Lights. Camera. Action. If you have lived in Central Gardens long enough, or even if you are a new resident, you have likely seen the hustle and bustle that surrounds location filming in our historic neighborhood. The lights, the trucks and yes, the famous actors. From 21 Grams released in 2003, to Walk the Line released in 2005, to the more recent Christmas at Graceland TV movies, and of course, Bluff City Law in 2019, Central Gardens is a favorite of location scouts and film/TV directors. Central Gardens is likely only second to Downtown Memphis when it comes to location filming in our wonderful city. Whether it is the charm of our tree-lined streets, or the unique historic architecture found in our homes, Central Gardens looks wonderful on film, and it is time we celebrated this unique aspect of our neighborhood. Central Gardens Association will host a walking tour of film/TV sites which will run from April 10-May 2.
Joaquin Phoenix prepares for a scene in 'Walk the Line' on the porch of 1366 Carr Ave.
While you enjoy the incredible exteriors you can read about the film or television series the home was featured in, and learn about specific scenes online. The map will allow you to see 7 "selfie" spots in Central Gardens and 1 “selfie” spot in Elmwood Cemetery that have been featured in films and TV. Just click on the address in the list or the icon on the map to see a photo and read all the juicy details! Here.
Selfie spot locations in Central Gardens: 1348 Carr Ave, 1380 Carr, 1431 Carr Ave, 1576 Carr Ave, 1560 Central Ave, 1863 Cowden Ave, 653 S Willett St. Elmwood Cemetery Cottage located at 824 S Dudley St. is the location of the 8th sign. Filming for The Firm took place in Lenow Circle at the Grosvenor Arcade. Enjoy the gardens throughout and be sure to take Elmwood’s self-guided tour while you are there. https://www.elmwoodcemetery.org/self-guided-tours
Look for 8 special signs marking 7 projects that were filmed within the neighborhood and 1 that was filmed at Elmwood Cemetery. Snap a selfie with the sign in the background and email your photos by May 2—one photo per selfie sign for a total of 8 possible entries—to [email protected]. Be sure to post your pictures with #FilmTour2021! There is no purchase necessary to win. The list of prizes plus complete rules and eligibility for the drawing can be found here.
Walk the Line
Walk the Line is a 2005 biopic about the early life of singer-songwriter Johnny Cash and his blossoming romance with June Carter Cash. The movie was primarily filmed in Memphis, and there are several iconic shots of downtown Memphis—particularly the South Main area as well as music venues across the city. Joaquin Phoenix, as Johnny Cash, is a reluctant door-to-door salesman and happens upon 1576 Carr to sell his wares. In this scene, you not only see the exterior of the home, but much of the vista of Carr Avenue across and down the street. Additionally, when Johnny Cash was stationed in West Germany in 1952, he rings his then girlfriend, Vivian, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, to express his desire to get married. Vivian’s home in the scene was filmed at 1569 Carr.
21 Grams is a 2003 film about loss and grief after a tragic accident took the lives of the family members of one of the main character’s, Cristina Peck, played by Naomi Watts. The accident, which is a critical element of the film, was set at the roundabout at the intersection of Carr and Cleveland. Many of the homes that face this corner can be seen in the film, including 1348 Carr. The film also stars Sean Penn, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston and Benicio Del Toro. Watts and Del Toro were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor at the 76th Academy Awards, respectively.
Christmas at Graceland
In this 2018 film, Kellie Pickler plays Laurel, a bank executive based in Chicago who travels to her hometown of Memphis to help negotiate the purchase of a bank. While in Memphis, she reunites with her old flame, Clay, played by Wes Brown. Many homes in Central Gardens were turned into winter wonderlands in the summer of 2018 in order to give the movie its holiday atmosphere.
Wedding at Graceland
This sequal to Christmas at Graceland, aired on November 11, 2019. After a romantic Christmas at Graceland, Clay and Laurel plan their wedding while simultaneously juggling their very different parents.
Bluff City Law, Episode 9 “Ave Maria”
Airing on November 18, 2019, this episode showed Elijah Strait, played by Jimmy Smits, and Sydney Strait, played by Caitlin McGee, helping a Catholic school teacher after she is fired for having IVF treatment to become pregnant. The home at 1380 Carr served as the home of the school teacher and her husband. Its interior, front yard and porch are all prominently featured, but much of Carr Avenue between Melrose and Cleveand can also be seen throughout the episode during exterior shots.
Bluff City Law, Episode 4 “Fire in a Crowded Theater”
The short-lived series of Bluff City Law did not shy away from controversial topics, and this episode is a great example of the series tackling important issues. After a young woman is killed at an anti-racism protest, Elijah Strait and Anthony Little, played by Michael Luwoye, take on hate speech in a case against a controversial alt-right leader. The home at 1430 Carr served as Anthony’s home in this episode and throughout the series. This episode aired on October 14, 2019.
Making the Grade
Released in 1984, Making the Grade is a coming of age comedy about a wealthy prep-school kid who hires a con artist to attend school on his behalf and make it to graduation. Palmer, the wealthy high-schooler, lives in the mansion at 1560 Central Avenue that we know today as Beverly Hall.
Based on John Grisham’s 1991 novel, The Firm is a thriller about young lawyer Mitch McDeere, played by Tom Cruise, who becomes entangled with a law firm whose primary client is a Chicago mob family. After two of the law firms’ employees die in a suspicious boating accident in the Cayman Islands, a funeral is held at Elmwood Cemetery, the oldest active cemetery in Memphis and on the National Register of Historic Places. The Firm was released in the summer of 1993.
Savage County is a thrasher-thriller about a prank gone wrong that unleashes a family of bloodthirsty killers. The film, released in 2010, is set inside the home at 1863 Cowden.
As you enjoy the Film Tour we ask that you consider making a donation of any amount in support of three strategic projects that will ensure the neighborhood’s preservation for years to come. How to give. Do you love where you live? Join or renew your membership Here.
Patti Sachenbacher | Vice President/Senior Loan Officer
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Central Gardens AssociationP.O. Box 41382 • Memphis, TN 38174-1382
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