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Peekskill and Mildred Pierce


I know when you get outside and look around your neighborhood, you think, “Wow, this looks just like Depression-era Hollywood!”

Okay, probably not. I admit that I never thought that. But that’s likely why I’m not a location scout for movie studios. Because Westchester was transformed into Depression-era Hollywood for the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce—and it looked pretty gorgeous.

Downtown Peekskill became the spot where our Mildred landed her first job as a waitress in a Hollywood diner. Full-size palm trees were trucked up from Florida and kept in a greenhouse until they were needed, just to give Westchester more of that tropical California feel. The streets also were lined with 1930s-style cars.

“Peekskill had sort of a nice, open feel to it,” Ilene S. Landress, the co-executive producer, notes in the “making-of” clip. “And it has these amazing buildings that really you can’t believe it’s not California.”

You can see more about it in this making-of documentary. The parts about Peekskill start at about the 10:20 mark.

You also can click here to see a slideshow of before-and-after photos done by the production designer. Slides No. 6 and 8 do a great job of showing you the polish they put on Peekskill—WCC and the Westchester Art Workshop are transformed into S.S. Kresge Co, with prices advertised as being 5¢, 10¢, and 25¢. If only!

If you haven’t caught it yet, it’s worth investing the five-plus hours (it is being re-aired on HBO and the mini-series as well as some behind-the-scenes shorts are available on HBO On-Demand). HBO always comes out with a movie that winds up winning lots of honors come awards season. (Last year, it was Temple Grandin.) This year, the work is being done by Kate Winslet—who, after Revolutionary Road, is a veteran at looking put-upon in period garb—and director Todd Hanyes, who has experience directing put-upon women in period garb after doing Far From Heaven. No wonder it’s been pulling in some good reviews. Let me know what you think in the comments.


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