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1970′s Boston Movie Fun – Name That Location! The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Posted on: July 28, 2010


I remember seeing just a bit of the movie The Friends of Eddie Coyle when my dad was watching it once on TV and doing a complete double take when I saw that the scene was filmed in Dedham the town where both my mum and my dad grew up, and where “Grammie in Dedham” lived, on Richard Street, a few blocks away. We’d sometimes walk to Dedham Square to get an ice cream cone at Cole’s Drug Store or see a movie at the Community Playhouse.

Dedham Square(We used to call my sister PJ and I TOTALLY remember going into McLellan’s with Grammie & Mimi and getting a little china tea set)

Now that I’ve broken a bone in my foot (blah) and am having to spend a bunch of time with my leg up, I thought it would be a good time to do a Retro Roadmap Re-view of this 1973 movie, starring Robert Mitchum, and co-starring a number of great locales from the Boston area. Like watching Spenser For Hire, it was almost more fun to see where things were filmed as it was to follow the story! I’m going to break this post into 2 pieces as I know my diner pals will be interested particularly in part 2. But for now, here are a few places that made me curious, or homesick or both.

Here’s Robert Mitchum looking in the window of a cafeteria type restaurant across from a T station – who from Boston would miss that iconic letter? In the reflection I see that they serve Spanish Omlettes. Though I’m not quite sure, I’m thinking this place might’ve been near Park Street? OK Bostonians, what say you?
Boston Lunch Room Across from MTA Station Serving Spanish Omlettes

Here’s an interior shot of the same restaurant, with the cafeteria line in the back. The reflection in the window from the subway stop says, “MTA All Points” – like Charlie on the MTA!

Boston Lunch Room

One location that appered a lot in the movie is this corner bar- I love the barstools like diner counterstools and the gigantic fan in the back corner. I bet there were still many of these neighborhood joints still around in 1973- does this look familiar to anyone? Someone on the IMDB message board for the movie says it was on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave, where Tower Records used to be.Boston Bar Room(and if anyone is wondering, that’s actor Peter Boyle’s glowing pate)

Moving out to the suburbs, Dedham was featured prominently in the movie, and one of the major bank robberies was filmed at the bank my Grandmother used to go to. The scene that got me all in a tiz however was the one shot at the Dedham Plaza shopping center on Route 1. Not only did I work there during college but we used to walk down there too, when we were bored from playing on the piazza at Grammies’ or didn’t want to rest on the divan (two words I only use when referring to her house, so old fashioned)

Lechmere and Dedham Plaza Signl know this is fuzzy, but check it out – it’s Lechmere! I remember hearing Bette Middler’s version of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy on the car radio when sitting in that parking lot when I was a kid and thinking it was the coolest song ever- what random things your brain remembers, huh?

I told my mother about watching the movie and she said that Barbo’s had been there for years. I know it wasn’t there when I worked at the plaza, but am drawing a blank at what it became. Perhaps it was cut up into little shops. But that Friendly’s was still there, I used to go get ice cream sometimes on my break from Pier 1.

Barbo's Furniture, Friendly

That Rexall was still there when I worked there and if you watch the movie there’s a panning shot where you can see the Woolworths there too. Just look at all those cool old cars! I just took a quick look to see if I could see Gram’s white Ford Falcon, but she must not have been shopping that day.Dedham Plaza Liggets Rexall

Speaking of shopping, I love how they used a real shopping bag from the local Stop & Shop grocery store to hide the contraband weapons in. Funny how I saw that logo go by in a split second and I knew exactly what store it was from. Now that’s the lasting impact of design, right there.
Stop & Shop Bag Garden of Eatin

There are plenty of other Boston views in the movie- Government Center and City Hall Plaza which were only 3-4 years old at that point, a hockey game with Bobby Orr at the Gaaaaahden and other places that may hold special meaning for you if you’re from the area. Heck, even seeing the skyline with the Hancock tower under construction is a hoot.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but this location definitely has a lasting impact.
Billards Ten Pin Candlepin Is this the bowling alley in Dorchester near where the Neponset Drive In used to be? There I am talking like a Bostonian, giving directions based on places that aren’t there anymore!

Stay tuned for part 2- What Diner Is That in the Movie?

Or if you can’t wait, you can rent The Friends of Eddie Coyle from Netflix like I did!

  • http://www.roadsidewonders.net wendyvee

    Isn’t movie location sleuthing fun :)

    I have a trip planned-out (that I haven’t taken yet) for Rocky, The Sixth Sense, and The Village filming locations.

  • http://www.roadsidewonders.net wendyvee

    Oh, forgot to mention . . . how cool was that Barbo’s sign!

    • http://www.RetroRoadmap.com Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com

      Seriously! That sign was not there when I was growing up, but The Plaza still had plenty of vintage charm.

  • Br. Cleve

    I love this movie! Saw it as a new release and found a bootleg dvd of it many years ago. glad it’s out as a legit disc now. The cafeteria in question was on Washington St, in the Combat Zone (that’s the Essex St T stop reflected in the glass). I don’t recall the name of the place (Waldorf??), but it’s featured in a great series of photos of the Zone, which you can read about and see here – http://thephoenix.com/boston/arts/77601-noir-film/

    The bar where Joe Boyle tends and Mitchum drinks was The Kentucky Tavern, located next to the Auditorium T stop in what is now Au Bon Pain (which, yes, is in the old Tower Records building). The Kentucky was your typical bar of its time, what would now be classified as a ‘dive’ but was the type of mens bar you found all over every major city (not many left in Boston). I drank there when I was a student at the Berklee College of Music in the early 70′s. By around ’75 it had closed and been turned into Frankensteins, a bar whose specialty gimmick was showing free movies nightly, and also featured free popcorn as well (there was always popcorn all over the floor). It remained a bar for many years, mostly of the ‘fern bar’ variety, until sometime in the 80′s I believe.

    A great source of info on movies shot in Boston, btw, is the book “Big Screen Boston” by Paul Sherman. He can usually tell you where all those shopping centers and bars were.

    And yes, that is the old Dorchester Bowl-a-Drome. Next to where the drive-in was!! I still bowl there, though that sign is long gone, sad to say.

    Barbo’s main location was on Rt 28 in Stoneham.

    The bank in the opening scenes of the film was in Weymouth, which is also where Eddie Coyle lived.

    Love that Lechmere! Wasn’t signage better back then or am i just an old bastard?!

    • http://www.RetroRoadmap.com Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com

      Cleve! Thanks for posting tons of good information, always good to flesh out the thread. Joyce Linehan of Ashmont Records was kind enough to share the link over on Facebook and Paul Sherman chimed in and mentioned his site/ book as well, which I will be perusing momentarily. I’ll also be transferring some of the other pertinent info from that thread over to here, so all the good stuff is in one place.

      One minor correction tho – the Weymouth bank is actually the site of the 2nd robbery, the first is just off Dedham Square, right across the street from a gas station – and just down from the intersection where the Tahiti still stands! That is why there’s that tracking shot of Dedham Square from the credits. I only know b/c I’m the product of 2 Dedhamites :-)

    • Rich S.

      Br. Thanks for the dive bar info. I went to Northeastern and graduated in 1982. Always at Frankenstein’s. I laughed when I realized that was the same place. Many thanks for naming those places. It has brought back many fond memories. Thanks Again, Rich

  • http://www.RetroRoadmap.com Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com

    Joyce Linehan of Ashmont Records was one swell gal to repost a link to this entry, and some cool folks chimed in on Facebook to add some info. In order to keep all the interesting stuff on one thread, I’m going to repost some of what I found out right here!

    Tom K writes: “It was a no-longer existent cafeteria on Boyleston, near Tremont and the bar, “Dillon’s,” was a place called the Kentucky Tavern at the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave. Love that movie”

    Garen D notes: “Not sure about the diner. Like Paul said there were a bunch around then that no longer exist. I do know that the bar was The Old Kentucky Tavern that was on the corner of Mass Ave & Newbury. Later it became Franks N Steins where they served beer, upscale hot dogs & showed movies.”

    And Boston Film Historian Paul Sherman was kind enough to link to a writeup of his own on the movie, http://www.bigscreenboston.com/2008/05/book-excerpt-the-friends-of-eddie-coyle.html from his book Big Screen Boston – you can buy it from his site, like I just did!

    Also looks like the Boston Bowl is the bowling alley.

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in!

  • http://drinkboston.com Lauren Clark

    Great post, Mod Betty, and great info in the comments! I only saw TFOEC recently and will watch again soon. I *thought* that cafeteria was one of the places featured in that Combat Zone exhibit, Cleve! Psyched to grab Paul’s book. Oh, let’s bring back the Old Kentucky Tavern, please?

    • http://www.RetroRoadmap.com Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com

      I’m right there with you LJC – both on the Old Kentucky and Paul’s book- which I just ordered. And this reminds me I need to dig out those old Boston photos of mine! How does that song go? Oh, Boston you’re my home :-)

  • http://briankeaney.wordpress.com Brian Keaney

    I couple years ago I posted a bunch of screen shots from the film on myDedham.org. You can check them out as well, along with some commentary on what stands there today.

    • http://www.RetroRoadmap.com Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com

      Brian, thanks for the links, and the great screen captures! My folks grew up in Dedham so I knew a lot of those places, I’ve been there recently and while many things have changed I’m glad to see the Community theatre still there.

  • http://www.RetroRoadmap.com Mod Betty / RetroRoadmap.com

    I received this email recently and thought it would be good to add to this thread:

    Hello Mod Betty!!

    I can’t tell how excited I was to see my family’s bakery in your blog “1970′s Boston Movie Fun — Name That Location! The Friend’s of Eddie Coyle.” My grandfather Paul Sivacek Sr. opened the store in 1933 with partner Jacob Umsheid (my grandfather “Paul” was the “P” in PJ & his partner Jacob was the “J”). My father, Paul Sivacek, Jr., took it over in the early 1970′s with his brother Edward (my uncle) and ran it until the late 80′s/early 90′s.

    It was then took over by another baker who called it “Dedham Bake Shop” and within a few years, it was occupied by “Diana Gaikazova Designs”, who since has moved across the street & runs the renamed “The Heart of the Square” next to the historic Dedham Community Theatre. Currently, the space once occupied for over 60 years by PJ Pastry Shop is now a personal fitness center called “The Body Workshop.”

    We all (including family & current occupants of Dedham) miss a bakery in the Square!

    Thank you so much for remembering PJ Pastry Shop in the movie and posting it in your blog. I have never seen a picture of that before and it brought back fond memories. Keep up the good work, and again, thank you for your memorable post!

    Please let me know if you have any questions or curiosities about the bakery — I’d be glad to answer them!

    Sincerely,

    Kristine

  • Pingback: PJ Pastry Shop Dedham MA – A Friends of Eddie Coyle Shot Brings Back Fond Memories! « RetroRoadmap.com

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  • Jack

    The bar was the Kentucky Tavern and it was on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave. I lived a few blocks away at the corner of Marlboro Street and Mass Ave. in 1973-1974 when I was a student at Berklee College of Music. I went to the bar many times. They featured a happy hour where they would serve fifty-cent rail drinks in glasses that were only a bit bigger than a juice glass – but still a good deal. You felt like you were stepping back in time when you were in there and they really didn’t modify it for the movie.