The Ides Of March | 2011
With locations divided between Detroit and Cincinnati, George Clooney’s dark political thriller, adapted from Beau Willimon’s stage play Farragut North, is a throwback to the glory days of Alan J Pakula’s paranoia trilogy of the 70s.
It’s a given that any story which begins with an idealistic political campaigner will find his principles in tatters by the time the credits roll, but the brilliance lies in the detail of the machinations and the A+ cast.
The film kicks off with Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a staffer for candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney), rehearsing for the ‘Ohio Democratic Primary Debate’ – “As goes Ohio, so goes the nation…”, in Miami University Farmer School of Business, East High Street, Patterson Avenue, in Oxford, about 30 miles northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Meyers and his boss, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), discuss their man’s chances with journo Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei) in nightclub ‘Ninth and Vine’, which is the gorgeous, wood-panelled deco jazz club Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Avenue, near Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit.
Confusingly, Governor Morris’s ‘Cincinnati’ campaign HQ, in which Meyers works alongside young intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), is also in downtown Detroit – a currently empty property at 1263 Griswold Street on the corner of Grand River Avenue.
Zara visits Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) to see if he can count on his support, in his mansion at 271 Lone Pine Road, in Detroit’s swanky Bloomfield Hills suburb. This is a private home, so I’m sure I don’t have to remind you not to disturb residents.
It’s the real Cincinnati, though, as Meyers unwisely responds to overtures from the opposition’s fixer, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), and meets up with him at Head First Sports Café (since closed), 218 West 3rd Street, just across from the Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Comfortably liberal Mike Morris debates the death penalty with talk show host Charlie Rose in the Alexandria Ballroom of the The Dearborn Inn, 20301 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, just to the west of Detroit. One of the first airport hotels, the Dearborn Inn was built in 1931 on the grounds of Ford Motor Company to provide lodging for pilots and visitors to nearby Ford laboratories and the new Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.
And straight back to Ohio, where Meyers meets up with Molly in the bar of her hotel, which was The Stand (also closed), 3195 Linwood Avenue, a neighbourhood bar in Mount Lookout, east of Cincinnati. From there, they spend the night in the Millennium Hotel Cincinnati, 150 West Fifth Street in the heart of the city’s Central Business District.
In fact, he’s off back to Michigan – the campaign event being held by Governor Morris at ‘Kent State University’ is really the Power Center for the Performing Arts, 121 Fletcher Street, on the campus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, about 35 miles west of Detroit.
It turns out Governor Morris isn’t quite so squeaky clean as Meyers had naively believed. Nevertheless, when he finds out Molly is pregnant following an affair with Morris, the loyal Meyers agrees to help her get an abortion and withdraws money from Stock Yards Bank and Trust, 101 West 4th Street at Race Street (only a couple of blocks from the sports bar) in Cincinnati.
He drives her to the (fictitious) ‘Oakley Women’s Clinic of Cincinnati’, which was filmed on Fourteen Mile Road in Clawson, north of Detroit. But afterwards, as Molly waits for him at the nearby Nick’s Country Oven, 511 West Fourteen Mile Road, Meyers tragically doesn’t show up.
He has an awkward meeting with journo Ida, who blackmails him about the meeting with Duffy for the lowdown on Morris, in the skywalk by Fifth Street and Carew Tower, back in Cincinnati.
A furious Meyers phones Duffy, who’s at Memorial Hall, 1225 Elm Street, in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district.
Ready for a bit of blackmailing of his own, Meyers arranges a secret with Morris in the darkened kitchen of Marilyn's American Tavern, 419 Monroe Street, downtown Detroit, where he forces the compromised candidate into dumping Zara and promoting him. It has to be said, Marilyn's is usually a bit jollier than this, serving up hamburgers in the bar downstairs, with music & dancing upstairs.
The ‘West Virginia’ church, where Molly’s funeral is held, is Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Road, back in the smart suburb of Bloomfield Hills.
With his idealism a distant memory, the professionally successful Meyers now spearheading the Morris campaign, attends a TV interview in the Cintas Center, 1624 Herald Avenue, Cincinnati. The 10,000 seat arena and conference centre is part of Xavier University. No, it has nothing to do with mutants. It’s a Jesuit university named after the 16th Century Spanish missionary, St Francis Xavier.