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In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.

Plain Clothes (1988)
An obscure entry into the semi-popular "guy (or gal) goes back to high school" genre, Plain Clothes has the distinction of being the only one of the bunch that was shot in Seattle. Arliss Howard stars as a cop in his mid-thirties named Nick Dunbar who goes undercover at Adlai Stevenson High School after his brother is accused of murdering an unpopular teacher. He uses the alias Nick Springsteen, wears a straw porkpie hat and Hawaiian shirt and--suspend your belief--blends right into the student body. Nick becomes a popular "kid" at school, charms his English teacher (Suzy Amis), and solves some crimes. Martha Coolidge's modest comedy features a pretty cool cast including George Wendt, Diane Ladd, Robert Stack, Max Perlich, Harry Shearer and the great Abe Vigoda. The best part of the film is the abundance of Seattle and, in particular, Ballard location footage. Early on Nick is working undercover with an ice cream truck parked on lower Magnolia with a view of Interbay in the background. Nick and his police partner, played by Seymour Cassel (who wears a Seahawks windbreaker) meet for lunch at the long-gone Athens Restaurant on Queen Anne. Events transpire at Salmon Bay Park and in the industrial part of Ballard. Most of the high school footage was shot at Salmon Bay School. For the school's "Mayfest" celebration, they set up a carnival with ferris wheels and roller coasters behind the school. I wish they would do this in real life because I live a few blocks away. The carnival would probably only be for students but, hell, I've got a porkpie hat and Hawaiian shirt so I could pull a "Nick Springsteen" and check out the rides. This is another film that has never been released on DVD but of course you can rent the videotape from Scarecrow Video.
--Spencer Hoyt

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