We arrived in Lone Pine for the Film Festival on Thursday afternoon, October 9th, as we had tickets for that evening's Opening Night Gala.
We stayed at the historic Dow Villa Motel, built in 1923.
The first feature film shot in Lone Pine was a 1920 release, THE ROUND-UP, starring Fatty Arbuckle. After that, film production in the area was off and running. The Dow Villa was built to house the many movie companies which came to work in Lone Pine.
The photo below of the original hotel building was taken by me last June; it's the only photo in these posts not taken during the festival. Later a motel was added on, forming a horseshoe around the parking lot next door.
The second floor motel balcony has an amazing view of Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney, the highest spot in the Continental U.S.
These plaques on the front of the hotel explain some of its history and connection to the film industry:
If you stay in a room in the original hotel building, chances are good that you'll be sleeping where a movie star once stayed; indeed, as the lobby sign says, "John Wayne Slept Here."
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, my husband noticed a man unloading his car and told me "He fought Pat Wayne in MCLINTOCK!" It was actor Edward Faulkner. We met him later in the festival and, as was the case with everyone in attendance, he was a very nice gentleman who was delighted to interact with festival guests and answer questions.
At the appointed hour we headed over to the Lone Pine Film History Museum for the Opening Night Gala, which proved to be a great deal of fun. For instance, how many people can say they've eaten dinner while standing right next to Mad Dog Earle's car, driven by Humphrey Bogart in HIGH SIERRA (1941)?
That evening I only took a couple of quick cell phone snapshots, which are not of the best quality, but there will be much better photos in posts to come! This at least gives a sense of the scene in the museum lobby:
It was an enthusiastic and friendly crowd of Western film fans. Lots of cowboy hats and six-shooters in evidence, and there were even a few cowboys on horses out in the front parking lot. The catering was terrific, providing not just appetizers but a full meal. Plus cake!
We were delighted to see Wyatt McCrea of the Joel McCrea Ranch and meet his wife Lisa. Wyatt is such a genuinely friendly and nice man, it's always a great pleasure to see him again. As was the case with many of the festival's special guests, we would have the chance to chat with Wyatt throughout the festival weekend.
We met David Rothel, whose 1994 book on Tim Holt is now back in print in softcover, and Woody Wise, who my husband follows on Facebook. Woody is in a new documentary about a group of film fans, BROTHERHOOD OF THE POPCORN.
At one point Thursday evening we found ourselves discussing Randolph Scott and director Budd Boetticher with festival guest Bruce Boxleitner. Boxleitner shared that at one point Clint Eastwood had lined up financing to bring Boetticher out of retirement and that Boxleitner was to have had a role in the film, but while it got as far as storyboards, the movie was ultimately not made.
All too soon it was back to the Dow for an early night. I had a 7:00 a.m. Tim Holt screening and bus tour on my Friday morning schedule, while my husband had reservations for a horseback ride through the Alabama Hills.
A post on the Tim Holt film DYNAMITE PASS (1950) and the tour will be coming soon, with more to follow!
For more on the Lone Pine Film Festival, please visit The 25th Lone Pine Film Festival in Review, which includes all links to all of my festival coverage at the end of the post.