Swampscott Film History: A Fisherman "Saves" Star of the Silent Screen

A scene in the surf at Whales Beach for a 1917 movie that featured Silent Movie Era star Mary Pickford had to be reshot after a Swampscott fisherman splashed onto the set.


The North Shore, in general, and Swampscott, in particular, have a rich history serving as the setting for movies going back to 1917.

Movies, or at least the filming of them, must have been a novelty in these parts back in 1917.

Swampscott historian Lou Gallo says that a local fisherman made an impromptu appearance on the set of the Pride of the Clan starring Mary Pickford — a huge star in the early years of film and its silent movies.

A scene for the movie was shot on Whales Beach in Swampscott and placed drowning Mary Pickford in the surf.

A Swampscott fisherman witnessed the action and did not realize it was from the world of make believe. He went into the surf to pluck the starlet from the water and the scene needed reshooting, said the local historian.

Lou had his own brush with a star back in his high school days.

He and a friend took the train to Marblehead to watch scenes shot from Home Before Dark.

They were there, on a corner in Old Town, waiting a long time for the filming that turned out to be quite brief.

Afterwards they decided to walk home and save the 50-cent train fare home.

When it started raining they started thumbing for a ride.

A black town car stopped and picked them up. Riding in the back was the star from the movie, Jean Simmons, who wanted to know what they were doing out in the rain.

They explained they had been at the movie set watching the filming.

What did they think, she asked?

It was a long time for shooting a short scene, they said.

That's movie making, she replied before dropping off the high school kids at the Fish House.

Movie making on the North Shore will continue this summer with a lot of scenes from Grown Ups 2 being shot in Swampscott.

Last year about this time scenes from the movie Ted were shot in Swampscott.

And a decade earlier, in 2001, the town served as a location for the movie Baby's in Black and, a year later, for the film My Father the Genius.

Here's a complete list of North Shore filming, according to the Mass Film Office:

1917 The Pride of the Clan 
Locations: Marblehead  

1958 Home Before Dark 
Locations: Marblehead; Danvers

1967 The Thomas Crown Affair 
Locations: Boston; Beverly; Hamilton; Ipswich-Cranes Beach

1968 Charly 
Locations: John Hancock, South Boston Hall, Faneuil Hall; Nahant

1970 Love Story 
Locations: Cambridge-119 Oxford Street, Harvard College; Hamilton-US Equestrian Team Headquarters

1970 Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon 
Locations: Braintree: Blue Hill Cemetery; Manchester-by-the-Sea 

1971 Ruby
Locations: Georgetown

1978 The Europeans 
Locations: Salem-Salem Maritime National Historic Site; Waltham-Lyman House

1979 Burned at the Stake (formerly The Coming) 
Locations: Salem

1986 The Witches of Eastwick 
Locations: Cohasset: Cohasset Town Center; Marblehead: Abbot Hall; Boston: Wang Center; Ipswich: Castle Hill; Scituate

1986 Flowers in the Attic 
Locations: Ipswich-Crane Estate

1989 Glory 
Locations: Boston-Boston Common, South End, Sturbridge Village; Ipswich-Appleton Farm

1991 Young Goodman Brown 
Locations: Salem; Topsfield: Bradley State Park; Danvers: Rebecca Nurse Homestead

1992 Hocus Pocus 
Locations: Salem: Pioneer Village; Marblehead Cemetery

1993 The Next Karate Kid 
Locations: Ipswich-Crane Estate; Rockport-Halibut Point; Medford-Tufts University; Brookline; Brookline High School; Groton-rte.119 

1993 The Good Son 
Locations: The Pyle House; Manchester-By-the-Sea; Lobster Cove; Annisquam; Rockport; Gloucester; Danvers; Beverly; Marblehead Cemetery

1993 Kilian's Chronicle 
Locations: North and South Shores

 1995 The Crucible 

Locations: Essex: Hog Island; Ipswich: Crane's Beach; Beverly: United Shoe Factory

1998 The Love Letter 
Locations: Rockport, Gloucester, Ipswich, Cape Ann

1999 State and Main 
Locations: Manchester, Dedham-Endicott Estate

2000 Session 9 
Locations: Danvers State Hospital

2000 Treading Water 
Locations: Marblehead area

2000 What's the Worst That Could Happen? 
Locations: Boston, Manchester-By-The-Sea

2000 Could Be Worse! 
Locations: Everett; Cambridge; Boston; Revere; Manchester-by-the-Sea; Marblehead

2001 Abracadabra
Locations: North End; Peabody; Beverly

2001 Baby's In Black 
Locations: Gloucester; Swampscott; Plum Island; Cohasset 

2001 West of Here 
Locations: Milk Street, Boston; North Shore

2001 The Retreat 
Locations: Jonsson Estate, Woods Hole; Falmouth; Nauset Light; Boston Medical Center; Plymouth Airport; Peabody & Arnold, Boston

2002 My Father the Genius
Locations: Marblehead; Gloucester; Swampscott; Cohasset; Plum Island; Martha's Vineyard.

2007 The Box 
Locations: Boston - Boston Public Library, Boston; South Boston; Ipswich - Castle Hill, Crane Estate, Ipswich; Milton;North Andover - Osgood Landing, North Andover; Quincy - Hough's Neck, Quincy

2007 My Best Friend's Girl (Bachelor No. 2) 
Locations: Boston - Boston Harbor, North End, Old South Church, Suffolk University Law School, Copley Plaza Hotel, Jamaica Plain, South Boston, East Boston High School; Brookline - Beacon St.; Brighton - Western Ave; Belmont; Ipswich - Crane Beach

2008 Bride Wars 
Locations: Boston; Salem

2008 The Joneses 
Locations: Barnstable; Boston; Canton; Georgetown; Hampton; Lynn; Melrose; Newburyport; Northbridge; Peabody; Saugus; Stoughton

2008 Ghosts of Girlfriends Past 
Locations: Boston; Chelsea; Ipswich- Crane Estate Castle Hill

2009 Furry Vengeance 
Locations: Boston; Danvers; Crane Beach, Ipswich; Topsfield

2009 Grown Ups 
Locations: Boston; East Wareham; Essex; Southborough

2009 Knight & Day (Fmr. Wichita) 
Locations: Logan International Airport-Boston; Bridgewater; Danvers; Melrose; Waltham; Woburn; Worcester Regional Airport-Worcester 

2009 The Company Men 
Locations: Boston; Burlington; Chelsea; Lynn; Marblehead

2011 TED 
Locations: Boston; Canton; Chelsea; Everett; Norwood; Somerville; Swampscott

2011 Donny's Boy (f. I Hate You Dad) 
Locations: Boston; Dennis; East Bridgewater; Everett; Osterville; Peabody





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