An Exploration of Rose Hill’s Impressive Movie Set Resume
The fall season, cinematically speaking, is Oscar season, the time of year when studios push their best movies into the fore, jockeying for monetary position and favorable critical review. The fall season is also when Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus turns all shades of ember, turning its distinguished architecture and lush grounds into attractive selling points for prospective students. It only makes sense that the small Bronx campus was an attractive location for film directors, too. Fordham has offered its space to directors from Robert Redford to Ron Howard and been graced by actors such as Paul Newman and Michael Douglas, earning the University a spot on the top 10 list of schools with movie credits. Below is a list of the many movies throughout history that contain scenes inside Fordham’s gates, all of which received positive critical reception. Nearly every corner has Hollywood’s stamp…
The Iron Major (1943)
Frank Cavanaugh, played by Pat O’Brien, is the hero of this biopic. A World War I soldier, Cavanaugh went on to coach football at Dartmouth, Boston College, and Fordham, leading them all to victorious seasons. The film is based largely on the memoirs left by his wife Florence, played by Ruth Warrick, and clings to Cavanaugh’s inspirational message that he exclaims throughout wartime: “Love of God? Love of Country? Love of Family.”
One of the few scenes in the film depicts the Jesus statue currently located between the University Church and Queen’s Court dormitory. The statue may have moved because the church is not present behind the statue in the movie’s shot.
Love Story (1970)
As the title implicates, this is a classic tale of star-crossed lovers. Harvard Law student Oliver and music student Jennifer are madly in love, despite their very different interests. Played by Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw, respectively, the young couple marries but Oliver’s father threatens to disown his son, a declaration which forces Jennifer to plea for his best wishes. The couple quickly learns the harsh consequences of what their love means.
Rose Hill steps in as Colgate University’s campus as O’Neal walks in between the Gymnasium- substituting as an ice rink- and the football bleachers and later looks out towards O’Hare Hall. The grandstand looks a little stronger these days.
The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by William Friedkin, the film centers on a young actress’s daughter who becomes possessed after playing with a Ouija board. The frightened mother enlists the help of two Catholic priests to save her daughter and rid her of the evil that has taken over her body.
Most of the film was shot at Georgetown, but the basement of Keating Hall, before its renovation, is the place where Father Karras (Jason Miller) analyzes recordings of the possessed girl. Contrary to reports, the scene of the actual exorcism was not performed on the campus.
The Gambler (1974)
A cyclical tale revolves around Alex Freed, played by James Caan, an addicted gambler. He drives around in his blue car, betting and spending money, borrowing from his sister, his mother, and eventually the wrong kind of people who eventually come after him.
The movie mostly takes place in New York and Fordham serves but a small, five-second role. Caan drives his car off of Fordham Road into the Finlay Gate, past where a makeshift tollbooth is constructed. There was no Best Deli in the 1970s.
The Verdict (1982)
Paul Newman plays Frank Galvin, an alcoholic lawyer down on his luck. However, he lands a medical malpractice case that gives him the opportunity to revitalize his career as an attorney. Instead of settling, he aims to find his opponents guilty and earn a substantial settlement for his clients.
Newman does case study work with fellow actor Jack Warden in the cozy confines of Duane Library. The spiral staircase is still there, but most of the books are now nestled into the Walsh Library.
Quiz Show (1994)
The Robert Redford directed drama stars Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, and Rob Morrow and covers the controversy surrounding the 1950 TV Quiz Show scandal. Morrow plays a young lawyer commissioned by a governmental subcommittee to investigate two contestants on the TV show “Twenty-One” to find if the game was being fixed.
In one scene, Fiennes emerges from his car into Fordham’s administration building to greet Morrow. Later he lingers in a professor’s classroom, utilizing the Keating Third auditorium. Yes, the future Voldemort was once in Keating Hall.
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Fordham can lay claim to an Oscar Best Picture winner. Ron Howard directed this fascinating tale based on the real man John Forbes Nash, a math prodigy that solved number problems that no one else could. Russell Crowe stars with Jennifer Connelly who plays his wife, burdened with the responsibilities of caring for his sometimes schizophrenic, Pulitzer Prize winning husband.
At one point, the Pentagon needs John’s advice with a cryptic code and so he attempts to solve a puzzle in their bunker. Keating’s pre-renovated basement stands in as the secret fortress. The new Language Lab appears to be where the scene was shot, not exactly the place for a mathematician.
A sharp, insightful biopic about the life of Alfred Kinsey, played by Liam Neeson, the first man to look scientifically at human sexuality. Teaching biology, Kinsey became a pioneer for his studies of sexual behavior and the film mostly addresses his research in the late 1940s at Indiana University. Laura Linney also co-stars and earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Kinsey’s former student and wife.
There is a brief shot of Freeman Hall and an establishing shot of Walsh Library’s sun-drenched lawn. Later, Neeson and Linney share a moment together, presumably on the same grassy area as Fordham masquerades as Indiana University here. Don’t they know no one hangs out on the library lawn?
Solitary Man (2009)
Michael Douglas plays Ben Kallman, a man going through an odd existential crisis in his old age. He is divorced from his wife, has a part time girlfriend, sleeps around with younger women, and has lost a lot of money after cutting corners at his car agency. He shares screen time with a strong cast including Susan Sarandon, Jesse Eisenberg, Danny DeVito, Jenna Fischer, and Mary Louise-Parker.
This wins the prize as the ultimate Fordham movie. Iconic scenes take place on Eddie’s parade, by Dealy Hall, over Martyr’s Lawn, and on the bench in front of Thebaud Hall. They should’ve named this movie “Fordham Man.”
Fair Game (2010)
Starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, the movie tells the frustrating story of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent who was outed by government officials in response to a criminalizing op-ed article written by her husband that criticized the Bush administration. This was based on another true story.
Fordham’s role is small as it substitutes its Keating first floor auditorium as a darkened space for a short lecture in front of a handful of students. This is one of the more depressing images of Keating Hall. Luckily, the film pretends it’s taking place at Boston University.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
The sequel to Oliver Stone’s smash hit this time stars Shia LeBeouf as a hot shot proprietary trader who happens to be marrying the daughter (Carrie Mulligan) of the infamous Gordon Gekko, fresh out of prison. The movie, also starring Josh Brolin, uses the 2008 economic meltdown as its plotline backdrop.
Many Fordham students became extras during the film’s only scene on campus in which Gekko makes a speech to students pacing back and forth on Keating’s first floor auditorium. Michael Douglas likes it in the Bronx. Watch it here.
The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Based on a Phillip K. Dick short story, the movie pits Matt Damon as a rising New York congressman who falls in love with a ballet dancer played by Emily Blunt. Larger forces- mostly men in fedoras- however disrupt their relationship and an epic game of free will and fate ensues all over New York City.
The movie opens at the height of Damon’s political career making a speech on the front steps of Keating. The director George Nolfi was inspired by this location after seeing U2 played there and decided to make his lead a Fordham grad. Yes, Matt Damon has worn a Fordham baseball cap.
True Story (2014)
Soon to come, a drama about journalist Michael Finkel and an FBI Most Wanted List Murderer Christian Longo, who for many years lived under Finkel’s name outside the United States. The movie was shot on campus during the summer 2013 and stars James Franco and Jonah Hill.
Now, the next time you walk around campus, impress your friends with your extensive list of Fordham movie knowledge!
Photos and Information Courtesy Anchor Bay Films, Hollywood Pictures, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Warner Brothers Pictures, RKO Pictures, Thomas P. Farley, IMDB.com