Friday, July 10, 2009

"All the Marbles": The Triumph of Jaco's

"All the Marbles" is a strange film about two women wrestlers (played by Vicki Frederick and Laurene Landon) and their manager (Peter Falk). In addition to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, scenes were shot in Youngstown and Akron in 1980. This was not exactly a compliment to Northeast Ohio; a rep of the Ohio Film Bureau told the Beacon Journal that Akron was a draw in part fot its "rundown streets in areas with heavy industry." ...
Falk was a major star at the time, known far and wide as TV's "Columbo." Veteran director Robert Aldrich -- the original "Dirty Dozen" and "The Longest Yard" -- was in charge of what proved to be his last film. (He died in 1983.)
According to a Beacon Journal report at the time, Falk was not even meant to be in the scenes shot in Akron. But then the show's crew discovered Jaco's Drive Thru Beverage on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue.
"We don't have drive-thrus in California, so when we found this place, we decided to write a scene into the script using it,'' a producer told a Beacon Journal reporter. The scene has Falk using the pay phone and buying food at the shop.
Jack Gemmell, then the owner of Jaco's, made jokes inside the shop while Falk was working outside in November 1980. He claimed that the film was there "because Falk wanted to meet me."
One Beacon Journal story described this scene during a snowy day of production:
Dozens of men and women bundled in a colorful assortment of insulated parkas and pants, gloves and galoshes were milling about, talking, moving large amounts of equipment and generally being omnipresent.
Some of them were towing an old yellow Caddy convertible through the building.
Some were warming their hands and bodies with styrofoam cups full of coffee.
Others were ravenously shoving heaps of steaming food from paper plates into their mouths.
And still others were huddled in little groups discussing what seemed to be -- at least from the solemn expressions on their faces -- serious topics.

The story noted that several members of the Gemmell family got non-speaking roles. And Madeline Gemmell, Jack's mother, got to meet Falk. "He was just so nice I couldn't believe it," said one family member of Falk's meeting with Madeline.
You can still see Jaco's, in the shadow of Route 8. Jack Gemmell died in 2008, having moved from Akron to Florida 23 years earlier.

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