PIERMONT, NY -- The Jewel Theater is not there anymore (actually it never was more than a Hollywood facade) but women and men in 1930s garb, along with vintage cars, were on Piermont's Main Street on a crisp recent Sunday paying tribute to the 30th anniversary of "The Purple Rose of Cairo," which was filmed in the village.
Some residents have been around long enough to remember the winter Woody Allen turned Piermont into a drab, depression-era town, which ironically put Piermont on the map.
At the time, Piermont was a down-and-out blue collar town but now it is a gentrified jewel on the Hudson, and a popular haunt for bicyclists. No one has done more to immortalize the locale of the filming than Nyack photographer Sally Savage, who took and developed black-and-white film during the shoot. An exhibition of her photos kicked off the celebration at Village Hall.
"I never met Woody or Mia," Savage said, in a hushed whisper. "I didn't have permission to take pictures. Someone had even said 'don't let Woody see you taking photos,' so I kept a low profile. I took a lot of these shots from the Turning Point deck."
Asked if she caught Woody on film, Savage points to a grainy figure, clad in a down jacket, walking alone in front of the "Jewel" theater, bracing against the wind. "That's him," she said, beaming. But her favorite shot is one in which two crew members are having a smoke during a break in filming.
Following Savage's exhibition was a roundtable discussion that included Stuart Wurtzel, the film's production designer, The Turning Point's owner John McAvoy, and former Piermont police chief Timothy O'Shea.
The day concluded with a champagne toast and a screening of the film.
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