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Saturday May 18th 2024

Nebraska | 2013

Nebraska film location: Madison Avenue, Lincoln, Nebraska
Nebraska film location: Woody finally makes it to ‘Cornhusker Marketing’: Madison Avenue, Lincoln, Nebraska | Photograph: Google Maps

After years of sterling supporting work, Bruce Dern was finally rewarded with a Best Actor Oscar nomination, only to come up against Matthew McConaughey’s star turn in The Dallas Buyers Club.

Nevertheless, Dern got plenty of deserved recognition for his performance as ageing, cantankerous Woody Grant, convinced that a worthless ‘come-on’ flyer guarantees him a million dollars and doggedly determined to make it from his home in Billings, Montana, to collect his fortune from the marketing company in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Nebraska film location: Cedar Avenue, Laurel, Montana
Nebraska film location: the Grant home in Billings: Cedar Avenue, Laurel, Montana | Photograph: Google Maps

Woody is first seen ambling down Montana Avenue in Billings, alongside the railroad tracks, past the eyecatching statue gracing the front of the Tire Factory, 3741 Montana Avenue.

He makes it as far as the Billings City Limit sign on the South 27th Street overpass above US-212 before he’s intercepted by a concerned cop.

Woody’s despondent son, David (Will Forte), dutifully takes his father back to the modest bungalow he shares with his long-suffering and understandably irascible wife, Kate (June Squibb), at 405 Cedar Avenue, between South 4th and South 5th Streets, Laurel, southwest of Billings.‎

Woody is not so easily discouraged and he’s soon on the road again, discovered by David at the art deco Billings Greyhound Bus Station, 2502 1st Avenue North at North 25th Street.

Worn down, David reluctantly agrees to drive Woody to the flyer company’s head office in Lincoln, if only to prove once and for all that there really are no winnings.

Nebraska film location: Elbow Room, Lake De Smet, Wyoming
Nebraska film location: Woody disappears to slake his thirst: Elbow Room Lounge, Lake De Smet, Wyoming | Photograph: Elbow Room Lounge, Wyoming

The trusty Subaru follows I-90 southeast and across the border into Wyoming, stopping for gas at Lake Stop Motel and Bar on the south shore of Lake De Smet, north of Buffalo. Woody, who claims to have stopped drinking, disappears into the bar to quench his thirst . But, as he quite reasonably explains, “Beer ain’t drinkin’”.

The bar is the Elbow Room Lounge, 9 Lake De Smet Road. The filmmakers liked the look of the old gas pumps and thought the bar was the perfect Wyoming drinking hole – though they did deck the place out with mounted wolf, bear and buffalo heads, until according to owner Valerie Simondi, “It looked like a taxidermy studio.”

From here, they travel due east, crossing into South Dakota, to ‘Run With The Pack’ as the welcoming sign reads. This is indeed Dances With Wolves territory (Spearfish Canyon, south of the town of Spearfish on I-90, was a major location).

As they pass through the town of Summerset on I-90, they’re overtaken by bikers – but oddly they seem to be travelling in the wrong direction, back northwest towards Wyoming.

Whatever, they make a short detour to take a peek at the carved presidents atop Mount Rushmore. “Doesn’t look finished to me.” Is Woody’s predictably grumpy appraisal of the famous monument. I probably don't need to remind you of Mount Rushmore's most famous screen moment at the climax of Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest.

Nebraska film location: Stardust Motel, East North Street, Rapid City, South Dakota
Nebraska film location: Woody and David stay overnight in Rapid City: Stardust Motel, East North Street, Rapid City, South Dakota | Photograph: Google Maps

The pair double back to Rapid City, to spend the night at the Stardust Motel, 520 East North Street.

There’s a little deception here, though, when Woody stumbles over railroad tracks, gashes his forehead and manages to lose his false teeth. The emergency room in which he’s treated is the old intensive care unit of Faith Regional Health Services, 2700 West Norfolk Avenue, a few hundred miles away in Norfolk, northeastern Nebraska. This seems to have been a cleverly economical decision, since the same hospital appears as itself later in the movie.

So it’s actually in Norfolk, along the tracks near the junction of North 5th Street and Braasch Avenue, downtown, that they search for Woody’s missing teeth.

The fictitious town of ‘Hawthorne’, where they stop over with Woody’s kin, is Plainview, about 20 miles northwest of Norfolk.

The home of Woody’s brother, Ray, wife Martha and the two obnoxious cousins, is 112 North Plum Street at Pilcher Avenue, Plainview.

The town of Plainview is pretty much as it’s seen on screen – apart from ‘Monster Tan’ salon which was an addition for the film, and the changing of the Plainview News office at 508 West Locust Avenue to The Hawthorne Republican, where David learns a little more about his taciturn father’s past.

Woody and David pop out for a drink at ‘Sodbuster’, which is really the Keystone Bar, 316 West Locust Avenue at Maple Street, where they begin to open up a little to each other, and Woody reluctantly admits that he does drink.

They move on across the road to ‘Blinker Tavern’, which is where Woody runs into old acquaintance Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach), and old grudges begin to surface.

The ‘Blinker’ exterior is Fat's Lounge, 409 West Locust Avenue, but now it gets a little confusing, as the interior of ‘Blinker’ really is a bar called Sodbuster. It’s not in Plainview, though, it’s Sodbuster Saloon, 110 North Main Street, Hooper, a good 70 miles to the southeast, toward Omaha.

The cemetery, in which they get a thorough rundown of family history from plain-speaking Kate, is West Cedar Valley Cemetery, Nebraska 14 / 521st Avenue, a little north of Elgin, 30 miles west of Norfolk.

When Woody collapses after being attacked outside the ‘Hawthorne’ bar, this time it's reasonable for David to drive him to Norfolk, and Faith Regional Health Services now appears as itself.

But Woody hasn’t come this far just to be hospitalised, and they complete the last section of their quest, finally arriving in downtown Lincoln by the O Street Bridge, which crosses the rail tracks west of town, and continuing along O Street to 13th Street.

'Cornhusker Marketing and Promotions, Inc, 11522 West Cotner Street', where Woody doesn't get his million but does get a consolation prizewinner's cap, is Eclipse, 3400 Madison Avenue, a screen-printing company off North 33rd Street near Cornhusker Highway, north of Lincoln. It’s rumoured the company is cannily changing its name to Cornhusker. And why not?