So I spent last Friday in Philadelphia (traveling by BUS, permit me to point out), hanging out with friends, and while I was there, I decided to visit some of the prominent movie-related landmarks around the City of Brotherly Love. I was walking, so I didn't get to see as many as I had hoped, but I saw some: the church that was in The Sixth Sense, and the deli where Denzel Washington ate in Philadelphia. I wanted to find Eddie Murphy's street corner from Trading Places, but I didn't have time.
The biggest movie landmark in Philly, however, was one I couldn't pass up: the Rocky statue. Unfortunately, it's no longer at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but at least it's nearby. A homeless guy took the accompanying photo of Yours Truly with the statue; I think he was offering his services to everybody gathered around it. I made sure to give him some change. I saw lots of different people run up the stairs: tourists, little kids, even ordinary joggers, but there were way too many of those stairs for me to try it. By the side, there were a couple of dudes selling Rocky T-shirts.
Naturally, this experience made me think of other statues of movie and TV characters. Here in New York, for example, we have the Ralph Kramden Honeymooners statue, in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Here's a bigger list, which includes the Robocop statue in Detroit and the controversial Lucy Ricardo one in upstate New York. I think there are more that could be made, don't you? Here's five worthy candidates from the big and small screens and places for these fantasy statues to go:
- Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher. The Murder She Wrote character traveled all over the country, but her home was the fictional New England town of Cabot Cove, Maine, which was inspired by the actual town of Kennebunkport, Maine, so if a statue of her should go anywhere, it should go there. (Mendocino, California was where exterior shots of Cabot Cove were actually shot.) I wasn't what you'd call a regular viewer of the show, but I did watch it from time to time, and I don't think enough good things can be written about Lansbury, an inspiration to actors everywhere, still going strong as she closes in on age 90 (wow!). I picture a Jessica Fletcher statue as being her sitting down in front of her typewriter, pounding away on her latest novel.
- Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. It would have to go in San Francisco, of course, perhaps down by Fisherman's Wharf. He would have to be dressed in his fedora and trenchcoat, holding the Maltese Falcon in front of him. The best time to view it would be at night, with the fog rolling in off the Bay, and a boat or two behind him. I'm kinda surprised no one has proposed this already, to be honest. It's unfortunate that the film didn't take advantage of any exterior location shots of SF, but that sort of thing wouldn't become commonplace in Hollywood movies for another decade or so. (Maybe a Vertigo statue of Stewart and Novak could go underneath the Golden Gate Bridge?)
- Richard Roundtree as Shaft. Times Square should be the most appropriate location for a statue of the private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks, evoking the memorable opening credits - perhaps you could put him next to the subway entrance on 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, as if he were just leaving the A train, about to cross the street against the light and flip off the taxi driver who almost hits him. The problem with that, though, is Shaft simply does not belong in the Disney-fied, tourist-y, safe(r) and clean(er) Times Square of 2015. Actually, one could argue he doesn't belong in the New York of 2015, either, come to think of it. Still, if Times Square is out, then Harlem it is, near the Apollo Theater, and maybe that's more appropriate.
- Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat. I actually saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof a few months ago, at the Loew's Jersey City, but I never wrote about it. Anyway, if any actress deserves a statue, it's Liz, and her in that slinky white negligee, spread out on that brass bed would make for the perfect tableau. Perhaps it could go in Tennessee Williams' hometown of Columbus, Mississippi?
- Robert Preston as Harold Hill. The hat, raised in greeting. The bow tie. The checkered suit. The suitcase with his name on it. Add it up and you would have one terrific statue of one of the most memorable musical characters of all time, and where else can it possibly go but Mason City, Iowa, birthplace of Music Man creator Meredith Wilson and often nicknamed River City?
Feel free to add to the list if you like.