I’m a child of the suburbs. I grew up in northern Virginia about 10 miles outside of Washington, DC. The identity I formed for myself was based on exposure to a certain level of culture available to those within diving distance of our nation’s capitol. There was everything to do, and much of it was free. There is much more I could add to my brief analysis of suburban girl grows up and moves to the city, but we’ll forego those ins and out for the sake of brevity. What’s important to know is that the city I moved to is Baltimore, about thirty miles north of Washington, and another world away.
Where Washington is all symmetry and grace, Baltimore is oneway streets and industrial debris, blue collar factory workers and diners open all night. Not always pretty, but beautiful in some places. More importantly, Baltimore real. A city of neighborhoods that each retain the character of generations of locals that have gone on before them. The neighborhoods are sometimes artsy & gentrified like Bolton Hill and Lauraville, or upscale like Roland Park and Federal Hill. East Baltimore rose along the Patapsco River, which flowed into the Chesapeake Bay and is home to those who made a living from the water, or the steel men in Dundalk.
Washington is all about artifice. NW Washington couldn’t be more lovely, filled with the monuments that represent American Ideals, and the neighborhoods of the privileged. But drive into Washington from the north, along New York Avenue, and you’ll see what the rest of Washington can look like, the poverty, the less fortunate. Very night and day. Anyway, Baltimore is where my first I could see it again & again movie takes place, in and around the city which shines in the background.
The dialog in this film will knock your socks off. It’s so real, we’ve all been part of the conversations that flow through this film. There is nothing like seeing the place where you live on the big screen. In another Barry Levinson film, Avalon, I was sitting in the Senator theatre when a scene occurred that takes place at the Senator Theatre. Right there on York Road. Great stuff. It’s simply too cool.
The film Diner takes place in 1950’s Baltimore, and it’s a coming of age story about 5 friends. One of them is getting married, but before the wedding can take place, the bride must pass an exam created by her boyfriend that is all about the Baltimore Colts. The questions are excessive to an absurd degree, but hey . . . why not?
Best scene? Boogie( played by the so gorgeous Mickey Rourke) driving through Baltimore County horse country with Kevin Bacon. They’ve been out all night, cruisin’ for burgers. They see a beautiful woman riding a horse in a field, and Rourke, always the ladies man, flags down the rider and asks her what her name is:
“What’s your name?,” Boogie asks.
“Jane Chisholm—as in the Chisholm Trail,” she says, and rides off. “What fuckin’ Chisholm Trail?”
Kevin Bacon who plays Fenwick, sums it all up in one line:
“You ever get the feeling there’s something going on that we don’t know about?”
Oh yes! This is a must-see film, storytelling at its best. Check it out!