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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Dear John | 2010

Dear John filming location: Fishing Pier, Isle Of Palms, South Carolina
Dear John film location: John rescues Savannah’s soggy purse: Fishing Pier, Isle Of Palms, South Carolina

Get the tissues handy – it’s Nicholas Sparks again and, as with 2004’s The Notebook, the setting is South Carolina, almost entirely within and around the beautiful and historic city of Charleston.

On leave, Special Forces sergeant John Tyree (Channing Tatum) recovers the bag of upper crust college girl Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) after it falls into the sea from the Fishing Pier on the Isle of Palms, a narrow strip of land – with some very nice seafront homes – hugging the South Carolina coast.

A grateful Savannah invites john to a barbecue in front of her beachfront home at 1109 Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island. Next door, at 1111 Middle Street, lives the impossibly nice Tim (Henry Thomas) and his mildly autistic younger brother Alan.

The house John shares with his coin collecting and strangely obsessive father (Richard Jenkins) is on James Island.

Also on James Island is Bowens Island Restaurant, 1870 Bowens Island Road, where Savannah and John get to know each other a little better, and the reaction of the locals hints at John’s troubled past.

The stores where young John and his father get coins valued (and where the older John eventually parts with the collection) are on King Street, Charleston.

Savannah’s parents live a the grand Cassina Point Plantation, 1847 Olde Cassina Point, a privately owned property on Edisto Island, now operated as a special events venue.

It’s on Folly Beach that the couple fall out after Savannah speculates that John’s fathers condition might also be due to a form of autism.

With summer over, Savannah returns to school, and it’s outside the impressively pillared Randolph Hall at the College of Charleston, 66 George Street, Charleston, that dozens of cell phones ominously begin to ring – bringing the tragic news of 9/11.

Built in 1828–29, Randolph Hall is one of the oldest college buildings still in use in the US, used mainly for administrative offices, although containing some classrooms. Scenes for that other Nicholas Sparks weepie, The Notebook, along with Cold Mountain and The Patriot, were also filmed at the College.

With Savannah back at college, John returns to missions, flying out from Charleston Air Force Base in North Charleston.

Although his tours of duty take him to ‘Africa’, ‘Eastern Europe’ and ‘Afghanistan’, all the scenes were filmed around Charleston.

The military installation on the ‘Congo’ coast was built at Fort Moultrie, an historic site that played roles in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Three inches of sand and fill dirt were dumped on a street on Sullivan’s Island to turn it into an African outpost; and the ‘Eastern European’ café, where John witnesses the 9/11 newsflash on TV, is an abandoned elementary school in downtown Charleston.

The bombed-out ‘Afghan’ village, where John is wounded by a sniper, was the partially demolished Lafarge Cement factory in Harleyville, about an hour north of Charleston.

The ‘German’ hospital in which he recovers from his wounds is the infirmary at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, on the bank of the Ashley River. Its campus is open to visitors, and fans of TV’s Columbo may recognise the Citadel as the army base in the 1974 episode called By Dawn's Early Light, one of several episodes guest starring Patrick McGoohan.