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You’ve seen Boston on film – here’s how to see it IRL

Even if you’ve never been to Boston (and if you haven’t, we need to talk), you’ve likely seen a lot of it from the comfort of your theater seat or couch. Go on location here at Newbury Guest House and you’ll be within a short walk, drive, or ‘T’ ride of many memorable scenes. You might also be fooled into thinking you’ve booked a room on a movie set; we’re located in the charming Back Bay historic brownstone district where our boutique hotel sits in a neighborhood of late 19th-century Victorian homes that typify Boston’s quintessential combination of Colonial and Old-World European charm. 


Plan a cinephile tour today and be sure to put these eight award-winning films starring our favorite town on your must-visit list.


Good Will Hunting

The Oscar-sweeping 1997 film was set around South Boston and Harvard Square, and while much of it was filmed in Toronto, actual Boston filming locations include Bunker Hill Community College, Boston Public Gardens, Central Technical High School, the urban neighborhood along E. 5th St., the Boston Turnpike (a.k.a. the Mass Pike) and the unassuming Woody’s L Street Tavern. And of course, its writers and stars can claim townie cred – both hail from (and went to school together in) Cambridge. Oscar count: 8 


The Departed

Also set in and around South Boston, The Departed does rare cinematic justice to Boston’s waterfront, architecture, and skyline. Some of the film’s most recognizable locations include 

the opening rugby scene in Boston Common, Chinatown, and the Massachusetts State House (it’s hard to miss its spectacular 23-karat gold dome). Matt Damon’s character’s fab apartment was the top floor of Suffolk University Law School, and you can see the movie’s police department at 25 Staniford St. That creepy scene where Jack Nicholson takes the wedding ring off a severed hand? That’s Flagship Wharf off 8th St. Movie trivia: The “Charles Street Brasserie” is actually the Charles Street Cleaners in costume – you can see it at 17 Charles Street on Beacon Hill. Oscar count: 4


The Verdict

The movie was set in Boston but filmed mostly in New York. Real Boston locations making special guest appearances include the Massachusetts State House whose imposing Gothic architecture served as both courtroom corridors and hospital quarters. The “home” of the film’s uncooperative obstetric nurse can be seen at 100 G. Street in South Boston. And the funeral home from which Paul Newman’s down-and-out lawyer is unceremoniously ejected stars as itself – the William F. Spencer Funeral Home is still in business at E. Broadway and H Streets. Oscar count: 5


The Friends of Eddie Coyle

This story of downtrodden deadbeat crooks and snitches was filmed in the 1970s amidst some of the city’s appropriately dingier quarters. The “South Shore Bank” robbery that launches the story is actually Citizens Bank on Bryant Street and Eastern Avenue; Robert Mitchum’s Eddie Coyle stops by the Dedham Plaza Shopping Center on the Providence Highway to pick up a little stash of guns; and Richard Jordan’s Detective Foley meets up with informants at City Hall Square. Newbury Street in our very own Back Bay neighborhood was the setting for the bar manned by the single-monikered Dillon, who (spoiler alert) turns out to be the movie’s true bad guy. These days it’s a considerably less seedy Best Buy. Oscar count: 5 nominations, but no wins, though it was well reviewed and is one of the most highly regarded crime films of the 1970s.


Spotlight

Lovers of Boston, true crime and journalism won’t find a better depiction of The Boston Globe’s Catholic child abuse scandal investigation than Spotlight. The crew filmed in town for just four days but captured the South End and Charlestown in a truly authentic way. It’s at Fenway Park where reporter Mike Renzendes, played by Mark Ruffalo, realizes the potential enormity of the story they’re about to uncover. Movie trivia: look closely and you’ll see the real-life Renzendes seated a few rows behind Ruffalo. The South End Buttery is the scene of a meeting between reporter Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and one of the victims. Exterior shots of the Globe building in Dorchester, the Old State House, and the Boston Public Library are featured throughout the Best Picture-winning film. Oscar count: 2 


Manchester by the Sea

Fittingly for a movie that takes its title from its location, Manchester-by-the-Sea (about 30 miles from Back Bay Boston) was its main filming location, along with the town of Beverly. Fibber McGee’s Bar and Grill plays the local where Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler is a regular (Pratty’s Bar on Parker Street in Gloucester is another of his haunts). When Lee searches out his nephew to break the news of his father’s death, he finds him at hockey practice at Talbot Rink (go, Vikings!) at O’Maley Middle School in Gloucester. Scenes in the high school itself were filmed at Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School in Manchester-by-the-Sea. Lee and his nephew butt heads for most of the film, with some of their most prominent conflicts taking place at Beacon Marine Basin in Gloucester and Grondin Funeral Home in Beverly. The funeral service for Lee’s brother was filmed in Crowell Chapel and Rosedale Cemetery in Manchester-by-the-Sea, and the narrow steps of Herrick Court are the scene of Lee’s encounter with his ex-wife (Michelle Williams) towards the end of this downbeat but moving drama. Oscar count: 2


The Social Network

Boston’s Harvard University – where Mark Zuckerberg conceived of what would become Facebook – didn’t permit filming on campus, so many “campus” scenes were shot at Wheelock College in west Boston. Other Boston and nearby spots featured in the film include The Thirsty Scholar Pub on Beacon Street in Somerville, where the movie opens with Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend. And when the Winklevoss twins and their partner Divya Narenda invite Zuckerberg to program their “Harvard Connection” site, the old St. Cloud Hotel building on Tremont Street in Boston stands in for the exclusive “Porcellian Club.” Oscar count: 3


Mystic River

The fictitious “East Buckingham” of the Clint Eastwood-directed film is an amalgam of real-life Charlestown, Southie, Brighton, and Dorchester that stays largely true to the Beantown location of the book the film was based on. Even the studio sets were built in Canton, just south of Boston. In the film’s kickoff kidnapping scene, three young kids play street hockey at Condor and Meridian Streets in East Boston, the background spanned by the Tobin Bridge across the Mystic River. Residences at 40 and 111 Falcon Street serve as the homes of Tim Robbins’ Dave and Sean Penn’s Jimmy, respectively. Jimmy’s grocery store, Miller’s Market, was the real-life Cottage Market at 336 K Street in South Boston, and McGill’s, the tavern where Dave sees Jimmy’s daughter Katie dancing on the bar is really Doyle’s Braddock Café at 3484 Washington St. When Katie’s body is found later, it’s in the Bear Dens near the Franklin Park’s Seaver Street entrance. After questioning Dave about his daughter’s death, the cops grab coffee afterwards at Nazca Café on 5th Street, and when Dave moves across the river to Charlestown to escape his past, it’s the yellow clapboard house you can still see at 127 High Street. Oscar count: 2


Other famous films with Boston cameos include Moneyball (Fenway Park); Ghostbusters’ 2016 female-led iteration (Wang Theatre, Financial District); Legally Blonde (Harvard Square); and The Firm (Copely Square, Fairmont Copely Plaza Hotel, Harvard University, Harvard Square).


No doubt the screenwriters, actors, directors, and cinematographers of these award-winning films are largely responsible for their combined 35 Academy Awards, but we like to think our incredibly scenic city has something to do with them as well. Book a stay at Newbury Guest House and come see why for yourself. We guarantee our Back Bay hotel is as comfy as your couch, and a lot closer to the action.