Editor's note: Cincinnati movie expert Margaret McGurk screened Robert Redford's The Old Man & The Gun for me last month while I was recovering from knee replacement surgery. McGurk, the former Enquirer movie critic, has also reported on films for WCPO-TV, WXIX-TV and WKRQ-FM.
Here's her report on how Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky look as locations in the film from Dallas to St. Louis:
BY MARGARET McGURK
Robert Redford's performance in The Old Man & The Gun has drawn glowing reviews across the country as it opens in more cities following a healthy debut in Toronto last month.
When it does open here Thursday, Oct. 11, Cincinnati area fans may end up paying as much attention to familiar backdrops as they do to the fine cast, including Oscar winners Redford, Sissy Spacek and Casey Affleck, plus Danny Glover, Tom Waits and Tika Sumpter (who played former first lady Michelle Obama in Southside With You).
The story is based on the later life of bank robber Forrest Tucker (no relation to the late actor of the same name), whose greatest joy was robbing banks. (He was likewise fond of escaping from prison; he did it 18 times.)
Tucker robbed banks all over the country. In the movie, a montage of bank facades meant to represent Omaha, St. Louis and other major cities was chiefly made up of banks in Covington, Newport and Cincinnati (including North Side Bank & Trust).
Most of the film takes place in Dallas and many scenes were shot in Fort Worth. But when the production crew came to Cincinnati last year, they found plenty of local sites that fit seamlessly into the narrative.
The Blue Jay Restaurant in Northside, an unreconstructed vintage diner, is the setting for key encounters between Redford and Spacek's characters, seen in the movie trailer. Affleck and Sumpter also shot a scene there.
The Blue Jay was also used in last year's The Killing of a Sacred Deer with Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
Wichard Oil on Ohio 125 in Bethel was transformed into "Barksdale's Auto Repair" and its gas pumps temporarily replaced with older models.
The Midway Theater, the old single-screen on West Plain Street in Bethel, shows up on screen when Forrest (Redford) and Jewel (Spacek) catch a movie together.
Liberty Tower, the historic Art Deco office building in downtown Dayton, OH, stands out in scenes revolving around a major heist at the old Liberty Savings Bank. At one point, the robbers use a parking deck across the street to study their target.
A farm near Lebanon and an unrelated house on a different nearby plot of land in Warren County combine to play the home of Spacek's character.
The Lake Harsha spillway at East Fork State Park near Williamsburg in Clermont County is featured in one of the movie's most dramatic scenes, said location scout Alan Forbes, who helped find most of the local sites used in the movie.
The scene, also in the trailer, involved a wild police chase of a young Tucker.
The movie crew spent several days in Northern Kentucky collecting shots in Covington, Latonia and Newport.
Local residents reported seeing Redford, Glover and Waits working at Citizens Federal Savings & Loan on Madison Avenue in Covington.
Likewise, Redford was spotted in Newport at the US Bank branch, which is called Three Day Bank in the film and appears in multiple scenes.
Car-chase scenes were shot in Latonia near Holy Cross High School.
Casey Affleck and John David Washington (BlacKKKlansman) were also seen on Monmouth shooting footage for a pair of car-ride scenes.
Editor's note: I also asked Margaret if she thought The Old Man & The Gun, and/or Redford, were Oscar-worthy. Here's what she says:)
The enthusiastic reception by critics and audiences for The Old Man & The Gun has generated the kind of Oscar talk that often appears when aged stars play leading roles.
In this case, a nomination may not be out of the question, since Redford has never won an Academy Award for acting. He received his one Oscar in 1980 as the director of Ordinary People. (His Old Man co-star Sissy Spacek won her sole Academy Award the same year for playing Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter.) In 1994, Redford was nominated for best director for Quiz Show.
Redford has been an influential producer as well, with more than 50 credits, including many documentaries on environmental issues, which helped win him an honorary Academy Award for career contribution in 2002.
Whether this year will bring another nomination is impossible to predict; competition in the Best Actor categories is always fierce. But Academy members have been known to vote for a "make-good' award if they have overlooked earlier, high-quality work too often. In Redford's case, he arguably could have been nominated for his performances in The Natural (1994), Three Days of the Condor (1975), The Great Gatsby (1974), The Candidate (1972) or Downhill Racer (1969), among others.
The Old Man & The Gun opens Thursday night Oct. 11 at the Mariemont Theatre, AMC Newport on the Levee and Neon Movies in downtown Dayton.