Shawshank Redemption 20th Anniversary Reunion Weekend!

You guys, I'm about to seriously blow this post up with pictures, so if you aren't interested, now is the time to move along!


For those who continued, I thank you! Because this past weekend was just so exciting for us and I wanted to write all about it. So, I'm a huge The Shawshank Redemption fan. This is a documented fact. It also happens to be G's favorite film as well. I've even been inspired to make jewelry based on the film, which I post about here. We've been to see the Shawshank oak tree six times since 2011. Luckily, Mansfield, Ohio, where a lot of the movie was filmed, is only a few hours away from us so it's possible for us to go for a weekend a couple times a year, or so the trend seems to be. But this particular visit was special, because all of Mansfield and the nearby filming sites pulled together to host a big 20th Anniversary Reunion Weekend, with special events, tours, and appearances by actors from the film. We were actually in the area in July when we found out about the weekend, and we decided we HAD to go. I felt a little nervous asking for an extra vacation day off just a month or so after I had already taken time, but I think my boss understood how flipping excited I was when I almost started whining "I really really really really want to go. I won't ask for any more time off, ever!" (Like a big dork, basically.) So getting time off wasn't a problem at all, and since it was Labor Day weekend I was able to get a nice four day weekend in total. 

Before I continue, no, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins didn't attend, but we heard rumors floating around that this was sort of a kick-off event celebrating the filming from 1993, and there might be more events to come celebrating the actual release from 1994. Perhaps they were testing the waters to see how much buzz would be generated and if it would be worth doing something bigger. Considering all the excitement I witnessed even without the film leads in attendance, I think it's a definite possibility. We got to see a lot over the weekend, but there are still some sites we missed so I know we'll be going back. Even so,  I was over the moon, because I got to meet the Warden!!!!

We usually stay at Mohican State Park Lodge when we're in the area, but a local Mansfield hotel which was really close to the Ohio State Reformatory  and the other sites was having a package deal for the weekend which included tickets to the events and some Shawshank themed products from local businesses, so we stayed there.

The big event for Friday was a screening of the film at the Renaissance Theatre, where the film premiered in 1994. It was a beautiful old theater complete with a Wurlitzer organ player, which is something I haven't seen in a very long time! First though we stopped in downtown Mansfield, where you can see the actual park bench that Brooks sat on when he was waiting for his pet crow Jake to arrive.

So then, after the movie a huge line for autographs formed almost immediately after Red says "I hope." Luckily we were near the exits so we only had to wait maybe a half hour or so. The guests of honor were Scott Mann (Glenn Quentin, the golf pro who was Linda Dufresne's lover), Jim Kisicki (the bank manager), and Bob Gunton (Warden Samuel Norton.) They were all super nice and gracious!

I was kind of nervous when I asked G to take pictures of my meeting Bob Gunton (he has this habit of cutting my head off when taking my picture or somehow rendering it somehow useless). But these turned out great! I wasn't quite sure how Bob would be in real life, he did play one of the most heartless film villains of all time, after all. But he was dear and quite a charmer!

I don't remember much of what I said to him, something about how he was also in one of my other favorite Stephen King adaptations, Dolores Claiborne. But I do distinctly remember him complimenting my "lovely" dress and something about how it almost matched my hair. Not quite, I don't think, but one does not simply quibble with the warden. I was too flustered at having been complimented by him to care, anyway.

I leaned over so G could get a picture of us both in the frame, and he was like "Oh, come on over. I'll always take pictures, especially when they're with pretty girls," or something to that effect, because then I was thinking, the warden just said I was pretty, all giggly and gushy like girls I'd despise.

Then I got another picture with him, and I was a little shocked because Mr. Gunton's hand was extremely low on my hip, I mean, almost not on my hip at all. Given the style of my dress, it may have been easy for him to miscalculate proper placement of his hand, but he does have a quite a wicked grin in this picture.

Then G talked to him for a moment and Bob agreed to a picture, saying jokingly "okay, but I'm not putting my arm around you." See here, case in point: hands clearly visible, smile not quite so mischievous.

After we left the line as G and I walked away I blurted out laughing "I just got felt up by Bob Gunton!" An exaggeration, of course, but it makes for a great story! And now the running gag is whenever G and I bicker, he'll feign jealousy (or is he?) and say things like 
"I bet you wouldn't say that to Bob!"

While we in line there were lots of photographers, and when I Googled the reunion trying to find articles on the weekend I found we ended up pictured in one of them here, which was pretty cool.

Here's the line AFTER we were finished, so it was pretty long!

The next day in the early afternoon we went to Malabar Farm, and took a wagon ride to Pugh Cabin, where the opening scene of the movie was shot. Right here you can see where Andy parked his car, contemplating his wife being inside with Glenn Quentin.

Inside Scott Mann was visiting with fans and telling stories about filming. He was only in the movie for like a minute, and it was the only film role he ever had, but he had a great sense of humor about it. He mentioned that when he got the offer to be in a movie, he had the impression it was just a B-slasher-type horror film, he didn't find out until later  who else was in it. He recalled the pressure he felt when Tim Robbins showed up, and watched him get frisky with the actress playing Linda, getting a feel for Andy's emotional state. He said it was a good thing he hadn't known at first what kind of film it was, or he may have been more nervous during auditions and tried to actually "act."

Here we are with Scott in front of the infamous door next to which certain lascivious acts took place. He made us laugh when he said during filming at one point the actresses' butt hit up against a light switch and turned the lights out at a key moment, which he thought was good timing because no one quite knew how far they were going to take the action, so to speak.

After that we took the wagon past the tree:

Then we went on a tour of the historical Malabar Farm big house, home of novelist/conservationist Louis Bromfield. The big "claim to fame" of the house is that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were married there. G and I have done the tour before, but we love old houses and the hotel package deal came with tickets. Scott Mann and his wife were in our tour group too, and then we saw them again when we had lunch at the always delectable  Malabar Farm Restaurant. We seemed to keep running into each other, which was really funny. His wife (never caught her name) was super nice and she took pictures for G and I, and I returned the favor for them.

After lunch we went back to the hotel and got dressed up for the cocktail party at the reformatory. It was 1940's-50's themed, and at first we were worried we'd be overdressed and  not many people would get into the part, but we were wrong. There were people of all ages, some were casual, but most of the attendees were in period attire. Some went for the rock-n-roll greaser look like Tommy from the film, some were in prison-wear, women looked like they stepped off the set of Mad Men. G and I found his pin stripe jacket and pant suit in a thrift store for ten dollars, and I wore a dress I got from Maurices and 3.5 inch tweed wedge heels from Blowfish Shoes. The bad side to the evening was there were literally no chairs, so everyone was standing the whole evening, and of course walking up and down very treacherous and rickety old metal staircases (in the dark!) when exploring the reformatory. Luckily I was wearing wedges rather than pointy heels, but my feet were still screaming by the end of the night!

It was an interesting dichotomy because the reception area was very posh, with hors d'oeuvres and a bar and music, but on either side was this vast expanse of derelict, decomposing cell blocks and shadowy, mysterious passages. Utterly fascinating! I want to go back and explore more when we have more time and I have more sensible shoes.

After getting a bite to eat, mingling a bit, an appearance by Bob Gunton and a video message from director Frank Darabont, we set out to explore the reformatory. Here I am in a cell, with my sad jail face.

And here I am next to the tunnel that Andy crawled through to freedom!

Some random cell block shots:

Here is G with two extras from the film who were also doing reenactments as Andy and Hadley: 

This is the room where Andy and Red watched Gilda and Andy asked for Rita Hayworth. It was very dark and spooky!

We actually walked up an extremely narrow and dark spiral staircase to the roof of the reformatory too. In my heels I literally had to shuffle up the staircase sideways and the volunteer manning the station had to focus a flashlight on it for us to see at all. We weren't allowed to take pictures from the guard tower though because there is a working correctional facility across from the historical site. Still, it was very nice to get a breeze up there because it was very oppressive inside.

And finally here's a little collage of some various spots in the reformatory, including solitary confinement, another shot of the tunnel, Brooks' library, and the "bull pen" where Andy and the new prisoners were presented to the Warden.

Okay, all done with my fan girl theatrics! Thanks for reading to the very end of this monstrosity, and have an awesome day!

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  1. Sorry I haven't commented on this yet, I've been a bit busy with fingerprinting and orientation and all that jazz! But wow! It looks like you and G had an incredible getaway! Thanks for sharing pictures! I LOVE how the hands and expression changes on Bob from the pictures of him with you and G! How priceless! Isn't it awesome when famous people are actually nice and down to earth? I have a funny story about when I met Teller from Penn and Teller. They have a show called Bullshit and in one episode, they investivge how your ass is actually cleaner than your hands. So they said to rub bottoms with them when you meet them instead of a handshake. When I met Teller, I said, "sir, could I rub asses with you?" and he said, "Certainly, I would like that very much." I can't find that picture, but I have another picture of us because I've seen their show a couple times for free because my mom donates blood (I can't because I'm on medication). Sorry for adding a story about me on your post, it just reminded me of that from how you met Bob Gunton :) Anyway, you got some great pictures, and I'm so glad you had fun!!! You and G are such a beautiful couple, you are stunning!

    1. I bet you have been busy, hope the new job is going well. No worries, I loved your story! It sort of makes sense, our hands are pretty consistently gross .I love that you said "sir" first, it kind of ties it all together and makes it doubly funny! I was too nervous to be so clever and glib, but at least I managed without fumbling my words or stuttering or anything too embarrassing. So I was pleased, and I got a great story out of it, so I considered it all a success. Thanks for reading it all, I kept trying to condense it and leave some pictures out, but it was too hard so I just rolled with it and let it grow to gargantuan proportions;)


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