By Erin Dale
December 5, 2014
Disney was in town to film scenes from the upcoming movie, “The Finest Hours,” shooting at the Cohasset Historical Society’s Pratt Building and along Jerusalem Road. With artificial snow and vintage cars, parts of town were temporarily transformed to look like a snowy Cape Cod town in the 1950s.
COHASSET-A little Tinseltown magic touched down on Cohasset this week.
Disney was in town to film scenes from the upcoming movie, “The Finest Hours,” shooting at the Cohasset Historical Society’s Pratt Building and along Jerusalem Road.
With artificial snow and vintage cars, parts of town were temporarily transformed to look like a snowy Cape Cod town in the 1950s.
The film, based on the book of the same title by Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias, will tell the story of a 1952 U.S. Coast Guard rescue mission that was launched off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers broke in half during a nor’easter.
Cohasset, along with several other South Shore towns, including Duxbury, Marshfield and Norwell, will stand in for the Cape. Parts of the film were also shot in Quincy, with principal photography starting there in September. Production is also taking place in the Brant Rock area of Marshfield this week and will eventually move to Chatham.
This is not the first time Hollywood turned its lens on Cohasset. In the summer of 1986, the town was taken over by the “Witches of Eastwick” production, starring Cher and Jack Nicholson. Cohasset has also hosted film crews from 1992’s “Housesitter,” starring Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin, and “Sunny Side Up,” starring Parker Posey, in 2010.
Nor’Easter Productions, a Quincy-based company, sought the Board of Selectmen’s permission before setting up shop to film in town; the request was approved unanimously last month. Location scouts also reached out to the Historical Society.
The scouts were looking for municipal buildings and first checked out the Paul Pratt Memorial Library. They were referred to the Historical Society’s Pratt Building, which is where the town library was originally housed.
“They came to us and really liked the building,” said Lynne DeGiacomo, executive director of the Historical Society. “They probably came back with different people maybe four times to make sure it would fit their needs, and it did. We were happy to oblige; it was something different for the historical society.”
DeGiacomo, along with Linda Pratt, acted as a clerk of the works at the Pratt Building during the film shoot, which took place on Monday, Dec. 1.
The outside of the building was blanketed in artificial snow, which the production company also cleaned up. The historic building’s interior, meanwhile, was transformed into the “Cape Cod Telephone Company” in 1952.
Vintage cars lined South Main Street during the shoot, and again on Tuesday, Dec. 2 for a snowy scene shot on Jerusalem Road.
“The resources they have are unbelievable,” Historical Society President Kathy O’Malley said of the movie’s authenticity.
“It’s been a treat” working with the production company before and during the shoot, O’Malley added. “They’ve been very attentive and conscientious. They appreciate the building and have been very sensitive to the historic aspects of it.”
O’Malley said that the building’s furniture was put in storage while the film was shot; as of press time, most of the crew’s furniture and equipment was removed from the building.
The Historical Society is remaining closed throughout the week to accommodate the film and set up its next exhibit, which will carry on the Hollywood theme: a “Downton Abbey” inspired display featuring clothing and textiles from the 1920s. The exhibit kicks off with a cocktail party and fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 10.
“The movie crew helped dress us for Downton,” said DeGiacomo, adding, “They painted for us; they were very kind.”
Before the next exhibit goes up, however, the Society is keeping “The Finest Hours” theme going a little longer with a special lecture next Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. by Historical Society member Jim Campbell on the story behind the book and the film.
“Anyone who wants to support the Historical Society can come down and see where the movie was filmed,” said DeGiacomo.
“We’re gonna milk this one,” O’Malley joked, adding that the building will still look like it did when the movie scenes were filmed, even though the props will be gone by next week.
“We’re planning on setting up room the same size as the boat – people don’t understand how small the rescue boat is,” said O’Malley. “Our furniture won’t be back [by then] but that’s all right; we’re creative.”
So how does it feel to be almost famous? DeGiacomo said that while she didn’t exactly hobnob with the films’ stars – actors Casey Afflect, Eric Bana and Chris Pine did not shoot scenes in Cohasset – she did enjoy a brush with fame, meeting the film’s director, Craig Gillespie, and actress Holliday Grainger, who were both “very sweet.”
“None of the men stars were there,” DeGiacomo added, although she was asked to get some copies of the book autographed and managed to get the director’s.
She definitely plans to see the film when it’s in theaters, although it won’t be until sometime in 2016.
“I’m going to see the movie,” she said. “It sounds like a very interesting story. I have not read the book yet but it will be fun, having watched it being filmed, at least parts [of it].”
The best part will be seeing how Cohasset is integrated into the film. DeGiacomo recalled glimpsing parts of Cohasset in other films.
“You realize after you’ve seen ‘Witches of Eastwick’ how fast it goes by,” she said. “It goes by in the blink of an eye.”