporary contenders, argues Ty Burr. In adapting Dennis Lehane’s 1998 crime thriller, Affleck ‘’rescued his career from the water-cooler ridicule that has dogged it since the days of ‘’Daredevil’’ and J.Lo. ... Impressive, even unique, is the way this local boy uses Boston—the mythic, clannish Boston of writers like Lehane and the late George V. Higgins ... It’s anchored throughout by an insider’s knowledge of this particular street, that specific turn of phrase, this local actor cast in a key bit part. The sag of a three-decker and the sag on the faces of the people who live there.’’
Pictured, Casey Affleck as Patrick Kenzie. Next
Hoodfellas: ‘The Departed’ (2006)
A Martin Scorcese masterpiece starring Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jack Nicholson. In Burr’s review, he says Dorchester-born screenwriter William Monahan’s “dialogue is filthy and funny, bristling with tabloid poetry: ‘Your family’s dug into the Southie projects like ticks.’’’ The accents mostly work, although Martin Sheen does the Kennedy thing. Of Nicholson’s Whitey Bulger-like gangster, Burr writes: “He’s a joyfully vulgar psycho, a creature of pure id.’’ A plus on the soundtrack: the Dropkick Murphy’s “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,’’ a shot of adrenaline as striking here as when it plays as Jonathan Papelbon jogs in from the bullpen at Fenway.
Pictured, Matt Damon (left) as Colin and Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan. Next
Hub Noir: ‘Mystery Street’ (1950)
Directed by John Sturges, “Mystery Street” stars a very good Ricardo Montalban as a detective in the Barnstable County DA’s office. “He heads the investigation when the skeleton of a Beacon Hill B girl turns up buried on a Cape Cod beach,’’ writes Mark Feeney. “A Harvard Medical School professor helps with the forensics, and the local angle shows up everywhere from a Route 3 sign to an Old Ironsides tattoo. Hub noir, what a concept.’’
Pictured, a scene from the film. Back to the beginning
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below