Hold on to your socks, because you, right now, could be minutes away from watching a classic piece of cinema filmed in Frankford. The 1981 movie “Fighting Back” is available for internet streaming if your a member of Netflix. One of my favorite ever posts of mine on the Frankford Gazette has to be the one for when I found out that the movie had ample scenes in Frankford. The post spawned a 44 comment misadventure that was pretty entertaining with feverish debates as to where house exteriors and interiors were filmed and whether John Travolta was ever here. You’re minutes away from scenes shot at McPherson Square, a car chase that starts at Lehigh Ave and ends up crashing on Penn St, interior shots of Episcopal Hospital, etc. It’s a pretty good flick for documenting Kensington and Frankford from the 80s. And I think it’s hilarious that they’re fighting back way back in 1980! Man they should see the neighborhoods now!
And let’s not forget, Tom Skerrit was Viper from Top Gun.
I never thought we have a picture of Tom Cruise on this blog.
Check out our original post here, and check our other posts for stuff that was filmed in Frankford, and definitely check out “Fighting Back” on Netflix.
[Netflix] Fighting Back(1981)
According to Inqlings, that huge light setup that’s annoying Glen Quagmire over on philadelphiaspeaks.com is for some filming the tv show Friday Night Lights is doing at Frankford Stadium. We have a pretty long list of stuff that’s been filmed around 19124. I’ve never watched the show but any regular viewers should keep a look out for our stadium, maybe I can grab some screen shots, it’ll probably be months before it airs though.
[link] http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20100718_Inqlings__Now__America_s_got_______Mummers_.html [philly.com]
[link] http://www.nbc.com/friday-night-lights/ [nbc.com]
Of the three movies we’ve found so that have been filmed in Frankford, Fighting Back is the one that I enjoyed the most. It stars Tom Skerritt(remember him from Top Gun? HE WAS VIPER!). A lot of the action happens down at McPherson Square in Kensington where Skeritt plays a deli owner across from the part who’s sick of the crime and drugs plagueing his neighborhood. The movie really scatters the locations, like his neighborhood crime task force meets down by the Walt Whitman bridge and “his neighborhood” appears to stretch from deep in Kensington all the way up to Frankford. It always irks me when movie makers just blend different pieces of Philly just to make a movie. It’s like when Rocky does his awesome run from Kensington to South Philly to Fairmount Park to Center City back to the Art Museum. Awesome run, not real acurate that he’d go for a 36 mile morning jog. Anyway, I digress. It’s a pretty good movie if you’re into that Dirty Harry/Charles Bronson vigilante action, and I am. Only problem is that you can’t get it on DVD. I got a former rental video from Amazon for $7 including shipping. I got an ex rental store copy so the tracking sucked for the first 20 minutes. Remember tracking? The joys of VHS man. It was a bargain if you’re into Frankford film history(which is really cool since I didn’t know we had any).
Update from Ken Karpinski in May of 2016: ….needs 1982 as its U.S. release year. Any references to its opening credits’ footages and narration about violence since 1963 ?
The movie had some clutch parts, like when our protagonist dropped a grenade on a pimp’s car and then got elected counselman. And there were some good Frankford scenes. Like when he’s in the car with his family and a pimp chases him all the way up to Penn and Orthodox and crashes him onto the sidewalk; ON PENN STREET. His mother’s house is by Penn and Orthodox too, at one point she locks herself in after a robber cuts her finger off and his kid has to go get a priest. And the whole scene I’m thinking “which freakin house is that”. Cause it’s unmistabley Penn Street. I know it’s Penn Street. I KNOW IT. I just can’t pinpoint it. Those three story victorian joints between Orthodox and Arrott are unmistakable.
I will absolutely get some screen shots as soon as I figure out how to convert VHS to digital for as cheap as possible.
We’re gathering quite a collection of movies that have been filmed in Frankford. Check out the comments from our Pride of the Marines post to see how I came to hear about this nugget of information. It all started because frequent Gazette commenter Joseph swears that the house at Arrott and Pilling is in a movie. Sorry Joeseph, I didn’t see it in Fighting Back. But it was a cool flick non the less. But that still leaves us with a mystery. Can anybody identify the movie that this house was in?
Update: We got a comment from a former owner of this house:
That house was infact from the movie Fighting Back. I lived in that house for 17 years. Trust me it was in the movie. In the movie Fighting back their are two different houses used as the Tom Skeritt’s house. The outside of the house is a home at Penn + Overington St. The inside of the house was my house,1329 Arrott St. The famous scene from the movie where the dog is found dead hanging on the door in the bathroom is actually my bedroom. I moved into that house in 1983. The movie was filmed their in 1981. The former owners before my mother bought the house was a family with the last name McMaster. During filming they were put up in the Korman Suites for the 2 months they filmed the movie.
We’re on a roll finding movies filmed in Frankford. Not only was “Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of Woman” filmed in Frankford, Ginger Rogers repeatedly reminds her man friend “You’re the main line and I’m Griscom Street.” From IMDB:
Ginger Rogers, a hard-working white-collar girl from a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania low, middle-class family, meets and falls in love with young socialite Wyn Strafford but his family is against her.
Not only is she from Philly, SHE’S FROM GRISCOM STREET! Unlike Pride of the Marines, we don’t really get any great shots of Frankford save for her going in to her father’s house in one shot below:
I went through Google’s Street View of Griscom Street and can’t find the exact house, but up and down it there are quite a few houses that look similar, especially down around Church Street. So I dunno, I’m thinking it’s the real Griscom Street but you never know with those Hollywood types.
Update: Via our facebook feed, we got a comment from Heather that said:
It was between Sellers and Unity… my Gram lived at 4442 Griscom. They probably only used the last 2 numbers for the houses back then. My Mom said it was diagonal from her house next to St Marks church lot, behind Bill’s meat market. It would have be one of the houses by where Dan Stoneback lived. Across from Cotter Co where the train came through…
Yesterday, after I posted more hints about a local movie filmed in and around Frankford and Tacony, Shirley and her mother properly guessed it was Pride of the Marines. In the film, Al Schmid is a border in Tacony, dating Ruth Hartley, played by Eleanor Parker who lived at 1025 Filmore Street in Northwood. Remember this is her house here:
As soon as I was this scene, I stopped the movie and started hunting down that location. I was pretty sure it was in East Frankford around Darrah and Wakeling. But it took me a while before I found it; it ended up being 200 yards from my front door in Northwood. Check it out on Google Street View here. And I probably should have just kept watching the movie to save myself some effort, cause her exact address shows up in the movie when Al’s coming back to Philly and she gets a telegram from his friend:
I guess they didn’t have zip codes back then. But anyways, congrats, Shirley and your mom, if we ever start printing up tee shirts, we’ll be sure to give you one.