When the new film “The Upside” opens on Friday, local theatergoers will recognize more than just the streets of Philadelphia on the screen.
The historic Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville was the location of scenes for the film, which is the story of a wealthy quadriplegic who chooses a parolee as his caregiver, leading to an unlikely friendship.
The choice of the Black Bass began when the movie, which was being filmed in the Philadelphia area, needed to find an inn, said Laura Thompson Barnes, vice president of The Thompson Organization, which owns the Black Bass.
“They wanted an old, charming inn along the Delaware River,” said Barnes.
After visiting about a dozen, they found the Black Bass, and “They said, ‘this is it,’” she said.
The crew took over the hotel and the adjacent Lumberville General Store for several days in 2017, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Barnes and the staffs of the two businesses.
Not only did they see how a major motion picture is filmed, but they got to watch top stars at work. “Bryan Cranston was funny and engaging,” Barnes said, “and Kevin Hart made jokes all the time.”
Nicole Kidman “was beautiful and a lovely person,” Barnes said. She enjoyed the Black Bass enough to promise to return and bring her husband.
The experience of watching the professional actors at work was impressive, Barnes said. “It was incredible to watch them work and to see their acting skills,” filming the same scenes over and over until they were perfect.
River Road where the hotel is located became quite busy during the filming as local residents showed up in hopes of glimpsing the stars. They were well-behaved, she said, and Solebury police came out to help with traffic.
“Everyone had a great time,” she said.
Much of the filming took place in the Suite Loraine, a plush two-story suite at the Black Bass with floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive view of the Delaware River. The filmmakers liked its view of the footbridge as well as the decor.
Barnes said she and her husband, Jeff, saw the film last year at the Philadelphia Film Festival and were impressed by the story and acting as well as seeing their hotel on the screen. She highly recommends the movie as a feel-good experience.
Built in the 1740s the Black Bass is no stranger to celebrity visitors.
Among those who have stopped in to dine or stay are President Grover Cleveland, Liza Minnelli, Ethel Merman, Marlon Brando, Carlos Santana, Christian Slater, Marc Blucas, Diane Sawyer and Martina Navratilova.
For more on the Black Bass see the website blackbasshotel.com.