Westport has long ties with the Academy Awards. Over the years, dozens of Oscar-winning actors, producers, screenwriters and other industry machers have lived here.
For decades too, movies have been set in Westport. Others were filmed here. We’re familiar with many: “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” “Rally Round the Flag, Boys!” and “The Swimmer” are just 3 examples.
In honor of tonight’s film industry gala, indefatigable “06880” reader/researcher Fred Cantor unearthed a lesser-known production that not only explored postwar suburban life, but was also set here.
“Loving” — released in 1970 — was based on “Brooks Wilson Ltd.,” a novel by Westporter John McDermott. Clearly, he was writing about his hometown. (The plot includes a successful illustrator, his mistress and alcohol.)
The film starred George Segal and Eva Marie Saint (a Westport Country Playhouse regular). Local residents Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward appeared as extras, while Westporter Diana Douglas also had a role.
“Loving” was filmed in part at the Saugatuck train station, Greens Farms Elementary School, Main Street, and a private home on 27 Long Lots Road.
The film’s setting was important enough for it to be featured in an ad campaign. (“It tops ‘Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice,'” the copy read.)
It was not exactly a hit.
Seven months after its release, Roger Ebert wrote that “Loving”
received a reasonably warm critical reception and then disappeared all summer into some kind of distributorial limbo, turning up finally this week in neighborhood theaters. Somehow it deserved more attention than that. It’s not an earth-shaking film, but it is an amusing and intelligent comedy of manners, and George Segal is fun to watch.
So if you’re bored tonight with all the fake I-can’t-believe-I-won-oh-thank-you! speeches, click on Netflix.
And enjoy a trip back to Westport’s movie-making past.