What’s so great about apples, anyway?

Well, I got her number.

One of the most-referenced sequences in Good Will Hunting is, of course, the “apples scene.”

As the boys stumble from the bar, crossing Bow Street, Morgan sees the ponytail jerk sitting in Dunkin Donuts.  Will goes over and initiates a little confrontational wordplay through the glass.  (In the screenplay it’s not a Dunkin Donuts, but another bar.  We also learn that the original “Harvard bar” was intended to be the now-nonexistent Bow & Arrow Pub.)


Our boys are walking out of the bar teasing one another about their bar-ball exploits. Across the street is another bar with a glass front. Morgan spots Clark sitting by the window with some friends.

There goes that fuckin’ Barney right
now, with his fuckin’ “skiin’ trip.”
We should’a kicked that dude’s ass.

Hold up.

Will crosses the street and approaches the plate glass window and stands across from Clark, separated only by the glass. He POUNDS THE GLASS to get Clark’s attention.


Clark turns toward Will.


Clark doesn’t get it.



Will SLAMS SKYLAR’S PHONE NUMBER against the glass.


Will’s boys erupt into laughter. Angle on Clark, deflated.


The boys make their way home, piled into Chuckie’s car, laughing together.

I was recently informed that in the new word game Appletters, from the makers of Bananagrams,  a player going out must yell “HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES.”  And so I’ve been wondering, beyond its popularization in Good Will Hunting, where does this idiomatic expression of smugness come from?

The Internet (Wikipedia) dates the phrase back to World War I.

It is likely that the phrase originated during the First World War, when allied soldiers used mortar shells known as toffee apples, because of their resemblance to the confectionery. After using them to successfully take out an enemy, soldiers may have yelled in a sort of victory cry, “How do you like them apples?”

Beyond its use in a John Wayne film and Polanski’s Chinatown, there’s not much of a pop cultural record of the phrase, though it has apparently been listed in idiom dictionaries since the 1920s.

It also seems that every newspaper or magazine article that discusses apples or Apple computers is required to use the phrase as its headline.  (Though it is best used by respected news sources who possess a photograph of a squirrel eating an apple.)

Interestingly, a peek into Google Trends indicates that the phrase “them apples” has received a large percentage of traffic from the fair city of Boston (data has only been kept since 2007).  In fact, our Commonwealth’s proud capital googles “them apples” more than any other city in the world. (Dublin, Ireland, comes in second.)

Yo Ireland, so, how do you like… oh — nevermind.

How do you like them apples?

Around The Town

This past fall found the streets of Cambridge lined by camera rigging and film crews as it once again became the setting for several upcoming feature films.

Scenes from the movie The Social Network, the story of the creation of Facebook in a college dorm room, were filmed in various locations throughout Cambridge—although apparently the Harvard University campus won’t have a starring role in this film, as Johns Hopkins has been cast instead. And alas, Justin Timberlake did not grace the streets of our fair city: locals were disappointed to learn that his face would be inserted post-production via CGI in scenes recently filmed on the Charles River.

In other movie news, Ben Affleck recently returned to his native turf to star and direct in The Town, a thriller based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan and adapted for the screen by Affleck himself (perhaps an argument against those who seek to discount his contributions to the Good Will Hunting screenplay?)

Ben Affleck and John Hamm on the set of The Town in Harvard Square.
Ben Affleck and John Hamm on the set of The Town in Harvard Square.

Walking to work through the production crews, camera equipment and massive coils of cables during a recent filming brought to my mind a favorite scene in Good Will Hunting and a fixture that will be familiar to anyone who regularly passes through Harvard Square.

Spare Change News is a local alternative newspaper here in Cambridge that is produced and sold by homeless and formerly homeless volunteers. Locals will be familiar with the vendors who take up posts on the city streets to sell the paper to passersby.

One such post is located directly in front of the large Au Bon Pain situated in the middle of the Square. This just happens to be the location of a key scene from the movie in which we learn that, although he can’t paint, play music, or hit a homerun out of Fenway, when it came to math, Will could always “just play.”

Sure enough, in the background of this scene, you can see Spare Change News Guy.

(True Cantabrigians may also notice the incongruity between the coffee cups from Peet’s coffee, and the location, Au Bon Pain.)

It’s a great tribute to the city of Cambridge that so much of it is still recognizable and intact. It’s one of the things I love most about this movie.

I was reminded of this lately as I passed crews from The Town filming in almost the same location. Spare Change News Guy was nearby, as always. I couldn’t help but wonder whether he will be making what promises to be (as far as I know, anyway) his second major film role. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Update: I was mortified to learn that there was a mistake in my inaugural Blog Will Hunting post!

Peet’s Coffee was served at Au Bon Pain locations between 1995-1998, so there were actually no incongruities in that scene. Obviously, I’m not a true Cantabrigian (full disclosure: I’m actually from Rhode Island.)

I stand corrected.

Katherine once gave a high school film studies class presentation on GWH and showed a scene from the movie on a VHS cassette tape from the library. However, instead of the scene in the NSA office, she inadvertently showed the end of the masturbation scene.

This is Katherine’s inaugural Blog Will Hunting contribution.

How do you like me NOW, Battlestar Galactica??

Thanks to B.E.N. for letting us know that Good Will Hunting is the sixth most popular Netflix rental in Cambridge. 


Looks like Robin Williams is out-therapizing Gabriel Byrne.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  Though Williams’ character has fewer ethical violations, as far as I can tell.

I find it interesting I actually have two of these films from Netflix currently.  Can you guess which two??

And no, despite having rented Rashomon from Netflix twice before, and keeping it for several months each time, I have neither seen it, nor am I renting it now.  (It’s back on my queue at #298.)

The Christopher Lee Playground

The summer of 2009 is long gone here in New England.  We bundle up in coats and jackets, because the autumn chill is here to stay. But what a perfect time to reminisce, and look back upon a June visit into Good Will Hunting history.

Early in the film the boys are brownbagging it at a little league game… you remember:


This was shot in Boston’s own Christopher Lee Park.

We visited last June.  No baseball was being played, sadly.

A fence was added, but little else had changed.

Christopher Lee Playground

Take a visit yourself; you’ll be glad you did.