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Friday February 23rd 2024

Unbreakable | 2000

Unbreakable filming location: Curtis Center lobby, Walnut Street, Philadelphia
Unbreakable filming location: David and Audrey enjoy a cocktail in the upscale 'restaurant': Curtis Center lobby, Walnut Street, Philadelphia | Photograph: G Widman for Visit Philadelphiaâ„¢

“They say this one has a surprise ending.”, says young Elijah Price’s mother, handing her son a comic book, and we know we’re back in Shyamalanland, otherwise known as Philadelphia.

Security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the sole – and strangely unharmed – survivor of a train wreck, is contacted by the adult Price (Samuel L Jackson), his seeming opposite, afflicted with painfully fragile bones.

Dunn works – without ever having taken a day’s sick leave – at the stadium of the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin Field, 235 South 33rd Street, at Spruce Street.

He attends a memorial service for the victims of the crash at Immaculate Conception Church, 1020 East Price Street at Ardleigh Street, Germantown, northern Philadelphia. It’s outside the church that Price leaves a mysterious message on his windscreen.

Sets were built at the Philadelphia Civic Center, Convention Avenue at 34th Street, which, since 1995 has been used as a soundstage facility. Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense was also filmed here, as did Beloved, but there are plenty of real Philadelphia locations, though not always what they seem.

You can’t pick up a piece of classic artwork from ‘Limited Editions’, Elijah Price’s comic book art gallery, which was nothing more than an empty restaurant building at 1620 Locust Street, in central Philadelphia.

And, unlike David Dunn and Audrey (Robin Wright Penn), you won’t be able to enjoy a romantic cocktail at the rather enticing restaurant with the giant mural. It’s not a bar at all, but the lobby of the Curtis Center, 601-645 Walnut Street at Sixth Street (HQ of Curtis Publishing), northeast corner of Washington Square.

Its huge, gleaming 1916 ‘mural’ is The Dream Garden, a Tiffany glass mosaic, based on a Maxfield Parrish painting. In 1998, it narrowly avoided being shipped off to grace a Las Vegas casino, when it was purchased by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. You can take a peek – the lobby is open to the public.

And don’t plan to catch a train from the cavernous ‘railway station’ in which Dunn explores his colour-coded supersenses. It’s another Philadelphia lobby, that of the Packard Building, 111 South 15th Street at Chestnut Street. Built as showroom and assembly plant for Packard cars, it became publishing plant for the Philadelphia Record, before lying abandoned. It’s since been redeveloped as luxury apartments.

Dunn meets his son at the quaintly-named Pretzel Park, 4300 Silverwood Street, Manayunk, just west of city centre Philadelphia, on the banks of the Schuylkill River.

The bar where a slightly too-talkative security man lets the wrong guy know his hotel’s vulnerable spots, is United States Hotel Bar & Grill, 4439 Main Street, Manayunk.