The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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The Year Was…..............1984
Movie people make good neighbors in Ocean City
OCEAN CITY, Md. – You’d hardly know there’s a Hollywood film company in town except for the excitement in the mayor’s voice and the parking lot full of 1984 rental cars at the bay end of 1st Street across from Capt. Jack Bunting & Sons Deep Sea Fishing.
The neighbor closest to the Columbia Pictures production office, Annie Bell Sumter of 305 1st St., said she had no idea the movie company was separated from her home only by a ready-mix concrete company.
But she said she could understand the need for “the movie people,” as they’re known around town, to keep a low profile.
“I imagine they thought if people knew (their whereabouts), there’d be so many people around they couldn’t get any work done,” Ms. Sumter said.
Anne FauntLeRoy, executive director of the local chamber of commerce, said she didn’t know who was in town from Columbia or what they were up to. Other than a phone call that was “mostly protocol,” she said, she’s had no contact with “the movie people.”
The chamber has gotten six or seven crank calls, Ms. FauntLeRoy said, from people pretending to be friends of Sissy Spacek or Kevin Klein, stars of “Violets are Blue.”
Filming of the love story set in Ocean City, Assateague Island and Venice during 1969 and 1984 is to begin Monday and is scheduled to continue through September.
Columbia is hiring 1,600 extras for sequences to be filmed on the Chesapeake Bay, the beach, the Boardwalk, Trimper’s Amusement Park, Fager’s Island restaurant, the old Commander Hotel at Boardwalk and 14th, the quaint buildings on Talbot Street, the fishing pier at West Ocean City and Delaware Seashore State Park between Dewey and Bethany beaches about 15 miles north of Ocean City.
Adults hired as extras will be paid $40 and children younger than 12, $25. About 15 professional actors from the Baltimore-Washington area will have small speaking roles.
Filming also will go on inside a warehouse set at the end of a dirt road off Route 50 near the chamber office and at a 3,000-square-foot, two-story house facing the bay, built in the last five weeks on Harbor Road [now Sunset Avenue] in West Ocean City.



House built for the film “Violets are Blue”
Photograph by John Welsh, Jr.
The house, easily seen from the Bay Bridge on state Route 50, is made of dark brown cedar shakes with an artificially weathered, diamond-pattern composition shingle roof. The floors are dark-stained, wide pine planks, and the house is filled with local antique furniture.
City police Capt. William T. Jones said a number of streets will be closed to traffic during the filming, but sightseers will be welcome to watch. Some streets also will have to be cleared of new cars and filled with cars 15 years and older during part of the filming.
“We’re not really making the plans; the movie people are making the plans,” Jones said. “This is all new to us,” the officer said of the first major motion picture to be filmed here.
Jones said five or six blocks of the Boardwalk will be closed during some film sequences, but no efforts will be made to clear the beach.



Curator’s note: The filming of “Violets are Blue” caused quite a stir in Ocean City during the summer of 1984. The film’s biggest promoter locally, Mayor Harry Kelley, did not live to see the movie’s release. He died on February 13, 1985 while vacationing in Florida. The “house” erected on Sinepuxent Bay for the movie was partially destroyed in a fire set by vandals the following winter, and the land owners (the Showell family) asked the Ocean City Fire Department to burn down the rest. The “quaint buildings” on Talbot Street, the former Mount Vernon Hotel and annex, were torn down in the early 2000s.
One building used by the filmmakers was overlooked in this report. The Cropper house, on the south side of South Division Street next to the old Henry Hotel, was the “home” of Sissy Spacek’s parents in Ocean City. The house, which was built in 1912, is still owned by Cropper family descendants.



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