(Photo Uploaded By Alan Cutts)
Today’s photo is from a time when Clemson’s campus became a movie set back in 1973. In fact, Clemson was not “Clemson”…it was “Jordan College”.
The filming of “The Midnight Man” took place in Clemson and was filmed at various parts of the campus, including the President’s House.
Burt Lancaster co-wrote and co-directed the film in addition to playing the lead role. It received an R rating and was released in 1974.
Lancaster arrives at "Jordan College" stepping off a Trailways Silver Eagle model 01 bus (actually Greyhound served Clemson) on the Old Greenville Highway in front of what was Clemson's post office, a classic 1930s design building that was replicated all over the country and which is now Clemson University's Mell Hall.
This was the first scene shot, filmed on February 13, 1973. The "Clemons Motel" was a clever reworking of the sign of the still-operating Clemson Motel on Highway 93 mid-way between Clemson and Central, South Carolina.
The interior courthouse shots were inside Tillman Hall, visible in the background of early shots, but when Lancaster and Susan Clark step outside they are suddenly in downtown Anderson, South Carolina. The bar where Lancaster accosts Catherine Bach's character was also in Anderson and after filming, a plywood board was tacked over the "b" to eliminate the set building's faux-identity. It stayed that way until the corner building was razed in the 1980's.
William Splawn's character of Mr. Lamar was a name of convenience as Lamar's was a real nightspot (always referred to by Dr. Calhoun in his English classes as "The Round Table") on Highway 123 (the then so-called by-pass, now named Tiger Boulevard) across the road from Clemson's Southern Railway train station. It is now Coach Ibrahim M. Ibrahim's Athletic Department.
Cameron Mitchell's character is seen in a late scene exercising on the cinder track of historic Riggs Field, the second football field until Memorial Stadium was built in 1942 and which is now the soccer stadium.
The indoor swimming pool scene was shot in the YMCA building visible to the right of Riggs Field. The janitor's crash-pad was also in the basement of the "Y", now known as Holtzendorff Hall, in what would later serve as the band director's office. The Clemson Tiger Band's band room would occupy this space from 1977 until 1992.
One whole scene is sometimes excised for broadcast in which Mitchell's character follows Senator Claiborne onto a Welborn bus. This was filmed in Anderson at what was once the Piedmont & Northern interurban railway station at 415 North Main Street and was by that time a Trailways bus station and which now serves as The Jones Law Firm. (The last P&N passenger interurban service to the station ended on October 31, 1951.)
Interior dorm room scenes were filmed at the Trustee House, the two-story red brick building adjacent to Fort Hill, the John C. Calhoun mansion on campus - Calhoun's son-in-law Thomas Green Clemson donated the estate to South Carolina to form Clemson's land grant campus in 1889. The carpeting laid down for the filming was still in use in the Trustee House in 2005. It was finally replaced in 2007.
Burt Lancaster shared directing credit with Roland Kibbee, and shared writing credit with Kibbee and author David Anthony upon whose novel The Midnight Lady and the Morning Man the movie was based. Featuring a fairly convoluted plot, the movie was not a major success and Lancaster did not consider it to be among his better work. Other than The Kentuckian, this was Lancaster's only film as a director.
Co-stars included Susan Clark and Cameron Mitchell, as well as the future Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach, in her first screen appearance, and character actors Ed Lauter and Charles Tyner who would both be featured in The Longest Yard (the 1974 original, not the 2005 remake).
The film was released in the United States on June 10, 1974 in New York City, and nationwide on June 14. It premiered at the Astro III theatre, Clemson, S.C., on March 14, 1974 with a red carpet ceremony.
(Note: If you have old pictures dating before 1990 that are Clemson related and you would like to share them, send them to me in an email with as much information about the picture as you can give and I will use it for a future “Clemson Historic Picture Of The Day”).
Scott Rhymer can be reached at Scottrhymer.firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit to clemsontigers.com, clemsonwiki and wikipedia.