Robocop may have moved on to the real Detroit, but Houston will always have Reality Bites. And today folks around the movie biz are celebrating the movie’s twentieth anniversary. The Winona Ryder-Ben Stiller-Janeane Garofalo-Ethan Hawke pic filmed here and there about Houston (with a few disguised-L.A. settings thrown in for good measure) was released on February 18, 1994. In and around the Gen X coming-of-age coming-out reality-TV disaffection storyline, the movie depicted the overgrown charms of Alden Place, the little North Montrose neighborhood of duplexes and 4-plexes that made living in the shadows of Downtown seem so easy and affordable back then. Twenty years on, how’s it doing?
Despite the townhouse development that’s taken down many of its neighbors, the area immediately around 409 W. Clay St. today looks much the same as it did in the still shown above, taken from one of the film’s final scenes. If Ethan Hawke were to deliver a similar hello-again speech to Winona Ryder standing next to the street’s cracked-concrete curbs and driveways today, he’d probably have a bit more to say and maybe be a bit more articulate about it, but the angled view of Downtown fronted by a row of stoops might not be too different. (A cinematographer today might want to tilt the camera a bit to the left, however, to avoid a view of the 4 somewhat incongruous townhouses — 2 of which are pictured below — that went up last year on the longtime parking lot at the end of the street.)
Here’s a pic of the property that starred as Hawke’s, Ryder’s, Garofalo’s, and Steve Zahn’s apartment as it appeared in a rental listing from a few years ago, not looking much worse for wear — and still sporting window units:
- 20 years later: An oral history of ‘Reality Bites’ [HitFix]
- Reality Bites-The Movie [HAIF]
- 316 W. Clay St. [HAR]
- 409 W. Clay St. [HAR]