A Daytripper’s Guide to Epics and Icons
The region around Furman has long captured the imagination of filmmakers.
If you’ve ever been enchanted by the Fraser firs of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’re in good creative company. The cinematic minds behind “The Last of the Mohicans” movie in 1992 were similarly transfixed by the area’s majesty when they chose the forests just north of Furman to shoot the movie. But the Blue Ridge Mountains aren’t the only destination in the greater Furman region that matched the vision, and perhaps budget, of moviemakers over the decades. Others include “Sleeping with the Enemy,” “Leatherheads,” “Radio,” “Sheffey,” “Deliverance” and “The Abyss.” See if you recognize any of these iconic (in some cases) or curious places. Maybe you’ve watched the movies or, just as likely, happened upon the places.
“Her Man” (1918)
“Her Man,” a silent movie made in 1917, was based on a novel called “Battle Cry,” written in 1914 by Charles Neville Buck. It was about the upper-class Juanita Holland, who starts a school in rural Appalachia. She finds the area plagued by local violence, and in the heat of the mayhem, falls in love with Bad Ance Havey.
“The film was retitled ‘Her Man’ to really emphasize the heroine who was the star, the young beauty Elaine Hammerstein, a relative of the famed theater producer Oscar Hammerstein,” according to Jason Greer of TravelersRestHere.com.
Greer further explains how Travelers Rest prevailed over Asheville, North Carolina, in being selected as the location for the movie: “Advanced Motion Picture from New York first went to Asheville to film the movie. The producers found that area just did not work. Greenville’s Chamber of Commerce, sensing an opportunity, invited the producers to come down the mountain. They were quite taken with Travelers Rest, then a village of just a few hundred people, and found that the Swamp Rabbit railroad was just perfect for one of the dramatic scenes of the film.”
The drama was based on the true story of the friendship between the football coach for T. L. Hanna High School in Anderson, South Carolina, and James “Radio” Kennedy, a man with an intellectual disability who became a local inspiration.
Top: Players for T.L. Hanna High School in Anderson, South Carolina, touch the James Radio Kennedy statue before their game on November 6, 2020. Radio died in December 2019.
“Finding Jack Kerouac” (2002)
Three college students, including two eighth-year college seniors, enchanted by Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” embark on their own trip to explore the life of a beatnik. The movie was filmed in Greenville, South Carolina.
“Sleeping with the Enemy” (1991)
The Abbeville, South Carolina, home where Julia Roberts’s character Laura Burney lived in “Sleeping with the Enemy,” a psychological thriller based on the novel by Nancy Price.
The football comedy “Leatherheads” was shot at the Calhoun Hotel in Anderson, South Carolina, Ware Shoals High School in Greenwood, Boiling Springs High School, parts of downtown Greer, and what became Greenville’s bustling food hall, The Commons, after Drew Parker ’00 and his partners redeveloped the original warehouses.
“Sheffey” is based on the novel “The Saint of the Wilderness” by Jess Carr. It was shot at Epworth Campground in Greenwood, South Carolina, and Walnut Grove Plantation near Spartanburg, South Carolina, but also features scenes from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee; Pleasant Hill, Kentucky; and Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina; among other locations in North Carolina. It was made by Unusual Films, the film studio of Bob Jones University in Greenville.
“The Last of the Mohicans” (1992)
The actors of “Last of the Mohicans,” gather during filming. While novelist James Fenimore Cooper set the story in Lake George, New York, filmmakers in the 1990s chose the North Carolina forests of what is now Chimney Rock State Park.
The abandoned Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant near Gaffney, South Carolina, where “The Abyss” was filmed.