My Cousin Vinny: A Very Brief Summary
The 1992 comedy hit, My Cousin Vinny, stars Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Fred Gwynne, Ralph Macchio, and Mitchell Whitfield. The movie is about two friends from New York traveling to California to attend college. Billy Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and Stan Rothenstein (Mitchell Whitfield) head south to take advantage of warmer weather in January, and while in rural Alabama, they stop at a convenience store to stock up on food for the trip. After Billy inadvertently shoplifts a can of tuna fish, they are stopped by local law enforcement, armed with a shotgun, who orders them out of the car with their hands up. And for only shoplifting a cheap can of tuna fish!
A series of mixups about the stolen tuna fish leads them to unknowingly “confess” to the murder of the store clerk, which occurred after they left. Luckily (?), Billy finds that there is a lawyer in the family, his very inexperienced cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci), who arrives in Alabama with his flamboyant, foul-mouthed girlfriend, Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei). Crime, drama, comedy, fish out of water story…My Cousin Vinny has it all. Great movie, loads of laughs. If you haven’t seen it, watch it!! Here is the original trailer from the film. I remember seeing it on TV and was pretty excited to see it when it came out.
I’ll be presenting these grouped by location and not necessarily as a progression or storyboard of the film.
Georgia State Road 83 at Nolan Store Road – South of Bostwick, Georgia
The opening is a montage of various locations and scenery around rural Georgia around Monticello, Eatonton, etc. The two locations below were very close to each other, but depicted as being in a different order…pretty much like the whole thing, how various pieces are edited together into one seamless scene…but when you’re driving around and photographing it, attempting to figure it all out, it’s funny how you piece it all together as the filmmakers did.
Sac-O-Suds Convenience Store, State Road 16, Monticello, Georgia
Here, Billy and Stan are approaching the Sac-O-Suds Convenience Store to stop and get more snacks for the road trip.
The Sac-O-Suds is located along Georgia State Road 16, at the Ocmulgee River. In this movie, I liked how the filmmakers changed the state road signs, retaining all of the correct state road numbers, but changing the shape to Alabama instead of Georgia.
Funny enough, when I first researched the filming locations for My Cousin Vinny back in the fall of 2008, I read the Sac-O-Suds was opened, so I was excited to visit it. It was actually closed and had been for at least a couple of years. In the eight years that have passed, the store remained closed, was in disrepair, but happily – has since been rebuilt and is now operating again.
The entrance to the Sac-O-Suds Convenience Store, located along Georgia State Road 16, at the Ocmulgee River.
Another exterior view of the Sac-O-Suds.
Billy and Stan debating brand vs. generic canned goods as well as the best source of protein…beans vs. tuna fish.
On the bottom, half of the Road Trip Memories duo, Pat, checks out the canned goods at the Sac-O-Suds.
Billy picking up some items from the Sac-O-Suds, inadvertently placing a can of tuna fish in his pocket, which he forgets to pay for…a simple act which causes a huge misunderstanding and results in his accidental confession to murder and sets the entire plot of the movie in motion.
Carrying too much in your hands at the store. I do it all the time. I go in, thinking I’m going to get one or two items and don’t need a cart and end up with my arms full of stuff. Be careful if you put anything in your pockets that you might forget to pay for!
It’s never a good idea to shortchange someone on their Slush Puppy. Fill it up, please.
We had a really nice conversation with Cary, one of the new owners of the Sac-O-Suds. She was very excited to have had the opportunity to purchase and essentially rebuild the store. It was in a fairly deplorable condition and had to be rebuilt. They did a great job and locals and tourists alike are excited to visit the Sac-O-Suds again.
We purchased a number of items somewhat matching Billy & Stan’s, including carmel popcorn and potato chips. I passed on the cookies and Dinty Moore beef stew this time. We bought bought Powerade and bottled water to drink, but very soon, she said they will be putting in a Slush Puppy machine!
Pay no attention to that can of tuna fish. OK…we confess…we didn’t pay for the can of tuna fish! But we didn’t shoot the clerk. Honestly, we didn’t.
Across the street from the Sac-O-Suds were the trailers two of the prosecution witnesses, Mrs. Riley (needs thicker glasses) and Mr. Tipton (whose trailer sat on a mystical spot on earth where the laws of physics ceased to exist, thereby allowing boiling water to soak into a grit faster).
A view of Georgia State Road 16 from the Sac-O-Suds. The parking lot is basically the same, but has a few changes. The gas pumps are gone and the landscaped area at the front is different. That was an important location in the movie, as this is where tire marks were shown, having been made by the murderers’ car. Mona Lisa Vito’s photo of the tire marks was the key piece of evidence that proved, with out a doubt, that Billy and Stan’s 1964 metallic mint green Buick Skylark could have never made those marks without Positraction and an independent rear suspension, which were only available on the 1963 Pontiac Tempest.
Vinny interviews Mrs. Riley at her trailer across the street from the Sac-O-Suds. She’s not wearing her glasses!
Monticello, Georgia (Town Square)
The following scenes were all filmed in and around the town square in Monticello, Georgia.
When Vinny Gambini and fiance Mona Lisa Vito arrive in Wahzoo City, and Vinny checks out what could be causing the problem with their car.
Vinny teases Lisa for “sticking out like a sore thumb” in the south, while he fits in much better with his cowboy boots. Her classic retort: “Yeah, you blend.” LOL
As Vinny looks to see what the problem is with the car, a local explains that he has mud in the tires, causing the wheels to be out of balance. “Let me ax you a question. How do you get mud into the tires?”
We know…Vinny’s Caddy is much cooler than our Nissan Sentra.
The Jasper County Courthouse, all exterior scenes were actually filmed here. Many interior scenes were filmed inside this courthouse; however, the courtroom scenes were filmed at a set in Covington.
Mitchell’s Department Store was the only store in town that had a suit that was made of cloth and was suitably “lawerly” for the leather-clad Vinny Gambini to wear to court.
In the film, the store is larger than it is today. In the bottom photo, the storefront on the right side is Mitchell’s Department Store.
Here is a photo of the sign over the door of Mitchell’s Department Store.
After Vinny’s one and only suit gets accidentally thrown into the mud, they find there is no 1 hour dry cleaner and the department store is closed “with the flu.” Vinny desperately needs a suit; he cannot wear his leather pants and jacket to court or else he’ll get thrown back into jail by the judge who views such dress as an insult to both him and the integrity of his court.
Lisa spots this secondhand shop and buys Vinny a new suit. It IS made of cloth and it’s hilarious. Unfortunately, the judge is not amused. A nail salon is now in the location.
Look at that ridiculous thing!
Here is another scene of Vinny and Lisa driving, this time they are on their way to prison to visit Billy and Stan. Again, note how the filmmakers cleverly changed the state road signs to depict Alabama instead of Georgia. However, the signs below it still point to Georgia towns, Macon and Eatonton, etc. This is again the town square in Monticello, Georgia.
This was taken from the same location above, as the camera pans while they are driving on Forsyth Street (GA 83).
Lisa and Vinny are discussing how to continue to hold off Judge Haller from finding out that there are no records for Vinny Gambini in the court system, and that the prestigious lawyer’s name he provided, Jerry Gallo, is dead.
On the courthouse steps, Stan thanks Vinny for defending them and apologizes for doubting his abilities based on his total lack of litigation experience.
After all charges are dismissed for Billy and Stan, Vinny is trying to leave as quickly as possible before the judge reveals his lack of court experience in New York. To Vinny’s surprise, the judge praises him for his great trial work, as well as his humility, after receiving a glowing commendation from Vinny’s mentor, Judge Molloy.
Dave’s Bar-B-Q and Seafood is now Dave’s Bar-B-Que and Soul Food, located not far from the courthouse square in Monticello, Georgia. This is the location where Vinny and Lisa took a break to eat while Vinny is trying to think of anything to help Billy and Stan, because things are not looking good by this time. Lisa is desperate to help, and they argue after Vinny yells at her that she can’t help.
The thing I like best about this movie is that not only she does help, she is the pivotal person in doing so. She took the critical photo of the tire marks at the Sac-O-Suds, which Vinny then looked at, realizing he could prove Billy and Stan’s innocence. He puts Lisa on the witness stand, testifying as an expert witness in general automotive knowledge, as to how Billy & Stan’s Skylark could never have made the tire marks. She also got in touch with Vinny’s Brooklyn mentor, Judge Molloy, who spoke to Judge Haller about Vinny.
Maddox Street & 7 Island Road, Jasper County, Georgia
This photo was unplanned, and I had no screen capture with me when I took it. We were intently searching for a scene we DID have a screenshot for, but couldn’t find. As we drove all over the area, I spotted this area of trees and since I have seen the movie countless times, I knew it looked familiar, from the scene where District Attorney Trotter and Vinny go hunting together.
After returning home and watching the movie, I was happy to verify that I found another location…score! Good thing too, since we never did find the one we were actually looking for!
Lee Arrendale State Prison, Alto, Georgia
The prison where Billy and Stan are taken while they await trial is the Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto, Georgia. For maximum authenticity, scenes were actually filmed around and inside the prison.
No Rest for the Weary – Vinny and Lisa’s Various Lodging
General Putnam Motel – 774 Madison Rd, Eatonton, Georgia
Susie Agnes Hotel / Town Hall – Bostwick, Georgia
This location served as the second hotel where Lisa and Vinny stayed, and yet again, they are unable to get a decent night’s sleep; this time, due to a pig slaughterhouse across the street.
A different view of the Susie Agnes Hotel / Bostwick City Hall.
And another view…
State Road 11, Mansfield, Georgia
Along State Road 11 in Mansfield is a business called AirPower (along the left side), which served as the location for the Wahzoo City Hotel, the third and final hotel where Lisa and Vinny stayed. Yet again plagued with sound issues, this hotel was nearby a train track with a train that went by very early every morning, rattling the hotel and all of its contents, including the drinking glasses in the room, which amusingly shattered as they crashed to the floor each morning. Maybe it’s just me, but I would have removed them from the room and used plastic or wrapped them up in towels or something.
At the same location, across the street, is a building which in the movie was the bar / pool hall “Pool and Chicken”.
Here is a map of our complete road trip, including all of the locations for My Cousin Vinny and The Fugitive:
Pat & Jennifer