7 Fan-Favorite Movies Filmed on Cape AnnApril 06, 2022 / Art and Music, Food and Drink, Good to Know, History/Maritime, Outdoor Adventures, Things to Do & See
Blog written by Addison Choate | 7 Fan-Favorite Movies Filmed on Cape Ann | April 5, 2022
Have you experienced the rugged beauty of Cape Ann?
Regardless of whether you’ve visited our stunning enclave in person, chances are you’ve seen our neck of the woods onscreen. Turns out, Cape Ann is the filming location of several acclaimed movies—including the Academy Award-winner CODA, which won “Best Picture” at the 2022 Oscars.
Golden light, seaside promenades, and a series of quaint yet storied towns are just some of the qualities that make our Massachusetts community so attractive to tourists and filmmakers. Here are seven of our favorite movies filmed right here on Cape Ann:
1. CODA (2021)
Filmed in Gloucester just months before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cape Ann serves as the perfect backdrop for this powerful flick. The fictional movie tells the story of Ruby Rossi, a hearing 18-year-old whose brother and parents are deaf. She works on her father’s fishing boat, where she plays a key role in communicating with the hearing community, interpreting for her family. When Ruby is pulled to pursue her musical talent, she’s forced to decide between leaving Gloucester and staying close to home.
Local fisherman Paul Vitale, a Gloucester resident, actually lent out his boat the Angela Rose for the movie, working closely with the crew to provide an accurate portrayal of our region’s working waterfront. The Gloucester harbormaster, local businessman Sam Parisi, the state fish pier, and the town bandstand in Rockport (plus Rockport’s Shalin Liu Performance Center) also made appearances in the film.
A remake of a French movie, the film’s title is an acronym for “child of deaf adults,” which refers to kids like Ruby who live in deaf households but can hear themselves. A tribute to an oft-overlooked culture and to Cape Ann, you won’t want to miss this one.
2. THE PERFECT STORM (2000)
Based on a true story, this action-packed movie was filmed both in Los Angeles and locally in Gloucester—honoring the exact setting where an unprecedented Nor’easter hit in the early 90s. More generally, the film tells the story of the men and women who risk their lives on fishing boats and rescue vessels off our very own coastline each day.
Specifically, the movie tells the story of the Andrea Gail, a fishing boat that departed from Gloucester in September 1991 with six men. The following month, what meteorologists would come to call “The Storm of the Century” began to brew, forcing the fishermen to confront a number of life-or-death hurdles while the Coast Guard tried to save the crew.
We won’t spoil the ending for you, but this is a good one. Not only that, but the film features an all-star cast including Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney, John C. Reilly, and Diane Lane. Viewers with a taste for adventure need look no further for their next movie night pick.
3. CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937)
Another movie filmed partially in Gloucester! Based on an 1897 Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name, this 1937 film tells the story of Massachusetts fishing life in a beautiful, historical way.
The film centers on Harvey Cheyne, a spoiled teen who joins his father on a business trip to Europe after being suspended from boarding school. When the rebellious Harvey falls overboard, Massachusetts fisherman Manuel Fidello (played by Spencer Tracy, who won an Oscar for his role) saves him—but the captain only lets him stay if he joins the ship’s crew as a low-ranking member.
This is a beautiful coming-of-age story showcasing the impact of humility. Don’t miss it—interested viewers can stream Captains Courageous right now on HBO Max.
4. STATE AND MAIN (2000)
Set in a picturesque New England village, much of this movie was filmed here in Essex County, in our very own Manchester-by-the-Sea. Featuring an impressive cast including William H. Macy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alex Baldwin, Julia Stiles, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, we’re confident State and Main will keep you entertained.
Now, before we confuse you, note that this is a movie about moviemaking. (How meta!) When a big-budget film crew arrives on the East Coast, corruption, vanity, and romance ensue—shaking things up before the cameras roll. Ultimately, romance, riches, and the natural beauty of our community come together in this playful dramedy. We’re confident you’ll love it.
5. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016)
This movie was named for the Cape Ann town where it takes place (minus the hyphens—the real-life community is actually spelled Manchester-by-the-Sea, but we digress). Our favorite story about Manchester’s name (officially adopted in 1989) has to go back to Oliver Wendell Holmes who thought the name so pretentious that he signed all of his letters to his Manchester friends from Boston-by-the-Charles.
Anyway, the 2016 was filmed in the eponymous town plus other Massachusetts locations, including Beverly and Gloucester right here in our community. Starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, the Oscar-nominated movie tells the story of a depressed man named Lee Chandler who, after his brother dies, learns his nephew was left in his care. Lee subsequently takes a leave from his janitorial position in Boston, returning to his native Manchester-by-the-Sea, where the protagonist must confront his past.
Does this sound good to you? Personally, we adored this movie. This film tells a story that’s heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, all while showing off the scenic vistas of our region.
6. THE PROPOSAL (2009)
Surprise! Did you know that some of this Manhattan- and Alaska-based movie was filmed right here in Rockport? In fact, part of our town was temporarily remodeled to resemble Sitka, a lovely tourist town nestled in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Other Cape Ann filming locations include Gloucester and Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, and Craig T. Nelson, this feel-good romantic comedy offers something for everyone. The plot makes for the perfect escape from reality, telling the story of successful book editor Margaret Tate, who risks being deported to her native Canada if she doesn’t marry an American. She zeroes in on her long-time assistant Andrew Paxton, who reluctantly agrees to an engagement—with a few terms of his own, of course.
The next thing the duo know, they’re on their way to Alaska (or Rockport, if we’re going by the charming filming location) to meet Andrew’s family. We won’t ruin the twist at the end for you, so you’ll have to see The Proposal yourself if you want to know what happens.
7. THE GOOD SON (1993)
A psychological thrilled filmed partially on Cape Ann? Yes, please!
Starring Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin, this movie is based on an Ian McEwan novel of the same name—and you might recognize parts of Gloucester and Manchester-by-the-Sea if you look closely. The film tells the story of Mark, who loses his mother and moves in with his extended family. After a brief adjustment period, he realizes something isn’t quite right with his cousin Henry. Can Mark step in before it’s too late?
We don’t know about you, but we think this Cape Ann Movie is perfect for a dark and stormy night.
EXPERIENCE COASTAL NEW ENGLAND
And there you have it—some of our favorite movies filmed here on Cape Ann. Note that some of the above titles have R ratings, so proceed with caution while planning your next family movie night.