A Film Debut for Downtown Elmwood

LIGHTS, CAMERA, EDGEFIELD

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In November 1988, Downtown Elmwood became the filming location for a number of scenes in the movie Born on the Fourth of July starring Tom Cruise. Margaret B. Henderson was used for Ron Kovic's high school and S Edgefield Ave was transformed for parade and other outdoor sequences set in Massapequa, Long Island. Faux storefronts for ice cream shops, jewelers and insurance agencies lined the movie set, including false second stories on existing buildings and a dome-shaped "Boyer Burger" in the parking lot next to Elmwood United Methodist. A story in the Dallas Morning News described the stunning transformation this way:

To those who know the pre-October Edgefield Avenue, the transformations are startling. A rundown, nondescript commercial street has suddenly become a semicoherent town with real corners and intersections, even the hint of a square. Buildings now march right up to the curb instead of hanging back behind parking lots. Many have fake second stories with offices for dentists and loan sharks. Spruce trees, imported from Michigan and jammed in place like telephone poles, now shade the streets.

Tom Cruise, grateful for his "terrific" experience, paid for a half-page advertisement in the Oak Cliff Tribune to thank Oak Cliff for its hospitality.

Want to see the how the set locations look today compared to the Oliver Stone film? Use the slider to see before-and-after photos.

 

For more on the filming, including other locations used throughout Dallas, check out WFAA's North Texas Films Series: Born on the Fourth of July.