Filming for ‘The Ladykillers’ includes outside scenes on Natchez streets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; To hear those close to &uot;The Ladykillers&uot; tell it, filming that movie in Natchez has been as easy as a stroll down the street.

Dozens of crew and cast members &045; including filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen &045; spent more than 11 hours Wednesday filming exterior shots in and around Natchez for use throughout their film. Those locations included Carmel Baptist Church, Stanton Hall, High Street and Linton Avenue.

&uot;Everybody here has been so friendly and welcoming,&uot; said Bob Graf, one of the film’s producers. And compared to &uot;O, Brother Where Art Thou,&uot; another Coen brothers film on which he worked extensively in Mississippi, &uot;it’s been so much easier.&uot;

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They’ll return to Linton Avenue at 8 a.m. today &045; the last day of filming. It wasn’t clear as of Wednesday afternoon what other locations would be used. However, a small building across Canal Street from the convention center also sports a temporary &uot;Saucier Sheriff’s Office&uot; sign for the film.

But late Wednesday afternoon, crew members were milling around the southernmost block of Linton Avenue, doing everything from positioning the cameras just right to attaching artificial azalea blooms to bushes outside locals’ homes.

Lead actress Irma P. Hall, who in the film plays a landlady who foils her tenants’ attempt to rob a riverboat casino, was being filmed walking down the street on her way from the &uot;sheriff’s office.&uot;

And although shooting did involve periodically rerouting traffic &045; and although stars Tom Hanks and Marlon Wayans aren’t among those in town &045;locals viewing the shoot from their yards and sidewalks seemed to enjoy seeing it all firsthand.

&uot;Everybody’s been really nice and very polite,&uot; said Frank Bauer, co-owner of Highpoint, where the crew hooked up some electrical cables for the shoot.

&uot;Besides, I think I feel like everybody does &045; any time a movie wants to shoot in Natchez, we need to do everything we can to accommodate them,&uot; he said. &uot;Who knows? If this works out, we may have three more movies come to Natchez.&uot;

Murray Miller, location manager for &uot;The Ladykillers,&uot; said he has been impressed with the lengths to which Natchezians have gone to make production go smoothly and make the 80-plus crew and handful of cast members feel at home.

That’s extended from homeowners to top city and county officials, Miller said, including city representatives who worked with those filming the movie to make the City Auditorium their temporary headquarters.

&uot;When you ask them to do something for you, they say, ‘How much more can we do for you?’ There’s Southern hospitality, and then there’s Natchez hospitality,&uot; Miller said.

Since filming for the movie has already wrapped up in Los Angeles, today’s shoot in Natchez will be the last day of production for the film.