Released in 1999, “In Dreams” is based on the 1993 book “Doll’s Eyes” by Bari Wood, with the story altered substantially and renamed after a Roy Orbison song. Directed by Neil Jordan and starring Annette Bening and Robert Downey, Jr., the story revolves around a woman whose psychic connection to a child killer tragically entangles her family and buffets her sanity.
The film takes place in Massachusetts and was filmed in the towns of Northampton, Easthampton, and Northfield, MA. However, one of the more visceral scenes takes place in New Hampshire, in a giant, decaying ocean-liner-shaped hotel on the coast.
In the movie it was called the Carlton Hotel, and Annette Bening’s character has a premonition of wandering around its decrepit grounds and interior to eventually find her dog eating the body of her husband in one of the rooms. In reality, the hotel is the Wentworth by the Sea, which was built in 1874 on the bridge-accessible island of New Castle, NH. When In Dreams was filmed, the hotel was exactly as it was portrayed in the movie, abandoned and dilapidated. However, since that time, it has been refurbished and reopened as the impressive resort hotel it once was.
Perhaps even more impressive about the grand hotel is that it provided the setting for an important historical event. Within the walls of the extravagant accommodations, Russian and Japanese delegates met to discuss the end of the Russo-Japanese war. Terms were agreed upon and the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed at the nearby Portsmouth Navel Shipyard. Along with ending the fighting, the arrangement earned US President Theodore Roosevelt the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in mediating the event.
Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker