The excitement over shooting Dog Years, starring Burt Reynolds, Chevy Chase, and some younger stars last week may be remembered as a landmark of sorts.
Knoxville has served as a setting for a few movies that were shot elsewhere. The 1950 noir thriller A Woman in Hiding, and the 1959 Jimmy Stewart docudrama The FBI Story, for example, were partly set in Knoxville, but were actually shot in California, by actors and crews who probably never set foot here.
On the other hand, in recent years Knoxville has served as the location for movies that were set elsewhere, like Box of Moonlight and October Sky, in which Knoxville locations stand in for suburban Chicago and downtown Indianapolis, respectively.
Dog Years is unusual in that it's both shot and set here. The only other example of a major motion pictuer that was shot in Knoxville and specifically set here was All the Way Home, the 1963 movie based on James Agee's story, starring Robert Preston as the doomed father. A short scene in that movie takes place on Market Square, but it's not obvious that it was filmed there.
Market Square has seen its share of celebrities over the years. Political big shots like William Jennings Bryan and Ronald Reagan have given speeches there. Musicians from Duke Ellington to Roy Acuff performed there in the 1930s. Dog Years is probably the first major motion picture shot on Market Square proper.
But the biggest movie star ever seen on Market Square was not Burt Reynolds or Chevy Chase. My nomination for that honor would go to Ingrid Bergman, who came to Market Square in April, 1970, promoting her new movie, A Walk in the Spring Rain. which was shot mostly in the Smokies, with a brief scene on UT's Hill (standing in for a Northeastern college.) She came as part of a formal ceremony to plant a dogwood tree on the square. Newspaper columnist Carson Brewer watched the scene with skepticism. The hole wasn't nearly big enough for the dogwood to thrive, he thought. And it apparently didn't last more than three months. But it made for a great photo opportunity.