by Tim Storey
One brutally hot summer day a few weeks ago, I decided to take the kids and seek relief in the air conditioned confines of the local movie house. I let my kids (ages 5 and 6) choose the movie, so we set off to see the summer's most talked about canine-oriented flick--Underdog. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out what state capitol provided the filming location for Underdog's heroic exploits. The credits revealed that it was filmed in and around the Rhode Island state capitol and capital. Rhode Island's legislative leaders, Speaker William J. Murphy and President of the Senate Joseph A. Montalbano, were formally thanked in the credits. Apparently, Rhode Island lawmakers offered tax credits that helped attract the Underdog filmmakers, and legislators and staff worked around the inconvenience of having a film crew swarming through the building for several days.
I started wondering how often legislatures have allowed Hollywood to use the capitol as a set. A couple of years ago, filmmakers spent 10 days filming All the Kings Men, starring Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins, in Louisiana's towering state capitol. I believe some Louisiana legislators and staff appeared in the film as extras. Of course, we've devoted a great deal of virtual ink here in the Thicket talking about the documentary Legislature filmed in the Idaho state capitol (see here and here). I imagine that other capitols have served as the backdrop for major motion pictures, so post a comment if you know of any other flicks filmed in legislative chambers.
And by the way, I wouldn't race out to see Underdog unless maybe you're under eight years old or you want to marvel at the beauty of the Rhode Island Capitol building.