2009-07-11 / Top News

Filming Brought Reeve, Seymour to Mackinac Island 30 Years Ago

By Karen Gould

A crowd watches as director Jeannot Szwarc (front, in cap) chats with Christopher Reeve on Main Street about the upcoming scene in "Somewhere in Time." The dolly shot is set up for the Baxter's Coin Shop scene. Director of Photography Isidore Mankofsky is on the far right. (Photograph courtesy of International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts) A crowd watches as director Jeannot Szwarc (front, in cap) chats with Christopher Reeve on Main Street about the upcoming scene in "Somewhere in Time." The dolly shot is set up for the Baxter's Coin Shop scene. Director of Photography Isidore Mankofsky is on the far right. (Photograph courtesy of International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts) For six weeks 30 years ago, the cast and crew of 70 from Universal Studios were filming the enduring classic movie, "Somewhere in Time," on Mackinac Island. Cameras began rolling just after Memorial Day in 1979, and filming was completed July 16. The filmmakers also participated with a float in the Lilac Festival parade that year. The movie was released October 3, 1980.

The romantic time travel story set in the present and in 1912 starred Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer and was written by Richard Matheson and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Many Island residents were filmed as extras or assisted in the production.

The novel on which the film is based was set at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California, although the appearance of the hotel had changed since the story was written and the hotel had become too modern in appearance to be used in the film, with metal framed windows and rooftop antennas, said Jo Addie, president of International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts (INSITE), who also worked on the film.

About one month before filming ended on "Somewhere in Time" in 1979, the cast members participated in the Lilac Festival. Christopher Reeve is on the left, inside the gazebo, and on the right is Bill Erwin, who played Arthur in the movie. The gazebo was used in the movie and now is available for weddings on the Island. (Photograph courtesy of Mackinac State Historic Parks) About one month before filming ended on "Somewhere in Time" in 1979, the cast members participated in the Lilac Festival. Christopher Reeve is on the left, inside the gazebo, and on the right is Bill Erwin, who played Arthur in the movie. The gazebo was used in the movie and now is available for weddings on the Island. (Photograph courtesy of Mackinac State Historic Parks) Mackinac Island provided the perfect location for the movie, she said, with Grand Hotel as the setting, the Island's use of horses, and the availability of Mission Point Resort's film studio and theater.

"There's never been a more perfect marriage of film and setting," said Mrs. Addie.

The film cost $5.1 million to produce.

"It's a time travel movie in a time travel destination," said Mrs. Addie. "It's the ultimate true love story that transcends time itself."

Four couples who met while working on the film eventually got married, she said.

Today, the movie remains one of the top videos sold by Universal Studios, said Mrs. Addie.

"Most people can't remember the film that was best picture last year, and here we are, 30 years later, still talking about it," she said of the movie. "It still affects people's lives in a deep and profound way."

Being on the film changed her life, she said, and eventually changed her career, influencing her to become an antique dealer. In her role as INSITE president, she serves as a liaison among crew, cast, and fans.

"I'm very privileged to sit in the center of the worldwide phenomenon the film became," said Mrs. Addie, "and to be the ambassador to the film and the world."

Fans of the movie and members of INSITE often tell her of their trips to Mackinac Island after viewing the movie. Some couples travel to the Island to celebrate anniversaries and others just want to experience the Island's character.

INSITE was founded in 1990, and publishes a quarterly journal on the film, with more than 1,700 pages and 80 issues already published for members around the world.

The film was shot on the Island at several locations, including Grand Hotel, Windermere Point, Round Island Lighthouse, Mackinac Island Public School, Main Street, and the Mission Point Resort theater. Interior scenes were filmed in sets built in the sound stage complex at Mission Point Resort, which at that time was called The Inns of Mackinac. Except for four days of filming in Chicago, the entire movie was filmed on the Island.

The gazebo which served as a filming scene for actors Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, was used by the film crew as its entry in the Lilac Festival parade that year. It was later used in the garden at the Governors Summer Residence on Mackinac, and now is rented for weddings by Mackinac State Historic Parks.

A marker on M-185 on the west side of the Island marks a spot where one of the film's scenes was shot.

Now, said Mrs. Addie, a Broadway musical of "Somewhere in Time" is being planned.

This year, Grand Hotel will hold its 19th annual Somewhere in Time Weekend October 16 through October 18. About 500 movie enthusiasts dressed in period attire will stay at the hotel and participate in a weekend of events, including a showing of the film. The movie's fan society plans the yearly reunion and posts registration information on its Web site, www.somewhereintime. tv.

Christopher Reeve attended the event in 1994 and Jane Seymour attended in 2002.

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