This week, John Ur heads south to explore the cinematic offerings from Delaware and Maryland.
I consider myself a movie snob. But even I give in occasionally to the hilarious lowbrow humor in some comedies, and I have to admit that Wayne's World is one of my guilty pleasures. One of my favorite scenes is where Wayne and Garth stand in front of a green screen “which magically allows them to travel through time and space.” The screen flashes a photo of New York. “I got a gun. Let’s go to a Broadway show,” Wayne jokes, in an atrocious New Yawk accent.
They crack lines on Hawaii (“Mookalakeheemee, cmonyawannaleime”) and Texas (“let’s raise and rope broncos”) and then comes the line that cracks me up every time I see it. “Imagine being magically whisked away to… Delaware,” Wayne says, as a postcard from the state flashes up on the screen. He loses all humor in his face, and deadpans: “Hi, I’m in Delaware,” with zero enthusiasm. Anytime I’m in Delaware or passing through, I repeat that line to myself and I laugh a little…usually to the bewilderment of any traveling companions.
This may be Delaware’s seminal film moment. Looking at their filmography, few famous movies crop up. The one notable exception is Dead Poets’ Society. This Oscar winning film, starring Robin Williams, presents an unorthodox English teacher trying to help his students buck the trends of conformity. Drama ensues between the students, their overbearing parents, the administration and Williams’ character, John Keating. Though set in Vermont, the film was shot at St. Andrews School in Delaware, a Christian college prep school, and many of the students were used as extras in the movie. And although the school has exactly the look necessary for the film – antiquated Gothic architecture that has become a signature trope in academic movies – I have to wonder, were there no schools in New England that also could have fit the bill?
Unfortunately for Delaware, that’s about all the movie information I can dig up on the second smallest state. But thankfully, Maryland has a slightly better cinematic track record. The state is a little larger, it has a strategically advantageous location next to Washington D.C., and it has a native son director who revels in making films in his hometown: John Waters in Baltimore. He's most famous for the movie Hairspray (made into a Broadway musical, then made into a musical movie), but put plainly, Waters is an eccentric, and his films capture the bizarre offerings of Charm City. He often chooses to set a film in a particular neighborhood in the city, and will shoot the entire thing there, so the number of places featured is too numerous to count. But The Advocate published a detailed Tour de Baltimore highlighting locations from Waters’ flicks back in 2004.
[I’ll also use this soapbox to prod everyone to watch The Wire, HBO’s great gang and police drama series based in Baltimore. I usually don’t talk about television shows in this column because the scope would just balloon out of control, but for Baltimore and The Wire, I’ll make an exception. It's amazing.]
Though a very small state much like Delaware, Maryland does have a famous shoreline, whose beaches and boundary islands have played host to several film crews. One of the more famous was Wedding Crashers, which not only was primarily filmed on the state's eastern shore, but served to coin a phrase almost as widely known as Wayne's deadpanned Delaware quip: "Crabcakes and Football. That's What Maryland Does!"
The film itself follows Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as Jeremy Gray
and John Beckwith – two friends who crash weddings in hopes of getting
some free food, drinks and women. In their coup de grâce, they
hit up the Cleary family wedding, an opulent affair for the U.S.
Secretary of the Treasury’s daughter, attended by notable dignitaries
and outrageously rich D.C. families. The ceremony itself was filmed in
Los Angeles before the filmmakers moved things east to stage the reception outside under a huge tent overlooking the Chesapeake at the Inn at Perry Cabin. You can also bask in the gorgeousness of the Bay in those scenes where the Cleary family are sailing on their boat, the Woodwind II
(available for rent out of Annapolis, MD). The boat transports the
family along with Jeremy and John to the Cleary’s summer home on the
Bay – a sprawling compound with room to play tackle football and relax
on the beach (with scenes filmed at Assateague Island National Seashore
Maryland and Delaware may have low cinematic outputs, but the films
they do churn out seem to be high in memorable quotes. And with so many
of the states unexplored by the camera’s lens, there are more surprises
waiting for you to discover there.
Also Recommended: Syriana, Rocket Science, Cecil B. Demented
Read More: Learn more about film production in Maryland at the State Film Commission, and in Delaware at their state Film Office. For a complete survey of John Ur's Cinematic Road Trip, go back through the archives here.
Photos: Above, Maryland by Raoulpop; Below, crabs by John Ur