Five Movies that Almost Reference Duluth

Among the many silly obsessions on Perfect Duluth Day is the practice of noting whenever Duluth is mentioned in a mainstream film — which by our count has happened at least 26 times. But what about when the script calls for a Duluth namedrop and the director or editor nixes it? Well, there are at least five examples of that.

Here’s PDD’s look at movies that were supposed to reference Duluth but ultimately didn’t.

Manhunter, 1986

Five years before The Silence of the Lambs came the first film featuring the insane serial killer character Hannibal Lecktor. The neo-noir horror flick Manhunter was a box-office dud, but is considered a cult classic. It stars William Petersen as FBI profiler Will Graham, Tom Noonan as serial killer Francis Dollarhyde, Dennis Farina as FBI agent Jack Crawford, and Brian Cox as the convicted killer Lecktor.

Michael Mann’s screenplay, titled Red Dragon, calls for a scene in which the home of a murdered family is being shown to perspective buyers as Graham drops in to revisit the crime scene.

Int. Jacobi House, living room – wide on door – day

We move into the knob … it starts to turn. Slowly. Suddenly: door slams open revealing real estate agent Geehan and Graham.

Geehan: It was last Thursday. This couple from Duluth. I had them down to the short strokes talking mortgages — I mean, that man could have written a check for the whole goddamn place. I’m figuring: Geehan, you lucky sonofabitch, you gonna unload this turkey. (beat) Then the squad car rolls up. They ask a coupla questions. The good officers give them the whole fuckin’ guided tour. Who was laying where. Where all the blood sprayed … terrific! (beat) Off they go in their Sedan DeVille the hell out of here.

The film, however, omits the scene, leaving no Duluth mention.

The full script is at imsdb.com.

Field of Dreams, 1989

Kevin Costner stars as Ray Kinsella in the baseball fantasy drama Field of Dreams, but the character of significance to Minnesotans is Archibald Graham. Burt Lancaster plays the role of the elderly “Doc” Graham; Frank Whaley plays the youthful right fielder “Moonlight” Graham. The character is closely based on the actual Archibald Graham, who was a doctor for about 50 years in Chisholm, roughly 50 miles northwest of Duluth.

Chisholm gets numerous callouts in the film, including Lancaster giving a speech declaring it Graham’s “most special place in all the world.” He gazes out the doctor’s office window and says, “Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it like it was your child. I can’t leave Chisholm.”

The Chisholm scenes in the film, however, were shot in Galena, Ill. A brief scene with a red van driving to fictional Chisholm is perhaps meant to depict Highway 53 north of Duluth, but there’s nothing that really qualifies as a Duluth reference in the film.

The script, however, gives a very slight mention:

Cut to
102 On the road – Minnesota
-02 1

They are north of Duluth, and the landscape has grown harsher, the trees shorter and more gnarled, the grass tougher and wirier.

After Virginia, Minnesota, all the land is scarred. Above the town the mines sit like sand-colored bunkers in the cliffs — stern and silent.

Near Chisholm, the land is getting ever weirder. It looks like a pasture rooted and rerooted by giant hogs. It has been split and gutted; greenery has grown back, but at weird and unnatural angles.

But as they swing into town; the highway divides and they cross a beautiful and tranquil lake, so smooth and shiny it might be a scene painted on a glass plate. A sign reads Welcome to Chisholm.

The full script is at imsdb.com.

All About Steve, 2009

Sandra Bullock stars as Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle writer obsessed with TV news cameraman Steve Miller, played by Bradley Cooper, in the comedy All About Steve. Hollywood notables Thomas Haden Church and Ken Jeong also star in the film, but it is DJ Qualls in the role of Howard who is supposed to mention his “other girlfriend in Duluth.”

The dialogue from the cut scene reads:

Howard: I went to school for physics but got bored. Now I just make these and sell them on appleheadsrule.com. I was going to give that one to my girlfriend in Bangor but I can make her another one. She’d probably prefer a Stephen Hawking one anyway. Science is her life. Not like my girlfriend in Tacoma. She’s really into Jesus. Same as my other girlfriend in Duluth.

The full script is at actorpoint.com.

The Informant!, 2009

The 2009 biographical-crime comedy The Informant! stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, an executive at the food processing and commodities trading corporation Archer Daniels Midland, who becomes a whistleblower in the lysine price-fixing conspiracy of the mid-1990s. In the end, Whitacre ends up in federal prison for embezzling $9.5 million from ADM while he was assisting the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Two other ADM executives were convicted in the conspiracy — Michael Andreas and Terrance Wilson. The film features Tom Papa in the role of Andreas, and Rick Overton as Terry Wilson, both of whom apparently served their time at the Duluth Federal Prison Camp in Hermantown.

Duluth is not mentioned in the film, and was not written to appear in the dialogue, however, the script calls for superimposed text at the end that reads:

Mick Andreas and Terry Wilson were sentenced to three years at the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, Minnesota for price fixing. They were released in 1999. Neither returned.

But the actual super at the end of the movie cuts the mention of Duluth. It instead reads:

Mick Andreas and Terry Wilson served three years in prison. They were released in 2002.

The release date is for some reason a matter of confusion. The History of ADM (Archer Daniels Midland Co.) and the Andreas Family’s Work with Soybeans and Seafoods (1884-2020): Extensively Annotated Bibliography and Sourcebook notes:

As July 2020 it is not clear how long Michael Andreas was in a federal prison [minimum-security in Duluth, Minnesota] and how long he was confined to a halfway house. On 8 July 2008 a high-level ADM spokesperson said that the company definitely had no plans to rehire “Michael Andreas, who had just been released from federal prison early Wednesday after serving time on price fixing charges.” Address: Staff Reporter.

The full script is at imsdb.com.

Jennifer’s Body, 2009

Screenwriter Diablo Cody was living in Minneapolis when she wrote the script for Jennifer’s Body, though she had moved to Los Angeles by the time the film was released. She drops Minnesota references throughout the screenplay, and the film is actually set in Devil’s Kettle, a fictional town based around Devil’s Kettle Falls, a set of side-by-side waterfalls on the Brule River at Judge C.R. Magney State Park, about 125 miles northeast of Duluth.

The main characters in the film attend Devil’s Kettle High School, and the film repeatedly shows a fictionalized version of the waterfalls, which have a significant role in the plot and are based on the real-life Devil’s Kettle mystery of where the water goes.

Although Duluth gets a mention in the script, the dialogue below was not included in the film.

Needy: What’s Soft Shoulder?

Jennifer: They’re this indie band from the city. I saw their MySpace and the singer is extra salty. And there will be lots of other salty morsels there for you. Come on Needy, it’s the weekend!

Needy: It’s Thursday.

Jennifer: Thursday counts as the weekend in college. And we’re going to be in college twenty-three months from now. University of Northern Minnesota Duluth — woo!

Needy continues loading her backpack.

The full script is at imsdb.com.

1 Comment

J.J. Lee

about 4 weeks ago

A note on the "Manhunter" near miss. There are editions of the film that do make the scripted menton of Duluth, however, due to the geography, it is believed that it is Duluth, GA, a mere 172 miles from from Birmingham, AL, on Interstate 20.

Although, William Petersen's character Gil Grissom once mentioned that he was attending an entomology convention in Duluth in 2001 where he raced cockroaches.

I'll show myself out now.

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