Wilmington, NCMovie & Television
Filming Locations
Blue Velvet (1986)

Blue Velvet (1986)

One of my favorite movies which had a major impact on me in college, and surely remains legendary to many. The oh-so-polite but dangerously curious Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) intersects with the dark underbelly in his hometown, leading him to become a good neighbor to local lounge singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) which rubs her adoring and abusive tormentor Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) the wrong way, which leads to him taking Jeffrey on a ride out to the country.

The story is set in Lumberton, which is actually a small city about 70 miles west of Wilmington. I've heard local legends about the production, including a deleted fight scene in which Frank does the "pretty pretty" routine with someone in the bar below Ben's apartment. (Actually, newly found and released footage shows the fight scene, but no "pretty pretty".) Another was that Wilmington was still fresh to movie productions, and when Dorothy walked outside naked, the local residents who were watching disappeared. Then complaints were filed resulting in the inability of further productions doing public nudity. Whether it's true or not, maybe it's just better to accept that anything is possible when David Lynch is involved.

Dorothy Vallens’ Apartment Building

Although the scenes inside of Dorothy’s (Isabella Rossellini) apartment were all shot on a set at the EUE/Screen Gems Studios, scenes were filmed of the exterior for establishing shots and the scene when “Frank in the well dressed man disguise” (Dennis Hopper) is climbing the stairs accessible from 5th Ave.

This is an active apartment building called Carolina Apartments, so you could live here! I’ve had several friends who lived there and it was always on my mind when I walked in to the building that “This Is It”, the building imbued with cinematic history. It’s almost like our own Bradbury Building that was famously used in Blade Runner.

You can no longer just walk in to the building or even into the lobby, as they have added keypad entry on the front door. They also sealed off the side staircase with a wooden wall. I think that wooden wall detracts from the mystique of the structure, it’s sad that it’s even there, although it is where tenants dump their trash.

Also Filmed Here:
Sleepy Hollow
We’re the Millers

Police Station (Demolished)

The police station used in Blue Velvet was an actual police station, but has since been demolished and replaced by a new building for Cape Fear Community College.

Fortunately, through Google Street View’s ability to look in to the past, it can be visited virtually.

Actual Location (Historical):
115 Red Cross St, Wilmington, NC 28401

Frank’s Place

Seen several times throughout the film, first during Jeffery’s stakeout, and towards the end during the raid.

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