Hudson in the Movies

Hudson may lack a main-street movie theater, but it has certainly starred on more than one occasion upon the silver screen. And while it’s true that Time and Space Limited shows movies regularly out of a former warehouse on Columbia Street, and there’s a mainstream multiplex, Hudson Movieplex, up the road on Route 9 a couple of miles from town, most of the cinematic action in Hudson has taken place on or very near Warren Street.

Many say that it is Hudson’s wealth of historic architecture, its location not far from New York City and its arts-friendliness that makes it a frequent choice for directors looking for a distinct cinematic backdrop. And if you’ve been in Hudson very much at all, you will have seen numerous smaller “film shoots” taking place in an around town, a testament to its local arts community and the “creatives” that live nearby.

Perhaps the most-acclaimed movie to have been filmed at least partly in Hudson is “Ironweed”, based on William Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, a rather somber elegy about a couple of down-and-outers during a down-and-out time in and around Albany, New York. Hudson provided backdrops for several scenes including one at what used to be the Gold & Son junkyard on Columbia Street. Another scene was shot right across the river in Athens.

Paul Newman starred in “Nobody’s Fool” (1986) along with Melanie Griffith, the bar scenes of which were shot at what was for a long time the Iron Horse on 7th Street and which now has been reimagined as Governor’s Tavern.

In 2010, The Cascades restaurant was location for director Brian McAllister’s short film “The Man at the Counter”.

But the film that spends the most footage with Hudson as a backdrop is a little-known, underrated film noir from 1959 called “Odds Against Tomorrow” that starred Harry Belafonte as a jazz musician with gambling debts who finds himself in a bank heist gone wrong. In a particularly evocative scene, he is seen crossing the Rip Van Winkle in a bus that eventually drops him on Warren Street.

The climactic scenes take place also on Warren Street and then at a riverfront refinery no longer in place. Belafonte and his co-conspirators determine to rob the bank at Sixth and Warren that is now a branch of the Berkshire Bank, figuring it is an easy target. But things go fatally awry and a big-city style shoot-out leaves Belafonte shot and another killed. Finally, Robert Ryan (a terrific actor in no small number of films-noir) makes a fiery last-stand at the refinery that features (naturally) a climactic explosion. If you want to know what Hudson looked like in the 1950s or just want to see a good, unheralded movie, make sure you get hold of this one and watch the backdrops! “Odds” was notable in that it was the first film-noir to star an African American actor.

More recently many saw the filming of a movie with Matthew Broderick and Chloe Sevigny but, as happens more often than it might seem, this movie never made it to release (or at least we have not heard of it). Also of film-related note, the actual Serpico who inspired 1971’s “Serpico” about police corruption starring Dustin Hoffman, has lived near Hudson for quite some time. The Hudson Valley is at least part-time home to too many movie-stars and musicians to count—which certainly says a lot about the region’s wide appeal.

Hudson, whether a great backdrop for films or not, is a great location for a great weekend or perhaps much longer. It’s no secret that many have come from New York City and beyond to call Hudson home. Very often there are independent and classic movies shown at Time and Space Limited, as noted above.

Racquel Roberts