Today is all about the movie Slap Shot. More importantly, taking a look back at the city of Johnstown which played the role of Charlestown in the movie. Fan's of the film know what the city looked like back in 1977, but many probably don't know what Johnstown looks like now. Maybe you live in Johnstown and would like to know where some of the filming locations were. Well this is the post for you.
We're going to look back at several scenes in the cult classic and show you what they look like today.
1. We will not be covering anything from inside the Cambria County War Memorial Arena. We might do a part two during the season and cover what the arena looked like back then and what it looks like now. You'll have to wait and see.
2. Sorry, no nude scenes. We're not going to do a Then and Now of actress Melinda Dillion who played Suzanne Hanrahan, because this is a blog is for families, and the "Now" would have to be an artist's rendering, and I'm not that good of an artists. We will cover the "Mooning" scene, but won't show any of the film stills from that scene. If you need to see that stuff, we'll give you a moment right now to Google it.
Go ahead, we'll wait.
Okay, back to the blog.
3. If there's something we missed that you'd like information on, leave us a comment, we'll do our best to answer it for you.
4. If you enjoy history, like we do, you'll enjoy this post. If you enjoy Johnstown history, you'll really enjoy this post. But we will warn you, you might get a little depressed like we did while writing this. Why did we get depressed? Seeing how the city was and the way it is now can make you sad.
Johnstown used to be a happening place. It could be again, but we'll save that for a rainy day, which around here, could be any moment.
5. The movie also had scenes filmed in Hamilton, Syracuse, Utica New York, and Pittsburgh Pa. We're only focusing on Johnstown Pa, which goes without saying, but we said it anyways.
Let's get started. By the way all pictures and graphics were done myself, unless stated other wise.
To refresh you memory: Slap Shot (1977) A failing ice hockey team finds success using constant fighting and violence during games. (from IMDB.com)
The town of Hyannisport is shown briefly in the film. In case you're not sure when, it's when the Chiefs' bus, and the fan's bus, drives through the town, mooning Hyannisport's fans.
In real life, Ligonier Pa played the role of Hyannisport. Ligonier is roughly 22 miles, southwest, from the city of Johnstown.
The above image shows the location where the scene was shot, in downtown Ligonier. On the top right of the roundabout, you'll see a large building with white pillars in the front. That's the one building that can be clearly seen in the film. You can click on this picture or any other picture you see in this post to enlarge them. (left clicks only)
The number "one" in the yellow circle is the city of Johnstown and of course the "two" in the yellow circle is Ligonier.
The first time we see the Hanson brothers are when they are assaulting a coke machine because "The darn thing took my quarter." Johnstown's train station is located in downtown Johnstown.
show two things, (1) The yellow line connects the Cambria County War Memorial Arena (bottom of picture) to the Johnstown Train station (top of picture). (2) The blue line shows exactly where the train station is and then leads to the bigger picture. The bottom picture shows inside the station in Slap Shot.
I've been alive for 26 years and lived in Johnstown for 24. In all those years I had never been inside the train station. So, to write this post, I decided to go down and get some picture of what the inside looks like today. It looked almost completely the same, which was great. The bad part? All the doors are sealed shut, and the one wall is glassed up, meaning there's no way inside to the main area.
The train station still operates today, with only one train a day coming and leaving the city of Johnstown, so they have you come into the building via a side entrance. On top of that, they now use the closed off section as a makeshift storage area. The building is beautiful and a part of Johnstown's history, it deserves to be more than a storage area, but at least for now, that's all it is.
This picture was taken through that glass wall they put up. In the movie, Newman walks through the doors to the right of this picture, which means the camera would have been to the left out of frame. I was amazed that the giant wood benches were still there. Below is another picture that was taken from the window in the door, the same door that Reg (Paul Newman) would have walked through.
On my personal blog, I plan to write more about the train station and when I do I'll make sure to place a link here. The station was restored in 1996, and inside this main room, in still appears to be in good condition. The same can't be said for the rest of the building.
Other than the train station, there were two main filming locations in Johnstown. Downtown Johnstown and in Franklin Borough, only a few miles away. The image below shows the two sections of Johnstown. The blue circle shows downtown Johnstown, and the red shows Franklin Borough.
We've made a map that takes a screen shot of the scenes we'll take a look at and drew a line from them to the spot on the map they took place at. As you can see they're all only blocks away from each other, but with movie magic, we're made to think differently. If you go back and watch the film, while looking at this map we've provided, you'll have a little laugh.
1. The Mill
In this scene, Reg and Braden walk down the side walk talking "10,000 steal workers placed on waivers." This is right before Braden waves to a girl that beeps at him while driving by. We'll take a look at that scene next. First, this is a screen capture from the film right as this scene starts.
The streets are packed and the huge factory is in full force. We only get to see a fraction of how big these mills were. If you go to this location today and see the site, it's breath taking on how big the area is. This isn't just the way it looked like for the film, during Johnstown's heyday, this was your average day. So what does it look like today?
Yep, other than the cement wall, and part of the steal fence, it's all gone. In fact, the whole site, except for two or three buildings, has been leveled. In case you were wondering, there are no plans to build anything where these mills once stood.
2. Van Pulls Up
This scene continues from the last we showed. This is right after Braden waves to a passing car. When Reg asks him who that was, Braden says it's slipped his mind. Enter Braden's wife, Lily, speeding down the road, and slamming on the breaks in her big blue van.
Since this is basically the same scene as the one before, only shot from a different angle, you can pretty much guess what it looks like today.
A little more remains in this picture than the last. More of the steal fencing is still in place, and a couple of the power lines inside still stands. On our Facebook page, we did a simple photoshop. We inserted Reg and Braden into the 2013 picture. This is what it would look like for those of you that aren't friends with us yet.
3. Hill Jumping
After picking up Braden and Reg, Lily speeds around launching her van into the air. This is the time you want to watch carefully. If you look at our map and watch were she drives, she's basically driving in circles.
We captured two moments as the van is speeding down the residential streets. The first is when the van almost tips over when it's making a high speed turn. The other is when the van launches into the air.
Just as a quick piece of trivia. The van is coming from a dead end street and if the van would continue straight instead of turning, it would be back at the mill. Oh movie magic.
Now what it looks like today.
Pretty much the same really. Except the building on the corner in this picture is now old and boarded up.
And here's the van jumping.
This is another picture where the Then and Now is very different.
One of the biggest difference you'll notice here is that the bridge is gone, from the picture that is. Last year, maybe it's been two years now, that bridge was moved over, to the right of this picture. The street doesn't look that steep in this picture but trust me, it is. If you drive down to the end of this street and then make a left you'll be at the mill, or at least were it used to be.
Let's say it together this time, "Good old movie magic."
4. Turn Around and Drive Off
These are two quick scenes in the movie, but we thought we'd include them just because they were filmed in Johnstown. Here the first, from the film.
One again in the background of this picture is the main mill site used in the film. In the upper right corner on this picture is the big brick building seen in the first picture we did a before and after of.
Here's what it looks like today, minus the car.
As we've said before, almost all of it is gone now.
Right after this shot, Reg drives away up the street. To refresh your memory this is what we're talking about.
This is one of the few shots in the movie where it's basically the same today.
It's over grown now. There's a nice tree growing where a steal structure once stood.
5. Reg's House
Even though in the film Lily drives all around the city taking Reg home, he only lives about two blocks away from where she picks him and her husband up by the mill. Surprisingly the house, at least the outside portion, is still standing, though it has been updated. I'm not sure if the interior shots of the house were also film at this location or if they were filmed else where. In the film, the shot is a little dark but I think you'll be able to see all the important details.
Reg stands in the middle of the street after being dropped off by Lily. His house is on the left, closest to us. In the background we can see another view of the mills, in full operation.
And this is the site today.
As you can see there's really no difference other than, no more mill, but we've been through that before. Another little piece of trivia, this street is a dead end street. which means, I have no idea where the van was going when it dropped Reg off.
Oh yeah, MOVIE MAGIC.
Well that does it for Then and Now in Franklin, but we're far from done with this post overall. We still have all of downtown to still cover.
Intermission: Right now would be a great time to grab yourself a drink, go to the bathroom, make some popcorn.
Okay. Ready to continue? Let's go. Oh by the way, that popcorn you made smells good.
People who love history will probably enjoy this part even more just because at one time downtown looked a lot different then it does now. A lot of the scenes off the ice happened around town and we'll be taking a look at most of them, even if it's just briefly.
1. The State Store
Lily Braden was a drunk and was miserable living in Charlestown. In one scene filmed downtown, she's shown leaving the State Store, which of course is a liquor store. She walks across the street taking a drink from the bottle, which is wrapped up in a brown paper bag.
If you follow us on Facebook then you'll know what this looks like nowadays. Incase you didn't see that teaser we put on our page, or you're not friends with us (yet, we'd love to be friends) here's what it looks like in 2013.
The building itself hasn't really changed that much. It's still got the same front window layout, and brick work, except it's now an Alpha Printing store, and not a liquor store. The two buildings that stand beside it, though are different then they were in 1976 (that's when Slap Shot filmed, then came to theaters in 1977).
The building to the right is now a bank, while the building on the left is currently vacant. There is some history here that goes further back than Slap Shot. The building used in the film is one of three historic buildings in a row that survived the most well known Johnstown flood, the flood of 1889.
2. Corner of Main
Staying on the same street we get this view of the Johnstown. This is main street we see and is the street were the parade takes place at the end of the movie. As you'll clearly see, this is another before and after picture that's seen some major changes. First 1977 or 1976 if you want to get technical.
Some times I wish downtown Johnstown still looked this way, or I wish I could travel back in time to experience it myself. Today, the Rite Aid building is gone (well there's still a Rite Aid there, you'll see), and the Revco building is still there, but it's seen better days.
The Revco building is named the Dibert Building. Here is the Dilbert from across the street.