Quint drinks a can of Narragansett in “Jaws.” Bluenote was the name of the horse that wins the fourth race at Narragansett Park in “The Sting.” Miss Rhode Island wins the Miss America crown in “Miss Congeniality,” and when pageant host William Shatner asks her to describe her idea of a perfect date, she says “April 25, because it’s not too hot, not too cold.”
These are a few of the sterling Rhode Islandisms in Hollywood films. Despite the best efforts of the Farrelly Brothers, and the fine work of some exceptional actors – including Richard Jenkins and Viola Davis – the Ocean State still comes up a bit short on the Silver Screen. More movies are being made here, but few of them have been very good, so Rhode Islanders have contented themselves with lapping up appetizers of scenery or Rhody references while mostly cringing at the dialogue and plot contrivances.
But that could change in May, when the quirkiest of film directors, Wes Anderson, opens the Cannes Film Festival with a new movie filmed in the quirkiest of states, Yours Rhody.
“Moonrise Kingdom,” featuring a stellar cast (Edward Norton, Francis McDormand, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban), tells the story of a 12-year-old boy and girl in a New England village, circa 1965, who fall in love, make a secret pact and escape together on the eve of a impending storm, with the villagers in pursuit. If the trailer is a true indication of the film’s verbal wit and visual enchantment, “Moonrise” may end up being the movie that stamps Rhode Island in the minds of film buffs in the manner of Martha’s Vineyard in “Jaws” and coastal Scotland in “Local Hero.” Much of it was filmed at the South Kingstown Land Trust conservation easement Bayfield Farm, and advance scenes suggest that Anderson has captured the fairy-tale atmosphere of its sloping fields and tangled woods.
Leading us to this week's question: What Rhode Island location would you like to see filmed in a movie?
Rhody Universe: Soupy Sales
Last December I wrote an article about the art of making soupy, a family tradition in the villages of Westerly that originated in parts of Italy in which spicy sausages are made before Christmas, hung over winter, and distributed to kin and close friends around Easter. The article, posted on our Web site, prompted an e-mail from a reader, who wondered how to acquire soupy, which he had enjoyed years ago. I passed on a couple of suggestions – Ritacco’s Market, Dipollino’s Packing Co. – and didn’t hear from him again until recently. He’s having his bathroom remodeled and talked to “the guy that is putting in the flooring.” Turns out the flooring guy goes to Westerly every year to make soupy. So now he has a soupy source. The universe that is Rhode Island works in mysterious ways.