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Sunday April 21st 2024

The Rainmaker | 1997

Shot in Memphis, Tennessee, and San Francisco, this John Grisham legal thriller has greenhorn lawyer Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) teaming with cynical Deck Shiflet (Danny DeVito) to fighting the system and get compensation for a dying worker from a big, bad company.

Director Francis Ford Coppola "wanted to use real locations," says production designer Howard Cummings. "He wanted the honesty of what a real location can bring you. He didn't want a lot of studio shooting.'

With a little interior alteration, the North End Bar, on the main Street Trolley Line, in the shadow of the great gleaming Pyramid Arena in the Pinch District, became 'Yogi's'. The bar has since been damaged by fire and the premises has reopened as Westy’s, 346 North Main Street at Jackson (it’s also seen in Alejandro González Iñárritu's 2003 drama 21 Grams).

The now closed Butcher Shop Steakhouse, which stood at 101 South Front Street, at Gayoso, to which Bruiser Stone (Mickey Rourke) takes Rudy and Deck to dinner, appears as itself, as did Arcade Restaurant, 540 South Main Street, the oldest diner in Memphis, which first opened in 1919 at the end of the trolley line on South Main Street, not far from the Lorraine Motel (now the National Civil Rights Museum).

The Arcade has also appeared another John Grisham adaptation, The Client, as well as Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, Jim McBride’s underrated musical biopic of Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire! and 21 Grams.

The "cafetorium", as they call it, at Springdale Elementary became the ‘Cypress Gardens Senior Center’.

There were also two hospitals on the locations list. ‘St. Peter’s Hospital’ was created at the Regional Medical Center of Memphis, the facility known as The Med. The busiest trauma center in the mid-South, shooting went on around the hospital’s busy schedule.

Also used was Baptist Memorial Hospital, once known as EH Crump Hospital. Dormant for almost two years, and most recently a rehabilitation center, it was recently given to an organisation called Mission Core, whose whole goal is to get homeless people off the streets and give them a place to stay.

Two facilities of the Union Planters Bank supplied Drummond’s office, a hospital cafeteria, and the Great Benefit Boardroom. Rudy goes to the bar in the Continental Ballroom of the famous landmark Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue. The Peabody is also featured in Sydney Pollack's 1993 John Grisham adaptation The Firm, with Tom Cruise.

Rudy and Deck’s office was situated in the Bruce Printing Company and, although Shelby County Courthouse served as a two-day location, the courtroom interior was a set built at the Alameda Naval Air Station, across the bay from San Francisco.