Wandering around old Montreal in November of 2010 after enjoying some poutine, I inadvertently stumbled on to the set of On The Road. In the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel, which opened on December 21, the historic part of Montreal stands in for New York City of the 1940s with its old art deco buildings and minimal visual intrusion of technology.
The crew were only a couple dozen in number, and while they were getting ready to do a take, they were cool with me hanging around and chatting with them for a half hour as we drank coffee. I was dressed as a 21st century American in subzero Quebec, so unfortunately I couldn’t finagle a role as an extra. No, not even a cameo as a time traveler.
I spent about a half hour checking out the cars, most of which were the definition of 20-footers. Late 1940s sedans aren’t exactly hot right now, and most were probably bought at auctions for a few grand or rented from the locals, with driveability being the decisive factor. Some had been converted into taxis quite recently, judging by the paint. So this wasn’t a case of concours-grade collector cars with Armor All dripping off the tires carefully driving past the camera, as in most Hollywood films (before Hollywood figured out that not everyone drove concours-grade Duesenbergs in the 1940s).
Directed by Walter Salles and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, the film stars Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, and Viggo Mortensen, and went into wide release on December 21, after several showings at film festivals over the summer.
I talked to the cars’ drivers a bit, who were in period garb, and shot a few long exposures on a gorillapod. How many of these cars can you identify?