Monday, October 10, 2022

The Longest Yard (1974)

dir. Robert Aldrich

Burt Reynolds originally wanted to film it in Palm Beach, Florida but his request was denied. Instead the film was shot in Georgia, in and around Savannah, Brunswick, and the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville. It’s one of the six films Reynolds made in Georgia. The movie dialog still makes several references to Palm Beach though.

Paul "Wrecking" Crewe (Burt Reynolds) walks out on his wealthy girlfriend Melissa – Still searching for this location. It looks very much like the Los Angeles area.

The ensuing car chase:
Washington Avenue at Habersham Street, Savannah, Georgia.

Washington Avenue at Reynolds Street, Savannah, Georgia.

Whitaker Street at West Hall Street, Savannah, Georgia.

The car racing through Forsyth Park. This 30-acre park and its beautiful fountain—modeled after then one at the Place de la Concorde in Paris—have been the filmmakers’ favorite for many years. Almost every major film shot in Savannah uses it as a backdrop.

Bull Street at East Congress Lane, Savannah, Georgia.

The car turns from Bull Street onto East Broughton Street, Savannah, Georgia. The corner buildings on both sides of the street have since been demolished, and the intersection is barely recognizable. The archival photo below shows how it looked several decades ago.

2153 and 2135 East Victory Drive, Savannah, Georgia.

Parking lot at 2109 East Victory Drive, Savannah, Georgia. The Eckerd Drugs building has since been demolished, and a Walgreens pharmacy stands on the site now.

The car turns onto Skidaway Road, Savannah, Georgia. Amazingly, some businesses are still there, including the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts sign, and Western Auto is now Advance Auto Parts.

Crewe’s car racing through the bridge – Sidney Lanier Bridge, Brunswick, Georgia. The original vertical-lift bridge was dismantled and replaced by a cable-stayed bridge in the early 2000s.

Crewe’s car enters West Palm Beach – Still searching for this location. The sign is probably fake.

Crewe dumps the car into the water – River Street parking lot, Savannah, Georgia. Though the police officers later mention “the bay” it’s actually the Savannah River.

Crewe is taken to prison – Georgia State Prison, 300 1st Avenue S, Reidsville, Georgia. The filming there was arranged with the cooperation of Georgia’s then-governor Jimmy Carter. The end credits thank Carter, Warden Joe Hopper and all the prison inmates for their assistance in making the picture.

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